Chinese Drama Review: The Love Equations (2020)

Saturday, April 24, 2021

A review and praise for the 2020 college Chinese drama "The Love Equations" starring Simon Gong, Reyi Liu, and Li Ge Yang.

  • Drama: The Love Equations 
  • Country: China 
  • Year: 2020 
  • Genre: Slow-Burn Romance, College, Friendship 
  • Starring: Simon Gong, Reyi Liu, Li Ge Yang 
  • My Rating: 9 ★s 
  • Romantic complications arise when forensic science student Zhao Fan Zhou (Simon Gong) falls hard for the adorable Zhou Xiao (Reyi Liu), a literature student in the same university. Zhou Xiao loves all things detective-themed, even down to creating a detective club for the university. At first, her relationship with Zhao Fan Zhou is all about his majoring in forensic science, since she's writing an online novel from the perspective of a forensic scientist, but soon he wins over her heart. Their feelings blossom into a full-fledged relationship much to the annoyance of two friends, Zhao Fan Zhou's arrogant childhood friend Jia Yi Chun (Zhu Yun Hui) who has always crushed hard on him, and Zhou Xiao's childhood friend, Cai Ya Si (Li Ge Yang), who has equally been in love with Zhou Xiao for about as long as he can remember.

    While their relationship seems to thrive for a long time since they are such a well-matched pair, eventually health concerns for Zhao Fan Zhou's mother (bipolar disorder) and his fear that he might develop symptoms as he ages, interferes in their relationship. Helped along a little bit by the underhanded conniving of Jia Yi Chun. Are Zhao Fan Zhou and Zhou Xiao meant to be? Or should they go their separate ways and find love in different places?

    The Love Equations is both a frustrating and wonderful drama.

    A review and praise for the 2020 college Chinese drama "The Love Equations" starring Simon Gong, Reyi Liu, and Li Ge Yang.

    I attribute much of its success to the performance of Simon Gong as Zhao Fan Zhou. In the Japanese realm, the character's what is known as more of a tsundere, meaning he's pretty cold at first but emotionally warms up when you get to know him. Simon is the oldest of the main actors, having been about 27 when they filmed the series, and he's clearly familiar with romance and love and how to emote all of that through his eyes. He makes a difficult character like Zhao Fan Zhou very approachable and likable. The end of the series, particularly episodes 23, 24, and 25 are painful in that the leads have been driven apart, made even more painful because of Simon Gong's stellar performance. He made me cry!

    A review and praise for the 2020 college Chinese drama "The Love Equations" starring Simon Gong, Reyi Liu, and Li Ge Yang.

    Reyi Liu as Zhou Xiao is the typical cutesy, clueless female lead that the Chinese college dramas seem to be so in love with. I like the character and I don't like her at the same time. She does tend a bit on the annoying side sometimes, but once she and Zhao Fan Zhou are actually in a relationship, I really started to like her. She grew into herself, and the actors have dynamic chemistry. Overall, Reyi Liu brought a passionate bubbliness to the role that was necessary. So long as you don't binge-watch the series, you'll continue liking her up through the end. 

    A review and praise for the 2020 college Chinese drama "The Love Equations" starring Simon Gong, Reyi Liu, and Li Ge Yang.

    I have to praise Li Ge Yang. He's more of a newcomer, sort of, and this is a support role for him like most of his work through 2020. But he makes Cai Ya Si such a lovable, adorkable nerd. He's so playful and goofy! If I were in my early twenties and had my choice of male characters in The Love Equations, I would have chosen Cai Ya Si, hands' down. I adore nerds and he's absolutely my type, plus he can wear yellow, one of my favorite colors, and I absolutely cannot! His loyalty to Zhou Xiao, especially when she's emotionally hurting, is beautiful. On a total side note, Li Ge Yang is like a Chinese version of Kento Yamazaki, which I think is pretty high praise. He's got the same vibe. I would have given anything for him to be a male lead in this series and get his own girl, rather than be the doomed alternate love interest for the female lead. Fortunately, Li Ge Yang has quite a few upcoming dramas in his line-up where he's playing the male lead, so I'm excited for that. I probably will never see him play a nerd again, so sad, but it'll be interesting to see how he approaches different character personalities.

    One of the unique aspects of The Love Equations is that it tackles the topic of mental health, a bit of a taboo subject in many cultures. Zhao Fan Zhou's mother is a woman paralyzed with untreated bipolar disorder, at least until they finally get her into the hospital after a correct diagnosis. His home life was unpleasant growing up, and the character suffered a lot of emotional trauma and unwillingness to connect with others because his mother had been undiagnosed for so long resulting in the strife between his parents. So he has to work through a lot of that stress and angst while his mother receives treatment.

    A review and praise for the 2020 college Chinese drama "The Love Equations" starring Simon Gong, Reyi Liu, and Li Ge Yang.

    I do feel that the series has far too many support characters. Like Zhou Xiao's college roommates/friends who you see and then don't see, and you're involved in their love lives and then you're not. It would have pared the series down if there hadn't been so many different characters. I think there are something like 5 or 6 other characters that weren't strictly necessary. If they'd been chopped, then the series might have fit more into the 24 episode range.

    Speaking of, since this is a Chinese drama, yes, we have 27 full-length episodes, rather than the 10 or so that most Japanese dramas dish out. It's refreshing because it does give the characters time to grow, but it also gives time for all of those tropes to fully flesh out, like the evil girl from Zhao Fan Zhou's childhood. I say evil because it's true. I'm surprised she doesn't stab Zhao Fan Zhou through the heart with her "if I can't have him, nobody can" mentality. I pity the actress Zhu Yun Hui since this is her first role and I'm pretty much conditioned to hate any character she plays going forward. This female character is the nastiest jealous love rival I've ever seen, by far.

    A review and praise for the 2020 college Chinese drama "The Love Equations" starring Simon Gong, Reyi Liu, and Li Ge Yang.

    But jealous love rivals aside, The Love Equations is well worth the watch. It's a slow-burn romance, like most of the Chinese dramas that I've seen, so it just takes time to develop. Let it. Zhao Fan Zhou and Zhou Xiao are precious and even though they suffer waaaaaaay more than necessary, there is a happily-ever-after.

    I encourage watching the show on VIKI since it's a legal streaming service and the subtitles are terrific. You might need a subscription, but I have one for $4.99 a month which is barely a drop in the bucket. And if you already watch Asian dramas, then you're probably already subscribed to VIKI anyway.

    If you do watch The Love Equations, tell me what you think of the show. And tell me what you think of Li Ge Yang!

    Enjoy this sweet MV from Youtube.


    1. Adding this to my watch list. I need more cute shows most of what I've been watching is more crime related.

      1. It is extremely cute, and it still sorta matches the crime related stuff since the FL is crazy about detective stories. It's just such a sweet drama, although like I said, I did cry a bit at the end. Why is there always some seemingly insurmountable challenge that happens and it takes a few episodes to overcome? WHY!?

      2. Sounds so good! I kinda love it when I cry over something. It's means it meant something, right. I don't know why they always do that, but it's frustrating.


    Thank you for your kind comments, which I adore!