First Impressions Look at Material Queen with Vanness Wu and Lynn Xiong

I am human, not a super-hero Koala or even a Koala who has discovered the means to bend space and time. With that said, I really am “my heart wants but my body cannot do” (a Chinese proverb for desiring to do something that you are physically incapable of) with respect to Material Queen. I watched episode 1 of the drama on FridayΒ (like all TW-dramas it has a cute episode naming mechanism tied to its drama title – here episodeΒ 1 was called One Carat), and it was love at first sight.

Episode 1 might be the most brilliant first episode of a romance TW-drama I have ever watched. Ever. It’s head and shoulders above anything TW-dramas have ever aimed for, and it’s sheer visual artistry and use of the Parisian location shoots PWNs every K-drama out there in the same genre. I spent yesterday chewing my finger nails off trying to figure out whether I can recap it or just write a first impressions review. I was that torn.

MQ debuted with a very disappointing 0.77 in ratings, which is what I expected based on its its Friday timeslot and the fact that I don’t believe this drama would ever appeal to TW-viewers at all. My comparison of MQ as pushing the boundaries of TW-idol drama is akin to Black & White pushing the boundaries of TW-dramas in general. It is never going to get widepread public acceptance. At most the international audiences and a cult following in Taiwan will appreciate it. I was blown away by the guts of this drama – going for such stark and unflinching dissection of modern beliefs of love and money.

Lynn Xiong is the heart, soul, and anchor of this drama. She *is* Lin Chu Man, a top model who was so coldly thrown away as a child that love is not an emotion she believes exists. It’s like asking her if she believes in the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus. How can you dislike her? She is honest and unfront about who she is – a woman with looks who wants money for security. She will barter herself for that, even if she subconsciously yearns for a human connection based on sincerity that she doesn’t even believe in.

I’m still reeling over how amazing an actress Lynn is for this role. It’s like how bad an actress top-model Lin Chi Ling is, Lynn Xiong throws the models-can’t-act prejudice out the window. She is inbuing a role within a role (her Chu Man is an actress in the drama, a top model putting on act to land her a rich husband), and you can actually see the subtle shifts between the real Chu Man and when Chu Man is putting on a show for her man in her life. Forget how utterly gorgeous Lynn looks in real life – she’s putting herself on the line to play this role and it shows. There is no fear that her character is too shallow, too materialistic, too dirty, she takes it all in stride. This is who I am, and why can’t I be true to myself? I love Chu Man already.

Vanness Wu, on the other hand, is just not cut out for this type of nuanced, emotionally rich role. His very limited acting repertoire completely showed in episode 1, and I spent every scene with him wishing that Ethan Ruan had been cast. Ethan would have NAILED the role, it’s just one step above his drama pinnacle performance as Lucas in My Queen. The fact that I adore Material Queen regardless of Vanness’ bad acting speak volumes about how magnificent this drama is. PD Chen Wei Ling brings tears to my eyes with her talent as a director, and being a woman in a predominently male field to boot. This drama is so beautiful to watch it makes my heart ache. The music cues in the drama is also outstanding, whoever is the sound mixer and OST producer needs to get a raise.

In the end, I am definitely watching this drama. It’s just heads and shoulders above anything Taiwan has offered before in the romance genre. Yes, even Drunken to Love You follows the tried and true idol model in script and execution. Material Queen is like watching something that takes you out of your comfort zone, and make you riveted to the screen with the majesty and the challenge. Are you ready for this, it seems to be saying to us all. While I don’t have time to recap it for the next few weeks, once my life gets less hectic, if the drama keeps getting better, I may pick up recapping. Until then, rest assured that I’m following MQ and bring updates as I see fit.

