'A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities': Drama Review

As some of you might know, Charles Dickens published a renowned novel called A Tale of Two Cities, which includes the cities, Paris and London. Back in September, I was pleasantly surprised to discover this new drama called A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities, which is not only broadcasted on Taiwanese television, but is also streaming on Netflix worldwide. To be honest, I did not plan to follow or watch this drama at all when it first came out three months ago; but, after watching the first episode, it was hard to not fall for the thoughtful plot of this drama that I can relate with 100%.

A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities takes place between San Francisco and Da Dao Cheng, which is a Northern Taiwan area that has profuse, traditional Taiwanese culture. The two sets of protagonists in this drama hold polar opposite desires: Ms. Lee--born and raised in Taiwan--is surrounded by traditional Chinese medicinal knowledge instilled by her father. She finds it extremely difficult to contain her desire to visit San Francisco and cannot wait to escape the cage of her life to experience the freedom of the Western world. Jo--a Taiwanese-American as her parents are both Taiwanese--has lived in San Francisco for most of her life and senses fatigue from her work routine. She is more than ready to fly to Taiwan and further explore of the beautiful Formosa, which is also her second home and where her grandmother lives. As a study abroad student, I definitely understand Lee’s yearning for independence and Jo’s yearning for reunion. This is the primary reason why I particularly enjoy watching this drama.

This picture (source) shows the two main characters, Lee Nien Nien (left) and Josephine Huang (right).

Another reason why this drama is particularly appealing, is its realistic filming methods utilized by the director. Director Yeh thoughtfully depicts how Ms. Lee and Jo receive direct culture shock as they visit the United States and Taiwan respectively, and is not shy to display the strong love and affection between the two pairs: Jo and Deng (Lee’s best friend since childhood) and Lee and Ryan (a handsome chef who lives in San Francisco). Having studied in both Western and Eastern schools, the issue of culture shock or miscommunication is truly relatable to me. Moreover, this drama perfectly incorporates the concept of having an international and multicultural identity; a concept that students who are currently studying abroad or have studied abroad can easily comprehend. A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities makes you rethink the meaning of romantic relationships and dreams to pursue in life.

This drama contains so many spectacular scenes about Taiwanese nature, such as this scene (source) that takes place at Wu Lai, Northern Taiwan.

Besides the relationships between the four main protagonists in A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities, I am also delighted to “revisit” the beauty of my hometown. In the drama, the Da Dao Cheng area boasts traditional Taiwanese markets, temples, and rich culture. To Jo, this beautiful culture seems so familiar yet distant to her. She eventually decides to stay longer in Taiwan to explore more of the unique Taiwanese culture and beauty of its nature. I would say that this drama perfectly caters to young audiences and can make them not only appreciate their own culture more, but also open up their hearts to pursue for their aspirations. As a last line of shameless promotion, A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities is already streaming on Netflix, and the last episode (episode 20) will air in January 2019! I truly recommend this drama, so don’t miss out.