About Youth is a Taiwanese BL series about a teenage romance between two high school seniors. The main characters first meet on a rainy evening after experiencing emotional hardships. They reunite a year later, but only one of them remembers what happened that night. As the leads get acquainted, their newfound friendship develops into a mutual attraction.
I understand why About Youth appeals to BL fans. The cute actors, fun scenarios, glossy visuals, and catchy soundtrack create an attractive teen love story. However, I'm not impressed with the clunky writing, corny cliches, or clumsy ending. This glitzy series shows more style over substance, lacking a clever plot to complement its sweet campus romance.
About Youth Summary
About Youth is a cute & sweet BL drama.
One year ago, Ye Guang was devastated after failing to get into the school of his dreams. As he wandered outside on a rainy evening, Ye Guang encountered Qi Zhang crying by himself. The two were strangers who had never interacted in the past. Ye Guang empathized with this sad, lonely teenager, who seemed even more distressed than he was. Ye Guang offered his umbrella to Qi Zhang as a random gesture of kindness.
A year later, the two teenagers reunite again. Qi Zhang still remembers their previous encounter, but Ye Guang has forgotten about the incident. Ye Guang has become a campus stud, famous for his good looks, top grades, and legions of admirers. Like many others, Qi Zhang harbours a secret crush on the popular student. Qi Zhang is too shy to introduce himself, but he leaves an anonymous present for Ye Guang on his birthday.
Ye Guang comes from a strict family. His wealthy parents set high expectations for his academic achievements, arranging many private tutors for him. His demanding father constantly chastises Ye Guang for not working hard enough. On Ye Guang's birthday, his parents barely pay attention to him before jetting off on their business travels. He's miserable about staying home alone, feeling neglected.
That night, Ye Guang goes outside for fresh air. However, he hurts himself in an accident and has his bike stolen. His misfortunes push Ye Guang to the brink of tears until Qi Zhang's arrival. This chance meeting is reminiscent of their first encounter in the rain. Qi Zhang accompanies Ye Guang on his birthday, enjoying a meal and giving him a ride home. Later, Ye Guang's bully plays a prank and ruins his uniform before an appointment. Qi Zhang rescues him again by swapping clothes. The two students quickly become friends, and Ye Guang starts paying more attention to Qi Zhang.
Qi Zhang loves music. Contrary to his bookish appearance, he's the lead vocalist of an indie band. When Ye Guang attends one of his shows, he's amazed to see a different side of Qi Zhang. Meanwhile, Qi Zhang is friends with his bandmate Jian, who works part-time at a coffee shop. One night, Jian meets Ray, a customer upset about his cheating boyfriend. They enjoy spending time together to help Ray move on from his heartbreak.
About Youth Cast
Li Zhen Hao (李振浩)
Ye Guang is a popular high school student, famous for his good looks and top grades. He is best friends with Ray. Ye Guang comes from a wealthy family, but his strict parents have high expectations about academic achievements. They put tremendous pressure on their son, making him feel suffocated at home.
Shen Jyun (沈駿)
Qi Zhang is a high school student who loves music. His father was a singer, inspiring him to follow in his footsteps. Qi Zhang aspires to study overseas, but the hefty tuition puts a financial strain on his single-parent family. Despite his bookish appearance, Qi Zhang is the lead vocalist of a cool indie band.
Hsu Shuo Ting (徐碩廷)
Ray is a high school student and Ye Guang's best friend. They have an easygoing rapport, often exchanging amusing banter. Ray is in a relationship with Lin Xiang and entertains his older boyfriend by cross-dressing for him. However, Ray soon discovers Lin Xiang has been cheating behind his back.
Andy Huang (黃信赫)
Jian is Qi Zhang's friend and bandmate. He is the keyboardist and official band leader. Jian works a part-time job as a waiter at a cafe, where he meets Ray. After Ray's breakup, Jian helps him move on from his heartbreak. Qi Zhang and Lin Xiang have no idea their friends Jian and Qi Zhang know each other.
