Pride & Price (2022) 盛装  : C-Drama Series Review

Set in 2016, the story is a prelude to the boom of the online media and social platform. The series revolves around Blossom magazine, an old-style printed fashion magazine as the media platform – its dedicated senior management & the politicking, the far-away shareholders in France keen for profitability, its disillusioned old-time employees struggling to feed their family & still follow their passion, its young employees embracing new corporate culture, and hawk-eyed investors playing their baiting games.

Song Jia as Chen Kai Yi is cool with a little melancholic feel

When Blossom’s chief editor, George commits suicide from falling off the office building, the news caught all its stakeholders by surprise ending up in a conundrum. Chen Kai Yi the cold but respected deputy chief editor of Blossom magazine, steps up to lead the team in George’s absence. The Blossom’s joint venture partner Xiang Ting Feng sends Xiao Hong Xue to take over the magazine, officially challenging Kai Yi’s position. Kai Yi as a co-founder of the magazine has a clear direction for the magazine to ensure the focus of content for the magazine, while Xiang Ting Feng’s direction is to sell Blossom to cash out and obtain financial independence.

With the transition and changes, the various teams (Content, Marketing, Fashion, PR, HR, Finance) in the magazines are caught in the conflicts testing their loyalty and questioning their own life goals. Yan Kai as the Head of Content is very affected by the changes as he is close to George and suspects foul play, investigating as he goes along. Lu Bin Bin as the Head of Marketing is your typical boot-licking employee with many faces, even labelled as greasy. Lina and Cai Fei are considered newcomers in the industry, each exploring first steps in their first job. Qin Min is the Head of HR, caught amidst all the old and new bosses. There are others as well – Mary, Deng Wen, Zhao Xin, who has their own stories and agenda.

The very pretty Anita Yuen as Xiao Hong Xue. She looks great!

With the pitching between Chen Kai Yi and Xiao Hong Xue, deeper plots are unravelled with the key objective to sell Blossom at the highest bid. The wheeling and dealing behind the scene introduce the various investors looking for a cheap deal – individual investors as well as new investors looking to combine the media and internet platform. As the story unfolds, each individual starts to assess their own priorities in life with a balance of career, love and family.

The Career Women & Their Lost & Found Loves

Chen Kai Yi and Xiao Hong Xue are portrayed by Song Jia (of A Little Reunion) and Anita Yuen (Julian Cheung’s wife) respectively. I like their portrayal of the characters very well – Kai Yi as the cold career woman with few words while Hong Xue as the calm & a more reactive career woman. The two career women are respected in the industry, similar in certain areas but as different as day and night in others.

Both hold their beliefs in maintaining a clear objective for the magazine platform. However, Kai Yi takes the offensive & schemes more to achieve her targets while Hong Xue maintains an observe-and-wait attitude before making her stand clear.

Both are tested in love with their respective partners – Kai Yi with Qi Tai and Hong Xue with Ting Feng. Kai Yi-Lei Qi Tai’s relationship at first seems to be one whereby Kai Yi is dominant. Lei Qi Tai is always concerned about Kai Yi and eager to announce their relationship while Kai Yi is against even admitting the relationship to close friends. It is a little ironic that Lei Qi Tai ends up with an extremely younger girl. Whether it is an ego thing, or mid-life crisis, it seems that his love for Kai Yi is frail.

Lei Qi Tai’s frail magical love?

In Hong Xue and Ting Feng’s relationship, their differences in background drives their ambitions & characteristics. Hong Xue comes across as a very understanding partner to Ting Feng’s. But she is also confident of her own personality & beliefs, never wavering on key principles such as not being controlled by her partner and not accepting certain scheming which is detrimental to others well-beings. It is evident that Ting Feng values Hong Xue very much, but it is uncertain whether he really loves her or loves the idea of having her.  

Both women are actually very sure of their own love for their partners. However, clearly Lei Qi Tai gives up on his goddess Kai Yi for his own ego, disappointing Kai Yi who finally let go of their love. On the other hand, Hong Xue gives up on Ting Feng considering that she is unable to live with a partner who is hell-bent in destroying others to achieve his own financial independence. I love positively confident women, and both showcases these trademarks very well in this series.  

Their relationship with each other is also very interesting. Both admire each other’s professionalism, capabilities & work ethics. They obviously recognise each other as rival, but maintains a great professional trust in each other. Not many people, women or men alike, can do that in any occupation.

I also love the women’s power when they get together to drown their sorrow or celebrate their success. It is really a nice feeling to have comrades fighting alongside whether in your career or your personal life. The women show real concerns, in their various individual way. Qin Min doing Kai Yi’s bidding without much fanfare. Mary providing advice in love, and offering to use tarot cards! Deng Wen always on top of things with inputs on PR advices.

Frankly, mature women who have gone through life experiences and maintain positive beliefs are charismatic in their individual way. And the story told thereof is definitely more enticing compared with the fights amongst women in palace drama. Which is also implied in the conversations of the younger set of employees.

The journey of Lina and Cai Fei portrays the challenges faced by newbies in any working environment. Facing elder employees who are sarcastic and not willing to share information.  Sexual harassment and facing the reality of life subsequently. But I love the way they focus on the enthusiasm of the 2 girls, and their new-found friendship in each other. Lina being the extrovert while Cai Fei an introvert but both having similar values. Their conversations are quite cute – who is egg and who is wall, indicating the frail one vs the strong one.  

2 eggs in a basket of pecking hen?

A Male Bimbo?

Yan Kai’s character is portrayed by Zhang Chao (of Hikaru No Go), which is such a different character and looks. Yan Kai being the son of a successful businessman is surprisingly passionate about a magazine, and stubbornly refuses any assistance from his estranged father. The character seems to imply that Yan Kai is the airhead bimbo, especially in his relationship with Liu Zi Qi the bubbly rich daughter of businessman Liu. 😀 Especially considering how conniving Liu Zi Qi is compared with Yan Kai. His sibling relationship with his sister Yan Yue also seems to a fun one, whereby sister is always looking out for the younger brother. It is also great that she does not begrudge her father nor the brother for emphasizing male succession in the family business.

Zhang Chao as Yan Kai – naive & idealistic

His character is actually a little out of place with all the strong women. Zhang Chao has this funny smirk which I think doesn’t suit the character. However, his relationship with mentor George is strong, and his trust in Kai Yi is what glue them together.

Lu Bin Bin is quite a sad character. His habits at work really annoys me to no end. Backstabbing, bootlicking, betrayals. No friends at the end.

Conclusion 8/10

This is a surprisingly positive series that is both motivating and realistic. With 29 episodes, the series flows quite fast. What attracts is the positive way the series paint the working environment (amidst all the back-stabbing and conflict) and the character staying true to their own key principles and beliefs. I really like the camaderie of women in the series.

If we start nit-picking, there are obvious issues with the flow of story and characters. But negligible. Watch this show for a positive vibe.

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