When the drama came out, I wasn’t really interested in it because youth dramas are always a hit or miss for me. And also because I have no idea about the debating world (as it’s about debating). BUT I am so glad I decided to check this drama out because it is a hidden gem! I know many people don’t like seeing new faces because of the poor and stiff acting. But the new actors and actresses in this drama really bring out their characters. They’re all young, which is perfect for portraying young college students, and they’re doing a great acting. But that’s not the only thing that made me love this drama. What sold me is how realistic and relatable the storyline is to today’s youth. It’s not really a story about debating, even though that’s the core focus of it, but it’s rather about the growth and development of the university students. Pretty much, I think this drama is definitely one to check out!
BEWARE OF SPOILERS!!! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
Why did I start watching this?
I needed something new to watch. And I’m teaching a debate class right now. So I figure, why not? Might as well try to get some tips. But I’m so glad I did. Because this drama is great. I really like its flow (even though it can get a bit draggy and slow at times) and how it’s relatable to many young university students.
After scoring high on her Gaokao exams, Yi Xiao Xi enrolls in Nanzhou Jiaotong University in the literature department as a journalism major. Despite being a smart and diligent student, she realizes that she doesn’t have any aspirations or career goals. As she adjusts to university life, she butts heads with the rebellious Bai Yu, who she always seems to run into because they’re in the same department. She also becomes close friends with her roommates, Wu Di, Xiao En, and Sun Qing.
For an assignment for one of her professors, Yi Xiao Xi and her friends are required to attend a debate session. The two teams are formed by different departments in the university in which students from within the departments group together to compete with other departments. One of the teams in the debate represents the literature department, which Yi Xiao Xi belongs do. And as she witnesses the debate, she slowly becomes interested but is too shy to try it out.
Soon after the debate session, the literature department’s debate team members decide to quit to focus on their school, except for the team captain, Geng Ting Ting. She is the only one to stay and refuses to let the debate team dissolve. But she is given a week’s time to find new members by the literature department’s head or else the debate team will be disbanded. As she desperately tries to find new members, she is joined by her old friend, Qing Bei, who has just returned from abroad and wishes to join the literature department’s debate team, despite being in the business department. With Qing Bei’s help, Geng Ting Ting is able to recruit new members, including the shy but fierce Yi Xiao Xi, the introverted but smart Yang Huo Xia, the cute and adorable Sun Qing, and unruly but talented Bai Yu.
At first it is a struggle to get everyone able to work together as a team, but they all try their hardest to overcome their insecurities and support one another…
And that’s wrap!
Yi Xiao Xi (易小曦), Lin Xin Yi
A first-year student in the Literature Department. She often feels neglected by her parents because they prefer her genius younger sister who also attends the same university. But even so, she is persistent, hardworking, and independent.
Bai Yu (白宇), Pan You Cheng
A first-year student in the Literature Department. He comes from a rich family with a background in law. His father wants him to pursue a law degree and work in the family business. But Bai Yu refuses to follow his parent’s wishes, which is why he has a rebellious and stubborn personality. He often clashes with Qing Bei and wants to win against him.
Geng Ting Ting (耿婷婷), Jiao Na
A fourth-year and senior student in the Literature Department. She is the leader of the Debate Team. She has a gentle and kindhearted personality, but, during competitions, she is fierce and doesn’t back down.
Qing Bei (清北), Jie Shi Ming
A third-year student in the Business Department. Since returning from studying abroad, he chooses to be in the Literature Departments debate team despite opposition from faculty members of his department. He is a strict man but has a kind and caring personality. He and Bai Yu often clash, but he believes that Bai Yu has talent and can help the debate team. To others, he is cold and indifferent, but towards Geng Ting Ting, he is caring and attentive. Since his first year, he has always liked her.
Sun Qing (孙晴), Jiang Zhen Yu
A first-year student and one of Yi Xiao Xi’s roommates. She is a pampered girl from a loving family. She loves eating and is lazy at studying. She has a huge crush on Qing Bei.
