Because of You AKA Fairytale Under the Starlight
CREDIT FOR ALL PICTURES GO TO THEIR UPLOADERS!
I just finished watching the Taiwanese drama Because of You, which aired on CTS between January and May, 2010. The 22-episode drama starred Megan Lai as Tong Tong, the starstruck girl in love with her idol, Fang Zi Hao, played by Lego Li. It also starred Baron Chen as Sun Fan, who discovers how ephemeral fame can be when he becomes famous overnight. Finally, we had Tanaka Chie, a woman who is seeking fame at all costs, and ends up losing the man she loves in that pursuit.
Because of You is about fame and how it touches people’s lives in different ways. It showed the consequences of greed, what happens when one fails to realize ones own limits, and how fame can make people arrogant and blind to reality. But more importantly, Because of You was about dreams and how one can attain those dreams if you only persevere. As we took the journey with our characters, we watched them grow, mature somewhat, and learn to let go of the fleeting thing that is fame in order to make their dreams come true. I watched this drama due to my newborn love of Baron Chen and Megan Lai, but the lackluster writing and the overacting made it a painful watch, and I can’t, in all good conscience, recommend this drama to anyone. Not even the diehard Baron/Megan fans.
The drama begins with our four main characters in places in their lives where they are not completely fulfilled, but they are somewhat content with their lives.
Fang Zi Hao is at the peak of his popularity. He is a well-known and well-loved singer and seems to make a lot of money at his trade. His problem is that he isn’t taken seriously by directors when he decides to take up acting. He tries to overcome his arrogance and take acting classes, but it opens up a door to his past and the bleak memories. We learn that Zi Hao grew up in a rich household, but his parents lost all their money. His father ran off. At some point, his mother also committed suicide. He wandered the streets of New York until his grandparents brought him home to Taiwan. He blames his mother for abandoning him. Due to his past, he has never opened himself up to anyone else and keeps everyone at a distance.
Tong Tong is a hard working, but ditzy girl, who grew up in a small town, Ben Harbor. She came to Taipei to make money. At some point in the past, Tong Tong’s father took out a loan and mismanaged the funds. In order to keep the loan sharks happy, Tong Tong must earn lots of money. She spends some of her time dodging these loan sharks, and also spends a lot of time dreaming about Fang Zi Hao and participating in fangirl activities as the president of Zi Hao’s fan club. Tong Tong comes into contact with Sun Fan one day. For the first time in her life, Tong Tong discovers what it means to love and dream about real life possibilities rather than an idol she has loved from afar.
Sun Fan is the son of a man who makes a business of buying debt and going after the people who owe money. While his father wants him to take over the business, Sun Fan dreams of becoming a big star so that he can reach his mother, who left the family home years ago. In his efforts to do this, he becomes a stunt double. While he dreams big, Sun Fan lacks the fortitude to go after his dreams. He loafs around most of the time. Sun Fan is currently dating his long-time girlfriend, Xing Ye Zhen. The two date, but he has to put up with her disapproving mother. Due to a misunderstanding, Sun Fan is videotaped beating up Zi Hao and becomes an overnight sensation. And because of his arrogance, lack of ambition, and partly Tong Tong’s fault, Sun Fan also loses it all and is banished to Ben Harbor to prove his ability to his father. This then becomes the story of his finding his own motivation and persevering to attain his dream of becoming a big star.
Xng Ye Zhen is an aspiring starlet. She spends her days modeling and her evenings dating her boyfriend, Sun Fan. Xing Ye has grown up with a mother who is bitter and never fails to expound on the sacrifices she made to raise her daughter. Xing Ye, with Sun Fan’s help, gets a chance to work with Zi Hao. She somehow catches Zi hao’s attention, who then spends the next five episodes showering her with gifts and urging her to dump her boyfriend, Sun Fan. Xing Ye gets a chance to appear in Zi Hao’s music video and lots of other opportunities. She is seduced by the possibility of success and breaks up with Sun Fan, knowing that she cannot remain tied to him. Xing Ye then loses everything, including her own diginity when her mother forces her to become a bar lounge singer. This is her story of attaining her dream of becoming a famous singer and composer.
So the story . . .
Zi Hao is a famous idol with a lot of bestseller music albums. He also wants to get into acting. While doing a music video, Zi Hao ends up hiring Xing Ye on a whim. When he is helping her after causing a drink to fall on her, Sun Fan catches them having a seemingly intimate and beats him up. Tong Tong videotapes the fight and posts it online, urging Zi Hao’s fans to revile Sun Fan. The plan backfires, and the public falls in love with this manly man and Sun Fan becomes famous overnight.
Xing Ye is seduced by Zi Hao’s riches, who shows her all that his power could do; he gives her his music videos, allows her to attend his fanmeets and be a guest star at his concert. He shows her that he can help her to attain her dreams. He urges her at every turn to break up with Sun Fan, and even steals kisses from her when she passes his test. I still can’t figure out if Zi Hao pursues Xing Ye because he sincerely likes her or because of revenge on Sun Fan, who beat him up. Either way, he succeeds. She breaks up with Sun Fan.
Tong Tong has spent years evading debt collectors. During one such debt collection moment, Tong Tong fools Sun Fan (who has come to collect for his father) and cheats him out of money. She also causes him to be arrested as a panty thief. This will be important later on. Tong Tong then begins working for Sun Fan’s company, not knowing that this is the company that she owes money to. When she realizes that Sun Fan doesn’t even recognize her, she happily becomes his assistant. When Sun Fan becomes famous overnight, she starts booking show spots for him and coaching him so that he can keep Xing Ye at his side (and away from Zi Hao). She also continues with her fan activities for Zi Hao, and during one such effort, she ends up fainting from the heat and is taken to the hospital.
Due to Sun Fan’s fame, he wins a coveted role for a famous director’s new movie, the same role that Zi Hao was angling for. While Sun Fan is reaching new heights and arrogantly taking them as his due, his girlfriend breaks up with him. Sun Fan also refuses to work at his craft and ends up losing his coveted role. Additionally, while performing a stunt on a job, he hurts himself and has to recuperate in a hospital for two weeks. While the two are in the hospital, Sun Fan and Tong Tong confess their love to each other. But they consider it a weird mistake and both take it back. Sun Fan insists that Tong Tong is just a bro for him, and Tong Tong feels guilty for betraying Zi Hao.
While Sun Fan is in the hospital, Zi Hao’s manager reveals Sun Fan’s criminal past as a panty thief. Due to the fallout from this, Sun Fan’s manager dumps him, and Sun Fan ends up owing lots of penalty fees for broken contracts. His father steps in and pays off his debts, but only on the condition that Sun Fan must go to Ben Harbor and make her family’s karaoke bar a success.
When Sun Fan goes off to Ben Harbor, he begins to work closely with Tong Tong. The two become closer. They share a kiss and confess their affection for each other. Before the two can really work on their emotions, others interfere in the form of Xing Ye and Zi Hao. Whenever the two try to overcome their petty jealousies and reconcile, Xing Ye or Zi Hao tug them back into different corners.
Xing Ye gets a taste of being famous from the music video. She is a bit overwhelmed by the heights that Zi Hao wants her to reach, even going as far as helping her debut as a singer. The fans are unhappy with how close Zi Hao is to her. Things don’t go well for long. She gets egged at Zi Hao’s fan meet. And when Sun Fan’s manager (who is an all around bad man) bribes Xing Ye’s mother, her mother ends up ruining Xing Ye’s chance at success. By mouthing off about how Zi Hao stiffed her daughter of her rightful due, she causes Zi Hao to distance himself from Xing Ye. She loses it all overnight. Xing Ye is forced to work in a restaurant serving beer to pay her mother’s debts, and then sing at the bar lounge where her mother works. Sun Fan finds out, and takes out another loan from his father to save Xing Ye. He encourages her to run away from her mother, which she does, only to glom onto Sun Fan in hopes of winning him back. She returns with him to Ben Harbor, and begins to take up all of his attention again, causing Tong Tong to get jealous. Sun Fan does clearly tell Xing Ye that they can no longer go back to what they were.
Zi Hao has turned his attention to directing. He wants to make a pure love story to counteract the stain on his reputation his scandal with Xing Ye has caused. He finds that pure love story on Tong Tong’s blog, who talks about the love she (Xiao Yu) feels for Zi Hao (Rainbow) and how she wants to take care of him from afar. The two meet, and Zi Hao tells her that he wants to buy the rights to her blog. She tells him that she’ll think about it. When she finds out that his manager has run away with all of his money, leaving him in immense debt, she cheers him up at every opportunity, reminding him that he is never truly alone because he has his fans.
Sun Fan sees them together and reacts jealously; he derides Tong Tong for being seduced by Zi Hao’s riches. When the two work together on the movie script, he witnesses how Tong Tong takes care of Zi Hao and erupts every single time. He fears losing Tong Tong just as he lost Xing Ye to Zi Hao. But despite his fears and his increasing jealousies, he does like her and confesses that to her when she is about to leave. And then, to hold on to her, he makes a seashell necklace for her when her sister tells him that it is her dream to receive one from the man she loves.
