After Like the Moon aired, Gu Wei's popularity soared. He received glowing praise for all aspects of his performance. Even the veteran actors on the drama posted to Weibo, complimenting him on his acting skills and his dedication to the craft.
The netizens who followed the show all began to express their approval as well.
[Gu Wei's acting is very clever, and so full of life. I feel like he can be molded into a great talent.]
[Didi, will you consider becoming an actor? You gave such a natural performance.]
[I genuinely cried at the part where he took a beating. My heart broke for him, wahhhhhhh.]
[As a book fan, I'm extremely satisfied. When I read the book, Miao Zihan held a special place in my heart. I thought no actor would ever be able to capture him, but Gu Wei has done it.]
After the show began to air, the directorial team started to release behind-the-scenes highlights. These highlights showed the filming process, and one clip included footage of Gu Wei's numerous attempts to perfect the stunt of leaping over the balcony.
That clip showed Gu Wei vaulting over the balcony over and over again, adjusting his expression and the angle of his fall each time. When the director finally decided a take was good enough, Gu Wei stayed on the landing mats for a long moment. He slowly lifted his head and tried to get up, wobbling to his feet. He had fallen so deeply into the role that his eyes were noticeably red.
The clip ended with the version of the scene that ultimately made it into the drama for broadcast. A caption had been added in post-production. It said—
Your efforts, your perseverance. We saw it all.
Many fans of the series were moved by this clip.
[I was just thinking that this move looked too hard. I thought they used a stunt double…]
[So it's really not a stunt double? This is really too intense. Gu Wei is so dedicated.]
[Here, I already feel like he's become Miao Zihan. That expression… it's all about the eyes. And Gu Wei's eyes conveyed everything. They weren't dull or lifeless at all. When I watched this part, I cried.]
[I! I! I! I know something about this! I have a relative who's an actor, and they said even when there are mats, it hurts a lot to fall like that. You'll definitely get bruises on your legs. If it weren't for this highlight, I never would have known how hard Gu Wei worked to perfect this scene.]
[Compared to a certain lead actor who forgot his lines and had to dub them in later, Gu Wei is just so, so, so much better. Gu Wei and Xuan Huitong are completely carrying this show with their looks, their popularity, and their acting skills.]
[I've become Gu Wei's fan. I hope I can see more of his works in the future.]
[+1, also a fan now. Didi, take some more endorsements. I'll buy anything you endorse.]
Meanwhile, some big verified account on Weibo dug into Gu Wei's personal life and drew some comparisons between his life and Miao Zihan's.
Miao Zihan's personal life vs Gu Wei's personal life. Take note of the similarities.
The long article pointed out that Miao Zihan and Gu Wei both had parents who'd divorced when they were young, and they'd both lived alone with their mother for a while. The article even included a photo of Gu Wei that focused on Gu Wei's reddened eyes after he'd gotten too deeply in character during a scene.
That was when netizens suddenly remembered what Gu Wei said during his interview. About growth, about bearing some resemblances to Miao Zihan, and about meeting someone important.
As the little hedgehogs followed the drama, they felt another wave of sorrow for Gu Wei.
@Little Hedgehog's Sunny Doll: I get the feeling Gu Wei is drawing on his own experiences to act out this role. I'm legit crying.
@Very Little Hedgehog: My heart hurts. In the future, no one is allowed to bully him. Ever again.
During this time, Like the Moon was the single hottest topic among netizens and media outlets. The week after the drama started to air, Gu Wei received a call from his manager.
"Have you looked at the scripts from the drama offers I sent you?" she asked.
"I did, but…" Gu Wei hadn't been interested in any of the plots.
"I'd figured you weren't interested. The agency has come to a decision. We'll only be accepting promising, high-quality projects for you from now on. You won't be 'internet-famous' for long. We'll seize this opportunity to transform your brand," Manager Zhao said. "So I plan on taking a xianxia movie for you. Although you won't be the main character, it's rare to come by an opportunity to appear on the silver screen.
"You'll become more well-known, and the director and cast are all extremely impressive. The script is already in your mailbox. Right now, the movie is scheduled to start filming in May."
"Okay," Gu Wei said. "I'll find some time before our concert to look through the script."
