I was going to make a “first impressions” post about this drama but I decided to leave everything to the end. While there were storylines I didn’t love in Ode to Joy, and Ode to Joy 2, overall it’s been such a wonderful drama. The characters are so different and go through such different things that it can really appeal to all different people (for example, my mum loves it).
Overall, I think Ode to Joy Season 1 ended conclusively enough that I would have been fine if there was no Season 2. But there is and I’m so glad they continued adapting the series. When I read book spoilers online before Season 2 finished filming I was so excited to see the drama (Bao Yi Fan is my favourite and when I found out he would be have a larger role I could not wait). Plus, we got to see the ladies of Ode to Joy finish dealing with the issues they began with: Sheng Mei struggling with her family’s problems and her goal of a stable, married life; Andy with her brother, her newly-found father, her psychological and emotional issues, and Bao Yi Fan; Guan Guan with her job and finding someone (other than Dr Zhao) that she wants to date; Ying Ying continuing with her job growth (and growing closer to her new boyfriend); and Xiao Xiao succeeding in business and developing her relationship with Dr Zhao.
I think there was a nice balance between the romantic storylines and personal ones in this season. As the friendships and most of the relationships was already established, it allowed for slow development of romances and a closer focus on the characters themselves dealing with successes and sadness as the drama progressed.
I’ve never liked Ying Ying (sorry, not sorry). Sheng Mei’s character, while interesting and so layered, just became more of a frustration through the season as we saw her still having to deal with her family’s issues. Hopefully, if there is a Season 3, she can finally see some happiness. I felt like there was a lot less effort put into Xiao Xiao as a character this season – she was wonderful as before, but there seemed to be less personal growth than last season despite clear suggestions it was needed…
SPOILERS: I loved that Guan Guan’s story was one of true first love (let’s ignore Dr Zhao because this was a requited love) but one that ended and she was glad of that. As I didn’t watch with subtitles, I didn’t exactly get the context, but the changes to Xie Tong and the growing rift between him and Guan Guan near the end of the drama seemed really out of left field to me. I liked that they made it a worthy and important love and not the only love Guan Guan would ever have, but I also did love them as a couple and seeing them together for longer would have been very cute.
Andy will always be my favourite lady of Level 22 and I absolutely adored how they dealt with her storylines this season. Season 1 suggested that Andy was asexual but this wasn’t really dealt with in Season 2, instead it could be inferred that perhaps for her it was about time and trust and feelings – things she didn’t really have in her Season 1 romance. Even in Season 1 I was a staunch supporter of Bao Yi Fan and I just adored how supportive he was of Andy in Season 2 (romance or no) and how he never pushed her outside her comfort zone without her acceptance. Andy’s parental storyline was less interesting, but seemed a realistic if awkward thing to happen. In contrast to all the other ladies, Andy’s final scene with Bao Yi Fan and her brother really seemed like a sweet, if open, conclusion to her story as they drive off together, happy and a family.
Overall rating: 4/5 stars.
Rating for Andy and Guan Guan’s storylines: 5/5 stars.