Taiwanese BL Drama Reviews


We Best Love: No. 1 for You

{FIRST IMPRESSION}

CONTAINS SPOILERS

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. 

“Lean on me. If possible, just look at me.” 

~Shi De~

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: 

VIEWER RELATABILITY

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. 

“The most painful part of losing your love isn’t that the one you like left you, but that you start to doubt yourself. Am I not good enough? Don’t I deserve to be loved?”

~Shu Yi~

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. 

CHEMISTRY

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.

ANGST

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.


We Best Love: No. 1 for You

{FULL SERIES REVIEW}

Contains spoilers

I want to live in the bliss that is Shi Yu and Shi De, to revel in the warmth and affection they feel for each other. This drama’s power lies in the intense feelings these two men have for each other despite their differences. I have no doubt that the upcoming second season will be as tense, fun, and satisfying as the first.

By Regina Ryals

One word: Taiwan. 

I have long been a fan of Taiwanese dramas and movies. There is something unique about the way they put stories on film. There is an intensity to their storytelling that is as apparent in their comedies as in their dramatic projects. The same applies to their gay romances. 

We Best Love: No. 1 for You started off strong. The first episode built the framework for a drama that succeeds because of its characters rather than its plot. Starring Sam Lin as the hopelessly in love Gao Shi De and YU as the exasperating but equally charming Zhou Shu Yi, No. 1 for You tells a story about unrequited love and friendship. There is nothing remarkable about the plot itself. Unrequited love and enemies-to-lovers tropes aren’t strangers to dramas and films. I can break down the entire series into two sentences. A hopelessly in love Shi De has been infatuated with the oblivious Shu Yi since childhood. In college, the two competitive rivals form a tenuous agreement that leads to romance. That’s the entire story summarized. What makes this drama so special isn’t the story it’s telling, it’s the people the story happens to. 

I won’t waste your time by breaking each episode down piece by piece. Instead, I’ll talk about the two things that cause No. 1 for You to stand out amidst a plethora of BL content.  

Character Driven

No 1. for You is a drama driven by its characters. A lot of time and attention is spent developing the people this unrequited love story is happening to. Rather than massive amounts of plot angst and numerous scene changes, the camera focuses mostly on Shi Yu and Shi De. Watching No. 1 for You felt like reading a diary. It felt personal. Shi De’s voiceover narration and the “lessons” each episode delivers immediately placed me inside Shi De’s emotional upheaval as well as his college lifestyle. This is a story about two young men on the verge of starting their lives in the adult world. The lessons each episode reveals are a beautiful example of what it’s like to be at the beginning of an independent life while also being in love while studying. 

Shi De stands center stage, his voice, actions, and expressions delivering an intense need vital to this drama. I was drawn into his lovelorn desperation, to his need to be noticed by Shi Yu. It seems too simple to say that Shi De’s unrequited love is basically the entire gist of this show, but it is. Despite that, No. 1 for You feels more significant than that. Although we don’t get as in-depth a look into Shi Yu’s thoughts as we do Shi De, there is a lot of particular attention paid to how he reacts to situations. His reactions alone have the same depth as Shi De’s voiceovers, leaving viewers wholly engrossed in his confusion and his developing maturity. 

The attention to Shu Yi’s reactions brings me to one of my favorite things about this show: the absolute blindness that love brings into our lives. The people behind this show do a marvelous job of using the supporting characters and Shi Yu’s reactions to situations to express how hard it is to be in a relationship with Shi Yu. Let’s face it, Shi Yu is not an easy character to deal with. He is dramatic, needy, a little arrogant, and prideful, but there are flashes of charm and compassion that outweigh the difficulty.

