My Star Bride (2021) 过江新娘  : SG-Drama Series Review

Main poster – beautiful tailoring

The 20-episode series focus on the Zhong family through their ups and downs, with a direct link to foreign-bride in the form of Mai Huong Tao (or translated to Mai Fang Cao).  

The series introduces the eldest daughter of Zhong Pei Pei, landing in a quandary as her foreign bride Mai Huong Tao (portrayed by Chantelle Ng) runs away pursuant to a misunderstanding with her to-be-husband. The marriage agency run by Pei Pei and her husband temporarily puts up Mai Huong Tao at their parents to help out.

At the Zhong family’s home, they are busy managing their cheongsam-tailoring shop and a bed-ridden Shi Jie. Zhong Shi Jie (portrayed by Xu Bin) is the prodigy son of the Zhong family, an ambitious & successful lawyer, who is involved in an accident and became comatose. When he wakes up, he finds himself losing his career, girlfriend and friends but still surrounded by caring & loving family members. On the other hand, Shi Ming the youngest son hand, is a little more laissez faire with a carefree attitude whereby he has many ventures with less success story. However, he is extremely loyal to his family and steps up as required.

Slightly unreliable Shi Ming with Fang Cao

The desperate Vietnamese bride Mai Fang Cao pursues the unconventional route of being a foreign bride to find her kidnapped sister, whom she believes has been brought to Singapore. Fang Cao is a very simple village girl, naïve but with a lot of love, kindness and persistence. She upholds her own beliefs, but is always kind to all without much thoughts given to others’ ulterior motives. As she maneuvers Singapore’s city life, she offers her assistance to the Zhong family to help manage the household chores, and even ends up on a “contractual” marriage to Shi Jie to stay in Singapore.  

As Shi Jie (or Ge Ge as Fang Cao endearingly calls him) and Fang Cao face each other more in their daily life, their relationship blossoms into something more. The plots turn a little more exciting with the various situations including

  • Fang Cao’s friend Xiang Lan, who is also a foreign bride who is involved in prostitution
  • Fang Cao’s dogged pursue of her sister’s kidnapper, leading her to Ou Yang San San
  • Shi Jie’s good friend and fellow lawyer Tai Sheng Li, who is trying to keep the secret of Shi Jie and his previous accident

I do consider the series as a family-oriented drama, heart-warming with focus on family relationship. The series brought up quite a number of different social topics, mostly on surface.

Losing loved ones is the driving force for the persistent Fang Cao to find her sister at all cost. At the same time, losing a baby via miscarriage drives Pei Pei and her husband slightly differently. Their different reactions are valid and reflective of the various personality.

Family support during one’s low is very important, and is shown significantly in the loving Zhong family. However, the series also show all the conflicts within the family ie warts and all even if they are supportive. The responsible elder sister, who is concerned about the financials. The loving mother Zhong, but nags and worries all the same for all 3 of her children. The carefree but concerned Shi Ming, always there when needed at any point of time. Even the annoying Ou Yang Long, being such a supportive husband to his wife and daughter in the darkest moments. My key take-aways, each family member is different with their own personality. No matter what, it is important to take a step back to consider for the family. And for parents to really leave the children to make their own decision, no matter how much concerns the parents have.  

Concerned papa & mama Zhong

Ambitions, social standing & perception are taken very seriously, and really affect one’s reactions.

The society’s perception of foreign bride is less than glamorous. If the foreigners (be it brides or workers) are bullied, there is more difficulty in maneuvering the society’s perception and expectations. When the foreign bride takes such unconventional route to marry to a stranger in a land strange to them, there must be a deeper reason be it financials or otherwise. Most of the time, the financial motivation may be their only option. The series did not delve in deeper but take a more open inference for the audience to conclude.

Shi Jie and Fang Cao

I like the fact that Shi Jie realises the shallowness of being at the top of his career, and chooses to slow down on his take in life. The fact that he gives another chance to his good friend Sheng Li, is magnanimous on his part.

In fact, it is Sheng Li’s own consumption of his secrets & guilts that drives him into a corner, and pushes him to murder. Inability to sleep & anxiety, he is more conscious of his own doing and it is such deeper conscience that puts him in a pressure cooker. My own key take-away, whatever it is that you do in life, do it with conscience. Take the path that won’t lead you to having a guilt now and in the future.

One last bit of the series also managed to ensure to keeping old tradition alive in the form tailoring of cheongsam. The scenes when they do the cutting for cheongsam is very reminiscence of the old-style tailoring.

Conclusion 8/10

The story is light-hearted with a lot of laughter especially from the reaction of Fang Cao. That is really the endearing part of the story, coupled with interesting plots and family relationship. The ending is really a little abrupt, and a little more rushed.

On the whole, the series show how a haughty Shi Jie is brought down to his knees post the accident, and re-learning his priorities. During these times, he has shown himself to be pensive & reflective, even falling in love with Fang Cao who is naïve and kind. It doesn’t really feel that Fang Cao has fallen in love with Shi Jie, although she does put him on a pedestal as someone knowledgeable. Until the last episode, I could not really ascertain whether her feelings for him is of love or just pure gratitude. Xu Bin has portrayed Shi Jie’s character very well. Chantelle Ng has also managed to endeared Fang Cao’s character to the audience. But both are a little untested when it comes to the romance side, as I felt the other supporting stories and casts have provided a cushion to the story focusing on love.

The series has fresh ideas, linking family relationship and love. Worth it to invest the time to have a few laughs and ponder upon such real-life situations.

*Foreign-bride is a real phenomena in Malaysia and Singapore, especially for Vietnamese brides who are given a dowry to marry Malaysian and Singaporean men. There are success story and not so successful ones, typical of any love story and/ or match-made marriages.

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