Taiwanese drama In Time with You is one of my favorite dramas of all time – I watched it in a glorious summer haze two months ago when I was in the middle of a mild depression, and watching this in between and around bouts of baking and cooking was therapeutic. It’s a story of best friends falling in love, and a rare story in that it’s both slice-of-life with a close attention to the daily details of how people live, and also fast-paced and incredibly romantic. Chen You Qing (Ariel Lin) is a highly driven and capable retail manager of a high-end shoe company. She’s been with the company for years and handles her taxing job with mostly calm aplomb, committing long hours to it with a smile. Lin Da Ren (Bolin Chen) is her long-time best friend, the kind whom she casually picks up the phone and calls any hour of the day and who drops by her house for her mother’s cooking. Da Ren is a manager at an international airline, equally successful in his own right.
At the beginning of the drama, You Qing has just turned 30, and Da Ren heckles her about her age. They promptly make a bet of $5000 to whoever gets married first before the age of 35. The drama is absolutely wonderful because it captures both the feel of actually living life – showing You Qing getting up, choosing an outfit from her messy closet, getting to work, all the way through to stumbling home, slipping off her high heels, taking off her makeup and watching TV and drinking beer while chatting with her parents. You Qing is also incredibly appealing, an intelligent, bold woman with a quick wit and sense of humour who is also insecure about specific things and reacts hilariously to unexpected situations. Lin Da Ren is, much of the time, the steady compass to her volatile temper, but he’s also a people-pleaser and somewhat passive, too prone to going with the flow instead of going after what he really wants. In this sense they balance each other out really well.
It’s the friendship, and the persistent fizz of chemistry between Ariel and Bolin Chen, that buoy the drama, as it captures the almost hidden magic of a friendship so strong and enduring that it grounds your whole life, a friend you are completely comfortable with and yet aren’t inappropriately romantically entangled with. You Qing and Da Ren have lightning fast comebacks to each other, a long-established rapport of argumentation, wit, and teasing, and conversations that go long, ranging from very shallow to very deep topics. Favorite scenes include them going grocery shopping together for his family, and You Qing exhausted on the phone with Da Ren at the end of a very long day, describing to him step by step how women take off their makeup as he listens sympathetically.
One of the things I love the most is that, unlike most movies and TV with the storyline of best-friends-falling-in-love, there’s isn’t necessarily a sense of them having wasted time, of there being a truth right in front of them they should have followed years ago. Are they very right for each other? Yes. But there is a sense that they both needed to grow and mature, that You Qing has had time to work past some of her youthful selfishness and impulsiveness, and that Da Ren has gained greater confidence and self-awareness, moving past his old insecurity. There’s also a delightful sense of discovery as, in the push and pull of them both for the first time dating someone else seriously at the same time, they find that their connection to each other is reaffirmed over and over again.
The drama falls apart a little at the end, like many longer dramas, with over-the-top scenes with You Qing’s boyfriend and puzzling actions from Da Ren – but the first two-thirds of the drama are some of the most magical I’ve ever seen. Highly recommend.
Tagged: Ariel Lin, Asian dramas, best friend romance, best friends falling in love, Bolin Chen, In time with you, In Time with You drama review, romance, Taiwanese drama review, Twdrama, TWdrama review, watch In Time with You eng sub, You Qing Da Ren