PD Chen directed Vanness’s MV for the first single of his new album “Is This All” which is also the theme song for MQ:


First Impressions Look at Material Queen with Vanness Wu and Lynn Xiong — 58 Comments

  1. after DTLY, this would be my next T-drama to watch….even though I’m dying to watch doramas(missed the hana kimi, short reverse harem days)..and bending time and space is sooooo impossible(downloading raws..then studying at the same time..crazy!!!)hope ockoala wil do a recap for this:)…ockoala.HWAITING!

  2. Yes, I wanna watch this! The story and production quality is totally different from other Taiwan dramas. Can see that even from the 25 min preview.

    Does anyone have the video link for Ep 1? Can’t find it on youtube.

  3. I’ve been waiting to hear your thoughts of this. I started watching a bit of this and I gotta say this is something totally new to TW-dramas. I rarely rarely watch TW-dramas with the exception of a few vic zhou dramas. I’ve never seen anything so beautiful or as top notch as this. This has got to be the very first time I’ve ever seen anything like this in the drama world. Chen YuShan is definitely at the very top of her game. Patricia Field doesn’t disappoint either. I’m loving the fashion. The pink feather earring is so trendy right now and the hair styles – AMAZING!

  4. i HATED Ethan in defeated queen . which is so dissapointing because i loved cydi wang , i thought she was so different from our normal TW heroines , i quite fancied her LOL . chemistry aside i didn’t appreciate the way Ethan’s character was all ” am the good person with the good heart and your personality is just crap so i’ll teach you how to become a good person like me ! he was sooo preachy that i jumped ships and was all for her reuniting with her ex . gaaah , still not over that !

    anywho – i never had much hope for Van in this drama , idk i think his so empty – there’s just little to no feeling i get when i watch him on screen even thouh i marathoned AC like a mad woman i wouldn’t watch it a second time . i think he’d do match better in a Rom Com .

  5. Oooh, can’t wait to watch it!
    Hopefully Lynn’s acting has improved, and by your impression, it seems as if she has…(cuz she was quite bad in Ip Man I & II)

    I think for this drama, the director is Chen Huiling, who also directed Autumn’s Concerto & Vanness’ new MV…the producer of the drama is Chen Yushan…

    Either way, it’s great that women are a force to be reckoned with (behind the scenes) in the Taiwanese drama industry…just wished the same could be said about women (behind the scenes) in the Korean drama industry.

  6. The song is pretty good but i LOVE the style. Seriously in agreement with you that this PD is uber talented. Unfortunately, Vanness’ limited repertoire or facial expressions just makes me want to cry at the waste. Ethan Ruan would have been AMAZING for this. Sigh. I’m conflicted as to whether or not I’ll be following MQ but if you do recap it, I’ll be sure to read up, then maybe watch it if it does interest me further. (Just like I watched Autumn Concerto coz it pulled me in even though Vanness Wu was in it too)

  7. Darn it, unni, now I’m going to have to watch this. I can never resist the combination of really a gorgeous production and something that pushes the envelope. PLUS the PD’s a woman. That’s it, I’m off to watch it.

  8. Alrighty, I’m sold. I’ll watch it for sure. I’ll check viki and see if they have it!

    Oh omg, why did you bring Lin Chi Ling up? :(((((( I’m STILL trying to forget 2/3 of Tsuki no Koibito thanks to her and…the script and everything. But yeah, especially her.

  9. I’m suckered in… Fabulous. Now I’ll never sleep. So someone PLEASE! Tell me (or in this case – give me a link!) where I can watch this! Is there a good site (like DramaFever for KDramas) to watch TWDramas? With English Subs? Watchable the very next day? Not demanding much, am I? πŸ™‚ Thanks in advance!

  10. hmmm. thanks for the heads up, I’ve actually hardly ever watched a TW drama, and the ones I’ve watched were either Ariel Lynn ones Joe Cheng ISWAK and TKA and Love and Bread oh and That Love Comes…. and that’s about it for TW mostly because as you’ve said the time-space continuum is also something I haven’t managed to master so as to bend it and there is a LOT on my plate with just K-dramas as it is… but I watched the MV and I got to say if the PD did so awesomely in that, how much more so for a drama… definitely might take a crack at bending some time space continuum or just plain old skip sleep. @___@

  11. ( I spent yesterday chewing my finger nails off trying to figure out whether I can recap it or just write a first impressions review. I was that torn.)