While Sun Fan gets ready to give flowers, a dress and jewelry to Tong Tong during Lovers’ Night at the family karaoke bar, Tong Tong is in Taipei with Zi Hao. When she receives a dress, she thinks that it is from Sun Fan and quickly dons it, only to realize that it is from Zi Hao. Nevertheless, she goes home with Zi Hao, never contemplating for a moment that she should go back and change her dress or make her own way home. When they get home, Tong Tong sees Sun Fan standing at the door with flowers. Instead of explaining or separating herself from Zi Hao, she lowers her head and silently walks past him! She doesn’t seek him out the entire evening, even knowing that he has been hurt by her perceived rejection. Only when her mother scolds her and shows her the necklace he made, spilling blood for her, does she gather the courage to go to him. Sun Fan ignores all her pleas, keeping the door closed between them.
The next morning, Tong encounters Sun Fan with Xing Ye, and retaliates by throwing his necklace in the ocean. She then goes off to meet Zi Hao on his yacht. When Zi Hao tells her that he wants to be with her, Tong Tong doesn’t say no. She sits there, mute, until Sun Fan shows up on a small boat and shows her the necklace he miraculously found in the ocean. He then falls into the same ocean, forcing Zi Hao to save him. Tong Tong is beside herself with worry.
Lest we think that this will open the two idiots’ eyes, we are quickly disabused of that notion. Tong Tong goes off with Zi Hao, becoming his production assistant when he calls. She sells the rights of her story to Zi Hao and even writes the screenplay. While she is quick to tell her friend that it is weird (saying, she’s been shouting “Husband! Husband!” for so long, that it’s kind of creepy that someone (Zi Hao) is actually answering now), she still can’t no to him.
On a side note, we get a bit of closure with Xing Ye and Zi Hao. It seems Zi Hao was chasing her for just the heck of it. He had no feelings for her, but now that he has fallen so low, he realizes what a jerk he was. He offers to help her with a music career, a good teacher and a place to live out of guilt. Xing Ye is also able to tell him that she hated him for the loss of her career/job and her love, but now she can see him as a friend. She takes his offer and goes off to Taipei. As Xing Ye is leaving, she urges Sun Fan to go after Tong Tong. Sun Fan replies that Zi Hao is Tong Tong’s rainbow (and he can’t compete against that.). Nevertheless, he is heartbroken when he learns that Tong Tong went off with Zi Hao without even telling him.
Things seem to steadily worsen. Tong Tong can’t seem to read between the lines nor can she say no to Zi Hao about anything. She even allows Zi Hao to hold her hand in public. When Ah Ming, Sun Fan’s friend, calls Sun Fan tells him about the handholding, Sun Fan has a major freakout. He then decides to go back to Taipei and pursue his dream of becoming a star. He is called into audition for Rainbow’s Story and wins the part of Rainbow, forcing Zi Hao to take on the avatar of the friend (2nd lead). When he questions the girl’s devotion, Tong Tong gets defensive and states that she would always go after Rainbow. This is the point at which Sun Fan seems to give up, knowing that Tong Tong will always idealize her idol above all else. He tells her that he was just playing with her in Ben Harbor because he was bored, and that she shouldn’t take it too seriously. Tong Tong is left heartbroken, but I really questioned her right to be so.
Before Sun Fan can get too happy about winning the role, he finds out that his father lent Zi Hao money and that he may not have gotten this role on his own merits. He quits, and Zi Hao is quick to take on Rainbow’s role. When Tong Tong goes after Sun Fan, Zi Hao orders her to stop caring, telling her that she is cheating on him. Tong Tong protests that she does care. She goes looking for Sun Fan. The other man, finding out the truth, apologizes to her for being rude. Despite the fact that he’s there and still clearly misunderstanding her relationship with Zi Hao, Tong Tong says nothing! They bicker again and go back to their respective corners.
Sun Fan goes to apologize to Zi Hao, wanting to get the role back. Zi Hao says fine but on 3 conditions: 1) call him teacher, 2) sign on with his company for 10 years, and 3) treat Tong Tong as Mrs. Fang (his wife) and never go near her. He tells Sun Fan that he cannot compare to Zi Hao, because Sun Fan is a failure who runs away at the first obstacle whereas Zi Hao faces it and wins without any support. Sun Fan balks at first, but later on, seeing that Tong Tong is still flitting around Zi Hao, he agrees. When a newspaper article comes out about Sun Fan and Xing Ye and their renewed relationship, Tong Tong tells Sun Fan how disgusted she is with him. Although Sun Fan tries to explain, he pulls back due to Zi Hao’s conditions and his own low self-worth. Tong Tong seems to have given up on Sun Fan. On what though, I don’t know, since she never actually tried in the first place and no one besides her really knew what was going on in her heart! 😦
Sun Fan begins filming for the movie in Ben Harbor, staying at Tong Tong’s home. Xing Ye begins her musical career. Zi Hao decides to finish his movie and go to New York to study acting. He also decides to take Tong Tong with him. This is where Tong Tong finally tells him that she does not love him as a man, she only loved him as an idea. She tells him that Sun Fan has infected her like a flu bug, and she cannot be cured. He understands, but tells her to stay away from Sun Fan. He tells her that she is Sun Fan’s greatest motivation and greatest distraction, and she needs to stop distracting him for his own good. Tong Tong reluctantly agrees. Sun Fan, upon hearing that Tong Tong will be going to New York, leaves Tong Tong’s home, leaving Tong Tong behind.
Sun Fan has been told by Xing Ye, Ah Ming, his father, and his grandfather that Tong Tong loves him. He spends his days reliving the love that Tong Tong had for Zi Hao as he films their story. Despite his doubts, he goes to Tong Tong and asks her to stay. He tells her that he wants her. She refuses and says that she wants to see the world. She tells him that she’ll come back in a year and be a part of his fanclub. He asks her to come back into his life instead. He gives her the seashell necklace, grabbing onto her hand. Tong Tong takes the necklace and runs away.
One year later . . .
Tong Tong sits at her computer, filled with regret. She wonders what would have happened if she had stayed that day. She believes that Sun Fan has now gotten back with Xing Ye. Sun Fan is a popular movie star, with one hit under his belt (the movie Rainbow Whispers). Zi Hao’s agency is running successfully, even without him there. Xing Ye is a big star. And when she is not regretting the past, Tong Tong is a famous tailor (designer?), who is too busy to go back and see her old friends.
Since Ah Ming is now marrying Tong Tong’s best friend, Xiao Qi, the two cross paths again and Sun Fan runs away. Tong Tong takes that as another sign that he no longer/never loved her. At a celebration at her family’s karaoke bar, Sun Fan and Tong Tong are directed by Zi Hao to confess their loves to each other. Sun Fan opens himself up again and tells her that he loves her. She replies that she loves him back. That night, the two bicker while gazing at the rainbow bridge and share a kiss.
Tong Tong finishes her story with a monologue about how she is lucky enough to have two rainbows in her life. The one she will always love from the afar, and the one in her heart. She muses that people always have different dreams, but only by perseverance and believing in that dream will they actually obtain their rainbow.
This drama was a 3 out of 10, and that only because of the moments of seriousness I got from Baron Chen and Megan Lai (near the end). Otherwise, it was full of overacting, bad plot points, and horrible or lackluster characters. I watched it because I loved Baron Chen and Megan Lai in Bromance, and hoped to see some of their amazing chemistry in this drama. I ended up realizing that a couple is really nothing without the right story and the right director.
The Writing . . .
The writer united Sun Fan and Tong Tong too early. The two confessed their love to each other in about episode 9 and kissed in 12. They spent the next 10 episodes misunderstanding each other and running away from each other! It was as if the plot was on this cycle – have a intimate moment, misunderstand each other, fight, run away, and repeat.
Additionally, I never understood the motivations of some of the characters. Why did Zi Hao pursue Xing Ye? We are never told that. Also, did he really love Tong Tong, or was it all a ruse to get his actor acting and his writer writing? If he really loved Tong Tong, why did he love her? I guess we’re supposed to accept that he finally opened himself up due to her continuing loyalty to him, and allowed himself to love due to the same reasons. He opened himself up, only to find that she had already moved on. But I shouldn’t have to guess that, the drama should have done a much better job of showing it!
Why did Tong Tong never say no to Zi Hao, despite the fact that she clearly had feelings for Sun Fan at this point? The way her actions were written were very frustrating and made me feel horrible for Sun Fan.
We got the answers for most of our other questions, but the telling was so pedantic and plodding that the journey to those questions was very painstaking. Yes, Tong Tong loved Sun Fan, but she took FOREVER to actually tell him that. We get that in the last episode. The writing was lackluster, and made most everything unpleasant to watch.
The Characters . . .
