Second female leads fighting against female for a love interests and other rants… (To be honest, I can’t think of a good title)
ML: male lead
FL: female lead
SML: second male lead
SFL: second female lead
****Spoilers ahead, read at your own risk!
I made this post because for a while, this topic and rant has been stuck in my head, so I’m just gonna get it out there whether people care/read or not. Cause I’ve decided that it doesn’t matter if people care because it’s bothering me and I gotta get it out!
My subjective thoughts… this article by all means is not to attack the actress/actors specifically, but more on the character they played in the dramas I’ve watched. If I make comments directly on actress/actors, I’m only commenting on their performance on the specific drama mentioned because they could have improve in other dramas that I’ve not watched. For me, I usually fall in love with characters and storylines and usually don’t follow these actresses/actors lives since what we see on the internet can just be a piece of their life, so I don’t want to dig too deep. I also appreciate my privacy and how I spend my time as well. 😉
If you know me, you will know that I do not like love triangles (especially intense ones like “You’re My Destiny/Fated To Love You/Boys Over Flowers”, I just can’t stand it!) and second male lead that “loves” the main girl. I know it’s unavoidable, but if the SML is more like a friend, it’s more endurable for me (in the case of Yiming from “Cute Programmer”). Usually at the start of the series and a SML shows up and starts showing interest in the FL, my brain was just screaming “nnnnooooo!”. I do not mind second, third, fourth, etc couples though! A lot of this analyzing will be from Chinese shows because literally that’s what I’ve been watching a lot of lately.
These days, second female leads tends to be the antagonist who is mostly evil and scheming or weak and stupid. They’re usually not loved by the audience because they’re usually villainous. Usually for males, there’s SML and then there are bad guys! For a lot of SFL though, they tend to be the only female villainous party. (This is in most cases that I’ve seen and came to realize, may not always be true!)
Something that bothers me is that producers/writers make it so that the SFL don’t stand a chance against FL, and I think that’s bogus because there’s so many good second male lead that audience loves and cheer/ships with the FL. While if another female approaches ML, she’s never good enough and gets casted aside!
Here are some females (or males) I thought had potential/or no potential (and some unrelated things I just wanted to complain about lol):
Ancient Love Poetry: Not particularly anyone I’m advocating for, just wanted to talk about ML’s attitude. Now, now, I love Ancient Love Poetry, but the way Bai Jue treated his female admirers was just a no, no. He did treat Shanggu coldly at the beginning, but only a bit compared to how he treated the other females. It just doesn’t add up. Yes, it’s understandable that he’s not interested in a lover and that’s why he kept turning all female attention away, but how the heck did he warm up so fast to Shanggu? Just because she’s our female lead and the drama needs to go on? If anything for dragging the show along, I wished she worked harder to make him warm up. He still showed signs of coldness towards her, but we know he’s already warmed up.
The Sword and Brocade: I had a similar problem in “The Sword and Brocade” because of how cold ML treated his other concubines. I know it’s the norm back in the old day to have more than one wife and that love is not necessary in marriages. But the way the women here were treated made me understand why they took some of their actions. They’re flawed, which made it more realistic. FL is just an endlessly patient and kind person, which I think is kind of unrealistic and rare in this world because to be honest we all have our limits. I’m not saying none exists, I just think it’s very few people or at least very few people I’ve actually met in real life. For the women, I have different pity levels for each. Like for Lianfang, not much because she was born noble and with power already. She’s ML’s mother’s favorite and didn’t have to work as hard. I felt bad for Madame Wen even though she probably doesn’t love ML, but just wanted attention as a human being. Still, she was lucky enough to birth one of his sons, but unlucky to be used by her family and not receiving favor. Madame Qin, I had a lot more pity for her due to her background, but her overall goal was to let the people she thought hurt her intentionally know her own pain. At the end of the day, she’s just a woman who wanted a child of her own. She had no power and had to be under other people’s foot to survive. One thing is, I’m glad that ML’s mother pointed out that he should look after the other concubines as well; however, she kind of said that to benefit her favorite concubine who is her niece. She doesn’t really fight for the other concubines. A questions I have was, what about the other concubines of ML’s father and brothers? How come it’s only him that have concubines? Because he needs the connections?? Even FL’s father’s concubines were shown. So in this case, I kind of question ML’s mother’s fairness and empathy for his son’s wives if she did not have to share her husband.
