Asian Drama Synopsis Fail: Behind Your Smile

It’s really been a long time. I think I have several of these percolating in the corners of my mind, but since I marathoned the episodes with English subtitles available for Taiwanese drama Behind Your Smile, this drama gets center stage in synopsis failures!

I seriously would like to know where different websites got these little blurbs from (some websites do state blurbs taken and translated from such and such, but not for this drama). These are all written along the same vein and can’t be further from the reality of the actual drama.

From Viki:

A curse condemns a man to immortality. Zhao Yi Ting (Marcus Chang) is never able to reincarnate due to the curse, so he lives among mortal humans forever and toys with man’s greedy tendencies. Yi Ting’s life becomes cold and meaningless. But when he meets Lei Xin Yu (Eugenie Liu), a young woman whose wealthy family has fallen on hard times, everything changes. He is drawn to Xin Yu in a way that he has not felt in a long time. Will Yi Ting discover a new lease on life through Xin Yu? […] It is based on the German legend of Faust

From D-Addicts DramaWiki: “A curse prevented a man from reincarnating. Ever since then, he walked among the mortals and played with their greed. One day, he meets a rich girl whose family has lost everything and is being hunted by angry investors. He feels a connection to her that he hasn’t felt for ages and helps her in her time of needs. But his goodwill is anything but benign.”

From Wikipedia:

A curse condemns Zhao Yiting to immortality, preventing him from reincarnating, so he lives a cold and meaningless life among mortals, toying with their greedy tendencies. As he lost his father because of Lin Man, he decides to take revenge on her. At the same time, Lin Man’s daughter Xinyu returns home to surprise her mother, but the woman has fled due to numerous charges against her: Xinyu is now destitute and has an angry mob after her, so Yiting helps her, while harboring ulterior motives. However, since Xinyu is naive, gentle and kind, Yiting starts to get conflicted about his feelings for her.

So, my main gripe with these synopses (notice how very similar they all are) is the mention of the damned “curse”! Not to spoil it for all y’all who have not yet given this drama a try…there is no curse that’s condemned our male lead to walk about mortals for centuries which has turned him into a cold, detached monster who loves playing with people’s greed. This is really pure BS. Well…the curse part and immortality part anyways. And, besides are opening MV which could be construed at hinting that Yiting is a bit more than human, there is nothing in this drama in reference to the supernatural. Everyone in the drama is human and every situation is firmly planted in reality without the slightest hint of the fantastical.Behind Your Smile promotional posterMarcus Chang’s Zhao Yiting is as human as the next person. He is very, very mortal (he nearly kills himself trying to save Eugenie Liu’s Lei Xinyu from falling sacks of sand). He has not wandered aimlessly for centuries. In fact…it’s like 10-15 or so years prior that Lin Man (Lei Xinyu’s mother) led to the downfall of Zhao’s family farm which resulted in his father’s death and his mother’s mind going by the way side thanks to the trauma which set Yiting on a path of self destruction to get justice for his family and friends.

Zhao Yiting does get close to Lei Xinyu and helps her quite often. Wikipedia’s synopsis at least mentions Lin Man and how Yiting helps her while having ulterior motives for doing so. This much is true. Even DramaWiki’s synopsis about Yiting’s help being a little more complicated is dead on. Zhao Yiting is essentially the reason Lei Xinyu’s life is shattered. Having gone through something similar, he knows that Xinyu will need to toughen up and realize what the world is really like. So…he helps her. He can’t help but help her. When plotting against her mother, he never factored her into the equation (since Xinyu was studying abroad all of this time), and never wanted her to outright suffer. Of course, his help comes with a cost…finding her mother! He employs every method possible to get Xinyu to trust him and puts people around her to spy on her to get to her mother…but he also doesn’t want Xinyu hurt or pressured into revealing Lin Man’s whereabouts (not that she knows, anyways).

It’s very, very true that Zhao Yiting has become cold and emotionless. He doesn’t care for love or relationships. He does use people and plays games to get what he wants. The goal of his life is revenge and then he was to return back to his old life (to a certain respect), but Lin Man’s departure has kept him pushing hard to keep going for the final justice desired. He is very conflicted since he is developing feelings for Xinyu. Both he and Da Mao are both conflicted about her since she is Lin Man’s daughter. It’s very complex and complicated. The plot is very tangled right now.

Just know…you can’t believe those synopses. And Faust? Do you know the German legend of Faust? I had to read The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus in Brit Lit I in college (by Christopher Marlowe). In some ways…you may be able to stretch Zhao Yiting into a Faustian character, but I don’t think there is enough of that. Faust was a scholar so dissatisfied with life that he sold his soul to the devil for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures for a limited time. So…I guess if people writing these synopses read the Faustian comment, then they are at liberty to turn our leading male into a soulless monster…

Zhao Yiting…he doesn’t literally sell his soul to the devil. Of course, like early renditions of Faust, Yiting does believe that his sins are too great to save him at the end of the day – and he’s sadly okay with that. He lives for one thing only and has given up everything to gain what he needs just to achieve the goal of “justice” read “revenge”. So…yes, kind of Faustian, but… I’m not sold on this drama as 100% a Faustian one.

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