    First impression & recap pls. though im not into vaness ( like ZZ) ill wait for your recap to make this drama interest me more then i might go to sugoi ideas to dl or viki to watch.

    but ill definately camp here for your recaps of DTLY & LTM

  12. Vanness just looks like a snake to me, regardless of how nice his bod is. His acting also seems to waver between vapid and cringe-worthily over-the-top. AC was the only project of his that I thought he was ok in, but I see he’s back to his past performance levels. The music video was kinda embarrassing in terms of his fervent arm-swinging, angsty-angster expressions, and pointless exertion.

    I wish Ethan had been cast too- this is such a great drama that it’s a pity one-half of the lead has to weigh it down so much.

  13. Just saw that has the first epi up with 92% English subs… Guess I’ll be busy for the next while. πŸ™‚

  14. rly? i thought the first episode was so boring…i couldn’t sit through the whole episode without fastforwarding.
    the main guy doesn’t appeal to me either…

  15. Funny how I wasn’t intending to check this out… but in the end I did cos my mom kept pestering me to download, for the FASHION lol

      • I’m also looking for a torrent of this. Can you tell me if you found one? Thank you!

  16. Have to say that the pacing and the set up is spot on with the storyline – though the bitchy modelling scenes and the predictable development made it not as exciting to follow. Thus the PD and the effort put into the filming was commendable.

    I’m not quite sure what it is about TW drama – there’s always a little something missing. It doesn’t quite snap you in – It’s something about the acting … Kdrama can have their predictable days but there’s the extra bit of acting quality, the effort in changing the nuancing of the scenes that make them popular.

    I’d like to see the characters in the story. Not the actor / actress. If you all know what I mean.

    That said – YES. Am following MQ. πŸ™‚ It’s going to be a good production, just not the best drama series around. πŸ™‚

  17. leaving a msg here the first time…. as much as i have been a kdrama addict over the past 9 years, this is one drama i’ve been watching for. Watching this for Daniel Chan, who I liked for some 7 years before i switched over to kpop and kdrama land. Although he supposedly only appears in 7 eps of this drama, i think it’s the first time he’s been in a TW drama and i’m really looking forward to it. He was never a great actor but i think he has improved a bit over the past 10 years. And from the trailers and BTS i’ve seen, he looks absolutely gorgeous (He’s 36 this yr for godsakes!!)~I havent watched the first ep yet but will do so shortly..i’m very glad that it looks like it has some potential..thx for your insight Koala!

  18. I decompressed streaming MQ. It hits every mark of my expectations and I didnt even have the heart in me to rant on how extremely awful Vanness is, surprising me in the worst way. I don’t see a Ethan Yuan in this though, he’s much more earthy, regular HAWT joe and not superficially as ‘princely’ to be mistaken as some filthy richboy just by looks (as wrong as I’m sounding). I want Eddie Peng.

    Lynn is a natural born actress, no training, no experience other than IpMan (which I think she’s terrific in it being so much more than a vacant vase when it’s written as nth more than …a vase). She just so happens to have a supermodel day job. And yes, I cringe seeing her mention in same breath as LCL even if what u said is so spot on :X

    Lady PD is DA BOMB! What can’t she do, really!??!?!? She’s my favorite TW drama PD, I can sit through everything she’s done, gritted my teeth in ranty rants finishing AC (her worst thing) solely for her directing, hating everything else. The wimp in me dreaded watching any serious drama with heavy themes such as Year of the Rain, ι»ƒι‡‘η·š, but I loved them so so much.

    The only surprise is how stripped of everything a TW romcom she can get MQ1 to be. Everything reads RL even in the fantasical dreamy sequences and surprisingly no slapstick. Every scene is purposeful in characterization/plot and not there solely for laughs/pretty/fluff.