Yang Hua Xia (杨华夏), Wu Yue Qing
A first-year student and one of Bai Yu’s roommates. He is shy and has stage fright, but is smart and can hold his ground, which is why Qing Bei recruited him onto the debate team.
Despite being a drama centered around debate, the emphasis isn’t really about it. Rather the drama seems to focus more on the growth and experiences that the characters themselves go through as college students. Yes, being in the debate team helps them come out of their shell and forces them to challenge themselves, but it’s their experiences and friendships they create with each other that really holds and keeps the story together.
What I love about this drama so far is its realistic portrayal of the problems that university students go through. First, you have the main female lead, Yi Xiao Xi, who is shy, introverted, and unsure of her future. Her unsureness of what she wants to do with her life really resonates with many people who enters university for the first time and have no clue on what they want to do. Then, there’s the male lead, Bai Yu, who comes from a rich family who pressures him to take over the family business. And, of course, Bai Yu isn’t able to calmly face his parents and openly oppose them. So, he chooses what many people his age would probably do, rebel, cut classes, and fool around. Even though he’s a smart and talented man who can easily become successful, he doesn’t want to follow what his parents want. Next there’s Geng Ting Ting who is in a long-distance relationship with a boyfriend who rarely contacts her. Aside from her failing relationship, she also faces the pressure of what to do after graduation since she is in her final year. Her parents want her to find a stable job, but she wants to pursue art school, her original passion. And, of course, there’s a few other characters that have their fair share of problems too. You have the one who has been sheltered her whole life and has to learn what it means to be independent, the one who comes from a poor family and has to juggle multiple part-time jobs in order to pay for her tuition, and the one who wants to pursue a career in e-sports but faces strong opposition from his parent. As I’m watching this, I am reminded of my own insecurities and fears when I was a university student. I remember how scared and unsure I was and all of the challenges and opposition I faced throughout my years in college. And that’s why I really find this drama to be so appealing.
As for the debate scenes, I’m finding myself more and more interested in the debate world. I’m learning so much just from watching this drama about debate and how it’s structured and played out. I’ll admit. After watching a few episodes, I found myself doing a little research about debate and even watching a few debate videos myself. But anyway, the topics that they have for their debates so far have been very interesting. The first debate’s topic was about the “ladies first” rule. As a woman, I think the term can be used in a discriminatory way, but it can also be a form of respect. And the drama briefly touches on both of these reasons, which was interesting to watch. But there are other topics and that I just found to be very, very out of the box, too. And how they tackled each topic is just jaw dropping. They get really intense in their debates and so many things happen. I find myself having to rewatch these parts a few times because they speak very fast and the subtitles zoom by quickly. So be on the look out for that if you’re watching this drama!
I’m only on the 12th episode and there has been some romance blooming, but nothing too big. Bai Yu is obviously crushing on Yi Xiao Xi, even though he adamantly denies it, and the girl is slowly starting to fall for his charismatic personality. Bai Yu is very charming, and he has a killer smile! I don’t blame Yi Xiao Xi for falling for him. As for Geng Ting Ting and Qing Bei, I’m really rooting for them. I love that Qing Bei is deeply in love with Geng Ting Ting and he’s been in love with her since his first year as a college student. He can be too attentive sometimes, in my opinion, but he truly cares about Geng Ting Ting. And while she is unaware of his feelings and has her own relationship to worry about, I do hope that is actions touch her and gets her to fall in love with him!
Overall, I’m really liking this drama. Even though it’s still early in the drama to form an opinion, I can truthfully say that it’s made its way onto my top youth dramas. Usually I’m not interested in youth dramas, as I’m much passed that phase in my life and not interested in university or high school life anymore, but the drama really got me reminiscing about the past. And that’s when you know that it’s a good drama. When it gets you reflecting and thinking about where you were and how you’ve become who you are now, it’s a true gem! Anyway, I’m looking forward to watching the rest of the drama and seeing the romance unfold!