Chen Chia-Ling is back, and this time, she is bringing all the nostalgia, humour and heartache back to season two of The Making of an Ordinary Woman.
The format for season two remains the same. We jump back and forth between present and past, and each time we veer between time periods, we get a better understanding of Chia-Ling and her complicated relationship with her family. And if you caught season one, you have all the more reason to watch this sophomore season. Here’s why.
This may be a Taiwanese drama but its themes are highly relatable, especially for women. We know Chia-Ling has a love-hate relationship with her mother, and in each episode, we get glimpses of how this complicated relationship came to be. Her mother always means well, but her crude methods often lead to disastrous results. In each episode, we gain a new layer of understanding why. Chia-Ling’s mother came from a less-than-privileged background, and she is too eager for her daughter to do well without really understanding what Chia-Ling needs.
The show also touches on gender inequality through a mini and hilarious story arc revolving around a young Chia-Ling menstruating for the very first time. Alas, her mother is not around when she first starts spotting, and her helpless father doesn’t quite know what to do. Through educating her about the perils of menstruation, her mother and grandmother end up painting a bleak picture of a woman’s role in life in a funny song and dance routine that belies the starkness of their message.
Mortality and filial piety are also themes portrayed in the series in a nuanced way. Chia Ling’s father has a health scare in one of the early episodes, which shakes the entire family. We see how each family member deals with it in different ways.
The beauty of The Making of an Ordinary Woman is how it humorously deals with sombre issues, such as a botched tattoo in a scene about mortality, a long night with a youthful company to come to terms with growing old, and the shenanigans brought about by Chia-Ling’s new house to show the complexities of family dynamics.
Do watch out for episode three, where Chia-Ling’s parents get to flex their barely-there knowledge of English, creating much hilarity. But behind this scene of laughs lies a layer about family love. We see how Chia-Ling’s dad is so proud of his daughter, and Chia-Ling displays her affection for her father through small gestures.
There is a particularly poignant scene involving Chia-Ling’s dad in the past, which could easily be a page taken out of our past as well. Chia-Ling is with her classmates in her room, and her dad arrives with snacks and a poster of a boy band. She doesn’t appreciate both and thinks her dad is embarrassing her. This may be reminiscent of our childhood as well. Things we thought our parents did were embarrassing then were gestures that show they love us.
The cast, especially Bella Wu, who plays prepubescent Chia-Ling, are brilliant in their roles and enjoy great chemistry with one another. You don’t feel like watching a drama series but instead, watching a real-life family’s drama unfolding on screen. And that is the genius of directors Yi-Wen Yen and Zhang-Lun Chen, who draw raw emotions from the series’ stars.
Apart from the cast, there are many cameos from the likes of Golden Bell Award winner Tien-Hsin (for the 2011’s series Who’s the One), athelete-turned-actor Lego Lee, veteran TV programme host and six-time Golden Bell Award winner Tzu-Chiang Chao, and the Indie band WonFu.
If you’re in the mood for some laughs, life lessons, or reminiscence about the past, The Making of an Ordinary Woman ticks all the checkboxes. Season 2 is now available exclusively on CATCHPLAY+: