Webdramas seem to be all the rage these days, with very little (English) info on them. I was trying to translate the summary of To Be With You (最佳女配) while looking for a new show to watch, and after watching the trailer, I wanted to make sure I understood what was going on in the show, so I decided to check out the first episode. My interest was piqued because it seemed to have an interesting blend of sci-fi, video gaming, wuxia, and some classic corporate rom-com drama, and to my surprise, I actually quite enjoyed the first episode.
The show opens with a shot of some people hooked up in pods and a montage of various masked teams in matching uniforms fighting in a variety of environments that look like they’re in different eras. Then we flash to our main girl, Chang Yu Qi (Bai Xue), who introduces herself as a rather normal young woman who helps her family with their braised pork restaurant, but who harbors big dreams of becoming a professional video gamer in the virtual reality world of Alpha Territory. We follow her into this virtual reality world where she chances upon her idols, the Beta Team, a team of professional VR gamers, in battle. She accidentally gets in the way, but her virtual life is saved by her ultimate idol, the “gamer god” Feng Zhou (Bryant/Ray Chang aka Zhang Rui Jia). After the Beta Team successfully defeats the boss, another team member, Angela (Ni Long), lets Yu Qi take a selfie with her, and offers some encouraging words of advice to apply for Alpha’s training program in order to become a professional gamer. Yu Qi also asks Feng Zhou for a selfie, but he coldly refuses and they leave.
Back in the real world, Yu Qi is busy filming a video that is required to accompany her Alpha program application, but her mother (Jill Hsu), whom she calls Lucy-jie (jie meaning “sister”) interrupts. Yu Qi tells us how her mother used to be a gamer goddess 20 years ago, but now forbids Yu Qi from playing Alpha Territory and going professional. They start fighting and it all gets recorded on the video, culminating in Lucy “accidentally” submitting the recorded fight as Yu Qi’s submission video. A distraught Yu Qi immediately bombards her childhood best friend, Jin Can (Qi Ming Jia), with notifications, begging him to use his Alpha employee privileges to erase the video. Jin Can helps her delete it, but then secretly films her while she talks about how she lost her father at a young age and going professional at Alpha is her dream, and submits it as her submission video.
Meanwhile, all is not well within Beta Team. The team members criticize Feng Zhou for saving Yu Qi in the earlier battle when it could have jeopardized the mission. After all, she wouldn’t have really died since it was all a game. But to Feng Zhou, and to many other people who play Alpha Territory, it isn’t just a game.
That night, Yu Qi follows Lucy as she sneaks out to a night market where street hawkers sell action figures and other gaming paraphernalia. Feng Zhou also happens to be there, trying to be incognito in a hat and non-descript outfit. Both Feng Zhou and Lucy latch onto the same limited edition action figure, and Feng Zhou immediately recognizes Lucy as “goddess” Lucy, suggesting that she was one of his own gaming idols. But Yu Qi interrupts, yelling at her mom to not waste more money on toys, and outing Feng Zhou’s true identity as the gaming god and not just some random customer. Feng Zhou runs off, having successfully procured the action figure.
At the same time, Angela is drinking a class of wine alone in her apartment, lamenting Feng Zhou’s naivete and inability to grow up. A notification brings her to her computer, where she sees Yu Qi’s new submission video. She says Yu Qi’s name, scoffs, and deletes the video.
Later, Yu Qi and Jin Can meet up, and Yu Qi expresses her concern over not having heard back from her Alpha application yet. They both believe that even with her makeshift submission video, she should be qualified enough to at least make it past the first round. They take a quick look on his Blackberry (why does he have a Blackberry in this high-tech world?), and he enjoys the moment as she leans in a bit too close. They can’t find her name on the contestant list at all, and Jin Can promises to look into it.
At the Alpha headquarters, Angela meets with the Alpha CEO Li Mao Ran (Marco Chen) and begs for her own team to lead, but he refuses, questioning her leadership abilities. She leaves angrily and crosses paths with Jin Can, who at this point has found out that she deleted Yu Qi’s application. He asks her why she did it and she responds that based on Beta Team’s previous interaction with Yu Qi, she lacks the qualifications needed to be a professional gamer.
Jin Can goes in to meet with CEO Li who, it turns out, is secretly his older brother. The two butt heads over Jin Can’s place in the company, with Jin Can refusing to lead the programs that Li wants him to lead, and Li reminding Jin Can that at Alpha, Jin Can does what Li tells him to. Jin Can leaves angrily and goes off to do something on his work computer. That “something”, it turns out, was scoring an invite for Yu Qi to an upcoming launch party for Alpha’s new cross-server battle. She’ll be participating as a service worker and get to interact with the Beta Team in real life.
That night, Angela and Feng Zhou go out on a dinner date. Feng Zhou is the attentive boyfriend, ordering her favorite drink, and bringing her the action figure he had acquired earlier. But Angela is clearly unhappy and says she wants to break up.
At the launch party, tension is still high between the two and they argue outside of Angela’s dressing room, while Yu Qi hides inside and pretends to not eavesdrop. Angela storms into her room and sees Yu Qi, who tries to introduce herself, but Angela is on a roll of breaking hearts and breaking dreams, and says that she remembers who Yu Qi is and that she personally failed Yu Qi’s application based on their earlier interaction in-game.
Yu Qi is clearly shocked by this sudden about-face from Angela, who had been so friendly and encouraging in-game. Outside at the actual event, she runs into a server and accidentally breaks a glass, drawing the attention of CEO Li, who is nearby and asks if she’s okay. She apologizes profusely to him and leaves, while he looks after her, her nametag having caught his eye. “Chang Yu Qi — Chang Ming’s daughter…” he muses, as she walks away.
Wow, that was a lot in one episode, and I actually liked it so far. We were introduced to a lot of characters, a lot of world-building, and a lot of plot points were opened, but for all the content that was packed into the 43-minutes episode, it was very well-paced and I’m actually excited about this show.
This drama promises to have a good mix of your usual drama tropes all in one. The virtual reality world will certainly give us some wuxia scenes and action, and I am sure there will be plenty of corporate and family drama with Jin Can’s relationship to the Alpha CEO and the CEO immediately recognizing Yu Qi as Chang Ming’s daughter. We don’t know who Chang Ming is, but we do know that he died young and that he must have some important connection to the gaming world, because Li Mao Ran knows him and his wife, Yu Qi’s mom Lucy, was a famous gamer. We have Yu Qi set up in the underdog story, and a classic love triangle in the works, with the bubbly female in Yu Qi, cold primary love interest in Feng Zhou, and puppy-like best friend secondary love interest in Jin Can.
I am really curious about the near-future world that this show is set in and so far I really like the portrayals of virtual reality. The sets and costumes actually look real (versus A Smile is Beautiful and Bu Liang Ren where they look SO fake) and seem like reality. But they are also clearly virtual reality when the fourth wall of reality is broken by interactions with the user interface or when the players acknowledge that they’re in a game. The sci-fi nerd part of me thinks that’s really cool.
Of course, this drama isn’t perfect. It looks like there will be a lot of clichés and I don’t know how deep our characters will be. Some of the female characters already seem to be too peppy, but not to an extent that annoys me yet. The in-game CGI made me cringe and some of the action scenes lacked force behind the fighting. But I am optimistic and hopeful and excited to see where this drama goes. It had a pretty strong start and there is plenty of space to develop and grow.