At The Moment (2023) Season 1 Review – Netflix anthology is well-written but poorly-timed

Season 1

 

 

Episode Guide

Reality Dating Show
The Night In Question
The Color Of You
From Beyond the Stars
The Perfect Dodgeball Game
Something Old
The Promise of Karuizawa
Head of the Family
The Ghost in Your Heart
Based on True Events

At The Moment feels like it’s come 3 years too late. This Taiwanese series on Netflix is an Asian spin on the western romantic anthology Modern Love – and it does a pretty good job of it, all things considered. Unfortunately, the main “gimmick” here includes showcasing the pandemic, and every single episode either features masks, details about COVID-19, or specific rules like lockdowns and social distancing. The problem is, it’s not particularly well handled in the grand scheme of things.

That’s a shame, all things considered, because on its own, At The Moment is a really compelling anthology. There’s some great ideas in here about love, lust and soulmates, along with some very timely themes. On one episode, titled “The Perfect Dodgeball Game”, our protagonist Chai-hao finds himself likening life to a dodgeball game, with the proverbial sucker punch coming from Shao-kuang, whom he takes a liking too.

This episode strikes a perfect balance between being metaphorical and revealing important details about societal expectations surrounding LGBTQ+ relationships. By comparison, the first episode, “Reality Dating Show” takes place inside a house for a show called New Tenants, where feelings are distorted and love is a construct for the small screen.

Nestled in between these stories are all sorts of other interesting takes on romance and heartache, including a cautionary tale about going back to your ex, a hairstylist who falls for a blind woman and a clash of old and new world values.

However, not everything here is done particularly well. Despite some neat ideas, for some reason At The Moment has two episodes centered around reality TV, and the segments involving the pandemic honestly feel crowbarred into this. If this entire premise was just removed completely, this would very easily be a much better anthology.

Having said that, the acting is really good all round, and some of the editing is similarly endearing too. The camerawork boasts some impressive shots, with some sharp edits, and a nice palette of tones bleeding through into the 10 episodes available.

At the same time though, there’s a niggling feeling that this anthology is too long and overstays its welcome. You can tell each episode is designed to be watched over a longer period of time rather than binged, but each feel about 10-15 minutes too long for the story being told. Once the theme becomes obvious and the narrative laid out, we get way too many filler shots before the inevitable dramatic crescendo at the end.

All things considered though, At The Moment is a solid and enjoyable Taiwanese anthology series. There’s some solid stories in here, and similarly others that don’t quite hit their mark. It’s certainly worth a watch, even with the pandemic “gimmick” but there’s no doubting this could have been so much more. 


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28 thoughts on “At The Moment (2023) Season 1 Review – Netflix anthology is well-written but poorly-timed”

  1. I liked this much better than Modern Love, in terms of the episodes I liked the most at the very least.

  2. Overall, I didn’t find the episodes too long, each of them is like a self container mini movie, so they needed to have enough time to develop the story without the ability to use the whole series (since this is an anthology).

  3. Gotta say, I am looking forward to seeing more Taiwanese series after delighting in this drama

  4. I have to say, I do like this kind of realistic Taiwanese drama much more than the “tamer” and more chaste KDramas.

  5. I did like the pandemic theme episodes… interesting to see how that affected our lives at the time

  6. Imho this was really interesting drama. Taiwanese dramas seems to me more racy/realistic than KDramas.

  7. I liked FL was the one to kiss him first. In general, I think her reaction (breakdown in the bathroom) was more believable than ML’s reaction, though he seemed to be more inclined to separate.

  8. I loved ep7, kind of reminded me of In The Mood For Love, but with the protagonists actually getting physical and with a happy ending.

