Behind Your Smile is a nineteen-episode Taiwanese drama romance show. The story focuses on the romantic relationship between innocent, kind Lei Xinyu and vengeful, bitter Zhao Yiting.
I thoroughly enjoyed Behind Your Smile. Taiwanese dramas are excellent at character development, plot flow, plot timing, and character relationships. The plot of Behind Your Smile isn’t complex by any means, but the show reveals story line elements in thin, carefully-timed layers that build suspense and emotionally involve the viewer. More than once, I thought I had predicted the next plot twist, but I was delightfully wrong.
Also, I especially enjoyed watching Behind Your Smile because it kept things clean. Even the humor was (mostly) clean, and quite authentically funny. My Christian filter is always up when I watch any kind of TV. This show passed with no problem! I would let my child watch it and feel fine. There were only a few instances of implied violence, but none of the situations were outright graphic or openly displayed. The romance factor wasn’t overdone, either.
However, as with many Asian romantic dramas, Behind Your Smile takes it’s sweet time developing itself, crams the climax into the very last few episodes at light speed, and calms down with an almost painfully corny display of over-used, fluffy romance. All the complex, intense character problems seem to magically resolve themselves after the bad guy has been taken care of. If you like cliché romance, then you’ll thoroughly enjoy the ending. But I’ve been so over-saturated with corny romance, that I skipped to the end when I got to the second-to-last episode.
I do consider that the primary audience for Behind Your Smile are Taiwanese women who most likely watch such shows for the plot, but more so for the attractive male leads and the culminating romance. I assume that the main viewer base wants displays of purely fan-fare, predictable romance, so many of these shows write such scenes in.
OVERALL SCORE: 7/10
SPOILERS. DO NOT READ IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS
Business mogul Lin Man compromises her business ethics and morals under the pressure that her husband’s company is doing poorly. Running the company herself since her husband died, she teams up with an amoral business partner who tricks her, frames her, and makes profit at the expense of her fortune and reputation.
Lin Man’s daughter Lei Xinyu is an innocent, loving, sweet, and somewhat immature young woman who suddenly finds herself left to fend for herself in a harsh world. Her mother fled the country to protect herself. Stunned, Lei Xinyu doesn’t know what to do. Through a series of chaotic, frightening events, she finds herself under the watchful eye of business man Zhao Yiting, one of Lin Man’s victims. Zhao Yiting is out for bitter revenge. Lin Man ruined his family’s farm. He also blames Lin Man for his father’s death. Lei Xinyu has no idea about his background.
Zhao Yiting spends a good portion of show using Lei Xinyu and then falling in love with her. Lei Xinyu discovers her own inner strength, maturity, and heart break as her assumptions concerning people and the world shift. In the end, she has to decide whether to trust Zhao Yiting, despite his deception and intent against her mother, or turn her back on all the relationships she’d developed since Lin Man fled Taiwan.
There’s a small line-up of primary characters, an expected tight circle of secondary, supporting characters, and some scattered unimportant, characters. I’m only going to profile the top three characters.
LEI XINYU (Eugenie Liu):
Lin Man’s daughter. Lei Xinyu’s character enjoys evolving personality traits and a contextual background that builds her out as a multifaceted, well-developed individual. However, her character suffers from similar over-used problems, such as a disbelieving inability to figure out what’s really going on and a burdening naiveté. I found it difficult to watch her during some scenes, because of her gullibility and simplistic thinking. However, once she takes the initiative to put the rest of the pieces together, she becomes a bit more realistically suspicious, savvy, and adept at the world. Overall, she’s a believable character. She’s written well and it’s pleasing to watch her grow and discover positive and negative dimensions of the world.
ZHAO YITING (Marcus Chang):
Zhao Yiting and his family own Healthy Farm, a milk dairy farm. He and his family’s dreams of the farm doing well are ruined when Lin Man’s business involvement ruins the farm’s reputation. Also, because of her, his father dies.
Zhao Yiting embarks on a highly ambitious plan of revenge. Only, his plans are threatened when he encounters Lei Xinyu and falls in love with her.
His character is first shown as a cold, distanced, silent, emotionless shell who sees the world in black and white. As Behind Your Smile progresses, Zhao Yiting’s well-developed context and history comes out in layers. He’s built himself into a powerful business man with the single goal of destroying Lin Man. However, as Lie Xinyu softens his heart, he questions himself.
I found Zhao Yiting to be one of the most enjoyable characters to watch. He realistically realized and acknowledged the evils in the world. However, his cynical view framed everything in some negative way. Lei Xinyu and he balance each other out.
JIAN XIAOYUE (Esther Yang):
This young woman has far less background and context than Lei Xinyu and Zhao Yiting. There’s only the intimation through Behind Your Smile that she was abandoned, or thrust out on her own too young. She’s highly independent and self-reliant because she has to be. Jian Xiaoyue’s somewhat jaded with the world, but hasn’t given up on her dream to become an actress.
She meets Lei Xinyu through Zhao Yiting, who has some history with her that is not fully explained. Behind Your Smile says he forced her to spy for him. That she had no choice.
Zhao Yiting sets Jian Xiaoyue up with an apartment and provides her with tools to keep track of Lei Xinyu’s movements, calls, and texts. At first, she’s fine with the situation. As the show progresses, however, Jian Xiaoyue becomes uncomfortable with her role, as her friendship and affection for Xie Xinyu grows.
I found her character to be very satisfying to watch; sometimes more interesting than Lei Xinyu. She grows and changes through the show in a positive, satisfying way. I like her spunk, outspoken character, tomboyish personality, and independent streak.
In summary, this show has a good amount of soft, loving moments, friendships, drama, romance, suspense, and plot twists to keep you interested. You won’t feel like you’ve been taken on a roller coaster. Instead, you may find the show’s pace enjoyable and the characters interesting. I recommend it for anyone who likes Asian romance dramas.
PLOT RATING: 7
“APPROPRIATENESS” RATING: 9
LANGUAGE WARNING: < 1
NUDITY WARNING: < 1
VIOLENCE WARNING: 4