Begin Again: And a problem I encountered here as well (not related to SFL)! I loved the beginning though with arrogant female lead trying to force marriage down ML’s throat and him resisting hard! I was like oh yeah, she’s gonna have to work for it. But then turns out FL was ML’s love from childhood and so he willing gives in the next day and I was like nope! So I didn’t continue watching this one sadly because that just doesn’t make any sense for me. I wanted FL to work hard and I want to see how she convinces him and how she changed from arrogant to being more understanding before the marriage! I’m not sure if that happened later on, but since ML’s mostly the one putting effort, it would’ve been nice to see a change!
Ashes of Love: I had to comment on Runyu even though he’s SML! I did feel pity for him towards the beginning due to his past and how Xufeng’s mother treated him. But he got really bad towards middle and end. I wished he gave more thoughts to the girl that liked him and since he didn’t like her back, he should have understand how Jinmi felt, being pressured and forced into a relationship. He mentioned that Jinmi was his only light, but that was probably the same for the girl that was in love with him. It was suffocating seeing Xufeng and Jinmi love each other, the other girl probably felt the same pain. I guess I glad that this SML can be flawed as well and not may people shipped him with Jinmi because he’s too “selfish” and branded himself doing righteous actions because he was once a victim, too.
Autumn’s Concerto: And then we have mild SFL like Yiqian here. She didn’t do anything to increase/decrease the tension and instead went along with the flow of FL/ML/her father’s plans. So she’s just mellow, not the fighting, scheming, evil type. It’s been a while, so I forgot if she ended up with a partner or not, but yeah, all I remember was her being really easygoing, but she did like ML.
Cute Programmer: Li Man didn’t stand a chance because obviously, Yicheng already have feelings for Lu Li, he just doesn’t realize it yet. However, he stands up for her secretly. I have a lot of thoughts for the drama and character’s sides/perspectives. But the moment this girl came back, she’s just like “I know you’re not over me. You never will. You will always love me”. “eye roll”. How arrogant, that was my first thought! I did not like her assistant for putting the thought of “stealing” Yicheng back after she had decided to cease fire after discovering the main couple are married. I mean what a bad friend! I would’ve been like, “Girl, there’s still so many fishes in the sea, you deserve someone better!” I think her character could have been better written because she’s still more of the jealousy, annoying, and scheming type. She did add spice to the drama, but that also dragged the drama overall. Yicheng did good though in stopping her advances, but he’s too naive for some of her schemes/tricks.
Delicious Destiny: No, no! SFL was a no! On this one, she’s just an arrogant person and had so many scenes that I had to skip literally all. I think DD just isn’t for me, but I did enjoy ML’s sister’s story with FL’s half-brother’s story. At least their story made the drama a bit better. ML’s sister was also Li Man from Cute Programmer, which I watched first. See? I told you I do forgiveness. Actually, it was also a reason why I watched this, it was to see her in a different character, and also a good role as well because she was getting on my nerves in CP! Anyway, I wished SFL gave up earlier and turned good and walked the right path. She had a lot of screen time, but it was wasted with nonsense things. She could’ve been a better written SFL. But again, I skimmed this one, so I’m not super certain lol.
Eternal Love: Ten Miles Peach Blossom & Eternal Love of Dream: More on “ELoD” because it’s more refresh in my mind. Literally no other females can compete with FL! They all weren’t good enough apparently! Although I thought Dong Hua and Miao Luo could’ve had some kind of story in the past because every time, she just calls out to Dong Hua so I don’t know if she’s obsessed with him? Like the villain in “Ten Miles”, her villainess was also just a bluff. Wish there was some more to her. Unpopular opinion, but I would’ve shipped her with Dong Hua and their story could’ve been a love that ended badly due to being on different sides and having different thoughts. So I saw potential in her character, sorry, but not sorry, Fengjiu! Both the other girls that were in love with Dong Hua in Eternal Love of Dream don’t really have my support though, although I would have to say they should’ve written Ji Heng better. I feel that her character regressed instead of grow, but as I remembered, she still got a happy ending. So I guess it’s all good?