  9. It was a very good drama, though some moments where more realistic than others (in general, much more realistic than many with this premise, thought). The way FL and her spouse separated was much more believable than ML’s and his (though some of her hesitation before hand, was rather hard to believe. As a general statement I don’t like the “blame the spouse’s lover and not the spouse” just like I don’t like the “blame only the spouse and not the lover”, given they are both implicated. I find the notion the men should be held more responsible appalling, as the notion that the spouse should be blamed for their partner cheating with a married person by said married person’s partner. Though, after the first moment of blame this, blame that, the two cheated spouses acknowledged they were both victims. I do think that there is no comparison, let alone equivalence, between them getting betrayed and them choosing to see each other and get together: they were completely right in doing that, they didn’t owe it to their partner to abide by an agreement their partner had broken. FL was much more correct and straightforward in standing up for herself and communicating this. I loved FL holding her spouse accountable (she did much better than ML in that regard).

  10. I think that the ending passage of ep.7 was so perfect, so healing for restoring trust in life and reality, making the point that the gaps and the unknown could contain heartbreak, but also the possibility to find something beautiful, turning the situation around and presenting a positive view of life that restores trust in the future and the possibility to be happy.

  11. I must say that ML’s and FL’s cheating spouses’ lack of guilt lying to their partner’s faces was pretty telling (in fact, I would say that ML’s wife pretty much got scared and apologetic when she understood he would leave her, while FL’s husband made me fear he would resort to physical violence there, for a second).

  12. I think that this episode could have been an entire standalone movie, or even a TV series. Probably my favorite from the series, and also with a hopeful, healing message (i.e. that even in the worst thing that happens to us there might be a new opportunity, in this case of the two victims of the betrayal to find in each other someone better than the partners that deceived them -and, to make matters even worse, not coming clean to them, depriving their spouses from the ability to make an informed decision-). I do think that the two lovers having broken up before their spouses left them was believable, given that the show otherwise would have shown us them together, and I do prefer the idea of them not ending up together, and their ex-spouses beginning new lives in Japan.

  13. > claiming she broke things off (true? Not true? In any case, she didn’t tell him anything, so she would have deprived him of the chance to make an informed decision and treated him as an object she could dispose of as she wished)

    I like to think “true”, in any case the two lovers didn’t seem intent in wanting an “official” relationship beyond the affair, so I think it’s believable. She seemed pretty intent in not letting her husband leave her, which he thankfully did, so my guess is that she didn’t want to, say, have a more serious relationship with and marry her lover (though clearly it had not been a one time thing with the guy, either), and I don’t know how much of a difference saying that she will break the affair off vs saying that they had already broken things off would have changed, so it doesn’t seem that implausible. In any case, I prefer the idea of the two cheaters not being together in the end, so I am going with the drama version. That doesn’t really change the situation as far as her husband being kept in the dark (or her lover’s wife).

  14. Just episode 7 deals with the themes much better and more honestly than basically anything else I have seen besides My Mister.

  15. Episode 7 was worth the whole series. Sure, wished ML and his wife’s confrontation went a bit more like FL and her husband’s, in that the latter called her spouse out on her hogwash (both ML’s and FL’s spouses were pretty shameless, evidently willing to dish it out but not to take it). ML was wrong to apologize, and FL was completely correct not to, because they had begun their relationship after their spouses had betrayed them, therefore they didn’t owe them any loyalty. ML’s wife suddenly went from self entitled “how dare you” -to her credit, it didn’t last much- to acknowledging that she had been the one at fault and claiming she broke things off (true? Not true? In any case, she didn’t tell him anything, so she would have deprived him of the chance to make an informed decision and treated him as an object she could dispose of as she wished), etc. when she discovered he wanted to leave her for real, which I appreciated, while on the other hand, I was a bit worried about FL’s husband’s violent reaction. Abortion was not even mentioned as an option -but since she couldn’t become pregnant easily that was kind of explained-. I liked that the baby was no issue for ML, and actually also liked FL telling her husband it was ML’s (and the show leaving up in the air the question of whether he would be told the truth… quite honestly, aside from whatever consideration regrading legality, etc. might apply, it would be good for FL’s former husband to have no place in her and ML’s future lives, particularly given his self entitled threatening attitude).

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