Review: the first half of my life

BY APDJul 30,2017 at 13:25

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By APD Writer Zeng Xinlan

A Chinese TV series named “The First Half of My Life” that runs on the Beijing TV since early July turns out to be rather a phenomenal one especially in Weibo, China’s twitter, in the past two weeks, sparking a heated discussions on women, work and family life across the country.

Adapted from Hong Kong novelist Yi Shu’s best-selling novel of the same title, the 42-episode TV drama shows the modern women's independence in the 21st century from the perspective of a housewife-turned-career Shanghai woman.

Leading actress Luo Zijun, starred by Ma Yili, was a rich housewife who likes any luxury products like Prada and LV. However, the carefree life went away from her after her husband divorces her to marry his lover Ling Ling.

From top: Luo Zijun by Ma Yili, Tang Jing by Yuan Quan, He Han by Jin Dong

From top: Luo Zijun by Ma Yili, Tang Jing by Yuan Quan, He Han by Jin Dong


Lucky for her, Tang Jing (by Yuan Quan), the bestie of Zijun, a successful business woman, offers great help to her. Tang is too generous to introduce her boyfriend, He Han (By Jin Dong), a business tycoon, to Zijun. He voluntarily plays a role of life instructor for her, telling valuable work experiences and helping her when she is in need. Thus before long Zijun makes great progress in the workplace and in her self-rediscovering journey, Cinderella and the prince find each other more attractive.

According to Huang Lan, the producer, the TV drama is aimed to tell the audience that "women should seek their own happiness on their feet instead of relying on marriages,” the merits of it, however, is yet to be proven. Ostensibly, the all-effort transition from a full-time housewife to a professional career woman in all likelihood reflects the awakening and creep-up of feminism spirit. The role of leading actor, He Han, however, is still disputable because in the Zijun’s redemption for the first half of her life, He apparently serves as a life tutor who gives rational and pragmatic suggestions.

So I am wondering what’s the point of Zijun’s self-salvation whether the one she’s gonna be is a nice lady under another man’s manipulation. The Feminism spirit, as it is, should be all about women themselves. They are able to lead a decent life on their own, fulfill themselves materially and mentally by their own hands, without others’ mercy or virtue. Determined and devoted may she be, it seems that Zijun’s inspiring experience is to paper over the philosophy that female, no matter from whatever walks of life, is incomplete without her guarding knight who coincidently happens to be a top achiever and falls for her unconditionally and irretrievably.

Stereotype such as woman is supposed to be fairy, delicate and sentimental figure still dominates the public agenda. The image is not making any headway in guiding the public to admit a strong, independent, needing-no-man character.

Similarly, Carrie (by Sarah Jessica Parker) from the iconic HBO series “Sex and City”, leads a similar life with that of Zijun. Though she labels herself as the feminism pioneer, she only finds her life perfected with Mr. Big’s kneeling down with a big fat ring. From 1998 to 2017, 19 years has passed and now what?

For what it worth, despite its inaction in eliminating the female character stereotype, “The First Half of My Life” is generally a decent TV drama for its acting skills and goodwill of pursuing a new dream of many well-educated modern women in the world’s biggest emerging economy.

For all we know, it is an era of which the women are no longer marginalized or relegated, the promise of women’s holding up half of the sky, however, is yet to kick in.

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