Name: Exclusive Memory / Somewhere Only We Know
Date: January 2019
Number of episodes: 24
Genre: Campus life, romance
Based on book/manga?: Not sure
Why did I press play? It was highly recommended.
Thoughts: This a unique drama. It’s the character development that occurs throughout, which makes shifts the story from good too great.
There are no unnecessary “filler” troupes. The story moves along and things get resolved in a pretty realistic manner. The lack of angst makes for a relaxing watch.
The story takes quite naive young girls and within the space of a year follows their tremendous self-induced maturation. The culprit: older and younger love interest. Normal lives take big turns as they are they face the highs and lows of intense relationships. It would have been great if a lot of their personal growth happened, but not only because of guys. The four girls share a dorm room.
Our leading lady, Xue Tong is such a full-fleshed out character. She blossoms into a woman. The story starts with her struggles with the weight of being a “hero’s” daughter. Despite the grief of losing her father, she struggles with the stigma of all the perks she gets in return.
She is quite keen for a romance and after a rejection from her crush and certain other circumstances, she starts a relationship with science student 10 years her senior. The two always feel awkward to me and lovey-dovey scenes make me cringe instead of melt. Their relationship soon takes her young life college life and throws in maturity, it feels like she skipped so many steps – the consequence of being with an older quite boring guy. For example. All of a sudden she lives at his place.
Spoiler ahead! The worst part is when it’s discovered he is an alcoholic. Or rather he was for many years and is now again. How awful for Xue Tong dealing with that instead of enjoying her youth with her friends and others in a similar life stage as her. Thankfully she pulls the plug. Sadly, it’s his lying and not letting her into his “world” more than alcoholism. She outshines him in all the scenes, in episode 18 major acting. She brings 80% of the power to the scene.
The other three girls have their trials and tribulations. But I won’t go into those for now.
- The use of powerful, bold and stylized camera work. This elevated the drama into something more mature and fresh. For example. The end of episode 10 – the European vide and symmetry is superb and has re-watch value.
- Fantastic acting. Many of the side characters outacted the main ones. For example. Good Xiao, mother all though has serious issues, she is so believable and steals every scene she is in.
- Unique with reasonable twists and turns.
There are many loose ends. For example one of the roommates is an obsessive fangirl, gives her phone to her beloved Idol. Then that’s it. In retrospect, this was many or illustrate her guy obsessive tendinitis that she brings into her relationship. Another example is Xiao final thesis/book report, there is a lot of build-ups, but then that fizzles. These loose ends are particularly annoyed because the portray these moments as important, so you become invested only for it to turn into nothing.
The unnecessary past trauma of “chu” the story stands on its own to feet, without the cliche.
Truly terrible acting by Li Jiu Xiao who plays Mu Hai played. It’s especially worse in comparison to the rest of the cast. Also Jai Ling (Xiao Tong) acting isn’t consistent. Thinking about it, it’s once Mu Hai enters the scene that her acting takes a turn for the worst.
Spoiler! The wonderful confession and a new relationship (with a guy her age). Although the physical chemistry isn’t quite there, they make a good pair. It’s also a bonus that he knows her past with Chu.
Spoiler! The ending: It’s quite frankly alarming that she choose chu. He has a history of alcoholism and retreating into his selfish world. Their things are still hidden there, regardless of his new set of smileys and their warms fuzzies. What happens when other big trauma, blows, happen in the future and he goes back to his usual coping mechanism. She didn’t need to choose either of them. There are plenty more fish in the sea.
I do have to premises the ending (which other’s love) left a bad taste in my mouth and in an instant turned by fondness into well… something else.
Some episode highlights
Episode 17: It’s a turning point for Tong and Chu. It’s a major and much-needed wake-up call for Tong. She rises to the occasion and isn’t bullied. She approaches the situation with love and understanding, but Chu keeps being mean and causes the conversation to tip into an ugly area. Keep an ear out for the quote from 54mins in.
Episode 18: The relevance of the first scene in the closing song (when he holds the ball thing) They’ve always felt off.
Episode 17 and 18 are the most important in the story. When they are fully together, they make me cringe. Is it the age difference and being from “different world”
Episode 21 – one heck of confession – total re-watch value.
Who are the main characters? Who plays them?
Xue Tong played by Li Ting Ting
Mu Cheng He played by Juck Zhang
Song Qi Qi played by Deng Yu Li (nerdy friend)
Zhao Xiao Tang played by Sun Jai Ling model girl
Mu Hai played by Li Jiu Xiao horrible actor guy
Theme: Living and Learning
What’s it good for: When you’re in the mood for a relaxing and well crafted drama.