Goodbye, My Princess: I had a lot to say about this drama, but it has been a while, so my feelings are not as strong! Mostly, I am here to complain that I strongly dislike Gu Jian. I know he’s SML, but still I tried so hard to like his character and finally felt okay/made peace with him and then he goes and ruined it for me at the end. I was lost and at a loss during those last episodes of GMP and my brain was just going, “What the hell just happened???”. Honestly, the story had stopped for me at like the scene where Chengyin and Xiaofeng was watching the fireworks happily, before Gu Jian kidnapped Xiaofeng. I know many people hated Li Chengyin, but I like him and the most obvious reason is that he’s the main guy (lol) and his character is complex. I think literally everyone here is selfish, yes, even Xiaofeng! I love her, too, but rethinking about it, everyone loved Xiaofeng because she’s so bubbly and innocent compared to the dark and scheming Li Chengyin who’s hands have been tainted with blood and revenge. One thing is that Xiaofeng’s character is written so that everyone empathizes with her and can easily understand/see her actions because she doesn’t have a hidden agenda, but Chengyin’s character also needs to be empathized and perspectives needs to be changed to his as well. Overall, everyone forgets how much A’Du loves Xiaofeng! I think she’s the least selfish one and the only one who actually cared for Xiaofeng truly. Chengyin and Gu Jian had their own agendas and feel the right to make decisions for her, justifying that it’s because they loved her! Ha! Jokes on them because it’s actually A’Du that loved Xiaofeng the most!
Leh Ratree: Itsara, if they’ve written her as someone who truly loved Sake, then I would’ve pity her more. Even though in the newer one, I remembered she did give Sake a hand? Maybe I’m wrong?
Moon Embracing the Sun: I thought Bokyung and Lee Hwon could’ve made a cute couple. I actually shipped them instead (lol), even though there was literally nothing because he hates her and her clan/father. But he showed her warmth once he realized she’s just as much a puppet as he was.
Mr. Queen: I’m glad Hwa Jin turned a new leaf. With her actions, it’s easy to get annoyed at her for being so easily fooled but she was at a vulnerable state, so she was easily led astray. I think it’s human nature to put blame on something/someone when you’re in a vulnerable position or when you felt wronged! Cheoljong’s actions doesn’t help either, but as we know, what is yours will be yours, what isn’t won’t. But as she realized and said, the place made her into a monster without realizing it until she had caused some damages. Being a shadow to Soyong since young also didn’t help and the “lights” of her life were taken from her at a crucial moment in her. But I’m so proud of her and very glad that the writers let her grow and learn from her mistakes instead of becoming a monster!
Por Yung Lung Mai Wharng: So Toy? Honestly I hated her for manipulating Gamo more than anything! I just dislike people that manipulates children for their own benefits because children are so easily swayed and trusting of the people they’re close to. And that’s why I hated her character, but anyway, I’m sad it turned this way. I was really hoping for Toy-Venice couple! I was already on the ship and then got off once I realized it’s a no because Venice is going with Lukkwad! Still broke my heart because I love bickering couples!
Samee (1999 & 2013): Somehow, I find myself liking the older version more, even though they try to lessen the tension more in 2013, firstly by making Rab already in love with Ying Ai and him being so ever gentle with her. But in both versions, I still felt he did Si wrong. Si really loved and had good intentions for Rab and again, her only sin is that she’s not the main girl, so she doesn’t get his love back. At the same time, I felt that older version Rab is a bit more gently with Si because he started to fall in love with Ying Ai after awhile while new version was already in love with Ying Ai. It’s wrong that they covered up her crime and disregarded Si’s feelings. She was wrong to get pregnant and hid it from Rab, but still I believe the treatment of her was cruel; thus she turned evil. I felt that she could have grown and gotten stronger here and not just become annoying instead as they made her.
The Princess Weiyoung: Li Changru was ruthless, but also very foolish at the same time! She could’ve used her talents for something and helped Weiyoung, but she kept using it against her, this silly girl! Anyway, she was a good opponent to Weiyoung, but never good enough in then eyes of Tuoba Yu. I wished she had turned against him instead. I don’t know why she adores him so much. 🙁 Weiyoung and Changru could’ve ruled the kingdom together!
Untouchable Lovers: Where do I begin? I love the main girl here because everyone basically is always conspiring, yet she keeps on trying to be honest and changing the course of things for the better. Despite being trained as an assassin, she’s very soft-hearted! I also love Bai Lu’s role in here. She’s sassy, arrogant, and brave! I thought the fight between them at the near end of the series for the ML was a bit unnecessary. I thought Bai Lu was going to go with her other guy, but apparently not because she was trying to fight for the ML’s affections again. But I’m glad that she was fair!
The Emperor: Owner of the Mask: Kim Hwa Geun: There’s no argument that her character and story was probably better written and more interesting than the female lead. But I think she also gets hate for that as well because she’s NOT the main female lead! She technically wasn’t evil except she did contribute to FL’s father’s death because of her wanting to get with ML. Overall though, she went through many things to help ML such as going against her grandpa and betraying her clan. Overall, a good opponent to FL!
An Oriental Odyssey: In “An Oriental Odyssey”, I did not like SFL at the beginning because she was just too “evil” for me. She was always going against the main leads, but then later on, she fell in love with SML and forced him to marry her knowing full well he and the FL are in love. In this series, I just felt bad for ML honestly because he liked the FL a lot but she’s more interested in SML. But luckily, SFL kept SML in check! 😉
This is all I have for now!
I didn’t write too much lakorns because we know most of them are the scream-y types that are after the ML whether they may be the new girlfriend, old girlfriend, old wife, etc. But I mean, Buang Wimala sounds good because it seems the ex-wife will be having a bigger role, so hopefully not just the scream-y type, but someone who does more.
On the other hand, SFL that I think have been written well are few, but some do exist. But oh well, sometimes, we need silly or villainous SFL as well to keep the show going. Not everyone can turn good towards the end. Some will remain true to their roots and refuse to change. So I guess, overall, it’s good to show a variety of SFL!
I think that it will be interesting to write stronger SFL in the future. The FL needs competition (maybe this was actually the main topic, after re-reading my post and coming to this realization lol)! And I know some may think, why put effort into second leads when you know main leads are going to end up together anyways? But don’t side characters and second main leads add more spice to the drama? Well, sometimes! But if we’re to write strong SML, we need SFL as well! The world is not black and white. Honestly, their only sin was going after the male lead and for not being the female lead.
I know this is biased, but just because I like a SFL doesn’t always mean it’s because I ship her with the ML. Sometimes I do, sometimes, I don’t. Kind of wrote this article because I’m fed up with main girl getting chased by all the guys in the show all the freaken times and ML always have to work hard to win her love (I dunno, maybe I’m jelly or feel it’s unrealistic??). FL needs to work hard and compete for ML’s love as well. That’s life!
**Unrelated, but I have to thank “Flower of Evil”, “Dr. Qin: Silent Evidence”, and “Goblin” for not having second lead couple that were romantically involved with main leads! So, thanks! <3 It shows that not all shows needs SML/SFL that are romantically involved with ML/FL. But if there are, some needs to be better written!
Also, after re-reading this long post, I’ve realized that there were many times I went off topic, but oh well, I’mma just keep all these thoughts and share it out loud!
Please let me know if there’s any other strong SFL in other dramas! I have not watch all dramas, so this is just based on my own thoughts.
After all these thoughts, I’m still not happy with overall post, but I’ve learned that nothing is perfect, so if I just keep beating and holding myself back because it’s “never good enough”, then I’m never going to accomplish anything!
Disclaimer: These are my own individual thoughts. You’re entitled to your own thoughts and so am I. So lets just have a nice chat on our different opinions/thoughts rather than fight over who’s right and wrong! At the end of the day, be respectful and kind to each other. 🙂