Viewers Find Ruby Lin, Derek Zhang’s “Mother-Son” Romance Cringe-Worthy

In the entertainment industry, male actors often have longer careers than their female counterparts. While a 50-year-old actor paired with a 35-year-old actress may be easily accepted, this 15-year age gap between an older female and younger male artiste is often harder for audiences to stomach.

Despite this, many A-list actresses continue to stretch their careers by portraying younger roles. The most notorious must be that of Mainland Chinese actress Liu Xiaoqing (劉曉慶), who played the role of a 16-year-old girl at the age of 60. That’s a 44-year age difference!

On a lesser scale, 41-year-old Ruby Lin recently starred in a role that is a decade younger than her real-life age. Although this is still achievable due to Ruby’s well-kept features, viewers were turned off by her pairing with 25-year-old Derek Zhang in My Dear Boy <我的男孩>. The 16-year age gap made Ruby appear much too old for the youthful Derek. In the drama, Ruby portrays 30-year-old Luo Xiao Fei, a commercial director. She lost faith in romance because of her past misfortunes in love. That is, until she meets the younger An Qing Hui, portrayed by Derek.

Although the drama is about an older woman finding love with a younger man, Ruby’s age difference with Derek was met with criticism. Some felt they were were watching a “mother-son” romance and that the drama had zero appeal. Kissing scenes and scenes where Ruby pouts and playfully flirt with Derek was highly criticized for being cringe-worthy.

“My Dear Boy” Trailer


This article is written by Huynh for

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  1. Seriously, why are the Chinese audience such old fashioned a-holes? We’ve had to deal with watching old AF Chinese male actors pairing up with young, beautiful actresses FOREVER, but when the roles are reversed, people are that disgusted? Especially when Ruby Lin is still beautiful? Get out of the Dark Ages already.

    1. @dalebaines I give your comment a thousand thumbs up. I could not have said what you said any better
      Seriously, I really pity the mentally of how the vast majority of asians think. Thank God there are people like you.

  2. I dont see why it’s not ok if the story is about older woman younger man. Ive seen weirder pairing eg in Tofu war 37 yo Elaine Yui was paired with craggy-faced 60yo Dominic Lam. I cringed to watch them act as lovers. They looked more like father-daughter.

    1. @passingby
      OMG, I thought i was the only one who noticed that oddest as he** pair up. hahaha LOL…I was thinking Elaine Yiu must be quite desperate to have taken that role. That Dominic Lam dude is not only OLD but he’s also quite ugly and old enough to portray the dad? What was TVB thinking really? Ok, back to Ruby Lin – I do know that she is still pretty but that kid is really too young to be pairing together. I wonder when they will stop taken idol roles even if they hit their 40’s, probably never? haha lol

      1. @wm2017 yes Dominic hasn’t aged well at all. There have been other May-december pairings such as Nancy Wu with Bobby au-yeung, Nancy with Wayne Lai, Raymond Cho with Rosina Lam but at least these guys still look pretty presentable for their age. If you think this Ruby-Derek pairing is weird, wait till you see Chris Lai with Pat Ha in their new drama lol.

  3. What’s wrong? People complained r males in their 60s? Nothing wrong with the age difference. One thing I don’t like is Ruby Lin but nothing wrong with an older woman and younger guy.

  4. So it’s real age gap as opposed to on page age gap? Easy. Give chance to older male actors. Let Ruby play her age and pair her with someone maybe 5 years younger. TV shouldn’t just belong to young male idol actors as lead actors. Don’t forget the older 40 something actors, they too are valuable ratings wise to be lead actors in a romance story.

    1. @funnlim it is comments like yours that is the problem. Why should Ruby have to play her real age, paired with a five years younger dude? Younger man, older woman romances ate happeing too, and in Asia, which includes Hong Kong.

      The plot is about an older woman and a younger man. I agree with a younger actor getting the role. Casting an actor, five years younger in REAL or REAL life defeats the purpose of the project.

  5. Don’t really care about the age difference since such romances happens in real life too. And Ruby still looks great despite having a baby. Don’t see a problem with her playing a 30 year old. It was hard to get used to her playing a 16 year old in “Singing All Along”, but 30 year old should be OK.

  6. Ruby looks super good for a 41yo and she can pass off as a 30yo so what’s the issue with her playing a 30yo? The age gap in the drama is 6 years (although I read that the novel’s age gap is 10years!) ie male lead 24yo female lead 30yo. Archie Kao is 48yo and this handsome dude hardly look older 40yo. I am not sure how old Archie’s character is in the drama but I think he shouldn’t be more than 40yo. So why can a man play a 10 years younger role and not a woman? Why the discrimination against women?

    This drama is not pure idol romance. Ruby agreed to produce it because the writer is Mag Hsu. I think (based on synopsis) it is a story about the courage to change one’s life (female’s perspective) and the courage to love (male’s perspective).

