Dramas oftentimes are not received equally by the local viewing population and the overseas brethren. It’s easy for each side to deride the other for having bad taste, but it’s not really that easy to explain. It’s more like people have different tastes, and that’s a good thing. Last year’s K-drama ratings champion Baker King Kim Tak Gu barely made a blip anywhere overseas, whereas the bottom of the barrel ratings loser Playful Kiss was a relatively big hit in most of the countries it was exported to. Similarly, the dramas that are a big hit in Taiwan aren’t necessarily what the the overseas viewers embrace and laud. The Fierce Wife and Rookies Diary are a huge hit in Taiwan this year, but hasn’t seen any overseas popularity.
I’m only saying this because TTV‘s current Sunday night drama Office Girls launched with a huge premiere ratings splash and almost doubled that ratings by episode 2. I thoroughly enjoyed both episodes, but feel odd about recommending this drama. It’s a very “Taiwanese” flavor office drama, without a lot of emotional hooks but conversely plenty of breezy situational comedy and relationship developments. I find it refreshing and so easy to watch, but ultimately doesn’t make that much of a lasting impression with me. I think OG will be the drama to beat for both In Time With You and Ring Ring Bell when both premieres in the next few weeks. And I have a feeling Taiwan viewers will keep OG at the top for the rest of its run.
OG is about a chaebol heir Qin Zi Qi (Roy Qui) who returns from studying abroad thinking he’ll inherit daddy’s department store, only to be told by daddy there aint no such thing as a free lunch in this world. Daddy cuts off his credit cards and kicks him out of the house. Zi Qi will get a job at the department store starting at the very bottom, and work his way up to prove his worth before daddy will consider handing him the reins. In the meantime, he lives off his own salary and makes his way in the world. Love Daddy Qin!
Zi Qi’s new predicament forces him into close proximity with Shen Xing Ren (Alice Ke), a hard-working, go-getter office girl who works in the planning department of the Qin family department store. She is the very definition of frugal, saving every penny and scrimping on every expense so that she can amass enough money to buy a house and bring her mother to Taipei to live with her. Xing Ren is level headed and forthright, a decent person who has a very detailed plan for her own life. A plan that is about to run head on into the rudderless existence of Qin Zi Qi.
OG is a very solid ensemble drama, one where the story takes more precedence than the main characters and their interactions. The extended cast is across-the-board good, without the overacting and mugging that tends to be sprinkled throughout most TW-dramas. Alice is wonderfully refreshing as Xing Ren, giving a performance that reminds me of Ariel Lin’s natural presence on screen with Janine Chang’s reserve. She’s definitely leading lady material, without any penchant for relying on the cute or the looks to get by. She’s the real deal, and OG a great fit for her leading lady debut.
I adore Roy, and he’s perfect here as Qin Zi Qi, an immature boy who nevertheless is making the effort to become a man. He grumbles about his fate and he can’t quite do anything right at this point, but he accepts what his father has decreed and is making a concerted attempt at succeeding at his challenge. Roy and Alice have this lively chemistry with each other, one that sparks with the right amount of annoyance and curiosity, making their bickering office mates + building mates duo really lots of fun to watch.
The two second leads are just serviceable, with James Wen and Tia Li giving decent performances, but their characters are not currently not very interesting. James plays a fashion designer with a chip on his shoulder from struggling in his youth, and Tia is a beautiful but calculating fellow office mate of Alice and Roy at the department store. To be honest, I only like Xing Ren and Zi Qi so far, but none of the other characters annoy me, which is always a great plus.
The music is peppy and the cinematography is very smooth and effortless. OG is akin to a TW-version of Protect the Boss, with a different set up but the same mixture of office situation with character growth through inter-personal relationships. I heartily recommend OG, but concede it’s probably not for everyone. Not because it’s bad or deficient, but more like the concept and delivery isn’t the typical trendy idol drama romance angle that hooks most viewers. I think OG will get there eventually once the love story kicks into gear, and I’m definitely looking forward to that. I have no plans to recap OG, but intend to keep watching this cute and light little drama with tons of heart.