It’s been a long time since I watched Joe or Janine in any drama individually, so the combination of these two really excited me. I also don’t remember wanting to watch two tw-dramas at the same time, but I will gladly make the exception for Director Winnie.
My first impression from the trailer was that this was going to be a fluffy drama revolving around actors and showbiz. It was a lot less rom-com, and more gritty than I expected. We have our main leads, Man Ling and Cheng Wei, two huge stars who first found fame acting together in a movie. Since then, they have teamed up each year to release a movie, each one with a different theme but are typical rom-com flick. They are also lovers but have not made their relationship public.
This is where it gets complicated. While Man Ling is happy to play coy and smile happily for the cameras, Cheng Wei is not in such a good place. He struggles with depression, which results in some erratic behaviour. He is fed up with the fan-servicey nature of the movie series with Man Ling. He finds no meaning in the dialogue and script, which has lots of kissing and bed scenes. This takes a toll on his career, as he cannot draw the line between his professional side and his personal side, especially since he’s also dating Man Ling. The press generally dislikes him for his attitude, and he doesn’t help at all with his snarky remarks to Japanese reporters, which his translator ‘translates’ into scripted answers.
My main issue with the episode was after the near-rape scene between Cheng Wei and Man Ling. Everything just went sour after that for me. No matter what the circumstances are, it’s wrong, and it sends the wrong message. Not just that he tried to, but how Man Ling responded. I understand that they are in a relationship, but no means no, plainly.
Man Ling is a bit less interesting as a character compared to Cheng Wei, probably since most of the focus in the first episode was on him. She comes across as a more easygoing and professional actress. Most of her problems are probably related to Cheng Wei, which is why she seems underdeveloped. With them already being in a relationship at the start of the show, it’s hard to see how they’ve come together and what makes them click. I hope she gains more of a backbone rather than being just a pretty face who gets jerked around by male characters.
Despite the overdose of skinship in the first episode, I wasn’t all too impressed by that, as other bits of the show wasn’t too well done at all. The side characters are uninteresting at this point, except for Cheng Wei’s manager, who is played by the awesome Yuen Qiu. We haven’t met the full cast yet, from the looks of it. So now we just have Man Ling stalker/fanboy, and the girl who seems to be a figment of Cheng Wei’s imagination.
It will be interesting to see how it unfolds, and I won’t write off the drama after just one episode. I am intrigued by how Winnie is exploring the subject of depression, especially in someone who’s under the spotlight. It may be a representation of how a lot of actors and actresses feel, constantly scrutinised and unable to differentiate whether people like them for themselves or for what they portray on-screen. While You Light Up My Star isn’t really the crack drama I expected it to be, it definitely stands out as being different from the standard idol fare.