Worth A Watch – Love O2O

Hello, my lovelies, I’ve found another show that earns a place as Worth A Watch. In keeping with the theme of finding non-American TV to enjoy this fantastically geeky show comes from China and has subtitles for English-speaking audiences on Drama Fever. There are actually two versions of this story, the movie (which I haven’t watched but enjoy the GIFs of) and the TV show that I’m actually going to talk about.

What’s the story? The adorable Wei Wei is a STEM lady working on her computer science degree at a university in Beijing and working as a math tutor on the side. She’s smart, funny, and super sweet. Literally the nicest person ever (which is shown again and again). She lives with three dorm mates in the nicest dorm you’ve ever seen, and in her free time (don’t even ask me how she finds it) she plays an online MMO where she’s the Red Bandit and one of the top ranked players on the server. Interestingly enough, in a refreshing change from most Geek Girl stories she doesn’t play a bard or healer, but an aggressive tanking character. When the story opens she has a crush on the university hottie and a virtual husband on the game (because there are couple-only quests). In the opening episode her online husband dumps her for a character named Enchantress, but she’s not single for long because the #1 player on the game ( a bard-class dude) proposes to her.

The story spans 30 episodes and 2 years as Wei Wei works on her degree, meets her online husband offline, helps him build a new gaming company, and they take over the world. Basically. In a nice way.

Who’s it for? This is for the gamers and romance fans. If you liked The Guild, or anything with Felicia Day, this is the show for you. It’s cute, it’s funny, the characters are (mostly) mature enough to make responsible choices, and there is enough plot to keep you watching for the whole 30 hours. If you love Meet Cute stories about people who find each other online, this is the show for you!

What’s the culture like? The major things that are going to jump out to an American audience are the use of the words Master, Junior, and Senior. In Chinese dramas it’s fairly common for the boss/leader of a group to be called Master (think apprentice/journeyman/master not slave/master). Junior and Senior are used to denote both age and seniority within a company. There’s a healthy bit of nepotism on the Bad Guy side of the spectrum, and some lingering Machismo. Chinese dramas haven’t fully broken away from the Domineering Male Knows Best point of view, but the male lead is fairly modern and fully respects Wei Wei’s opinions and her ability to handle her own problems.

Like Korean Dramas you’ll see more same-sex PDA between friends than between couples. Wei Wei and her friends are a close knit group and stay that way for the most part.

A fun cultural bonus is the Chinese poetry and history that gets slipped into the story. At one point the male lead tells Wei Wei “The flowers are blooming by the road. Enjoy them on your way home.” which sounds kind of weird without context. The context is that this is from am Emperor of China whose wife was visiting her mother, he didn’t want to order her back to the palace, but he missed her and this is what he wrote. The literally translation would be, “I love you and I miss you every day and I want you to come home but I respect your need to be with family and I’ll wait patiently until you’re ready to come back.”

Also, there’s a ton of basketball. I forgot how much Chinese liked the game until I watched this and remembered they do pretty well in the Olympics. They might not be Michael Jordan (but who is?), but they do like to dunk. It’s a better way to solve problems than the standard Boy Brawl, and I enjoyed it.

Bonuses? There’s no dramatic misunderstanding! The mainstay of the rom-com genre is done away because this is a nice couple who gets to be a couple for most the show. There’s also a m/m ship that is written and filmed as a romantic duo although we never see a kiss (only the main couple gets a kiss – sorry!). I found the pairing cute, although [name redacted] deserves a more mature hubby in my mind. Come for the cute warrior queen and stay for her adorable dad, her friends, and the bros.

Extra Bonus: There are some really awesome costumes in the fantasy game scenes. Enjoy!

What to watch out for? The sound dubbing in the first few episodes was a bit echo-y, especially in the dorm room scenes. Other than that, expect some bad behavior from the Jealous Dude who thinks Wei Wei should love him (because he has a crush – so obvs she’ll just adore him). There’s a minor redemption arc there, but not enough for me to forgive him.

How many seasons? Only one season, but it has 30 episodes each an hour long. Watch out, those last five minutes always result in a cliffhanger. If you need to go to bed stop at 50 minutes in and watch the last bit before going on to the next episode.

 

Worth A Watch – Killjoys

My second Worth A Watch show is the Canadian export KILLJOYS on Syfy. Not only does a great job of putting a WOC front and center, but it’s also LGBT+ positive with good rep, and has some pretty good disability rep. It’s at times heart-breaking, sometimes heart-warming, always a touch crazy, and has some of the best secondary characters on TV at the moment.

What’s the story? Season 1 starts with a girl on the run and her best friend/bounty hunter buddy getting into a fight, then rescuing his brother, then getting in the middle of a major war. To survive everyone will need to face their pasts, admit their mistakes, accept their differences, and make the most of what they have.

It starts with all the classic tropes – big buff hero dude, geeky nerd type, beautiful and rich witch – and twists the tropes so they’re fun and wonderful again. There’s a found family vibe and the later seasons really look at class warfare and nationalism/racism in a way that doesn’t feel preachy. It’s fun but it’s heavy at times too. Did I mention the secondary characters that I love? This show has Pree played by the super sweet and totally talented Thom Allison who I may or may not Twitter-stalk sometimes. Pree is hilarious and for me he adds the bit of light, joy, and sarcasm that it needs to keep it from being too weighty.

Who’s it for? People who like strong female characters, platonic m/f relationships, strong communities, and Found Family stories. If Stephanie Plum ran away with the crew of Firefly but was good with guns you’d get something like Killjoys. It’s not quite space western, but it’s not Star Trek either. It’s a show for people who like explosions, one-liners, and fighting injustice.

What’s the culture like? Killjoys is a Canadian show so it feels more like what an American would expect. It’s more sexually open/sex positive than some American TV with a couple of major nudity scenes. Not Game of Thrones level nudity, but more than you’d find on prime time family TV in the USA. I bring this up because Killjoys is very casually LGBT+ positive. No one says they’re gay or not. No one mentions they’re bi. But it’s there. It’s accepted. It’s part of the character. It doesn’t feel gratuitous. And it isn’t an exploration of what it means to be a certain sexuality. There’s a feeling in a lot of Hollywood shows that someone being anything but heterosexual is a Really Big Deal and we need to talk about a coming out story, and then explore the sexual tension, and angst about feelings and not being “normal” … I think US television is kind of breaking away from it, but Killjoys does a good job of skipping the angst and letting characters be more than their sexuality.

Bonuses? Hackmods played by actual actors with disabilities. Found family vibes. Redeemed bad guy. Sassy AI. Secrets. Everyone is bisexual! Plus some super cute platonic relationships. PREE!!!!

What to watch out for? Major characters death, cliffhangers, and some really sad moments. For all the fun and wit Killjoys is not a comedy.

How many seasons? Three and we’re hoping to hear about S4 soon.

Dutch is the best, but Pree is the person I’m going to buy drinks and talk to all night.