After three years of preparation, four months of shooting and NT $80 million (15.7 million yuan), the Taiwan-made Our Times was unveiled to audiences. Unsurprisingly, it’s yet another Taiwan-style love story focused on the experiences of four high school students.
Lin Zhenxin is an ordinary school girl who is extremely insensitive. Like most girls, she develops a crush on Ouyang Feifan, her school’s handsomest and smartest boy.
Xu Taiyu is also a well-known student in the school. He is smart and handsome, but he doesn’t study and always ends up in fights. Xu’s favorite girl is Tao Minmin, widely regarded as the best in the school.
When Lin and Xu find out that Ouyang and Tao are dating, they join forces to ruin the couple’s young love. Their blundering attempts end up becoming the joke of the school.
However, Xu gradually finds that Lin is a kind and simple girl and he falls in love with her. Lin also develops feelings for Xu. The two give up their plans and stay together in the end.
Leading actress Song Yunhua sacrificed her face to play the average Lin. The producing team spent heavily to bring in guest talents like Hong Kong heartthrob Andy Lau and Taiwan actress Chen Qiaoen.
At a time when mainland-produced shows have started introducing sex and abortion as plot elements, the innocent and tired cliches of Taiwanese storytelling seem fresh and pure.
Meteor Garden and The Blue Gate were two hit Taiwanese TV series and films in the 1990s. The actors and actresses and simple stories became the model for all Taiwanese teen entertainment – even more than a decade later.
Two months ago, the Taiwan-produced series Mingruo Xiaoxi aired on Hunan TV. Many viewers complained that the story resembled Meteor Garden, made by the same company in the 1990s. That didn’t stop it from being the network’s top show.
Tencent Entertainment said much of the atmosphere of Taiwanese films comes from the island’s different approach to cinema. Many actors and actresses are found by talent scouts rather than recruited through acting academies.
Ordinary people seem to be better at playing ordinary people than professional actors.
Compared with Hong Kong youth films which focus on fighting, gangsters and aggression, Taiwan shows tend to be positive and have a happy ending.
In a society that is increasingly sick and complicated, true love and tired cliches deeply touch more viewers than ever.