Note: This is an original feature written by Canto for JayneStars.com.
The female lead in drama serials comes in a variety of types and archetype in dramas from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea and China. Some female celebrities like to be versatile while others do not mind being typecast because it lends them a strong image.
In this article, we examine four popular and common female archetype portrayals in dramas.
Above: Crystal Liu and Song Hye Kyo
Exemplified by: Linda Chung, Crystal Liu, Song Hye Kyo (Autumn in my Heart), Yoona (from SNSD, in the drama Love Rain), Yang Mi, and Liu Shi Shi.
The Jade Girl of the female lead portrayed in popular culture is one of the most popular and enduring. Female celebrities have built their entire career around this image.
The Jade Girl is the most beautiful, pure, pristine, cherished and lovable character in a drama. Her goodness affects those around her, winning her the admiration of the male lead, the audience, and usually other male characters in the drama. She may be modest or demure.
In addition, she may come from poor or unfortunate circumstances through no fault of her own, but like Cinderella, she will rise above her circumstances due to her good nature and the help of her prince and those who cherish her. Commonly, she will also encounter bullies. In the end though, she will triumph over them and her circumstances and be rewarded with her love.
Some Jade Girls on screen translate their decent girl roles to their personal image and vice versa e.g. Linda Chung.
To be a Jade Girl, innocent, elegant and angelic looks are a prerequisite.
The Jade Girl has met with some resistance in the recent years, particularly from the competition of the trend of the “Sassy Girl” lead. Some critics of the Jade Girl may accuse her of being boring, old fashioned or a weak damsel in distress.
My Sassy Girl
Above: Mandy Wong and Ella Chen
Exemplified by: Mandy Wong (Divas in Distress), Ella Chen, Rainie Yang (Miss No Good), Lee Ji-Ah (Me Too, Flower!)
My “Sassy Girl” evolves as a contrast to the Jade Girl. Sassy Girl can be tomboyish and loud outwardly in contrast to the modest Jade Girl. Sassy Girl can also be spoilt, unreasonable or a misunderstood rich girl. In some variations of the Sassy Girl, they take on a further element of cuteness, for e.g. acting like a “country girl” for comic effect.
The male lead is initially unimpressed by the Sassy Girl although he acknowledges that she is pretty when she dresses up. The male lead may avoid or deign her at first. After a series of situations which forces them to spend time together and bring them closer, the male lead realizes the inner beauty of the Sassy Girl. The final outcome is usually that the male lead along with the audience eventually falls for her.
Strong, Independent Woman
Above: Charmaine Sheh and Tavia Yeung
Exemplified by: Charmaine Sheh, Flora Chen, Jessica Hsuan, Tavia Yeung
Hong Kong dramas in particular have done well in promoting the Strong, Independent Woman as main female leads. Charmaine Sheh and Tavia Yeung have played the roles of the up and coming lawyer, doctor, police section chief and other professionals frequently in TVB dramas. The female lead of this category has her own career; she is confident, well balanced, mature in her thinking and behavior, and successful. She knows what she is doing and where she is going in life, with or without a male partner. If required, she can also rock the short hair do well, looking confident and feminine.
Her admirers are usually male leads from a similar industry as her, and also a go-getter and successful. Above all, he is a confident man who is not intimidated by her success in the corporate world and respects her talents and capability.
In love, she is assured and lovable, not maudlin or clingy. She is modern society’s epitome of a successful woman female lead.
Above: Kate Tsui and Lee Hyori
Exemplified by: Shu Qi, Maggie Q, Kate Tsui, Lee Hyori, Son Dambi, HyunA
Some women are blessed with sexy good looks and curvaceous bodies. Female stars such as Shu Qi and Kate Tsui use their sex appeal and image to great effect, igniting the worship of male characters onscreen and viewers. They are loved for their great figures and sexy hair, faces or attitude and womanly charms. In line with their direct sex appeal, they may also be portrayed as free spirited, flirtatious, daring or fun loving.
Although she has her critics, the Female Fatale has a solid and enduring place as an archetype in drama portrayal of women.
In closing, certainly there are more types of female leads in dramas, lending to great diversity and interest. Due to brevity, this article only attempts to look at four popular common archetype portrayals.
This original feature article is written by Canto, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com.