Heartbreak with tongue in cheek in ‘The Accidental Influencer’

Heartbreak with tongue firmly in cheek in ‘The Accidental Influencer’

By: - Entertainment Editor
/ 12:15 AM February 23, 2024

Ke-Fang Sun (left) and Shu-Yao Kuo in "The Accidental Influencer"

Ke-Fang Sun (left) and Shu-Yao Kuo —PHOTO COURTESY OF HBO GO

Comedy is a tricky thing. But the HBO Asia Originals series “The Accidental Influencer” puts the genre’s angst-leavening ability to good use by mining the hard lessons learned from a person’s direst and most challenging situation—like heartbreak—without a heavy hand.

In the 13-part comedy, which began streaming with a three-episode rollout on HBO Go last Feb. 10, HBO Asia, Each Other Films and director Pei-Ju Hsieh cleverly utilize the acting chops of its enthusiastic Golden Horse Award- and Golden Bell-winning cast to examine protagonist Red Ho’s (Golden Horse Award winner Shu-Yao Kuo of “Step Back to Glory” and “Teenage Psychic”) romantic sorrows.


Red, an accountant-turned-marketing assistant at the Hua Xuan Food Company in Taiwan, thought her plans of getting the ideal life she’s always wanted were right on track when, after five years of house-hunting, she finally takes a massive home loan in preparation for a life of wedded bliss with hunky boyfriend Chihming Chou (Golden Horse winner Ray Chang of “Eternal Summer”).


But the “happily ever after” Red seeks soon vanishes into thin air when Chihming refuses the spare key to her brand-new apartment and breaks up with her … on her 30th birthday!

Yi-Ti Yao (left) and Wei-Chung Wang in "The Accidental Influencer"

Yi-Ti Yao (left) and Wei-Chung Wang—PHOTO COURTESY OF HBO GO

Upended plans

Things go from bad to worse when, as Episode 5 reveals in cruel fashion, Red discovers who Chihming left her for—her boss’ fashionable but ditzy daughter JC Yu (Yi-Ti Yao), who just happens to be Red’s new supervisor. Ouch.

Not even her quirky, well-meaning friends—Vivian Lee (Aviis Zhong), Clara Wang (Ke-Fang Sun), Shucheng Liang (Ken Lin) and her brother Wilson (Huai-Yun Zhan)—can stop Red from spiraling out of control. In fact, to “restart” her upended plans, Red decides to quit her stable job and unwittingly ends up becoming an accidental influencer.

Will Red get her Prince Charming back, or will she find another partner to happily ride with her into the sunset? “The Accidental Influencer” is a breath of fresh air in the age of streaming, tackling intimate themes in a light, bright and spiffy manner, with tongue firmly in cheek, and played out in breezy 30-minute episodes.

Kuo (left) with Aviis Zhong and Ke-Fang Sun in "The Accidental Influencer"

Kuo (left) with Aviis Zhong and Ke-Fang Sun—PHOTO COURTESY OF HBO GO



The production’s quirky humor and sight gags don’t always hit their mark because of their “localized” appeal and comedic timing—it’s like “selling” Vice Ganda jokes to a non-Pinoy audience unfamiliar with the context they’re delivered. Just the same, it’s the universality of one of the show’s central themes—how people react when they get their hearts broken—that makes Red’s dilemma relatable.

It’s this winking, featherlight approach to storytelling that makes “The Accidental Influencer” more accessible to younger viewers who could also be dealing with the downside of adulting and related coming-of-age issues.

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TAGS: series

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