“We Are All Alone” Shows the Dark Side of the Chinese Entertainment Industry
Godfrey Gao’s (高以翔) last posthumous work We Are All Alone <怪你过分美丽> finally premiered last Monday on China’s streaming service Youku, and so far, it’s proving that it’s a drama worth remembering.
The modern series stars Qin Lan (秦岚) as Mo Xiangwan, a celebrity talent agent and star manager who holds an iron fist in the Chinese showbiz. She has a keen eye for talent and has a hand in producing many of the industry’s most popular stars, including popular starlet Lin Xiang (portrayed by Cristy Guo 郭晓婷) and film queen Ruan Lihua (portrayed by Kara Wai 惠英紅).
The character is notable for being the exact opposite from Qin Lan’s role as Fuca Rongyin in 2018’s Story of Yanxi Palace <延禧攻略>, the very drama that thrusted Qin Lan into superstardom. While Fuca Rongyin is gentle, calming, and virtuous, Mo Xiangwan is resourceful, collected, and aggressive.
Already in the first episode, we are greeted with a very different performance by Qin Lan: heartbroken starlet Lin Xiang attempts suicide, but is saved just in time. Mo Xiangwan dumps a bucket of water on her to wake her up, and demands Lin Xiang’s assistant to hold a press conference to announce Lin Xiang’s retirement in the industry, including an additional statement that Lin Xiang will owe a large debt to the agency due to breaking contract terms. Terrified of this would-be scenario, Lin Xiang apologizes, and Xiangwan immediately changes her tone to console her.
Story of Yanxi Palace and We Are All Alone are both completely different shows, but one can draw many similarities between the two. They both features characters struggling to survive in a dog-eat-dog world, where luck and opportunity are the driving forces of success. In the entertainment industry, the images of celebrities are carefully crafted through moderating social media comments, controlling social media trends, hyping fake couples and dating news, changing scripts, and fighting for billing orders. In the imperial harem, concubines fight for power by winning the emperor and the court’s favors.
The similarities between the two series also go beyond political intrigue: at pre-ceremony photo op for an awards show, Lin Xiang is worried about bumping into her ex-boyfriend. Xiangwan tells her to stay focused, and her expression turns from soft to hard in a heartbeat. While taking group photos with film queen Ruan Lihua, the two actresses fight for the center spot. Xiangwan immediately pulls them apart and later lectures Lin Xiang about understanding her place in the industry. This scene had reminded viewers of a similar situation in Story of Yanxi Palace, with viewers joking that “Mo Xiangwan has finally learned her lessons from being Fuca Rongyin.”
Godfrey Gao plays the lawyer Mo Bei, Xiangwan’s love interest. The two were former lovers, but broke up over a misunderstanding. The scene where Xiangwan chooses a lipstick to use before meeting Mo Bei is a scene that pays direct homage to Story of Yanxi Palace, as Xiangwan’s assistant uses a line from the Qing dynasty drama to describe a lipstick color.
This article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.