I typically don’t watch Taiwanese dramas because they make me cringe. Aegyo can make someone cringe, but the Taiwanese version is on a whole different level — the way Taiwanese girls speak tho -_-. Refresh Man is a 2016 Taiwanese drama starring Aaron Yan, Joanne Tseng, Lene Lai and Jack Lee, and it follows the story of how an underperforming department finds their motivation again and the success they once had.
Refresh Man promotional poster
|No. of Episodes||17|
|Original Release||March 6 – June 26, 2016|
|Starring||Aaron Yan 炎亞綸
Joanne Tseng 曾之喬
Lene Lai 賴琳恩
Jack Lee 李運慶
I’ve previously tried watching Taiwanese dramas on and off. Sometimes, when I’m okay with the sappy, cringe-worthy stuff, I manage to survive the series. The last Taiwanese drama I remember watching with Aaron Yan is Fall in Love with Me from 2014, but I quit like not even half way, because I couldn’t the drag and the sap.
On the other hand, maybe boredom helped me pull through ‘Refresh Man,’ because if you’ve watched Asian dramas before, I would have to say Taiwanese dramas are very immature — well, at least for my taste (Again, I emphasize that I’m still quite young. Seriously!)
Basically this drama is about how secretary Zhong Yu Tang (Joanne Tseng) falls down from the top of the food chain at MUSE Cosmetics just when she was about to be promoted to become the Chief Secretary after working hard for 5 years. Every one thought she was going to get the position for sure, as she had been an overachiever ever since her high school days. But, lo and behold, her last place high school classmate Ji Wen Kai (Aaron Yan ) shows up as the new CEO of MUSE. The tables have now flipped, as that fateful first day becomes a nightmare for Yu Tang, as she learns all at once of her sub-par abilities as a secretary. Wen Kai ends up bringing in his assistant Miao Aisha (Lene Lai ) who shows Yu Tang that she still has a long way to go. CEO Ji demotes Yu Tang to the worst performing department in the company, which is sales team 3, when he does not allow her to resign due to her employment contract.
A “Refresh Man” has no passion for their job. They are essentially parasites who do the minimum of showing up to work just to get paid. A terrible reputation at work does not faze them. At work, personal matters are dealt with wholeheartedly, while actual work is neglected as they count down to when they get off work. Sales Team 3 is essentially a nest of Refresh Men (and Women), who not only have the reputation of being the lowest of the low that can never climb up the corporate ladder, but worst of all is that they have absolutely no desire to do so.
Yu Tang thinks this is Wen Kai’s petty revenge for her treating him harshly during high school. However, —you guessed it — Wen Kai has been harboring unrequited feelings for Yu Tang for 10 years, and transfers her to sales team 3 is because he knows that she has the ability to revive the Refresh Men and also realize her full potential through hardship, which she has never encountered.
While this drama is not the best of the best, it was doable (watchable), in the sense that the cringe level was not too over the top. With plenty of characters to root for, it might help those who work realize that sometimes you need to make your own motivation so that the workday is more enjoyable.
Acting wise, I would say that all the actors were quite good. As I have been saying over and over again, Taiwanese dramas are very cringy with the exaggeration, so I don’t know if I can say the acting was sub-par if it was over the top — because that’s just the culture. This drama has enough plot twists, so I guess with the opportunities to portray some drama, the actors did a fair job.