Joy of Life
Genre: Action, Romance, Historical, Political
Air-date: Nov 26, 2019 – Jan 1, 2020
Starring: Zhang Ruo Yun as Fan Xian, Lin Qin as Li Wan’er, Chen Dao Ming as Emperor of Qing, Wu Gang as Chen Ping Ping, Song Yi as Fan Ruo Ruo
I genuinely thought with all my heart that I wasn’t going to finish this drama for now. The thing was that it was so good and so addictive that I just HAD to finish it. Now there is a Joy of Life sized hole in my heart because like wtf is a bitch supposed to do while I wait another something odd years for season two?? Especially considering the destruction that was the season one ending??!!
I have long been a fan of Zhang Ruoyun since I had seen him Medical Examiner Dr. Qin and was interested in this drama because he was the lead and I often find myself wanting to watch dramas that have been adopted from novels. It also didn’t hurt that the cast boasted a few actors that have been on my radar: Xiao Zhan, Xin Zhilei and Li Qin. I knew at the very least that I would watch the first few episodes to figure out if it would be a drama I binged once it ended or kept up with religiously. When I started this drama I was also watching Royal Nirvana, which was a drama that I genuinely anticipated because I love those type of stories. I ended up dropping Royal Nirvana (will likely pick it back up later) once I watched the first three episodes of Joy of Life on YouTube.
I was instantly hooked on this drama and the only reason it took me this long to complete was because Viki was also doing subs and I decided that I wanted to watch the episodes on Viki in HD on my TV because it was that worthy! The plot was so good. Everything that happened, happened for a reason. I don’t often believe that a show can go 20 or more episodes without fillers, but there was truly no filler in this series. It was fast paced with a tight plot. The only issue I had with the plot was the ending, but even that wasn’t actually an issue because we knew there were plans to have three seasons so of course ending it in such a manner would be the incentive for season two and then eventually season three. I guess my problem is that they should’ve probably filmed all three seasons/parts together at once because all the hype will surely die by the time the second season comes around and then lord knows if the third will ever come. Also like Xiao Zhan is super popular now and I could understand him not coming back to play a minor role.
The acting and the characters were extremely impressive. I want to talk in particular to my three favorite performances. You see, I know a lot of people have already praised Ruoyun, but listen…. His dedication to the craft and the performance he gave as Fan Xian??? IMMACULATE. FLAWLESS. PERFECTION. I laughed, I cried and I loved. I enjoyed him immensely. I haven’t read the book, but I truly cannot imagine that anyone else could bring justice to Fan Xian like he has. I was enamored and it upped my attraction to Ruoyun a lot. Like at first I wasn’t sure if I actually found him attractive and because of this role I now think he is sooooooo fine. Next to our hero, I enjoyed the performances of our emperor so much. Chen Daoming delivered the holy bible and the gospel truth. I was captivated by every action that he did and I hated him from time to time, but it was still just so good that I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about it. And then the third performance that I loved was Song Yi as Fan Ruo Ruo. She was a hidden gem. I didn’t know Song Yi before this and I can now only describe my life as pre and post Song Yi. Ruo Ruo was my favorite female character which is a hard choice to make because the women were pretty fucking great in this drama as well. I enjoyed how Ruo Ruo stood by Fan Xian no matter what. She was caring, loyal, funny and stunning. I would love to see a spin-off with Ruo Ruo.. GIVE SONG YI ALL THE ROLES! Also just because these were my favorites doesn’t mean everyone else sucks, they all came and SHOWED TF OUT.
Even though romance isn’t the focus of this story, there are a few catalytic moments as a result of this romance. Wan’er is the daughter of the Elder Princess and she ain’t want her daughter to be married to no broke ass bastard aka Fan Xian. Fan Xian and Wan’er had a very sweet relationship. It was love at first sight with a chicken leg in hand….Literally. He fell in love in like a second and usually I dislike insta love, but since this is an historical drama, I will allow it. I love that he was so incessant on his love without even knowing her name or status. He didn’t give a shit and wasn’t gonna marry anyone else! Commandery Princess be damned! He wanted his chicken leg! I also enjoyed that they didn’t drag out the mistaken identity between them. It was actually kinda cute that they both fell in love at first sight. I also like how nurturing and trusting Wan’er was which is typical of most female leads in this drama but the chemistry helped to amplify that. The actors are good friends and Li Qin was even a bridesmaid at his wedding! Hehehe.
Overall, this drama has great acting, great storytelling, fast paced, sweet romance and tons of good looking people! Like hello!!!! Why wouldn’t you want to watch? I kid you not when I say there’s a Joy of Life sized hole left in my life. Ever since I’ve started and finished this drama, no historical drama is hitting quite like this one. Send help please!! I HAVE NOTHING TO LIVE FOR.
Rewatch Value: 10/10
Fave Song: Remaining Years (余年) – Xiao Zhan