Ye Guang's dad
David Chiu (邱德洋)
Ye Guang's mom
Vera Chen (陳雪甄)
Qi Zhang's mom
Winnie Chang (張詩盈)
Ivan Tsai (蔡弘燁)
Isaac Yang (楊懿軒)
Lawrence Lo (羅章恩)
Queena Huang (黃珮琪)
Vito Hsia (夏浦洋)
- Wilson Liu is one of the actors from the 2019 Taiwanese BL drama, HIStory 3: Make Our Days Count. He has a small cameo role in About Youth, appearing in Episodes 2 and 8 as one of the students.
- Lin Xiang's actor (Isaac Yang) is the lead of the 2023 BL series Stay by My Side. He portrays a law student who faces a rocky relationship with his roommate.
About Youth Review
Drama Review Score: 7.2
About Youth is a gay teen love story, like a BL series that crosses into the YA genre. The plot combines a sweet adolescent romance with a sentimental coming-of-age journey. In my opinion, it gets half the formula right. I appreciate the cute couple, comfortable rapport, and cozy relationship scenes. However, I'm less impressed with the angsty family melodrama, which stumbles from amateurish writing. Hindered by the cliches and corniness, About Youth struggles to resonate emotionally.
This series portrays the two leads falling in love splendidly. Their first encounter on a rainy evening is a memorable way to introduce the couple, highlighting intertwined destinies. Although the romance begins serendipitously, the leads bond over down-to-earth interactions. Their relationship stems from a genuine connection as the characters get along, spend time together, and find common interests. The best scenes are ordinary moments where they enjoy each other's company, with the cinematography amplifying their camaraderie.
About Youth enhances its romantic fantasy with a polished presentation. This glitzy BL drama dazzles with attractive styling, glamorous camerawork, and an abundance of elegant flair. It captures the cast at their most flattering angles, especially Ye Guang's actor (Li Zhen Hao), who looks radiant with his sparkling eyes. In addition, the enchanting soundtrack energizes the series with catchy songs that will loop in your head. About Youth has cultivated an alluring atmosphere with dreamy visuals and fancy music, making this stylish love story come alive.
Unfortunately, About Youth has a lacklustre plot. The series falters whenever it focuses on nonromantic encounters, particularly Ye Guang's dreary family feud. I don't mind there's animosity between Ye Guang and his parents, but their awkward exchanges make me cringe. The clumsy dialogue gives me second-hand embarrassment, as do the shallow characterizations and the dad's theatrical overacting. In theory, Ye Guang's distressing situation at home should have been a riveting storyline. Instead, the laughably contrived conflicts lack complexity and realism.
Ye Guang's actor has the telegenic screen presence required for a BL star, but his crying skills need improvement. His costar (Shen Jyun) is okay, albeit unremarkable. At least the two inexperienced leads are adorable together and share smooth chemistry, even if the wholesome romance lacks physicality. While the secondary couple is more affectionate, that pairing feels generic and I don't care for them. The real MVP is Qi Zhang's mom (Winnie Chang), impressing me with her natural demeanour. This capable actress guides the flow of her scenes confidently.
About Youth has a happy ending, but the finale seems rushed. After emphasizing the hostility between Ye Guang and his parents for so long, the tensions culminate with a sloppy resolution. I don't sense self-empowerment in Ye Guang's character arc. Instead, he exhibits pettiness and immaturity. The last episode reaffirms my frustrations with the series, which displays style over substance. About Youth can only handle light content and reveals many faults as it challenges heavier storylines. Sadly, this BL drama doesn't balance a charming romance with an equally clever plot.
About Youth portrays a cute teen love story sincerely. Yet, it's less impressive with the non-romantic storylines. The corny family drama stumbles from clunky writing and clumsy cliches.
This BL couple shares a cozy bond, a down-to-earth rapport, and charming relationship scenes. Their sweet romance captures the magic of precious teenage love.
