Expectations. Life is full of them.
Adapted from the novel Secretly by Huang Si Mi, the Taiwanese BL About Youth takes viewers into the lives of four young men on the cusp of adulthood, facing possible and impossible expectations, the ones they have for themselves, each other, and their families.
Expectation is believing we can achieve something but also being afraid we can’t. About Youth takes a deep, sentimental look into the characters’ dreams for their futures and the fears they have of failing. All while falling in love.
Starring actors Jyun (Xu Qi Zhang), Li Zhen Hao (Ye Guang), Hsu Shuo Ting (Ray), and Andy Huang (Ah Jian), About Youth is a love story about finding the freedom to choose.
One of the most freeing moments in young adulthood is the one where you realize it IS okay to make your own decisions. Succeed or fail; it’s doing it for yourself that makes it worth it. It’s loving who your heart chooses for you.
And that’s precisely what our characters discover. Whether it’s about the future or simply about love, there’s a lot of truth in the first step we take into the world. A lot of fear, heart, and indecisiveness follow us into the future. Still, there’s something equally satisfying about taking the leap, especially for something we choose for ourselves.
Xu Qi Zhang and Ye Guang’s story centered mainly around first love and Ye Guang breaking free of his parent’s suffocating expectations. It’s beautiful watching a relationship blossom between two people who don’t expect anything from each other, two people merely there to support the other. From the opening umbrella scene to their final moment at the basketball court, they led viewers through a beautiful montage of encouraging moments and heart-fluttering firsts. All while realizing that being yourself is better than being the person someone else expects you to be.
This brings me to Ray and Ah Jian. There’s a duality to growing up, especially for those of us questioning who we are and our identities. About Youth does a beautiful job of representing this with Ray’s character, taking him from his initial heartbreak to falling in love with the young man who saved him, Ah Jian. Their relationship grows quickly and spontaneously on screen, and even though it seems too fast at moments, fast is how many of us lived our youth and how many youths are living it now. Never slowing down. Living in the moment. Feeling everything.
And that’s the crux of what makes About Youth so beautiful and fun to watch. It’s about feeling everything, from pain and heartbreak to joy and hope.
The only downside to About Youth is its length. Although I was impressed by how full and brilliant this drama was despite the short episodes, I would have gladly tuned in for much, much more.
And yet, its ending made as much sense as the rest of it. It ended with a feeling of “more.” And isn’t that what youth is all about? The story of youth ends at the beginning of something bigger. It ends at the cusp of an adulthood with the potential to take us anywhere.
Check out About Youth on Gagaoolala and Viki for a coming-of-age drama full of feels.
Rating- 4 out of 5