The Taiwanese entertainment industry is quite popular for its R-rated romance shows. It’s an industry that specializes in bringing heart to all things R-rated with an extra dose of drama. Netflix welcomes you to the exciting and dramatic world of Let’s Talk About Chu, a series that throws you headfirst into the tumultuous lives of the Chu family. Chu Ai is our confused protagonist, who is a waxing technician and a part-time vlogger with a penchant for delving into the complexities of sex on her online platform. The show, spread across eight episodes of 40–50 minutes each, delves into the intricate details of familial relationships, exposing the messy entanglements of love, desire, and all the juiciness in between. We watch as each member of the Chu family navigates through the challenges of their personal relationships, not just with their partners but with the world and within the family. Chu Ai is the charming youngest member of the family who drives the car, while the rest of the family does some back-seat driving. While Let’s Talk About Chu gains momentum in its second half, which is high on the drama levels, it somehow misses the mark when it comes to leaving a lasting impression. I would sound narrow-minded if I said that there’s only so much one can get from an adult romance show, yet this particular series falls short of delivering an unforgettable punch that separates the exceptional from the merely entertaining.
I’m going to try to be as unfiltered and reliable as Chu Ai’s vlogs, which grace our screens at the end of each episode of the show, almost like a PSA. Firstly, if you’re wondering if this is Taiwan’s Sex Education, then I’m going to burst that bubble and say absolutely not. There’s shockingly nothing similar between the two series, despite the subject matter being similar. And if that’s what you’re looking for, you’d be wasting your time watching this show because there’s not much of that in the show itself. What’s amusing is that there is never a dull moment in this show, and even when it comes to serious subjects, it covers up comedic elements that don’t feel forced. The Chu family includes three siblings: Chu Ai, the youngest, Yu-Sen, the man in the middle, and Chu-Wei, the oldest. Occasionally, some of the sexual scenes feel extremely unnecessary, especially when there’s so much happening in the story otherwise.
I’ve not seen a lot of Taiwanese dramas; however, the little that I’ve seen has allowed me to realize that they’ve always been overtly progressive with their content. I don’t mean to say it’s superficial, but I wouldn’t say this show is especially liberating or new for the country. What I do appreciate about the show is that it sometimes delves into the deeper realities of relationships that nobody really cares for. You’d imagine such a show is solely focused on the “young and hot,” but that’s not the case. Additionally, despite the facade of “sexy,” the show also underlines some deep-rooted gender role narratives that I found really intriguing in the way that they are presented. I only wish it could’ve been explored further and not forgotten after a couple of emotional scenes. There’s a lot to appreciate in this show, yet I’m left dissatisfied at the end of the day. Honestly, you name a subject, and there’s a chance the show is covering it, from gambling and extramarital affairs to online trolling and the impact of undisclosed trauma on little children as they grow up.
Chan Tzu-Hsuan is charming as the lead, Chu Ai, and almost appears doll-like, which makes you want to protect her when something’s about to go wrong. She’s good at covering all bases and pretty much carries the whole show. Of course, this is not to say the other actors aren’t just as good. Kimi Hsai plays Chu-wei, or Wei-wei, who at first is an unlikeable character but slowly grows on you by the end of the series. The same is true of her husband, who seems almost despicable but soon becomes an integral part of the series. On the other hand, Yu-Sen is the handsome gay middle child. Played by JC Lin, Yu-Sen perfectly represents the middle child in a dysfunctional family because, whatever his lifestyle choices, he’s mostly ignored. Although his storyline is somewhat believable in the show, the skeleton is well done. Ping-Ke is Chu Ai’s on-and-off love interest, played by the handsome Ko Chen-tung. Their chemistry is perfect, and you’re definitely rooting for them in the second half of the series.
Visually, the show is very typically Taiwanese, from the colors to the landscape. It’s got all the cute elements that make you want to squeal and all the romantic music that’ll make you want to hum along and go out and dance in the rain (even when it isn’t raining). The comedy is quite mediocre, and I personally do not appreciate the slapstick style; however, I will admit this one takes it down a notch and isn’t disgusting or nauseating in any way. The character arcs are there, and with Netflix subtitles, I can’t say much about the dialogue because it could be completely lost in translation (I’m certain some bits are, for sure). If you’re on the lookout for some classic Asian drama with the added elements of an adult romance, then I’d recommend watching this show. On the other hand, if you’re more into the heart-fluttering, sweet-that-will-give-you-diabetes kind of show, then I would say steer clear of this one.
I suppose at the end of the day, I wouldn’t say I disliked Let’s Talk About Chu, but I also can’t say I loved it. Objectively, the show does a good job of balancing its many elements, and for that, I’d say it’s worth a watch. You can leave your brain behind and watch this one with ease. I’d give Let’s Talk About Chu 3 out of 5 stars. I’m not being highly critical of the show; I just know that it could’ve been even better with certain things changed up just slightly to make it truly memorable.