The leads are adorable together and exhibit smooth chemistry. However, their inexperience shows through shaky performances, especially when it comes to crying.
About Youth has a happy ending as Ye Guang takes a liberating stance against his strict parents. Although the finale is rushed, it has a satisfying conclusion for the romance.
This glamorous series cultivates a romantic atmosphere with glitzy visuals, catchy music, and an elegant ambiance. The stylish love story comes alive due to the sophisticated production values.
About Youth is an okay BL series with a cute, compelling teen romance. Yet, it suffers from a lacklustre plot and cannot handle substantial storylines beyond lighthearted fluff.
About Youth Episodes
About Youth has a total of 8 episodes. Each episode is around 22 minutes long. It is a medium-length BL drama, and you can finish the entire series in around 3 hours. About Youth started airing on August 29, 2022 and ended its last episode on September 19, 2022.
Episode 1 Summary
This episode opens with Ye Guang's monologue on a rainy evening. He is devastated after failing to enrol in the school his parents wanted most. He even describes his despair as "the darkest day of his life". As he walks outside, Ye Guang encounters Qi Zhang, who is crying alone. Although they don't know each other, Ye Guang empathizes with the distressed stranger. He hands over his umbrella to Qi Zhang as a random gesture of kindness.
The story jumps forward a year later. Ye Guang has become a famous campus stud at his high school. On his birthday, Ye Guang is showered with gifts from his fans. Qi Zhang is also one of his admirers and leaves a present discreetly. However, he's too shy to admit his secret crush. Qi Zhang still remembers their fateful meeting in the rain, whereas Ye Guang has no recollection of the incident. Ye Guang barely pays attention to the bashful bespectacled student.
Ye Guang struggles at home. His parents neglect him and only focus on their business travels. Ye Guang's dad also chastises his son for not paying enough attention to his studies. Ye Guang feels upset about spending his birthday alone. After going outside for fresh air, he injures himself and has his bike stolen. The misfortunes cause Ye Guang to almost cry outside the convenience store. Just then, Qi Zhang appears just by chance, catching Ye Guang from an accidental fall. Their meeting is reminiscent of the encounter in the rain, except the roles are reversed.
Episode 1 Review
I like how About Youth begins! The first scene with the leads meeting in the rain is a memorable way to introduce their romance. This encounter feels epic, like two strangers forging an emotional connection in the dark of night. However, I'm unsure about Ye Guang describing it as "the darkest day" of his life. When you use such powerful language, I associate it with death or tragedy. Instead, Ye Guang is a rich kid upset about not enrolling in his first-choice private school. You must be very privileged if that's the darkest day of your life.
I enjoy how the final moment of the episode mirrors the opening scene. The episode begins with Ye Guang helping Qi Zhang during a distressing day. Now, the roles are reversed one year later. When we meet Ye Guang, he seems like the perfect and popular student at school. Behind the illusion, his life isn't as rosy as it seems. Having these fans and admirers means little when you must still spend your birthday alone.
I'm not a fan of how About Youth introduces Ray's storyline. It's hard to identify these new characters and follow their relationship dynamics. I don't feel anything when Ray catches his boyfriend cheating because I barely know who they are. Also, Ray's crossdressing is addressed in a five-second text message that I missed during my first watch. I felt confused about who Ray, his boyfriend, and the mistress were. I had no idea what was happening in their scenes until I watched the episode again. It was a perplexing intro to the secondary romance, leaving me disconnected.
Episode 2 Summary
The episode begins after the leads meet outside the convenience store. Qi Zhang helps Ye Guang get cleaned up from his accident. Qi Zhang's mother runs a food stall nearby, so he treats Ye Guang to a meal. They eat, chat, and introduce themselves. Qi Zhang notices his acquaintance is sad and tries cheering him up with cheesy jokes. Later, he gives Ye Guang a ride home. Qi Zhang's lighthearted antics finally make Ye Guang laugh after a stressful evening.
