Nothing But Thirty: Chinese Drama Review – Episodes 1 – 20

Nothing But Thirty is a 2020 female-centred Chinese drama that stars Maggie Jiang, Tong Yao and Rachel Mao as leads.img_0851Synopsis: This drama follows three vastly different women as they experience a turbulent start to their thirties.

Gu Jia is a full-time housewife with strong abilities. She manages her small family and husband’s company in an orderly manner. However, it is this excessive pursuit of perfection that makes people around her feel stressed. At the same time, her happy marital life gets disrupted by a third party.

Wang Man Ni is a rebel, convinced that she has both the face and brain that deserves the best in life. However, she also has her own troubles.

Zhong Xiao Qin lives a carefree and standard life. Her husband is committed to his work as a public servant, and she keeps an ordinary job herself. However, due to her husband’s relatively indifferent personality, communication problems arise. (Source – MyDramaList)

Expectations: I saw the trailer on YouTube earlier this year. I loved the premise, so I decided to give it a go. Plus, the female-centred plot is always something I enjoy.

(warning – spoilers ahead)

Review:

The first episode for this drama was definitely well thought out. I loved how they presented each lady by showing us a glimpse of their daily life and family dynamics. Another thing I enjoyed was the intro. It’s classy, elegant and free of spoilers. The moment I heard the soundtrack, I knew this drama was going to serve. I appreciate that Chinese shows are switching towards creative and artistic intros that don’t completely give away the plot. Nothing But Thirty has one of the most beautiful intros I have seen a while – 

Basically, this drama focuses on the struggles of adulthood. The decisions you have to make and the lesson you adapt after every mistake. It’s an excellent slice of life series that shows how women hitting their thirties battle with society’s standard versus their own personal beliefs. It also shows how these three ladies gradually learn about who they are and grow into better individuals. They have to face their weaknesses, fears and insecurities in regards to their families and career.

I think the story progression and pacing so far is excellent. Every actor is doing an incredible job of bringing their characters to life. Their interactions are very natural, and the cinematography is breathtaking. I can tell they put good money, time and effort into the production phase. I enjoyed watching how the writers brought Gu Jia, Zhong Xiao Qin and Wang Man Ni together. Gu Jia and  Xiao Qin were already friends, so I loved how the connection slowly formed with Man Ni until all three eventually met. To further breakdown my thoughts on episodes one to twenty, let’s take a look at each lady’s story arc.

Character Analysis: 

Maggie Jiang, as Wang Man Ni img_1629_originalMan Ni, has lived and worked in Shanghai for eight years. She is an ambitious lady with high standards. I love her go-getter personality and how she stands up for herself at work, but I also feel she gets too money-hungry sometimes. Take, for example, the older lady that came in to buy the costly jewelry in episode three. Of course, I didn’t want Man Ni to lose her opportunity at such a huge sale, but I was expecting her to at least say a few words of comfort to the lady. I could tell that she struggled to shut down her conscience and make the sale, hence why there will be a lot of growth for this character. Concerning her boyfriend, Liang Zheng Xian,

I find him very sketchy. He’s either married or keeping different women in every city he visits. My trust level degraded further after he talked about not labelling their relationship. Also, Man Ni’s intuition tells her that there’s something wrong, and she’s also settling for his ideals. I know she isn’t staying for the money because she keeps her standard on what to collect from Zheng Xian. I just fear she’ll be heartbroken in the end because she really loves him.

Tong Yao, as Gu Jiaimg_1630_originalGu Jia, strikes me as the strongest of the group due to her brilliance and resourcefulness. A bit too ambitious and rarely content with her family’s financial standing, but Gu Jia strives to provide stability for them out of fear. She has a feisty personality. Even when pleasing others to garner favours, Gu Jia never lets anyone look down on her. As a lady of high moral conduct, she’s able to make changes once she realizes her mistakes. I hope that Gu Jia gradually develops into a more content character.

Regarding her husband, I sincerely admire her chemistry with him, hence why I dread the infidelity aspect of their story. He has undoubtedly bottled up a lot due to how Gu Jia runs their household, but that should be communicated instead of going out to cheat. My favourite scene of Gu Jia is when she beats up those moms that bullied Zi Yan –

Rachel Mao, as Zhong Xiao Qin img_1631_originalShe is the weakest link among the three ladies, so I am intrigued to see her growth. Xiao Qin is a pushover and can’t seem to make crucial decisions on her own. Her husband does not help matters because he is a bit controlling and looks down on her intelligence.

Yes, Xiao Qin needs to become more mature, but Chen Yu is also a frustrating character. The major problem with this couple is communication. Chen Yu has personal traumas that lead to insecurities and emotional detachments issues. If he discussed things with Xiao Qin, she would be more understanding of his intentions. I was so baffled when he suggested they abort the child, knowing deep down that Xiao Qin wanted to keep the baby. It is not as if she intentionally tried to get pregnant. To make matters worse instead of comforting her when she lost the baby, he immediately goes off about arranging the uterus cleaning surgery. Of course, the operation is essential, but your wife is sad. Why can’t you be emotionally present first and then bring in logic once she settles down?

This is why when people ask me what my plans are for marriage, I tell them I am not mentally prepared. It’s not a child’s play because these two are not ready. They love each other, but there’s too much baggage that has to be dismantled individually before forming a union.


Overall, Nothing But Thirty exceeds my expectations. I love seeing female empowerment and support. Although one thing I’m yet to understand is the purpose of that family at the end of each episode. I noticed that they are always happy and content, regardless of how little they have. So are they a creative way of showing that simplicity and hard work can be rewarding? I’m not too worried about them. As the story progresses, I will gradually realize why that family was included.

Now that I have discussed everything about the story, I have to give credit to the music director of this series. Every single soundtrack and background score is astounding and perfectly fitted for each scene. I adore the comforting and chill vibe of the OSTs. I know the hardcore emotional scenes are going to be tough to watch without tearing up because I can already picture the type of songs they’re going to use. Luckily for me, I was able to find the full soundtrack album on Spotify after much search –

Before I conclude, here is another favourite scene of mine. I titled it ‘A Mother’s Love’ because it accurately describes what becoming a mother means for most women and how much they give up to for their families.


That’s all I have for this post. I know it’s a bit lengthy, but I had to get all my opinions on this beautiful series out of my system.

All episodes of this drama are available on Viki with this link 👉🏼 Nothing But Thirty with English subs.

For those who have started this series, what are your thoughts on the story?

One thought on “Nothing But Thirty: Chinese Drama Review – Episodes 1 – 20

  1. Pingback: Nothing But Thirty: Final Review – Episode 21 – 43 – Drama Snacked

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