Year End Drama Review 2020 Day 7: Go Ahead

I do have issues with this drama in several ways, but this was really an endearing drama that explored the true meaning of family and friendship. All of the cast were excellent in their roles, especially given the age ranges in which they had to act. Song Wei Long’s Ling Xiao was the oldest “brother” of the family and he is literally the youngest in real life while Seven Tan plays the baby of the family while being the oldest in real life.

Tu Song Yan stars as Li Hai Chao. He is a widower raising his little girl all by himself while operating a noodle restaurant. One day Ling He Ping (Zhang Xi Lin) moves upstairs in their apartment building with his wife and young son. There’s like a 2-3 year age gap between the kids. Hai Chao’s daughter Jian Jian takes an immediate liking to this “ge ge” who treats her so coldly. At this time, a neighborhood woman who likes to matchmake introduces divorcee He Mei (Luna Yuan) to Hai Chao in hopes that he can end his single days and get a new mom for Jian Jian. Of course the little girl doesn’t want a mother and she does not like that He Mei has a son, He Zi Qiu.

It turns out that Jian Jian’s beloved ge ge Ling Xiao and his family is suffering from a traumatic experience. One day his mother Chen Ting (Yang Tong Shu) locked him and his little sister in their house while she went out to play mahjong. He was feeding his little sister walnuts when she started choking. He tried to get help, but there was a thunderstorm and he could not get out of the house, so his little sister died. His father, who is a cop, throws himself into his work while his mother goes through depression and mistreats her son all of the time. In the end, she abandons her husband and son. Enter in a point of contention… I get that Jian Jian is a little girl, but when Chen Ting is leaving, Jian Jian realizes Ling Xiao is getting abandoned and asks if she can have him. Chen Ting gives her son away to Jian Jian and the girl happily dances around him about getting a big brother. Even given her young age…she should have realized that was wrong. But, you know.

At this same time, He Mei leaves her son behind to find work in another city. While she dated Hai Chao and did admire him, she decided she would make a life for herself and her son on her own. She left Zi Qiu with her family after borrowing money from Hai Chao, but Hai Chao couldn’t see the young boy living in the countryside while doing manual labor and not going to school, so he takes him him. After these events, the Lis, remaining Hes, and Zi Qiu form a family. He Ping is the “father” of the group while Hai Chao is the “mother” of this makeshift family. Jian Jian was originally against Zi Qiu, but she later accepts him as her brother.

Chinese drama Go Ahead 1999
Zi Qiu, Ling Xiao, & Jian Jian in 1999

Fast forward and Jian Jian is just starting high school while her two older brother are just finishing up high school. Ling Xiao is the serious and sensible one while Zi Qiu and Jian Jian are the more rash troublemakers. Of course, Ling Xiao will still get into trouble trying to get them out of trouble. I love it when Zi Qiu risks himself to save Qi Ming Yue (played by Sun Yi) and when Jian Jian sees this she runs into school and uses the intercom to call her oldest brother for help. Ling Xiao immediately rushes into the fray to save his baby sister and little brother. Jian Jian is scolded by the principal and Ling Xiao praises her for being sensible enough to call for help that way which shows she’s improving, lol.

After that, Ming Yue and Jian Jian become best friends and Ming Yue develops a crush on her savior Zi Qiu. The boy is clueless, however, and after Ling Xiao offers comfort to Ming Yue, her crush switches to him. At this time, child star Tang Can (He Rui Xian) comes into their school. She puts on airs that Ming Yue and Jian Jian cannot stand, but after a series of events, these three girls become the best of friends. Ming Yue suffers from the pressures and demands of her perfectionist mother (while her father just essentially ignores the hole situation and lets her mom just do whatever with only ever putting in a few minor interjections) while Tang Can also suffers due to her mother. Her parents are using her celebrity for their living. Well, her dad still works, while her mother acts as her agent. When she gets older and can still only get bit roles, she moves out on her own with Jian Jian and Ming Yue and offers her acting services to help others.

If you use the weapon of giving your family the cold shoulder, even the strongest feelings will become fragile.

The golden time of youth, however, doesn’t last. Chen Ting comes back. She has remarried and has a new daughter now. They come from Singapore and Chen Ting tries to use Qin Mei Ying (Amber Song) to win her son’s affections back. Too little, too late. Of course Jian Jian doesn’t like the entrance of a little sister into her beloved Ling Xiao’s life and the two have a lot of friction to start. Ling Xiao assures her and lets everyone else know that she is the most important person in his life. He does bond a little bit with his baby sister, but it’s the family he’s raised in that he loves the most. Chen Ting returns to Singapore only to have her mother on her deathbed. Ling Xiao is forced to be by his maternal grandmother’s side when another tragedy happens…his mother and stepfather get into an accident. His stepfather is killed and his mother is crippled. He travels to Singapore with his uncle to take care of matters.

At the same time, Zi Qiu has it rough as well. He’s grown up with his maternal family pressuring him to be the perfect son so Hai Chao won’t kick him out and so he can repay the Lis’ kindness. This upsets Hai Chao as he really sees Zi Qui has his real son. Of course, Zi Qiu also has issues due to being “abandoned” by his mother, too. To make matters worse, his birth father enters the picture. Zhao Hua Guang (Liu Jin Long) has remarried a wealthy woman and they have no children. He wants to take back his son. Zi Qiu wants nothing to do with this person. To get what he wants, Zhao gives Hai Chao’s restaurant trouble. Ling Ziao and Zi Qiu understand this, but Jian Jian is oblivious. Hai Chao uses this unexpected happening to expand his restaurant. Unfortunately, Zi Qiu caves to his father’s pressure as he feels an accident Jian Jian had was orchestrated by his father when it was just Jian Jian being stupid.

Chinese Drama Go Ahead 2009
Zi Qiu, Jian Jian, & Ling Xiao in 2009

Thus…Jian Jian loses her two big brothers and a huge awkwardness opens up between them. Zi Qiu goes to England to go to college and live with his real dad while Ling Xiao has no choice but to care for his mother who has no one in Singapore to help her. Time passes and they try to maintain their relationship, but it isn’t as close as it was before. Time goes by and Jian Jian graduates from high school, then college, starts her own wood-carving studio, and moves to live with Ming Yue, who has become a reporter, and Tang Can.

This entire time, though, Ming Yue has been reporting everything related to Jian Jian to Ling Xiao. She mistakenly thinks that Ling Xiao views Jian Jian as just a precious baby sister. Nope. Since high school, he’s begun to see her as more. And during the very, very dark times of living with his mom and baby sister in Singapore, she’s been his only light.

Hai Chao’s business is bigger and even more successful while He Ping is still very busy as a cop. I love the relationship between these two men. They bicker constantly like a married couple at times, lol. Needless to say, He Ping has a lot of resentment towards Chen Ting and he had even more when he learns towards the end of the drama just how much his son suffered silently at the hands of his mom. She was depressed, suicidal, and she used emotional abuse on her son all of the time. He developed a insomnia, depression, and anxiety thanks to her.

Chinese drama Go Ahead family
A blended family is still a family.

Ling Xiao lies to his mother and little sister that he’s just visiting his dad, but he really quit his job in Singapore to join a dentistry place in China. Yes, he became a dentist thanks to Jian Jian. When she had teeth issues back in high school, he was there holding her hand and she told him how great it would be if he could be a dentist. His whole world really revolves around Jian Jian. You know he’s been through a lot of trauma, but his dependency on even the very thought of Jian Jian is obviously unhealthy. I do like how his father does his best to try to get his son some professional help when he learns how bad off he really is.

I have to say Song Wei Long did an amazing job as Ling Xiao. Showing the cool and aloof vibe, but doing an excellent job with the flirty side towards Jian Jian, and a masterful job with the heavily emotionally scarred side of this character…and he’s so young! I think he’s a ’99er. Steven Zhang did a great job with the more emotional side of his character as well. His resentment and anger was well done and the insecurity of everything as well. He also did a lot of stuff revolving around Jian Jian, too. He became a pastry chef because his little sister loves sweets. He also wanted to do a food-related job anyways as he helped out Hai Chao all of the time in the kitchen when he was young.

Jian Jian…is the glue to the family in a lot of ways. I like Seven Tan a lot. She’s played the same types of roles over and over again in many dramas and she does have some great acting chops. My issue isn’t with her acting, just some of how her character of Jian Jian was written. When she decided to get together with Ling Xiao, you did have to wonder if she did that just to keep Ling Xiao there or or if she really did start developing feelings. You also have that weirdness where both Zi Qiu and Ling Xiao were insisting they wanted to be on the same family register as Jian Jian and Hai Chao. Did the brothers really have romantic feelings towards her or just wanted that “legal” family relationship?

But, over all…the heart of this drama is family and this drama shined best with the family moments. It also did a good job in exploring how toxic family relationships can be. Jian Jian was the luckiest with her father. Obviously Zi Qiu, Ling Xiao, Tang Can, and Ming Yue suffered the most. After Zi Qiu left for the UK, his father and his wife did eventually have their own kid and since Zi Qiu didn’t want to buckle under his father’s thumb, he lived by himself and worked tons of odd jobs to make money to support himself through school and follow his own dreams.

Chinese drama Go Ahead 2019
Zi Qiu, Jian Jian, & Ling Xiao in 2019

I was actually surprised towards the end of the drama to learn that He Mei didn’t abandon her son. She was sent to prison for several years due to accidentally causing the death of a woman making a ruckus outside the salon where she worked at the time. She never wanted her boy to know or have that stigma in his life. Hai Chao eventually is able to help mend the bridges between mother and son and he and He Mei actually really do fall in love and get married by the end of the drama.

Chen Ting is the biggest obstacle in this drama. I don’t like how they bring everything to head towards the final few episodes. Chen Ting wants to move back to China and have Mei Ying go to college there. Chen Ting, just like Hua Guang, doesn’t understand why the child she shares blood with prefers a family that he’s not related to. She especially hates Jian Jian. She has saw the signs of how her son was suffering, but only ever kept intentionally adding to his burden instead of setting him free to live his own life. After He Ping meets with her and Ling Xiao finally snaps at her, she decides to kill herself because that will make everything better…right…let’s add more guilt and trauma to your son’s life. She doesn’t die thankfully. I don’t think she’s redeemed either, but they left everything to the very end, so you don’t get a clean wrapup.

Ming Yue’s parents end up getting divorced and she realizes that while she resented her mother, her mother was the only parent who was ever there for her all of the time unlike her dad who really just buried his head in the sand or forgot about her. Tang Can tried to do things to please her mother after she became a failure, but in the end she just couldn’t give up acting. Ah, complicated love. Zi Qiu’s high school bestie Zhuang Bei (An Ge) meets Tang Can after he procures the apartment across the hall from Jian Jian for Zi Qiu. Tang Can falls for him at first site, but he falls for Ming Yue at first site while Ming Yue is hung up on the unavailable Ling Xiao. Learning the truth of Ling Xiao’s feelings almost destroys the friendship between Ming Yue and Jian Jian, but Ming Yue realizes she was never truly in love with Ling Xiao and is just hurt and embarrassed. Tang Can acts all cool like she doesn’t care that Zhuang Bei fell for her good friend, but she’s heartbroken. Thankfully she doesn’t take it out on Ming Yue who keeps turning Zhuang Bei down left and right.

Even blood ties don’t necessarily make a family, but it’s people who cherish and take care of one another…can definitely be one.

Eventually…while helping Tang Can find her happiness and dreams once again, Zhuang Bei realizes he really does like her while Tang Can keeps stressing how great a friend he is. Yep. Friendzoned after breaking her heart. We end the drama with no resolution here and you’d like to see more. You also have no final resolution with Jian Jian and Ling Xiao although they are technically a couple. He Ping remains alone while Hai Chao finally does end up remarried to He Mei after taking a long about way to get there. In the end, their unconventional family remains whole, intact, growing, and stronger than ever.

It was great to see character growth and the overcoming of the traumas in their lives. I honestly didn’t care so much for the romance parts. I think Zhuang Bei’s suggestion that Zi Qiu might like Jian Jian as more than a sister confused him and he didn’t really have romantic feelings for Jian Jian and his wooing of her was super awkward while Ling Xiao’s felt more natural. BUT…the relationship between Ling Xiao and Jian Jian didn’t feel good because of Ling Xiao’s traumas and his dependency solely on Jian Jian…but…since he was getting help, it could be okay and not such a dependency in the future. That’s up to the imagination.

Despite being over 40 episodes, this drama didn’t seem long, boring, or bogged down and time literaly flew quite a bit in the drama how they went to high school to the boys nearing 30, etc. Don’t be intimated by the episode count and do give this a watch…although I am sure the bad parents and awful situations would get you seething, too. This is really a great drama to showcase an important thing about family that some people don’t realize…blood doesn’t necessarily make a family, but love does.

Having grown up in the environment I did, I could actually really relate to this drama. I had a mother who wasn’t a good person and was into drugs. I had a father who has always been gone more than present. I was raised in a non-traditional family by my paternal aunt and paternal grandparents. I still harbor parent issues, although I do have a good relationship with my dad now. So…this hit home in many ways. I also can understand the huge dependency on siblings since I always had my older sister who also acted like a little mother at times even though we are literally 362 days apart.

You can watch this drama on iQiyi, YouTube, & Viki.

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