Review: “Reality Check” (By Miriamfanz)

By on March 18, 2013 in Hot Gossip!, NEWS, REVIEWS


Reality Check <心路GPS>
Hong Kong TVB Drama 2013

Producer: Lee Yim Fong
Genre: Modern, family
Episodes: 20


Louise Lee as Lau Chui Wan
Ruco Chan as Summer Ha
Priscilla Wong as May Hui
Evergreen Mak as Leung Chung Shun
Rebecca Chan as Ha Siu Han
Stanley Cheung as Wong Wai Hong
Hero Yuen as Sky Cheung
A filial foster son takes care of his gambling-addict foster mother.
The take-home messages of Reality Check are: (1) don’t gamble; and (2) communicate with others to avoid misunderstandings. There, I just saved you the trouble of watching 15 episodes. You’re welcome.
Reality Check Hero Yuen 2Which 5 episodes should you watch? That would be the first 5 episodes, which were filmed in a rural village in mainland China. It was fun to watch how a spoiled Hong Kong youth (Hero Yuen) adjusts to village life. Seeing the simple rural lifestyle makes urban dwellers appreciate all the luxuries of city life. It also gives perspective on the differences in values between urban and rural people, such as on family and education. This segment was as refreshing as a breath of fresh air in those open fields.
Once the characters returned to the familiar city setting, TVB also returned to its familiar family genre. The rest of the series is a slew of family problems… and more family problems. It is irritating to watch simple problems become complicated, and much of it is due to lack of communication. The characters witnessed how Hero learned to communicate with his father, yet none of them picked up that skill for themselves. The rural village segment is almost irrelevant to the rest of the story because no one, with the exception of Hero, changed their attitude because of it.
Reality Check Ruco Chan Louise LeeThe “novel” aspect of this series was Louise Lee as a gambling addict. It was an interesting angle to work from, but suffered from lacklustre presentation. For the most part, the audience is told that she has a gambling problem, rather than being shown. The only gambling scenes are the shots of her playing mahjong. They could have shown her first trip to Macau – the mesmerizing lights and sounds of the casino, the excitement from winning, etc. – to emphasize how gambling helps her forget about her troubles, which is why she fell victim to addiction. By conveying these things through dialogue only, it is harder to understand her plight and sympathize with her.
The ending makes complete sense in TVB world. Of course, Louise can get rid of her gambling addiction. Of course, her children realize their mistakes and are forgiven. Of course, everyone’s wishes come true. Every single problem is easily resolved in the last episode for a perfect happy ending. So much for being a Reality Check.
The Chinese title “Heart Road GPS” seems to encourage people to follow their inner GPS. But actually, all the problems were caused because the characters acted on emotions from their heart. Louise let her emotional well-being overwhelm her rationality (she felt better when gambling). Ruco rejected his biological mother because he was hurt by his childhood experience. Evergreen’s instinctive assumptions made him unreceptive to his wife’s words. Obviously, their navigation systems need a little tweaking.
Reality Check Rebecca ChanThere’s no need to elaborate on the excellent acting skills of Louise, Ruco and Rebecca, especially on the emotional scenes. It was a nice change to see Louise deviate from her usual perfect mother roles. Evergreen Mak gave a pretty standard performance. Priscilla Wong was natural and genuine in a role that seems well-suited for her. No comment on Stanley Cheung. Hero Yuen was quite believable acting as a spoiled youngster. There were complaints about Jenny Lau (the girlfriend of Louise’s son), but I guess annoying and bitchy was she was aiming for. Overall, great acting wasted on a forgettable drama.
Rating: An easy skip.
The review is written by Miriamfanz, a Contributing Writer at Visit Miriamfanz’s blog!

49 comments to Review: “Reality Check” (By Miriamfanz)

  1. Funn Lim says:

    “Rating: An easy skip.”

    This is to me one of TVB’s best acted and written script even with the repetition and a rather simple message of communication which sometimes make for heart breaking moments and really laugh out loud moments and you say give this a skip. And yet a series with little content like Season Of Love is passable but not a skip.

    May I say I absolutely disagree with this series. I will elaborate but not here and all I can say Ruco’s fans WILL love his performance here which is worthy of the best acting award even if each character is annoying, flawed and yet redeemable in their own way.

