Article by Caitlin Young
Edited by Aaron S. Medina
In an era when the majority of television consists of remakes, it’s rare to come across something original. Most shows, no matter how well-written, succumb to tired tropes or formulaic fixes. So coming across a brand-new story such as the sleeper hit The Romance of Tiger and Rose is a breath of fresh air.
The show opens with headstrong screenwriter Chen Xiao Qian (Zhao Lusi), who gets her script criticized by the popular actor playing its lead role, Mr. Han (Ding Yuxi). After a night of frenzied rewriting, she wakes up in the world she created as one of its minor characters, Third Princess Chen Qian Qian. There’s just one problem: her character is supposed to be short-lived. Now, Xiao Qian has to figure out how to get male lead Prince Han Shuo with female lead Second Princess Chu Chu so she can leave the story — all before her character passes away. But what happens when she and Han Shuo fall in love instead, irrevocably changing the plot of her own story?
Such a unique storyline is further enhanced thanks to its winsome main cast and interesting side characters. Despite being relative newcomers to the acting industry, Zhao Lusi and Ding Yuxi both share the same impeccable comedic timing, bouncing off each other with undeniable chemistry. Zhao Lusi makes a brash yet good-hearted heroine, with Ding Yuxi a devious yet tender hero. Sheng Ying Hao is perfectly charming as second male lead Fei Peng, and Zhou Zi Xin packs a punch as the deceptively perfect Chen Chu Chu. It’s thanks to them that the show is able to successfully parody typical plot lines with great finesse and humor. As the story supposedly takes place in an ancient city where men are viewed as inferior to women, the secondary storylines and characters also explored this dynamic nicely.
This isn’t to say that The Romance of Tiger and Rose is without flaws, though. The 24-episode web drama being a hit (it garnered nearly a billion views upon release) was unexpected, probably due to its low budget and rookie cast. As such, it’s unsurprising that the drama occasionally suffered from inconsistent color grading and inaccurate historical outfits. Character development was done beautifully; however, its gender-reversal-themed plot, while well-written for the most part, had a tendency to turn erratic and illogical. Nevertheless, the actors bodied their roles extremely well. The combination of the efforts put in by the cast and crew — stellar acting, clever direction, and quick-paced storytelling — rendered the drama a delight to watch.
So, if you’re looking for something lighthearted and funny to binge, The Romance of Tiger and Rose is certainly for you. Never mind its minor faults; the drama’s talented cast and unique storyline more than make up for them. In a sea of clichés, The Romance of Tiger and Rose stands out, thanks to an effortlessly fun premise that will keep you hooked for ages.