First Impression on Office Girls with Roy Qiu and Alice Ke

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.

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First Impression on Office Girls with Roy Qiu and Alice Ke — 23 Comments

  1. I am hugely interested in watching Alice Ke’s career development, so I will probably watch this one all the way through with an eye to where she’s going in the future.

    • Forgot to mention, she gives me that Ariel Lin vibe, too, not because of her looks, something about her soul and charisma. I discovered her in Monga and was instantly taken with her.

      • I also think Alice Ke has quite a good on-screen presence. I was always wondering when she would break out onto the TV industry what with the dearth of leading lady material in Taiwan. I watched her earlier movies back in 2008 in Miao Miao, it was good and her acting style is very reminiscent to that of Ariel Lin, naturalistic. But

  2. Thanks for your impression. I started watching this last week and liked it but was still curious to hear what other people thought of it. I’m glad I’m not alone. I have to admit that you were the first to turn me to TW-dramas; I started with Drunken to Love You and I have been consuming them ever since.

  3. I watched the first 3 episodes so far…must say I find it very sweet and entertaining.
    I love the bickering dynamic between the two leading characters. Roy’s character on screen appears to be a lazy-ass chaebol, but you can actually see that he has good business sense, how to deal with upper management and clients, except he doesn’t put all of his energy on the tasks given to him…yet. All that is about to change as he watches how hardworking Xing Ren is. This immature boy would finally be growing up and be fit to take over the company in due time — can’t wait for this progression.

    In the mean time, I’m going to sit back and enjoy the funny antics (the background music effects really helps) and the bickering on the screen. Like koala said, Alice’s character really reminds me of Ariel and Janine, not too cutesy, not too dumb — just right.

    Damn…her frugalness is starting to rub off on me – I resisted the temptation to shop over this Long Labor Day weekend, lol.

    • I love the scene in episode two, when they are having dinner and discussing how they can get James fashion designer to agree to open a boutique in the department store.

      ZQ derides XR for thinking she can convince the guy just by trying very hard with a lot of sincerity. XR thinks ZQ’s offer to just show him a convincing bottom line is so very cold.

      And then her friend suggests – why don’t they work very hard to prepare a convincing bottom line presentation and offer it to James with sincerity.

      Hahaha, so very obvious, but so cute. And both of them went “oooooh, yeah, that makes sense”

  4. I’m in love with this drama right now – hooked even from the opening theme- and have developed a girl crush on Alice Ke. She really does remind me of Ariel (and Janine too..but maybe more Ariel?) in her acting. I’ve been in a taiwan drama slump these past two years. Even the ones recommended by fellow overseas viewers either 1. have not been able to hook me or 2. hooked me, but story took a nosedive (and it was evident from episode 2 onwards that they would run out of good material) or 3. hooked me for a bit, but did not like the characters enough to really stick with it.

    Loving this drama for all the reasons you mentioned! I can’t wait to see them both succeed in work and love! I love Xing Ren’s BFF too!

    • Oh wow..Me tooo! Ive been on a tw-drama slump too after too many tw-dramas disappointed me. Not even Drunken to Love You appeal to me all that much, if at all. But i am loving this one.
      Loveee Roy Qiu..he’s pretty damn shuai in this one <3

  5. I watched the first 10 minutes and then decided to watch it after a few more episodes air. I like Shining Inheritance-ish story but more on the fun side without too much drama. I think the male and female lead are both pretty good and suit their character.. loving Roy Qiu!! Short hair suits him better than the long hair I’d seen last time…

  6. It’s definitely a unique drama that combines a good mix of comedy with story. The romance is kind of lacking so far, but I think after episode 3 the writing should pick up in that department I hope. Roy Qiu is charming as ever as the male lead and I love Alice so far!

  7. I’ve been following your recaps and postings since Lie to Me and though I find it diffcult to move on from LTM, I tried some new dramas but unfortunately I could not continue after 2 episodes. However, when I watched Office Girl i find it yeah like you said -“refreshing” even the leads are likeable. Which is exactly the opposite of what I feel towards Protetc The Boss where I find the leading actor so annoying and has no redeeming qualities at all to keep me interested. The leading lady is ok but – just Ok. I am truly amazed how it became a high rating drama in Korea when it is so ordinary. Maybe no competition? Oh I also tried another dram My Love By My Side- though the story is typical – birth secrets (too many in fact) and single mother syndrome, at least the youg mother is decently protrayed. Sorry for being long winded like this – must be a marked left of watching too many dramas.

  8. Yeah, I think it’s lovely. Very simple and understated… it’s “refreshing slice-of-life” material. No crazy set-ups, no wild situations… Well, except for the shower mishap. Those are in vogue this fall.

    Anyway, I’m enjoying it so far. (o;

    • lol shower stumble aren’t exactly fresh in the drama world, but what cracked me up was that they took such a cliche and added in the little duet. a bit random and forced to have a drunk man use somebody else’s shower, but I found it hilarious

  9. Rich chaebol with an immature or bad temper meets hardworking penny-pinching working class girl. Misunderstandings, love, romance and hilarity follow. Same script to every TW drama and yet I always show up! I hate it, but I love it, but I hate it, but I love it…. argh.

    I might wait till this one’s done airing to watch it. That scene with all of them running in the hallway is hilarious though.

  10. I admit I had somewhat low expectations for this drama, but the first episode blew me out of the water, and this has become my weekly twdrama highlight. Roy is amazing — I have watched every single one of his 2011 dramas so far, and he doesn’t disappoint in a single one. He and Alice have surprisingly good chemistry. Tbh, I’m interested more in how Qin Ziqi and his father reconcile things than in Ziqi and Xingren’s relationship development, but I will still be keeping an eye on the latter.

    Yao Yao and Patrick Li are great supporting actors. Their characters are both the slightly ridiculous kind, but they manage to pull it off without being over-the-top. And I do have to admit that Tia does a better job with the acting here than she did in Hayate the Combat Butler (I cringed whenever she was in a scene). Too bad her character is really boring; I’d like to see if she can handle someone more nuanced.

  11. I completely agree with Ms Koala as it’s not an overseas love drama. I knew I would love this drama just from the previews because I love that tw drama feel and I almost always find myself like the huge tw ratings hits that wouldn’t do well overseas (The Fierce Wife for example). And that’s exactly what Office Girls feels like. I think it will continue to do well in TW and I’d be really surprised if Ariel’s drama could top it. Her drama – looks like one that will do well overseas but won’t be a huge ratings hit in TW (I could be totally wrong here – I love Ariel a lot – but that’s just the feel I get). I also watch a lot of the big ratings taiwanese-language dramas so that’s probably why I fall into the category of people who the mainstream tw dramas. I don’t think Office Girls is for everyone as I think most will write it off as being yet another comedish tw drama. But I think the pairing of RQ and AK is great — although I find James to be only eh… and Tia – oh boy – don’t like her at all (just not good at acting and nothing interesting about her character either).

    Anyhow – OG has one fan in me 🙂 I hope others will enjoy it too.

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