    You skip this and you miss out a TVB series with an actual heart, a live beating heart which began well and the very last scene, ended well. And in between some moments that makes you tear your hair out, cry, complain and laugh out loud. Pray do tell which TVB series these days give you that much? And it comes with a handsome beefed up Ruco Chan, a likeable lead actresses (even if I have my grouses) and some genuine heartfelt moments? Or must Har Yu jump out and clap and laugh his hyena laugh and only then it is considered… passable?

    For heaven sake, support quality production and this is it!

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    • Funn Lim replied:

      P/S Louise’s gambling addiction is connection to her grief of her husband’s death and eventually her immense guilt having replaced Rebecca as mother to Ruco. When these 2 issues were solved, so did her addiction. And that immense guilt makes for compelling watch, NOT the gambling addiction which was a red herring. It is not a perfect series, but it is heaps better than a lot of trash out there, like Swordsman, like the recent TVB productions.

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      • Dan replied:

        Yes it was better than a lot of trash out there, but being comparatively better than trash doesn’t make it great. Except for the first few episodes, the rest was just the same predictable, rehashed TVB script. Mundane family issues that get drawn out for 14 episodes before magically getting resolved in the finale. As the review said, good acting wasted on a forgettable drama.

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      • miriamfanz replied:

        The problem with Reality Check is that there’s nothing much happening in 15 episodes. It’s the same recurring gambling and family problem. Sure, this might be how gambling addiction is in real life – a repetitive cycle – but it doesn’t make for good tv. I don’t know what heartfelt moments you’re referring to because after the nth time of Ruco saying “I’ll help you” to Louise, it loses its effect.

        PS: I never found any of those productions with the clapping and rhyming lines to be entertaining either.

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      • Funn Lim replied:

        Perhaps we have been watching a different series. A lot of things happened in 15 episodes even if repetetive but ignore the gambling addiction portion and concentrate on the relationships part and I feel this is one good script. I ma not sure what you want with lots of things happening. I am just glad this is what it is.

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    • Funn Lim replied:

      I meant I absolutely disagree with the review. I need the edit button!

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      • XxtvbxX replied:

        I absolutley agree with you! This drama is not a 2 out of 5 stars but an amazing 4.5 or 5! This drama shows lives as it is and isn’t just based on love and relationships- but one’s feeling and the importances of family!
        The review, I believe needs to be changed because this show is so different from the usual TVB things and the acting and emotion put into it is incredible! How Louise gets her gambling addiction is completely understandable! I must agree that maybe more scenes on her gambling is good but you could see why she fell down that hole and how she picked herself up! Once she realised that she was loved and that she’s not alone, she slowly tried to stop her addiction!
        Futhermore, there are many people in this drama with a high class of acting! Ruco is amazing and not only is he good looking, but he can act and portray emotionally hard scenes. So can the veterans! Louise for me stood out with her crying scenes! Stanley has improved massively and he can act, as can Hero! Really good drama and deserves more viewers! PS: Lovely theme too!

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      • miriamfanz replied:

        “Once she realised that she was loved and that she’s not alone, she slowly tried to stop her addiction”

        No, that happened all within a few minutes in the final episode.

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      • Funn Lim replied:

        Actually it was when her guilt was lifted about Summer’s relationship with his mom and she reconciled the fact that her children was rotten not due to her that she stopped her gambling.

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    • Lol replied:

      I completely agree with you Funn. If you’re looking for a good family drama this is a must see.

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    • pandamao replied:

      Agree Funn ..

      It had low expectations on this series and was actually overjoyed by it. It was similar to reality. I’m so sick and tired of TVB suffocating us with love stories and making that the only relationship that needs to be developed in a series.

      The fact that Ruco remained single and content with his 2 moms made this a well-rounded series for me. Ruco simply rocked and after watching this series, I’m convinced he’s one of the top TVB siu sangs!

      A very thoughtful series that plays to the emotion. The script was good, the dialog was good, the casting was good .. everything seem to be on point. Everything connected really well so I’m glad I didn’t skip this series, as I originally intended.

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    • LAwlz replied:

      Amen lol

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    • Jason replied:

      Funn’s review is absolutely spot on. This TVB drama is quite different from the typical ones. I also like how they didnt force a love storyline between the main characters.

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    • lidge replied:

      Since you put it like that Funn, maybe I’ll watch it.

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  2. dd says:

    >Rating: An easy skip.

    So…uh, that’s 5 right?

