Breakthrough in Youth Dramas: “Twenty Your Life On”jessie tan
In recent years, production companies have been producing youth dramas largely to cater to the growing, younger audience. For the most part, many of these series paint a romanticized picture of young adulthood via light-hearted and dreamy stories. Yet, this formula does not always successfully touch the hearts of viewers, win the audience’s support, and become a hot topic – everything that the Chinese coming-of-age drama Twenty Your Life On <二十不惑> has achieved.
Starring Guan Xiaotong (关晓彤), Bu Guanjin (卜冠今), Li Gengxi (李庚希), and Dong Siyi (董思怡), Twenty Your Life On adopts a more realistic storyline by focusing on the core issues faced by the new generation of young adults. Through the four main actresses’ multidimensional characters and engaging delivery of youth’s struggles in the current society, Twenty Your Life On broke the conventions of the young adult genre.
The series revolves around the lives of four soon-to-graduate college girls and their worries about entering the workforce after they complete their studies. They courageously navigate and cope with adulthood in their own ways while facing dilemmas across all aspects of life, including school, work, family, friends, and romance.
The Characters Are Relatable in Every Way
Unlike the typical youth dramas, Twenty Your Life On does not have a heroine, and all four girls share the spotlight equally with their distinctive characters. For example, Jiang Xiaoguo (played by Guanjin) is calculative, Liang Shuang (played by Xiaotong) is vain, Luo Yan (played by Gengxi) is confused, and Duan Jiabao (played by Siyi) is naive. Neither of them is perfect, but their flaws are what make them realistic and convincing.
Though more than being imperfect, it is their confidence and clarity while facing internal conflicts that truly connected the audience. Choosing between staying in a comfort zone and venturing into the unknown is a common inner struggle among the youth, but these girls always fight for their chances thanks to their stubbornly bold and brash temperament. In doing so, they encourage viewers to seize every opportunity that comes their way.
On top of highlighting the protagonists’ burning passion, Twenty Your Life On also opens up conversations on dealing with various issues and relationships. For instance, Xiaoguo discovered her boss’ affair, but she is unsure if she should reveal the truth and risk losing her job. Luo Yan lacks communication with her mother, who single-handedly raised her while working at the same time. Liang Shuang bravely calls out a pervert for sexually harassing her, even though some may choose to keep quiet in fear of repercussions in real life.
All of these events are often experienced by current youths entering adulthood, so it is highly understandable why Twenty Your Life On captured the attention of viewers. Undoubtedly, it is the humanistic values and the insights on growing up that had people talking after every episode.