On the following day, the leads meet again on the school campus. Ye Guang's bully pranks him, purposely spilling wet paint on his uniform before a crucial appointment. Ye Guang panics because he's supposed to greet VIP guests at the school. Qi Zhang comes to his rescue again. He suggests they should swap pants. Ye Guang is embarrassed about stripping in front of Qi Zhang. Nonetheless, the solution works and his school ambassador duties go smoothly.
Ye Guang's best friend Ray is meeting with his older boyfriend, Lin Xiang. His boyfriend wants him to do crossdressing for a date, which Ray obliges. However, Lin Xiang's girlfriend suddenly appears at the coffee shop and accuses them of cheating on her. Ray is upset to discover his boyfriend's infidelity. As the confrontation gets heated, a waiter named Jian breaks up the fight. Later, Jian cheers up Ray after his heartbreak. However, Ray is focused on revenge and suggests they should tamper with his ex's vehicle.
The episode ends with Ye Guang visiting Qi Zhang to return the uniform, only to discover he's performing at a concert. The nerdy Qi Zhang has transformed into a confident vocalist on stage. Ye Guang is excited and enjoys the indie band's music.
Episode 2 Review
The pants swapping scene made me blush, seeing these two guys get undressed in public in broad daylight. This unlikely scenario only seems to happen in BL dramas, which is why I watch the genre. 😙 When Qi Zhang started unbuckling his pants, I was like OMG! If it were me, I'd simply offer useless advice and tell Ye Guang to clean up in the washroom. I like Qi Zhang's approach much better: LET'S STRIP!
I like the duality of Qi Zhang transforming from an unassuming wallflower into an indie band superstar. He's a high school nerd by day, but a secret musician by night! I have a soft spot for Qi Zhang because he represents one of my favourite character archetypes. I'm into guys who are half geek, half rock god. Qi Zhang is appealing not just because he sings and performs on stage, but the other side of him is studious and ambitious. He takes school seriously and dreams of studying overseas. His determination is admirable.
I really like the opening song of this series. The melody is snazzy and super catchy. Also, the soundtrack's mellow vibe is highly suitable for a YA story. However, About Youth plays this same piece of music frequently, almost to the point of excessive. In a later episode, there's a funny line where Qi Zhang quips about how he's tired of this music. His self-awareness makes me laugh. With that said, I don't mind hearing the same song constantly because it sounds fresh each time. An indicator of a great soundtrack is that you wanna keep listening to it on a loop.
Episode 3 Summary
After the band performance, Qi Zhang learns that Ye Guang attended the concert. Qi Zhang delivers a late-night snack to thank him for coming. The two leads become friends on social media and begin communicating online. Although Ye Guang enjoys the meal, his mom throws away the unhealthy food without asking. Meanwhile, Ye Guang's dad lectures his son about studying. The dad also wants him to win the student council president election because of the prestige.
Qi Zhang also considers competing for the same position because it comes with scholarship money. He aspires to study music overseas, but his family can't afford the tuition. Qi Zhang also worries about leaving behind his widowed mom. However, she's supportive and encourages him to chase after his dreams. Qi Zhang has a much closer relationship with his mom than Ye Guang's strict and standoffish family.
Ye Guang's parents go away again on business travel, leaving him alone at home. He calls Qi Zhang to talk, but his new friend seems troubled by an incident over the phone. A worried Ye Guang immediately arrives at the food stall, where Qi Zhang is squaring off against his drunken uncle. Ye Guang intervenes, but he hurts himself during the fight. Qi Zhang brings his new friend home to treat his injuries, leading to an intimate exchange.
As Ye Guang tours his friend's bedroom, Qi Zhang shares more about his background. He inherited his father's love for music. However, his dad passed away during an accident at home. Ye Guang admires Qi Zhang's resilience after hearing the tragic story. Qi Zhang reveals his motto is to stay happy every day. The two teens continue talking more about music. The episode ends with Qi Zhang dozing off on the bed as Ye Guang lays next to him with a dreamy gaze.