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  3. Hazel says:

    I rate this drama a 4 out of 5. This drama was really good. I agree with you about the first 5 episode they were really good, the concept was a great idea but the whole series was excellent. You definitely should watch the whole series!!!!

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  4. kuku says:

    >Rating: An easy skip

    I agree with the review, not an interesting drama especially how the story ends with Louise’s children attitude. Typically same TVB’s drama storyline as usual…

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  5. Vivi says:

    I agree the show is a must-see for all youths today. It’s not perfect but it deals with today’s children who do not respect their parents and their efforts. Hero learnt it in a lot of amusing ways that happiness need not be about buying a pair of expensive shoes etc.. The simplicity of rural life for the family in the village is a lesson for all. Ruco while admirable for his love and care towards his foster mom, could not bring himself to realize he is no different than his foster siblings when it comes to his treatment of his own mother. As in all TVB productions, the ending is always rushed to a point that it diminishes its earlier efforts, but overall this show is surprisingly refreshing on many levels.

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  6. Addy says:

    ‘Reality Check’ is not an excellent drama, and it definitely has its flaws, but I haven’t watched a TVB drama that is this well-rounded in a long time.

    The best part of RC is, like what Funn mentioned, is that each and every character is flawed yet redeemable. It sends a message saying that no one is perfect. I’m pretty sure that some of us here may agree that TVB Mary Sue stock characters are always annoying and unbelievable.

    Another interesting (and winning) factor of RC is that it doesn’t have romance. TVB dramas always include a bit of romance as a filler story arc, but RC has none. You could, however, argue that Ruco Chan and Priscilla Wong would eventually become a couple if the story continued, but to me, Ruco and Priscilla’s relationship felt more platonic than romantic.

    Ruco Chan, Louise Lee, and Rebecca Chan were EXTRAORDINARY. Definitely award-deserving performances. Evergreen Mak also deserves a mention.

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    • Addy replied:

      The only thing I didn’t like about RC was at how they handled the ending of Louise’s two children. They could have come up more unique ways to redeem them, as their ending ended up following the usual TVB storyline format.

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      • pandamao replied:

        I honestly would have been fine if they just continued with their live and Louise continued with hers .. I didn’t need the closure that TVB gave.

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  7. col says:

    i really like this drama, simple but effective

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  8. Chriselle says:

    I enjoyed this series quite a lot despite it’s many repetitive family elements, but it’s one of the better and more focused series on family and doesn’t deviate from the actual story. My guess at first was that I didn’t expect Louise’s gambling story to play such a big part of the series. 15 episodes?!

    I expected sub-stories, maybe 5 episodes each. After 10 episodes of Louise’s gambling story, it was getting a bit lame as I was wondering if this will ever end. However, there were some interesting cliffhangers and what will happen in the next episode. One thing I didn’t expect Louise’s children to treat her the way they did and it would have been nice if they touched up on why they turned out to be the way they did. Was it really because of how Louise spoiled them in a loving way? While I did read about that spinnet on Jayne Stars, I don’t recall the characters mentioning anything about how Louise spoils them in the actual series. And yes, how they turned around and came back to Louise at the end was extremely rushed. The screen time was unevenly distributed between Ruco/Rebecca storyline and the other sub-story lines.

    In all, I still liked the plot. The first 5 episodes was especially precious with filming in the rural setting. Both the story line and the scenes were beautiful and Hero is one of the better actors who was convincing as a teenage boy in a TVB drama. Ruco, Louise, and Rebecca was amazing in their roles and Ruco really showed that he’s a real man with a heart in this series. I’m glad he didn’t have a romantic story line with Priscilla (who all in all, was passable, but could be more natural in expressing her emotions I think) and stayed platonic friends. They seem more compatible as coworkers although Priscilla’s character itself would seem like a good girlfriend/wife material.

    Overall Rating: 4 stars

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    • miriamfanz replied:

      It wasn’t Louise spoiling her children that made them greedy. They are just greedy by nature. But it was really weird how they just suddenly showed their greediness in that way.

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      • Funn Lim replied:

        I was told the time they were introduced itself indicated something very fake about the children. Maybe I never paid that much attention.

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  9. angel says:

    Seriously????? Wow. This series was very well written and had great acting skills compared to the other garbage Tvb produces. But once again, I suppose different people have different opinions.

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    • jadie replied:

      agree i liked it except i think the ending was too easy on louise’s kids

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  10. Bubblez says:

    I haven’t watched this drama but for me in terms of first impressions, it looks like a good drama. I personally think that the title matches with the drama is about. It reminds me of A Journey called Life as well since both dramas have something to say regarding today’s society.

    And I agree with Vivi.

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  11. Cynthia says:

    I cannot agree with you more with your reviews of this series. I was hoping the series would go somewhere worth watching, but overall.. Like with many other TVB series, they’re back with their favorite theme: communicate with others to avoid misunderstandings. !!!

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  12. Sarah says:

    I felt like I had to make a comment because I ALSO agree with this review lol. I watched the first episode and was already bored..

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  13. claire says:

    Great cast & acting in poor script, TVB is really struggling to create excellent scenario like they did in 80’s & early 90’s era.

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  14. swan says:

    In my opinion this is one of the best series TVB has produced in recent years. It does have its flaws but at the end of the day it’s a showcase of great acting with a decent plot to convey an important message. I don’t mind clichés if it’s presented in a creative way and I think this drama achieves that.

    The first five episodes were my favourite as well. I think the main characters don’t learn their lesson about the importance of communication at this point because they don’t even realize they have a problem yet. In their eyes Hero is the spoiled one who needs to learn a lesson from the trip, not them. But it is obvious that the trip affected all the characters, and in the end it is in fact Hero who helps Evergreen Mak realize his own flaws.

    A unique aspect of this drama is that not only does it focus on the relationship between Ruco and his foster and birth mothers, but also between Louise and her children. We often hear the saying “生娘不及養娘大” (the mother who raises us is superior to the mother who births us), but what about the opposite? Does a mother love an adopted child as much as her own children?

    I would definitely recommend this drama. The cast is fresh and all the actors perform well with each other. Plus it’s a unique script as opposed to all the sequels that are going to be released later this year.

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  15. Elaine00 says:

    I love this drama.How could you only rate it 2 out of 5?? I understand what you meant when you said its typical tvb storyline, happy ending at the end. but its so touching and im not a sensitive or emotional person but i cried at almost every episode.This is exactly the kind of drama that should be promoted to basically everyone! the moral lessons and the message it conveys are just great. definitely amazing cast, Ruco is amazing, the older cast needless to say, amazing! Though at some point louise lee’s gambling addiction gets annoying, but its to bring the story forward and its necessary, overall 4 /5.

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  16. smileyy says:

    this has to be the most meaningful drama 🙂 i love ruco chan , and although i hated the gamble mom , but she fell into that because of her sadness and loneliness, i really like how it was portrayed , wish there were more summer and may moments 🙂

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  17. clover says:

    I beg to differ with your review (and let’s agree to disagree..)
    Even though the script is far from perfect but it is a refreshing change from the mundane stuffs produced by TVB. Reality Check is indeed a heartwarming story with enough plots (a bit repetitive at times), just enough humour, a tinge of romance and completed with good acting all around. The cast all worked really well together and it came across perfectly (probably there are few complaints on Jenny Lau). Ruco Chan, Louise Lee and Rebecca Chan delivered a top-notch performance. Ruco impressed me with how he handled the delicate crying scenes; his acting is subdued at times but never plain. I hope Ruco wins some recognition for his work in the series.

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  18. anoninhk says:

    i really enjoyed this series but i have to agree that the first few episodes, with kit jai in the village were the best in the entire series. had they not started with those, i think i might have skipped the series as the cast didn’t really appeal to me. i am still not a fan of ruco but i think he performed amazingly well in this series and priscilla was not at all bad for a newcomer. this is definitely something i would like to watch again in a few years.

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  19. jess says:

    Ruco once said in an interview, that he expected the audience to either love it or hate it. Some may find it boring, others will find it meaningful and touching.

    IMO, It is not a show to please the audience. It is not meant to be entertaining (well, I was entertained by the refined acting of ruco, louisa and rebecca). It is a show to make the audience reflect. dont gamble and communicate well is just part of the plot. there are moral values to take back as well. it is not that superficial. it is a show that you should watch with an open heart.

    it is worthy of your time watching and reflecting.

    i will give it 4.5/5 stars!

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    • Selena replied:

      I thought it was boring, but it turns out to be touching. I watched all 20 episodes during the weekend.

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  20. smurf120 says:

    I think this is one of the better family dramas – like others my favorite parts were the first 5 episodes and I wished they delve more deeply into Kit and his father’s relationship more than Evergreen’s marriage.