One thing I cannot bear is irresponsible people. Tong Tong’s family owes tons of money, yet she felt no compunction in leaving the job her best friend had helped her to arrange, and going off to see her favorite idol? Who does that?! When she began working at Sun Fan’s company, she never did any work! She felt no guilt in taking the salary, but did none of the work. What kind of work ethic was that? And to go off and do club activities during the work day? I had no respect for her, and had to wonder how she got her boss to give Zi Hao a chance. Where does she get the power? And Sun Fan dreamt about becoming a big star, yet, when the opportunity landed in his lap, he did nothing to hold onto that chance. He was too arrogant. He refused to wok hard and learn the craft, and refused to listen to the experienced people around him. He was a total know it all, and even up until episode 17, he hadn’t changed.
I found both Sun Fan and Tong Tong unlikable for most of the drama. Sun Fan was so arrogant and fly by the seat of his pants, that I felt sorry for Xing Ye in the beginning. It took him a long, long time to learn how to be responsible. Tong Tong was an adult, yet focused only on her love for Zi Hao. She ditched her responsibilities in favor of that love. When she did fall in love with Sun Fan, she was so stupid about it. She never noticed when she hurt Sun Fan or even that she could be hurting him with her actions. For her, it was always Zi Hao; that got tiring after a while. The two did grow in the end, but we got maybe an episode of them being serious and sacrificing before the drama ended. Not good enough.
Zi Hao was someone I didn’t understand. He was a real jerk to Xing Ye, and we’re supposed to feel sorry for him because of his past? I’m sorry, but horrible things happen to people all the time, but they aren’t jerks like he was. He didn’t even learn from his actions. He did the same things to Tong Tong that he did to Xing Ye, showing her that her dream could come true if she was with him and urging her to break up with Sun Fan. He finally let Tong Tong go, but that was after he deliberately separated the two for a year!
I felt sorry for Xing Ye, but not too much. Yes, her mother was horrible, but she was the one who gave into her own inner darkness and dumped Sun Fan for her dreams. She then lost everything and allowed her mother to pressure her into doing increasingly low jobs for money. She was the classic damsel in distress who needed perpetual saving. Even in the end, it was Zi Hao who gave her her big break and only then did her star rise.
I disliked Tong Tong’s parents, because they clearly had no common sense. They borrowed money, putting the family business at risk, and forcing their daughter to be a conwoman. Also, their idiocy hurt Sun Fan multiple times when they raved about how perfect Zi Hao would be for their daughter, who has always loved him.
I really disliked Xing Ye’s mother, who thought that the fact that she raised Xing Ye gave her the right to pimp out her daughter later on. She was forcing her daughter to have a relationship with her own sponsor before Sun Fan came to her rescue.
I did like Sun Fan’s father and grandfather. His father was loud and looked scary, but he loved his son. Even knowing that his ex-wife was a total bi*** and he could tell that to Sun Fan and stop him from pursuing his dream of becoming a big star, he still kept all of that a secret to protect his son’s heart. He cared for his son and saved him at every turn. He was the perfect father. And his father was a very wise and helpful grandfather to Sun Fan, always telling him that Tong Tong loved him, encouraging him to pursue her and being brave enough to try for his dream even at his age. It was hilarious that Grandpa became a big star at his age.
The Acting . . .
I can’t really tell how well someone is acting when they are acting in a different language. So, I don’t know if they were really cringe worthy or not, but I do know that I didn’t really like the main actors’ acting in this drama.
Baron Chen was too loud and too cocky in almost all of his scenes. I think that had to do with his character more than anything. Sun Fan was supposed to be cocky. In the moments that we see Sun Fan being uncertain or hurt, he did a good job. When love hurts him and he changes into someone who is more calm and sober, he does a tremendous job. Overall, Baron Chen did a good job.
I did not like Megan Lai’s Tong Tong. One, because I just disliked the character. But how Megan played her, the constant rubbing of the bangs, the look in her eyes, the way she moved her body made me dislike Tong Tong even more. I know I’m being harsh, but I can’t help it. Tong Tong wasn’t a good character. Her uncertainty and flip-flopping back and forth hurt other people, and that’s something I just can’t condone. But, I did like how she became serious later on. When she breaks down at seeing the newspaper article and realizes that she has lost Sun Fan forever, and then becomes more serious and sober, I liked that acting. I blame the director / writer more than the actor in this sense.
Lego Li and Tanaka Chie were very opaque in their acting. They were low key, and I couldn’t really read their characters or their characters’ motivations in their eyes.
The elder generation did a good job. They must have, since I never doubted their characters.
Overall, Because of You was a very frustrating and loud watch. I give it 3 out of 10, and would not recommend it to anyone for a watch.