Tiger Mom Hu Ma Mao Ba – Ep01-12
Original Title: 虎妈猫爸
Alternative English Title: Tiger Mom Cat Dad
This is the first time I’m watching a Chinese drama (colloquially referred to as CDrama) and winging it without subtitles because there’s a tremendous bias towards Zhao Wei, of course, who marks her return to television nearly five years after the release of A Lady’s Epic (一个女人的史诗, aka. An Epic of a Woman) — In between? Quite a successful movie acting career (Mulan: Rise of a Warrior, 14 Blades, Ai Love… the record-shattering Painted Skin: The Resurrection, and the award-winner Dearest) and her directing debut with So Young. Artistic, entrepreneur and mother- no one really better than Zhao to embody the spirit of Amy Chua’s now-staple Asian-American archetype: the Tiger Mother.
In Tiger Mom, we follow the life of Bi Shengnan (毕胜男, Zhao) a working mother who realizes her 5-year-old daughter Qian Qian (茜茜, Wendy Ji Zihan (纪姿含)) is way behind in (modern) basic kinder skills like Chinese character reading, simple math, English and music playing compared to other children the same age due to the spoils Dad Luo Su (罗素, Tong Dawei), and her grandparents on her dad’s side — Nai Nai (Pan Hong) and Gong Gong (Guo Kaimin) — constantly shower her with. The grandparents, in particular, treat her like a little princess and no wonder little Qian Qian is spoiled rotten to the point she’ll drop to the floor and cry when she doesn’t want to complete an exercise, eat her veggies, or -gawd forbid- eat when she’s supposed to eat and not when she feels like eating.
Anyway~ the show is supposed to last 45 episodes, so a quarter and a bit into the story Tiger Mom rushes… but at the same time moves at a slow pace. If you think that makes no sense, this is probably the main reason why Chinese dramas seem to only hit it big in their own region, but never abroad ABROAD- the story is not big on plot and twists, but experience. We see Bi Shengnan going from modern working woman giving into her new co-worker 90s-born Huang Li (Lyric Lan Ying Ying) to being backstabbed and quitting her job in a period of 3-to-6 episodes, moving into a less posh apartment in Ep05, and becoming a stay-at-home mom home-schooling her child for one whole year in less than ten episodes.
Recurring characters also drop by just because we’re all family here– Luo Su’s big sis Luo Dan (Li Ke Zhu), Bi Shengnan’s lil bro Bi Ran (Wilson Wang Sen) and her parents Ye Ye (Han Tong Sheng) and Lao Lao (Cui Xinqin) all drop by; I haven’t yet figured out their point… though Ye Ye had a small arc and probably the most controversial scene when Qian Qian didn’t want to eat when told to eat and later said was hungry, and he tried to make her eat from a cat bowl. Le gasp.
Little Ji Zihan is kinda cute when she’s allowed to be, though her most challenging scenes seem to be the ones that make you want to pull your hair (and she could kinda pull a cute hipster version of Ashida Mana), it’s the scenes between Zhao Wei and Tong Dawei behind the four walls of their bedroom –at times– the most honest bits of dialog that I could pick up. Too bad the Luo family seems to be completely antagonizing Shengnan’s to the point where she would be really pissed off by not being let to see her daughter. Except for Luo Su, whom I believe is trying to play the Good Cop too often, everyone else is over-stepping in the education of Qian Qian, and as a Tiger Mom, Shengnan should be really pissed.
We also all know that as a Tiger Mom, Shengnan would’ve never quit her job (or would’ve gotten a job in a competing company), and would’ve let her daughter be over-school in any institution with extracurricular activities to compensate any lacking levels of the school over home-schooling herself.
Extra quarter star for Zhao Wei.