  19. i love the theme song Is This All feat. Ryan Tedder. i love how Ryan Tedder collaborated with FarEast Movement and now with VanNess Wu, that’s just awesome!!!!!! how can i not watch Material Queen when Patricia Field is the stylist behind the show. i liked her work in the Chinese movie Go Lala Go =)

  20. I am currently watching the first ep (with Russian subs, hooray). It makes me think of an adaptation of one of the magical realism Latin American novels more than a twdrama, which is not a bad thing, but I can see why the ratings are not stellar (this said, B&W did very well and was pretty out-of-the-mold, you never know).

    I agree that Vanness isn’t the most amazing actor out there, but I have a huge fondness for him and dislike Ethan Ruan (I know, I know, don’t kill me), so I am glad he was cast.

    • While Ethan’s not my fave TW-actor by far, he’s better at acting than Vanness and I find that the role suits him better. But c’est la vie, because so far I continue to like MQ regardless of Vanness’s stiff acting. Vanness always grows on me anyways, like he did in AC.

      B&W was considered a failure in TW-media, only in the sense that it cost easily 10x what any standard TW-drama costs to make, and ratings stayed in the 1s for half the drama, went up to the 2s and finally broke 3 at the end, with the last episode barely passing 4.

      It’s all about expectations, and B&W did not exceed expectations. It’s still more well-known overseas than it is in TW. My ammas and aunties no likey these types of dramas, sadly. πŸ™

      I just love the visual artistry and mood of MQ.

  21. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that Peter Pan is played by Na Wei Xun, the same guy who was 2nd-in-command serious mob bad ass in Black and White. Seriously, what? It took most of the episode to recognize him, and even then, it was hard to believe.

    Vanness didn’t actually seem all that bad to me — but up against the skill I was seeing from Lynn Xiong, it’d take someone of really high calibre to match her. (Na Wei Xun seemed to do okay, but he’s also playing a much, err, lighter part.) My hope is that it’ll be like other ensemble shows I’ve seen, where someone who can really dig down and find the role thus inspires the other leads to do the same. It’s also kind of hard to measure Vanness, at the same time, since his character is still a bit of a cipher. He’s not yet gotten the emotional backstory we’ve already gotten from ChuMan.

    If your time is precious these days, I’d still be happy with just the “thoughts” part (and skip the full recap). Just to hear your take on the episodes, because I love your insights. Plus, it gives us all a place to squee, and you know we’ve got to get in our weekly allowance or brains start exploding.

  22. Vanness grows on me too. My favorite scene of Autumn Concerto is when he wakes up in the operation room and chases after the girl. That might be his best acting. It had me in tears. Hahahha.

  23. i dont know.. juz want to watch it .. come on everybody it just only one episode dont judge van ness like that.. try watching another episode it not melodrama

  24. There seems to be parallel universes.

    If one only read the comments here, one would think this drama is a hit. But actual ratings for the first episode tell a completely different story. The drama’s first episode had garnered an overall rating of less than 1, among the lowest of TW drama debuts. This was especially upsetting for Vanness Wu fans, who were on a high from the success of his previous drama Autumn Concerto.
    It remains to be seen as to how the drama fare for the remainder of its run; however, it does not bode well because debuts for TW dramas tend to set the tone for rating performance.

  25. With your recommendation in hand, I shall venture into this drama! Dun really like the actress, but I do like the promise of reality check in dramas.

