Shi De’s love for Shu Yi is so incredibly visceral that I find it utterly amusing how unaware Shu Yi is. Broken hearts, unrequited love, enemies-to-friends-to-lovers trope … We Best Love: No. 1 for You already holds my angsty heart in its hands. The chemistry is fire.Review by Regina Ryals
Starring Taiwanese actor and singer Sam Lin (also known as Zing Hong Lin) as Gao Shi De and Japanese-Taiwanese actor and singer YU as Zhou Shu Yi, No. 1 For You is the story of two competitive school acquaintances brought together by unrequited love.
Taiwan isn’t new to the BL (Boy’s Love) and gay romance genre, and with screenwriter Lin Pei Yu attached to this project, anticipation for this drama was particularly high. Best known in the BL community for such projects as History3: Trapped and History2: Crossing the Line, there is no doubt that Lin Pei Yu knows how to pen a good story. While the university setting and one-sided love plot in No. 1 for You is fairly typical for the BL genre, the chemistry between the two leads, the supporting side characters, and the emotional depth leaves a strong first impression.
Notable for me is how the drama opens with a voice-over narration set to a beautiful piano solo. In what appears to be a love letter to Shu Yi, Shi De’s confession intimately introduces viewers to each episode. As a writer, the story set up in a drama is crucial for me. Even in dramas with overused plots, a good introduction and well-written dialogue can breathe new life into it. It’s imperative a story hooks the viewers from the onset while using the rest of its time reeling them in. A drama’s success depends largely on keeping viewers snared. Fortunately for We Best Love: No. 1 for You, the hook is Shi De’s soulful feelings, the rest of the episode that follows building off the initial voice-over confession. I like that the episodes present a lesson. Although each episode is a continuation of the one before it, the “lesson” also individualizes them, leaving viewers with something specific to look forward to from each.
It’s apparent right away that No. 1 for You is placing its bets for success on a few key elements:
One of the many reasons unrequited love is utilized so often in books and dramas is because almost everyone can relate to it. One-sided crushes, unintentional broken hearts, a bruised pride, and competitive motivation are universally felt emotions. No. 1 for You is a maelstrom of relatable feelings. In the first two episodes, viewers realize Shi De and Shu Yi are experiencing unrequited love. Shi De is in love with Shu Yi while Shu Yi is in love with his best friend, Jiang Yu Xin. I relate to that kind of pain, the pain of loving someone despite knowing they may not feel the same way, the pain of trying so hard to make that person notice you even if they barely look your way. It hurts, especially when the person you love falls for someone else.
In the first episode, Shu Yi overhears Jiang Yu Xin confessing her feelings to their mutual friend, Fang Zheng Wen. What follows is an emotional look at what indirect rejection can do to a person, and I found myself lost in Shu Yi’s thoughts set to a lovely yet amusing theatrical backdrop. Shu Yi sits alone on a stool in the center of a stage surrounded by props and thundering sound effects.
Insightful writing sets a drama apart, and this is no exception. We don’t often realize how much our self-confidence depends on how those we care about feel about us. Confidence can either be inflated or deflated by a single moment. I’m not sure if the balloons in the scene with Shu Yi were meant to be symbolic, but I found them to be.
Aside from the unrequited love and heartache, what I found most relatable about We Best Love: No. 1 for You is the drive to be number one, to be better than the person above you. In this drama, Shu Yi has competed with Shi De since childhood, always coming in second place in everything from sports competitions to academics. While Shi De’s reason for beating Shu Yi is to garner Shi Yu’s attention, this ignites an all-consuming fire inside Shu Yi to be better. How often are we motivated by the desire to be the best at something, to achieve a promotion at work, or to feel the pride of knowing we gave it our best even if we fail? Growing up as a twin, I felt this daily. It’s not that I felt animosity toward my sister—although I realize the drive to succeed can often lead people down a greedy, self-destructive path—it was the need to shine as an individual when my twin and I were commonly viewed as a pair. As much as I love my twin, I wanted to be more than just one of the twins. I wanted to live my name, to be Regina rather than half of a pair. In No. 1 for You, Shi De becomes Shu Yi’s driving motivation, and even though he views Shi De as an enemy, it’s the need to be better than Shi De that pushes Shu Yi forward.
By blackmailing Shu Yi with a video of Shu Yi’s overheard love confession for Jiang Yu Xin, Shi De continues to encourage Shu Yi’s competitive drive by promising to “parole” him if Shu Yi can beat him at something. Before anyone points out that blackmailing is wrong, I am well aware of this, but I like how obvious it is from the start that Shi De has no intention of ever using the video against Shu Yi. I think, to an extent, Shu Yi realizes this, too, but letting Shi De order him around is a distraction that begins to heal his broken heart.
Sam Lin (Shi De) is notably the stronger actor between him and YU (Shu Yi). Still, whatever rookie mistakes there are in the performance, they are overshadowed by the incredible chemistry bringing these two male leads together. The tension, pull, and attraction between them is palpable. Every single time they come face-to-face, it is electric and natural. I find Sam Lin’s presence buoys YU’s acting. They make each other stronger, working off the other’s performance so well that, in those moments, I see only them. The chemistry alone, if strong enough, can carry an entire drama for me.
Oh, how I love angst. Anyone who knows me is well aware that the possibility of excessive drama in a series immediately wins me over. In real life, I want nothing to do with drama, but when I am watching a series, the more obstacles a couple has to face, the more emotions they have to endure, the more misunderstandings they have to overcome builds that much more anticipation and character connection for me. However, dealing with these obstacles and misunderstandings either gains my healthy respect for the leads or loses my attention. Humans are inherently flawed. It is the reason why we make so many mistakes, why we fall so many times before we ever learn to stand. Our constant search for the right path in life is the reason why poets like Robert Frost became successful with poems about divergent choices. While I can’t be sure We Best Love: No. 1 for You will be full of the type of angst I suspect is coming, I am pretty positive there are a lot more unrequited love stories in this drama than initially meets the eye. A storm of love triangles seems to be building, and while I’m not a fan of writing love triangles, I am a massive fan of watching them.
If We Best Love: No. 1 for You continues to connect with the viewers while delivering great chemistry and carefully navigating the sea of angst, it will undoubtedly vie for a place on my favorite drama list. Find out if it succeeded in my final series review when the show finishes airing.
If you are interested in watching with me, please check out We Best Love: No. 1 for you on the WeTV app (also known as Tencent Video) here.