Be Yourself: A healthy coming-of-age drama with great themes

I started this Chinese drama because Shen Yue played one of the main leads. This show really delivered in acting, story, and overall production.

The story follows four young women in their university years. Xia Lang Lang is a tomboy who’s good at studying but has terrible luck with love. Fan Xiao Yu is a pretty campus girl; she’s rich and has a lot of confidence, but she’s continuously dealing with her estranged relationship with her family. Huang Fu Shumin has princess syndrome; she comes from an overprotective family, but she lacks self-confidence. Yang Jiaqian is smart and sticks to her morals; she’s never put a lot of thought into her appearance.

These four girls end up becoming dorm mates in episode one. Each episode addresses an issue one of them is facing in their lives and gives the viewer a lesson that you’re supposed to take away from it. The romance is slow-burn and low-key, but it’s super cute.

I especially love the female solidarity in this. The girls are all different, but they have so much chemistry. I would love to be their friend. While they could’ve easily been cookie-cutter characters, they’re written well, which makes them a joy to watch. It’s not just the four leads; the show barely has drama between girls, and if it does, the takeaway is to help each other.

However, some of the execution can be a little cliche. But I could overlook it because it’s not over-the-top, and it’s the message that really matters. Also, some of the subplots are a little predictable and a little too idealistic.

For example, Shumin drops out of the cheerleading squad because she doesn’t think she’ll do well. Then, thanks to a friend, she overcomes her fear and shows up on the day of the competition, asking if she can compete with the team. Of course, she gets to; she even gets the center because that girl wasn’t feeling well. But realistically, if something like that happened, I don’t think it would be that easy to get back on the team.

I think this is one of the healthiest coming-of-age stories I’ve seen in a while. It’s not too serious, but serious enough that the story feels realistic and not all rainbows and unicorns. But, on the other hand, it’s not too idealistic where it makes you wonder if the characters have lost all common sense and things happen just for the sake of progressing the plot.

Be Yourself is down-to-earth and lighthearted with meaningful themes. I would’ve loved it so much if I had watched this when I was in high school or university. Watching this when you’ve officially entered the workforce makes you reminiscence. But regardless of how old you are, there’s at least one lesson that you can relate to, which makes this the best part of the show.

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