  26. Guys, it has only been one episode. Quit critiquing Vanness and give him a chance to redeem himself later in the drama. I agree, his acting may not be well suited for this drama. However, he may prove you guys wrong in the future :D. I watched the first episode, and it is not bad. I applaud Lynn for a truly amazing performance–didn’t know she had it in her! Vanness was just okay, mainly because his character is kinda in the dark. But what I’m saying is…give that poor boy a chance! I’m sure he worked hard, and hopefully the ratings will increase somewhat =/

  27. i’m loving the drama so far. I watched it on a Taiwanese site and ironically people were too busy bashing Lynn because she’s a mainlander to actually appreciate everything I loved it for (which you mentioned here). Vanness’s acting is a bit stiff here and there, but wow, they sure spent a good deal on production and costumes. Loving all the Patrica Field work on the wardrobe. Love how it isn’t overly cheesy and fake unlike some other popular Taiwan romcom’s I’ve watched.
    Watched the behind the scenes and was amazed at how different Lynn is in real life, she’s so easygoing and fun. She and Vanness seemed to have more chemistry off screen than on.

  28. I love Vaness character in AC but I doubt very much he will pull through in MQ. May be it’s too soon to judge and should wait and see. The whole production in MQ is quite impressive though.

  29. this is my first ever T-drama. normally i couldnt stand them for a shallow reason,the language was not something i could take in,buuut i study fashion design so when i saw this drama i was like hmmmn ok give them another chance.NOW im in like sooo obsessed,the actress is gorgeous, locations are amazing,i dont even mind the language anymore and VW well hes my new husband im so smitten by him and i personally find him super adorable,maybe thats just me but good thing im the one watching the drama so used to K and J dramas so when i forst saw them kiss i was like o: then second makeouuut session i was like helloo there and THEN bed scene,my head nearly exploded, i dont know if this is something that happens in T dramas of if this is the exception but me likey hahaha

  30. I believe that ethan would have been a good pick for this role, but i stand by vaness and i believe he will improve as the drama goes on. I feel that this drama would be better for korean audiences rather then taiwanese. Although the vibe from this drama reminds me a lot of autumn’s concerto, it also has an interesting plot as many korean dramas are starting to have. I have high hopes for this drama.

  31. hi!!! question…do u have an idea who created Lynn Xiong dress during the garden date? i really like the style of the dress!!! πŸ˜€

  32. Wow. Your post makes my mouth watering. Now I’m in a clinch to watch Material Queen parallel to Autumn’s Concerto.
    Lynn already looks gorgeous on the pictures and this video *___* High Class MV – really haven’t seen such beautiful scenery in a while. Can’t even remember. LOVE the landscape. Is this Taiwan? And the intro of the orchestre!!! I think I just got the taste for C-Pop.

    Btw, I ADMIRE your skills of finding so many and colorful words to express your feelings about a drama. I’m sure you heard that already 1000 times, but it never hurts to be praised the 1001st time again if it’s been said honest, right?

    Reading your emotions about MQ they reminded me of my first impression of Corner with love. It was love at first sight, too, and somehow I can’t seem to get over it. Not that I want to, but I’m feeling disappointed at the same time when I can’t seem to find a new TW-drama that can pull me in like that. I fell head over heels for You’re Beautiful, but it wasn’t this “love” that I developped for Corner with love and for the TW-dramas at all, where I cried and smiled with the characters every minute.
    I loved it so much that it hurts when seeing tw-dramas being dissed on the national market because there are so outstanding productions. I hope MQ can help to catch up with the success of K-dramas ^.~

  33. i never watched taiwan drama but last year,I tried to watch next happines and it’s very awesome…..
    since that i very like wannes a lot….
    i wait for the next vaness’s project and mu dream come true….^-^

  34. i think its good story to watch since last vanness drama..
    btw anyone knows the song beside vanness and rachel liang song
    that in english song in the teaser that sang by girl

  35. I have been through several episodes and do not want to finish or watch it all over again, not like I did with AC. Mostly I am curious about MQ because I followed Van Ness Wu acting. I will agree with most of you guys here that Van Ness acted awfully in this drama, just like water drops on the lotus leave, can not see it clues to the story and left no marks on its ways. It does not mean I do not like Van Ness anymore, I am still having a high impression of him in AC. However, I like the song of the movie by Van Ness. It is really good.

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