Episode 3 Review
So far, About Youth has done a decent job developing this cute teen romance. The couple's interactions feel cozy and intimate. Their bond is highlighted through simple yet effective scenes, like them listening to music in the bedroom. The stylish ambiance also amplifies their connection. This series looks and sounds dazzling, which helps cultivate the mood.
When Ye Guang hurt himself during the fight, Qi Zhang's overreaction made me laugh. IT COULD GET INFECTED! WE HAVE TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL! Then, we see Ye Guang's injury, and he has the tiniest scrape on his leg. This so-called injury is as severe as a paper cut. Let's stick with the first-aid kit and leave the emergency room for bigger medical problems. 😅
I usually love BL dramas that explore family dynamics, but the storylines don't work for me in this series. There's a multitude of little problems that add up and bother me, from the corny dialogue to the cliched characterizations. Ye Guang's dad is a caricature, only there to nag his son about school. Qi Zhang's uncle is another one-dimensional villain who exists to manufacture artificial conflicts. The best YA works are clever and thoughtful, whereas this schmaltzy BL drama lacks sharpness and sophistication. As a whole, the writing feels elementary.
Episode 4 Summary
The episode begins before Ye Guang falls asleep in Qi Zhang's bedroom. The two teens talk casually about music and family. Ye Guang realizes a familiar umbrella in the room, unaware it's the one he gave Qi Zhang a year ago. During a flashback, we learn Qi Zhang cried that night after his dad's death, yet his uncle kept harassing him for money. He's grateful for Ye Guang's kindness. "You showed up at the saddest time of my life." Qi Zhang thinks it's incredible they're now friends, and he can be this close to his crush.
The next morning, Ye Guang wakes up and enjoys a tasty breakfast prepared by his friend. Qi Zhang gives him a pair of his favourite earphones as a gift. As they head off to school, Ye Guang compliments Qi Zhang's appearance, telling him he looks better without the glasses. Ray notices his friend seems more cheerful today, but Ye Guang doesn't tell him the source of his happiness. Later in the episode, Qi Zhang invites Ye Guang to a music rehearsal. He introduces him to his bandmates, which include Jian. The group of friends hang out and get along.
This episode also follows up on Ray and Jian. Although Ray threatens to key his cheating ex's vehicle, he backs out of the plan at the last moment. He doesn't want to sink to his scumbag boyfriend's level. Instead, Jian accompanies Ray to a night market, where they play games and sample the delicious street food. Ray ends the night in a delightful mood despite his breakup.
Episode 4 Review
Ye Guang's actor (Li Zhen Hao) looks dreamy. There are many pretty shots of him smiling warmly with a twinkle in his eyes. He has a compelling screen presence that can carry a BL drama, an inherent charisma that not everybody exhibits. This actor needs to work on his emotiveness, especially during the crying scenes, but I'm satisfied with him as the lead.
I like seeing the flashback of the rainy evening from Qi Zhang's perspective. The argument with the uncle is a little over-the-top, but it gives context to Qi Zhang's emotional state. We learn why he cried that night, making Ye Guang's kind gesture even more significant. As Qi Zhang hit rock bottom, Ye Guang offered a valuable human connection. The umbrella is a token of support and encouragement. Qi Zhang doesn't just like Ye Guang because he's cute and popular. Above all else, Ye Guang's most attractive feature is his compassion.
The secondary romance…IDK. I'm not feeling this couple. Ray and Jian feel like nonessential characters. They disappeared in the last episode, yet I didn't find myself missing them. Their connection is pretty weak, considering half the series is already over. Ray has a more enthusiastic rapport with his best friend than his love interest. And Jian is like a random nobody. Who's this guy? What do we know about him besides being in a band and waiting tables?
Episode 5 Summary
The episode begins with Ray and Jian hanging out. They have fun posing at the photo booth and taking many pictures. However, Jian accidentally breaks Ray's necklace and offers to repair it. That night, they share their first kiss. Yet, Jian hesitates and says he needs time for this relationship. Ray is pissed off about his hesitant response and storms away in rage.