I am in love with how complex Shi Yu is and how well actor YU pulls off this temperamental but charming character, especially considering he doesn’t have the voiceover advantage that Shi De has. Although Shi Yu is exasperating, the viewer can immediately see why Shi De is in love with him. There is an aura to Shi Yu that is hard to ignore. Even if the drama had not offered me the childhood flashback to show me how thoughtful Shi Yu can be, I would have known how caring he is. The people seeking the most attention often need love, their desire to be noticed a clear cry for affection. Shi De may have been in love with Shi Yu the longest, but Shi Yu certainly falls the hardest. The same characteristics that make him hard to deal with are the same characteristics that make Shi Yu such a powerful significant other. He doesn’t do things half-way, and while that comes across as overly competitive and even childish at times at the beginning of this drama, it is this same personality trait that makes him so fiercely loyal to those around him. I am in awe of how well the script and YU’s portrayal express this complexity. I fell in love with Shi Yu as hard as Shi De did.

No. 1 for You’s focus on each character builds an emotional world more potent than their physical surroundings, emotionally involving the viewer in every decision these characters make, every pain they feel, and every moment of happiness they experience. 

The Chemistry

I feel like listing chemistry as a show’s main highlight is a little monotonous. Obviously, good chemistry is needed between the actors to create tense, electric interactions. However, the power of No. 1 for You is as much its chemistry as its character-driven plot. The interactions between Shi Yu and Shi De are incredibly natural. There is no awkwardness. Even in moments when I should have felt secondhand embarrassment, I didn’t. There is a familiarity between these characters that go beyond embarrassment. Have you ever been so close to someone that no matter what you do or say in front of them, you never feel self-conscious about it? Ashamed or regretful maybe, if you’ve said or done something in anger, but never mortification. I felt this kind of energy between Shi Yu and Shi De. Their childhood connection, their competitive relationship, and Shi Yu’s pranks left little room for embarrassment. Shi De understands Shi Yu on an elemental level. He loves Shi Yu despite his excessiveness and flaws. Shi De cares for the compassionate, loving man he knows Shi Yu is. 

The love between Shi Yu and Shi De is so intense that it explodes from the screen. They adore everything about each other, which is incredibly apparent by how they put up with each other’s idiosyncrasies, the way they touch, and the way they kiss. When their lips touch, it’s as if they become the oxygen the other needs to exist. 

While my favorite thing about this drama is Shi Yu’s complexity and Shi De’s devotion to him, I am also impressed by Shi De’s humble nature. Shi De thinks Shi Yu deserves the world, but he doesn’t believe Shi Yu can harbor the same kind of intense love for him. Shi De’s expression after Shi Yu’s very dramatic bridge confession is not only priceless, it is potent. 

Simplicity can be powerful, and No 1 for You is an example of this kind of simplicity. By focusing on giving each character a three-dimensional feel and exploring the natural chemistry they have with each other, this drama manages to succeed where similar dramas have not. Every episode feels like a live-action diary entry.

Coming Soon

I am excited for the second season coming this March. Season two will take us five years into the future. It begins on the heels of the intense scene the final episode of season 1 offers us after the credits roll. A furious Shi Yu slaps Shi De in a powerfully charged moment that promises an explosive start to Fighting Mr. 2nd. I am also highly anticipating seeing more of the doctor’s story. 

Pei Shou Yi portrayed by Ray Chang left a deep impression on me in No. 1 For You. Even though he doesn’t get a lot of screen time, his pain is visceral. Cousin to Shi De, Shou Yi has experienced a past love that has left him with apparent scars. Again, this drama masterfully uses character development to portray Shou Yi’s pain in an understated but formidable way. Shou Yi’s conflict is especially apparent when he’s around Shi Yu and Shi De. His expression is a very telling mix of disgust, envy, and uncertainty when he looks at them. He wants Shi Yu and Shi De to be happy and even helps them in this endeavor, but he is uncomfortable viewing their love. How often do we feel intimidated by other people’s happiness, especially if we have been burned in the past? Misery loves company, and I look forward to seeing Shou Yi address the history that caused him such suffering. 

We Best Love: No. 1 for You is a perfect example of how something as simple as a character-driven plot bolstered by great chemistry can come together to create a successful and beautiful production. 

I need more. 

If you are interested in watching, please check this drama out on WeTV. It is worth every lovelorn, poignantly affectionate moment. You will not regret it. 

One Comment on “Taiwanese BL Drama Reviews

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: