A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities Episode 2 continues without any major changes to formula or style, as the life swap begins in earnest.
I’ve done lots of stupid things while drunk, but I can safely say I’ve never jumped on a flight to a different country. But that’s what Nien-Nien (Tammy Chen) did in A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities Episode 2, thus kick-starting the life-swap gimmick that the show is built on.
Chen plays an enjoyable drunk, I’ll give her that. She’s a compelling lead; funny and charming, she hits those fish-out-of-water notes perfectly. Her dodgy health gives her a decent enough motivation for wanting to totally upend her life, and the enthusiasm she has for new experiences is palpable. A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities Episode 2 tries to divide time between its protagonists equally, but it’s obvious that Nien-Nien’s story is the one the show’s creators would rather be telling.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t still things to enjoy as Jo (Peggy Tseng) and Nien-Nien’s parents fret over the latter’s sudden disappearance – the mum and dad are both consistently excellent in A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities Episode 2, and Jo is likeable in her own right. But she’s the more well-adjusted of the two, and not beset by health concerns, and is finding herself in a place that she’s not entirely familiar with but is at least relatively comfortable in. She speaks the language, if nothing else.
Besides, Nien-Nien also more obviously embodies the show’s themes of traditionalism versus modern convenience, which is how, on the flight to San Francisco, she finds herself relaxing the handsome Ryan (Denny Huang) with ancient Chinese medical techniques. It isn’t exactly subtle, but it mostly works here by focusing on the differences of culture rather than trying to make a technological or ethical point. And it helps to offset Nien-Nien’s first arrival in San Francisco, which includes documentary-style montage footage that seems to suggest the show has a more favourable viewpoint of American than it does of Taiwan.
That isn’t the case, obviously, which is why A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities Episode 2 spends the bulk of its time on the burgeoning relationship between Nien-Nien and Ryan, and is content to remain mostly subtitled, although I did appreciate the detail of them both incorporating more and more English words and phrases as they explored. The show isn’t much different this week than it was last, but it does remain a charming and often funny appreciation of culture that is consistently enjoyable, laidback viewing.