Ray sees Ye Guang and Qi Zhang hanging out at school. Yet, Ye Guang lies to his friend about tutoring lessons when he's secretly meeting with Qi Zhang instead. Ray is upset and calls out his deceit. Qi Zhang encourages Ye Guang to make up with his friend. Ye Guang apologizes playfully, and Ray forgives him. Jian apologizes too, but Ray is still angry and doesn't entertain him.
Ye Guang and Qi Zhang continue spending time together. Ye Guang's parents are furious when he misses a private tutoring lesson. They become even angrier when he seems nonchalant about missing the class. The episode ends with Ye Guang's strict father punishing his son for disobedience. As instructed, Qi Zhang must kneel in his bedroom and consider his wrongdoings.
Episode 5 Review
OMG, Ray and Jian's first kiss! I didn't expect the secondary couple to progress faster than the leads. However, Jian's reaction after the kiss is a bit of a buzzkill. "I need more time." Um, okay. Can you make up your mind before you make out with a guy? Jian's indecision is aggravating, but I also find Ray's childish tantrum very annoying. Overall, this conflict seems pointless and not something I want to watch for more than one episode. Either get together or don't. My patience is wearing thin.
Ugh, why is Ray upset with his friend? Ye Guang isn't obligated to tell you everything about his life. With that said, I do like the tiny conflict between Ray and Ye Guang in this episode. Their disagreement adds more depth to their dynamic and some flavour to Ray's characterization. Plus, their reconciliation is quick and sweet. They don't drag out their feud for a needlessly long time.
I can't stand the family melodrama with Ye Guang's parents. Every time they show up, I sigh in exasperation. The dad's character is a total caricature, repeating the same few talking points in each appearance. All his lines are overly antagonistic to the extent that they don't sound realistic. It doesn't help that the actor is too theatrical in his role, making the conflict seem exaggerated and ridiculous. None of Ye Guang's scenes with his parents feel natural. Worst of all, the storyline is draining to watch. I don't enjoy this combo of bad writing, bad acting, and bad parenting.
Episode 6 Summary
Ray hasn't forgiven Jian for his hesitant reaction after their first kiss. A remorseful Jian has fixed the broken necklace and asks Qi Zhang to pass along a message on his behalf. Qi Zhang asks Ray to reconsider the apology, vouching for his friend's sincerity. Although Jian tries repairing their relationship again, he still doesn't get a positive response. However, Jian doesn't seem as mad as previously, signifying his stance has softened.
Ye Guang's parents are furious about their son's recent rebellious behaviour. They place a GPS tracker on his phone to monitor his whereabouts. Ye Guang opposes the invasion of privacy, but he's powerless to defy them. That night, he vents to Qi Zhang about his issues at home. Qi Zhang encourages his friend to communicate more with his family. However, Ye Guang is upset his friend doesn't understand the situation by siding with his parents. He cries as Qi Zhang comforts him.
Qi Zhang sulks after the disagreement with Ye Guang. He keeps his feelings bottled up and doesn't confide in his mom, but she reaffirms her love for him. When Ye Guang visits later, Ye Guang's mom offers him advice. She tells Ye Guang to be decisive about his autonomy and believes his parents will respond well to his independence. She also encourages him to clear the air with Qi Zhang. The episode ends with the two teens meeting at school. They apologize and reconcile as Qi Zhang plays a song on the guitar for his friend.
Episode 6 Review
Placing a GPS tracker on your kid is intense. Funnily enough, Ye Guang handles this surveillance tactic in the next episode by ~not giving a damn~. He continues hanging out with Qi Zhang in the late hours while ignoring his dad's phone calls. I like the challenge Ye Guang poses to his parents. Go ahead and put a tracker on me, but I'll still loiter wherever I want! Since his family is never around in the first place, Ye Guang doesn't care about the consequences. He knows they're too busy with work to scold him.
Compare the differences between Qi Zhang and Ye Guang's home life. One is a loving environment, whereas the other is a miserable, high-pressure hellhole. Ye Guang may live in a wealthy household, but it has many restrictions. In contrast, Qi Zhang faces financial instability, yet he has freedom and autonomy. At least Qi Zhang's mom is there for him, offering wise advice & unconditional support. She listens to her son, respects his judgment & builds a trusting relationship with him. Her parenting style is more empathetic, unlike the two demons who call themselves Ye Guang's parents.
Are Ray and Jian still fighting!? Alright, wrap it up. There's no reason to turn their pointless quarrel into a multi-episode story arc. I don't know this couple well enough to invest any energy into their unpleasant conflict. It feels like they barely have a storyline. Besides, I still know almost nothing about Jian. Who's this random nobody? Can the series actually develop his character and give him a personality?
Episode 7 Summary
The episode begins with Jian trying to apologize to Ray again. Ray finally forgives him as they reconcile with a kiss. Jian and Ray start dating. They announce their official relationship to their friends, Qi Zhang and Ye Guang, who react with surprise. The two pairs go on a cute double date, even though Qi Zhang and Ye Guang aren't officially a couple. Jian and Ray end the date night with another passionate kiss in the bedroom.
Qi Zhang and Ye Guang meet up as they go skateboarding in the middle of the night. Ye Guang's father tries to get in touch with him, but he ignores the call. Later, the two teens hang out again. They enjoy playing with sparklers and blowing bubbles in the air. During their enchanting time together, Qi Zhang confesses his love and Ye Guang responds with a warm smile. As they start dating, this teen couple plans their next date together gleefully.
Ye Guang's mom catches her son being intimate with Qi Zhang in public. Ye Guang receives a stern lecture from his parents when he returns home. The dad makes him kneel on the floor to apologize. Ye Guang tells his parents about Qi Zhang's background. However, the dad looks down on Qi Zhang for coming from a single-parent family and calls him "trash". He say Ye Guang's new friend is an awful influence on his son. The episode ends with Ye Guang in a fierce argument with his father, accusing his family of not loving him. The dad slaps him in rage.
Episode 7 Review
About Youth has such a stylish aesthetic. I like the scene where the leads play with the bubbles in the night. The series has created this wonderful ambiance of fantasy, dreaminess, and splendour. Qi Zhang confesses his love in this scene, and we never hear Ye Guang's reply, but we don't need verbal confirmation. The romantic atmosphere and the pure joy on Ye Guang's face have already demonstrated his feelings. Ye Guang's love for Qi Zhang is so evident that he doesn't need to speak it aloud.
The secondary couple finally kisses and makes up in this episode. Unfortunately, I still don't care about Jian or Ray. It has been seven episodes, yet I can't connect to either character. They're like some generic couple I'm forced to watch in between Qi Zhang & Ye Guang interactions. I wish they scrapped this other romance and gave all their kissing scenes to the leads instead.
I'm completely over the subplot with Ye Guang and his parents. The dad has been such a raging asshole for seven episodes that I'm numb to his behaviour. You know how in Charlie Brown, the adults' voices go like "wah, wah, wah~" That's exactly what I hear whenever the parents speak. Their mumble jumble about grades, tutors, student council president, or whatever is unintelligible noise to me. What's worse is that the scenes feel repetitive, hammering the same point that Ye Guang has an awful family. It's like watching a very predictable storyline that won't progress.
About Youth has a happy ending where Ye Guang values his independence and defies his domineering parents. He fails his school exams on purpose, even though his dad places so much pressure on his academic grades. Ye Guang hands in a blank exam sheet as an act of rebellion. Later, he records a tearful video for his parents, explaining his unhappiness. He just wants to live like an ordinary teenager without his parents dictating his life.
Ye Guang's mom has a change of heart after watching the video. She doesn't want to pressure Ye Guang academically anymore. The mom tries to influence her husband to soften his approach. We discover the dad had quit school to start his business during his youth, so he doesn't want Ye Guang to repeat his mistakes. Ye Guang doesn't have a face-to-face chat with his family in this finale. Nonetheless, both parents watch a live stream of him happily, indicating they aren't that mad at their son.
Ye Guang has an upcoming music show at school. However, the orchestra suddenly gets food poisoning and can't attend. He asks Qi Zhang's band to fill in as last-minute substitutes. The main characters have a successful performance. Their parents watch the live broadcast, and even Ye Guang's dad seems curious about his son despite their feud.
The series ends with the leads feeling jubilant after the music performance. They're in the school courtyard on a sunny day after recent rainfall. Ye Guang tells Qi Zhang that he no longer plans to run for student council president. It's what his parents wanted for him, but Ye Guang has no desire to win the title. He feels liberated after making this decision. Instead, he plans to support his boyfriend in the election. The series ends with them sharing their first kiss as a rainbow emerges in the sky.
Episode 8 Review
Ye Guang finally stands up to his parents in the finale. He fails his school exams as an act of defiance. I get why he did it, but sabotaging yourself to get back at your parents doesn't feel like an empowering move. The series wants to act like Ye Guang is liberated, but what he did seems petty and immature. In Episode 6, Qi Zhang's mom advises him to communicate his aspirations with his parents. She gives wise advice, yet Ye Guang gets the wrong message. You're supposed to talk to them, not throw a reckless tantrum.
Ye Guang sends his parents a tearful video, complaining about how hard his life is. Suddenly, the mom has a change of heart, but the moment doesn't feel genuine. The series rushes her last-minute enlightenment. Oh, now you realize you shouldn't be a tiger mom. Where was this sensibility earlier after multiple scenes of watching your husband berate your son? Of course, the dad is a lost cause, and learning his backstory makes me even angrier. Given his past, he should've empathized with his son better.
This finale lacks a scene between Ye Guang and his parents. The story preaches communication, yet Ye Guang doesn't speak with his family. He whines in a video, and then his parents talk among themselves. Where's the dialogue? A heartfelt chat between Ye Guang and his parents could resonate powerfully, reiterating reconciliation. It'd explore Ye Guang's new dynamic with his parents after their breakthrough. Instead, the characters sang a useless song that adds little value. The music isn't the problem, but it shouldn't be prioritized over a critical conversation.
Why does About Youth keep making Ye Guang's actor cry in this series? They gotta know that's not his strong suit. Ye Guang's weak crying skills diminish the impact of his video message. He comes across as unintentionally whiny. The video would've worked better if Ye Guang had delivered it with more self-assurance and less angst. Play to the actor's strengths and highlight his appealing qualities, not his worst.
About Youth ends with a beautiful scene where Ye Guang and Qi Zhang share their first kiss in the school courtyard. A rainbow displays in the sky, and there are water puddles on the ground, signifying that it has recently rained. This imagery has significant symbolism, considering how the series started. The main characters met each other on a rainy night at the lowest point in their lives. Troubled by emotional turmoil, the mood of their first encounter is sorrowful.
Fortunately, their love story concludes on a more positive note. After meeting each other, Ye Guang and Qi Zhang find a source of happiness in their lives. They're no longer the two sad teens crying in the rain. The rainbow symbolizes hope, signifying how the storm has passed. It's common for everyone to feel confused or unhappy, especially during youth, but just know that any misery will fade. There's a rainbow at the end of every rainstorm. For our teen protagonists, as they share a kiss in the school courtyard, their future certainly looks bright. 🌈
About Youth Information
Ishtar Tsai (蔡宓潔) is a Taiwanese director. Her first BL project is the drama, HIStory: Stay Away From Me (2017). She also directed HIStory 2: Crossing the Line (2018) and HIStory 3: Make Our Days Count (2019). In addition, Ishtar directed the BL series About Youth (2022).