    Why the perception that women can only go for older men, and men go for younger women? Why can’t women fall in love with men younger than themselves? In contemporary times, women are more financially and emotionally self sufficient. The notion that women rely on men to take care of them is archaic.

    1. @mangotango beautifully said. It pauns me that there is still such backward tginking in this day and age. Such hypocrisy too. If the man is older than the woman, it is not okay but dociety are willing to live with it. If the woman is older, she is a bit… , I mean a cradle robbing witch, a couger, a bad woman. She is cast aside by everyone and gossipped about daily. You would think that such a geriatric mentally would have been extinct by now.

  7. Ruby maybe 41 but she doesn’t look like her age. I don’t see anything wrong with her playing a 30 year old role?

    1. @cassiemissy I dont think they have a problem with her portrayal as a 31 year old, but the pairing with a younger male.

      I dont understand all the hate either tbh.

      1. @megamiaow The story is about a male aged 24yo and a woman aged 31yo. In fact, as I have mentioned earlier, in the novel, the age difference is 10 years. If the age of the male lead is changed to close to 30yo, the main plot of the drama is totally lost. Yes, it is about a younger man falling in love with an older woman. And I think Derek did a great job. He is naturally cute and funny.

  8. In the picture it does look like Ruby is very old and he is very young, But I’m surprised in the video Ruby still looks extremely young, if they want to change the script that she is the younger one than him, that’s even possible. Netizens are just haters. Watch this aunty first LOL :

    1. @davy What is the humour there? How old is that ‘lady’? She looks familiar. That dude looks like Ken? Is it an advert? LOL.

      Ruby does not look old in picture. Derek looks like a teenager instead. Haha. Read that Derek was picked by Ruby to play that character because he is able to ‘look like teenager’ and ‘a man’.

      1. @mangotango
        That was a clip (not original, dubbed into funny conversation) from the older version of Chu Liu Xiang if anybody recall “Simon Ta Ma (aunty)”, she obviously played the character of a very very young and playful girl. Both Liu De Kai and Vincent Jiao were in love with her in the drama. In a case like hers, I wouldn’t argue she should’ve taken such role although it was pretty entertaining for being too funny.

        I too do not agree with the article’s statement that Ruby appears too old for him. I was just comparing that this is definitely not as bad as Simon Ta Ma.

      2. @davy Can I ask was that a serious drama or a parody of something that was meant to be funny? The casting seems awfully strange.

      3. @elizabeth
        It is an old drama with no eng sub and no information about it anymore, so I do not know too much about it too. But yes, it was a real (serious) drama. I really like to watch dramas with Vincent Jiao in it, so I happened to passed by this. The actress name is Yang Jun Jun, playing Zhang jie jie who Chu Liu Xiang ended up marrying, aha… I think the drama is only available at this website:

  9. Some people are so narrow-minded. What is there to cringe? Older woman younger man….it is the story line and all are professional artist performing their artistic craft. What don’t you (Jayne) understand.

  10. She still Look.young despite her age. He actually look older than his age. People are just weird!

  11. Her older woman role isn’t the real issue with audiences. Ruby’s been getting a lot trash talk from a segment of mainland bloggers since her marriage and the Harpers charity event.

    1. @msxie0714 Most likely. Some people maybe still cannot accept that Wallace married Ruby (still reeling from the shock.. perhaps). Many make mountains out of molehills.

    2. @msxie0714 I think some people are just jealous that she has so much in her life and can’t feel happy for her. But they fail to realise that Ruby worked hard to get to where she is now.

    3. @msxie0714 Yea, this definitely appears to be a case of Ruby haters trying to give her a hard time due to who she married. As if the stupid complaints about the age gap thing weren’t enough, I read today that the series actually got taken down after a few days and won’t be allowed to continue airing in Mainland China going forward because someone “reported” the series, claiming it “supports Taiwan independence”. Many people are scratching their heads over the claims, as the premise of the series is the romance between an older woman and younger man and what they go through to find love – what part of that has to do with Taiwan independence?? Seems to be yet another instance of Ruby haters trying to bring her down….

      1. @llwy12
        another reason for Ruby-haters venom is her alleged maligning of Zhou Jie, a fellow actor from the Huan Zu Gege drama from the 90s. After so many years, the controversy continues to stir up a shitstorm against Ruby.

      2. @msxie0714 @llwy12 Agree. Some jealous people are stirring up shit. I just finished watching Ep5 of this drama. It is growing on me. I laugh, I shed some tears. The characters are so real. Their insecurities, their dreams, their personalities, their relationships. You have to listen to what they say and empathise to understand the beauty of this simple drama.

        I do not know why IQiYi took if off air. Definitely some competitors’ strategies. Sadly, bad mouthing and bad rumour mongering and politicking seems to be the norm with China entertainment industry now. If this continues, they will not grow because creativity has to be nurtured not stifled.

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