“FIND YOURSELF” IS A SWEET DRAMA ABOUT THE DIFFERENT LOOKS OF LOVE
Find Yourself is a comfortable watch.
To be different means to be bold. Forgoing the expectations of others to stay true to yourself is difficult and as much as its publicly esteemed, even encouraged, it can often cause great pain. This is because in any culture, the community within it assent to rules and societal order that, although often limit personal freedom or happiness, are usually meant to create peace. Radicals and anyone who is comfortable with being extraordinary are taboo because they’re seen as instigators of chaos. Its why women are often stifled into maintaining tradition while men are liberated; it’s been the tradition for ages for men to be carefree while women propped them up. Anyone willing to break that mold, faces the harsh reality of rejection. This troubling societal phenomenon is central in “Find Yourself” a new Chinese drama starring Song Qian.
“Find Yourself” a romantic comedy written by Shui Qian Mo and Wang Xiong Cheng is about 32-year-old He Fanxing (Song Qian), finding love for the first time. Her twin brother He Canyang (Zhang Yu Jian) always stood between her and any love interests because he wanted his sister all to himself. So no one stood a chance until Yuan Song (Song Wei Long). Just 22, a full 10 years younger than Fanxing, Song is bold and passionate. As an intern for a decoration company where Fanxing was the administrative director (a position he got through his friendship with Canyang) he was always close with her. Song thought Fanxing was beautiful so when the opportunity presented itself, he couldn’t help but risk rejection to offer himself for consideration. He wanted to date her and it didn’t matter what her family would think, how their colleagues would handle the news, or what the future held. Still, he knew that loving her, given their age difference, would scandalize their traditional community but he ignored the stigma and fought for her.
Luckily for Fanxing though, since her whole family thought she was so naive and inexperienced they had no idea when she started secretly dating Yuan Song, that she was in love or much less that she’d slept over at his place. Their image of her as an innocent girl saved her from pressure early on in their relationship so that they could take their time to fall into line with each other. Still, she had strict rules: they were to date for a trial of 3 months to determine if their relationship was stable enough to be publicized, they had to maintain a distance and professionalism at work, and finally they couldn’t tell anyone. This meant that even Fanxing’s best-friends Song Xue (Zhou Qi Qi) and Yang Xiao Xue (Elaine Tong) had to remain ignorant to the situation. Likewise, Yuan Song couldn’t reveal that he had a girlfriend no matter how often he was chased by his junior Cai Minmin (Yu Shu Xin). Of course, this was the biggest problem with their relationship.
Although their love developed fast, it was one filled with passion, care, and harmony. They brought out the best in each other; Yuan Song made Fanxing lighter, relaxed, and courageous; conversely Fanxing made him more considerate, rational, and mature. But their relationship trial period was filled with conflict because despite their obvious compatibility, Fanxing had unknowingly caught the eye of Ye Luming (Wang Yao Qing), a 37 year old advertising boss. While maintaining a facade as her friend, Luming tried quite tenaciously to draw her into a relationship with him despite knowing that she wasn’t romantically interested in him. Things were made even more complicated by the fact that Ye Luming is also Cai Minmin’s uncle and since both uncle and niece were so enamored by the He siblings, they caused a lot of obstacles for the twins while trying to seek a partnership with them. It meant that Fanxing and Canyang had the heavy task of opening the minds of their already unconventional parents who were surprisingly patient with their children when it came to finding life partners. Yet, Yuan Song, Luming and Cai Minmin really tested the close bond of the He family.
Apart from the sappy ending, “Find Yourself” is a comfortable watch with a creative plot, pleasant music and smooth acting. The beginning is slow to draw you in because viewers can also feel the uncertainty as Yuan Song and Fanxing strive to hide their budding relationship. However, the show quickly reaches a crescendo so bubbly and sweet in its intensity, it automatically makes you fall in love with the characters and their story. Perhaps it’s because the plot itself is quite groundbreaking among its peers, so the story is memorable. How often do you see a romantic drama in which the focus is about how a woman finds a lover 10 years younger and builds a lasting relationship? Not often. We know that these type of relationships exist because they’re usually told about men but not readily about women.
Although “Find Yourself” is enjoyable, it’s worth noting that the way Luming tried to entrap Fanxing into a relationship was deceptive, morally bankrupt and emotionally coercive. It’s really important to recognize that it was wrong of him to contrive a friendship with her for the sole purpose of winning her because he was going against her agency by doing so. He was forcing himself on her; he was forcing her to show feelings she couldn’t possible create at will, and forcing her to separate from a partner who she loved. That Luming capitalized on the worries of Fanxing’s parents about her romantic future so that she would be pressured into considering him is pathetic and shameful. He exploited China’s toxic and harmful sexist views about single women over the age of 30 who have been described as “leftover” women and yet still failed. The humorous and perhaps satisfying conclusion to all of his insidious efforts was his realization that he couldn’t excite feelings that weren’t naturally there. And so, he is a model of what not to do. Like Cai Minmin generously shared with viewers, the best way to develop a relationship is to be honest and clear about these feelings early. Alternatively, Chang Huan, a colleague of Yuan Song and Fanxing, teaches that if you are going to confess your feelings later, you should be graceful about maintaining a distance once you are rejected because pressuring people to be with you will only cause pain.
The reason “Find Yourself” hits well, is because of the warm plot, sprinkles of progressive ideologies and the discussions about equality that it promotes. Fanxing’s friend group represents the renegade women who are slowly improving the lives of other women by boldly asserting that they are different. By doing so, they force people to reconsider the traditional power dynamic of heterosexual relationships so that other women can choose relationships that serve them as well as their partners. Even Yuan Song, addressed the fear mongering created from talks about women and their reproductive rights and the pressures that often stress women to hastily look for incompatible partners because of a biological clock. Still the point worth pondering is, if we’re all so invested in equality within intimate partner relationships, maybe we should consider scrapping or changing the traditional institution of marriage, which by it’s standing, upholds a sexist and patriarchal society—but that’s a discussion for another day.