    I would rate 4/5 because the pacing was very uneven but acting was excellent. I felt some of the story was like Moonlight Resonance light (disclaimer – I really didn’t like MR). Felt that Summer and May’s relationship ended at the right place and didn’t need to fight for attention at the end with quickie romance.

    Yeah, now that I think about it, felt very much disjointed like two different writers or at least one main one that got big editing markers splashed over parts.

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  21. Jujubean says:

    I agree with this statement..”great acting wasted on poor script.”

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    • Funn Lim replied:

      That is basically the one line review for ALL TVB series nowadays.

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  22. Hippo says:

    I also totally disagree with this review. I would give one star instead of two.

    Maybe I am used to the usually much better American/British series, or you guys are more easily satisfied than me.

    It’s nothing more than the same family crisis story from TVB that could be told in about 5 episodes. All the characters are either boring or annoying, with Jenny Lau at no.1. Now I understand why the director knocked her head against the door, because every time I hear her voice I want to do the same.

    The first (village) episodes were ok, still boring, but at least it was different. The problem with most TVB scripts these days is that they aren’t very exciting at all. Nothing that makes you can’t wait for tomorrow’s episode. HK definitely needs a new tv station with new ideas.

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    • kiki replied:

      Right on, i agree. I love the beginning 5 epis where they shot @ the countryside. It went downhill from there. TVB’s typically happy ending as well, lame and boring. It could have been better but too bad it got bad to worse at the end. I love Ruco thou. 🙂

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  23. Norika says:

    I really liked Reality Check! to me it is 4 stars in terms of story; 5 stars in terms of acting, and 5+ stars in terms of the dearly warm feeling stays in my heart after watching the whole series!

    Episode 9 brought to a climax however, Episode 10 & 11 were not great, maybe due to script/plot problem there. From Episode 12 onwards the story builds up very well with good story line and touchie scenes.. Ruco returns Louise’s neck lace to her; Ruco opens a bit more and shared his innerself with May.. the scene between Rebecca and Ruco at the end climax also a MUST SEE.

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  24. tky says:

    I rate it 4 stars, with 3 given to Ruco for his amazing acting, singing & charisma. Louise Lee, needless to say she worths 5 stars herself. The story was a bit boring. The best part was the village’s reality show.

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  25. Virpotter says:

    First & foremost, I would like to reiterate that Reality Check was not a “forgettable drama”. From the first 5 episodes, the drama presented the importance of family values & selflessness to the viewers thru the eyes of “Sky”. Then, the importance of these same values was further shown thru the eyes of the reality show’s crew in their respective lives. In a typical TVB drama, the main ingredients were all there. Love, betrayal, etc… Here, the love factor was depicted between mother and son, in-laws & daughter in-law, parents & son, grandfather & grandson & father & daughter. Those who were looking for romance between man & woman, only a small glimpse of that could be seen towards the end between Ruco & Priscilla. However, we do have Evergreen Mak and his ” wife” to fill in that slot for the most part. The gambling issue here was just a depiction of the result of one’s low self esteem brought on by loneliness, abandonment & guilt. So it was not shown in detail as the reviewer had liked. Because the real issue was about filial piety. All in all, a great drama in which lessons could be learnt especially for the youngsters today. Here, all of us could learn to appreciate our elders more & give them the time of our day.

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  26. AC says:

    I didn’t even realize that people would love this series so much. lol. It’s not awful, but I didn’t think it was great either. I really liked Ruco and Louise in this series as well as the first 5 episodes, and I also think the other 15 episodes were pretty repetitive. They could have paced the gambling addiction a little better, and they could have also characterized Louise’s children better. It just seemed too sudden that they became greedy and so quickly changed back in the last few minutes of the series. I enjoyed watching it, but I also think I will quickly forget this series in a few weeks.

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  27. Jessie says:

    I don’t get you. I think this series is good. Especially because of Ruco great acting. He’s marvelous!

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  28. Bubblez says:

    So, I finished watching this drama.
    I found this drama to be interesting and refreshing. The first 5 episodes were indeed the best part of this drama. I completely teared up. I felt that it was really true in today’s society.

    I really like this drama personally. Although Louise’s story was a bit repetitive and seems boring at times, it did show how every main character has some sort of issue with their family, which is really relatable with today’s characters. I also love the main cast’s natural chemistry with one another.

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