"There are also a few cosmetics companies that want you as their spokesperson," Manager Zhao added. "The agency plans on picking out the best opportunities for you."
And just like that, Gu Wei's popularity continued to soar. Now that he had acted in a proper drama, netizens began to believe in his talent. His agency started devising a plan to help him transform his brand. They didn't accept any more variety shows for him after the New Year's break; they focused solely on elite TV dramas and movies.
At the same time, T.ATW began to prepare for their concert tour.
Netizens who followed Like the Moon had been eagerly anticipating the 'nice surprise' the show had in store for them since the day the first episode aired. Finally, when the fifteenth episode was released, Weibo went wild.
[AHHHHHHHH, it's finally here! I don't usually follow esports, but I totally get Jiang Xun's appeal now.]
[Don't even try to stop me, I'm about to ship that 'FoodForXunWei' thing. Fuck, I finally know why my little sister goes crazy over this ship.]
[It's too real. This drama is just too real! Jiang Xun currently represents the peak of esports in this country. If they got Jiang Xun for this show, then the esports elements are definitely going to be good.]
[That's not to mention the relationship between Jiang Xun and the supporting male actor. I bet the director is just sitting at home right now, laughing and counting cash.]
[Wait! Why did they only shoot his profile? I want to see his face! His whole face! Ahhhhhh!]
[I have new footage for my edits now. Holding hands to teach him how to play a game… I can't take it, this is too much for me!]
[We can see his whole face now. Holy shit, this is too sweet. What kind of drama am I watching here???]
[I can't believe how well the crew kept this under wraps. No one knew there was going to be a special guest.]
[Okay, I have to say something. We shippers have done our best to stay really, really, really low-profile. But we never imagined that, months before we grew into a big ship, they'd already prepared this nice surprise for us.]
[They're too good to us. I love them so, so much.]
[+1, I'm really too lucky to ship FFXW this year and last year.]
[I just rewatched Gu Wei's interview to listen to his answer again, and… did you guys not notice the ring on Gu Wei's finger? Holy shit, we were all deaf and blind when we first watched this interview!]
Soon after the 'surprise' was aired, edits of the scenes Gu Wei and Jiang Xun shared in Like the Moon were put together and spread around Weibo. Many of those edits also included footage from the variety shows they'd appeared in together, and their shippers well and truly gave up on keeping a low profile.
Like the Moon had a great script and excellent actors that could make up for the flaws of a certain actor who'd failed to perform. It was marketed heavily and promoted by many celebrities, so it was only natural that Like the Moon soon became the top drama of the season.
Meanwhile, Jiang Enyuan's period drama fell to seventh place. The ratings were bad, and the viewership numbers were worse. It became a complete and utter joke for tabloids to mock.
"What's wrong with your fans?" Jiang Enyuan's manager demanded. They'd stepped offstage and retreated into a hallway after a promotional event for the drama. The manager's face was contorted into an ugly mask. "Aren't they all very fierce when they chase Gu Wei around, attacking him? Where are they now?
"You need to get them commenting on the show, you need to get them talking. If things stay like this, who's ever going to cast you in their drama again? Do you even know that 'From Whence You Came' is taking a loss now?"
"How was I supposed to know his side would promote him so heavily?" Jiang Enyuan snapped. "He's even got the esports industry on his side."
"If you're looking for someone to blame, you can only blame your fans for failing you," his manager snapped right back. "His fans are sending him up the charts and helping him top the charts. Your fans can only creep out once in a while and spew some salt."
Gu Wei's popularity was growing much faster than they ever could have anticipated. He had his fans boosting his ranking, and he had various celebrities talking him up. Even his nemesis Jiang Ying had reluctantly given a like to the trailer of Like the Moon.
"A new celebrity popularity poll is going up soon. Your rank in this poll will be extremely important. It'll determine whether the agency spends any more of its resources on you in the future," Jiang Enyuan's manager said. "The agency will help you get your numbers up, but you're the only one who knows if you have any other scandals waiting to emerge. If there's anything, take care of it."
"It should be fine," Jiang Enyuan said. "This poll accounts for all the stats and rankings from the past season. I did fine earlier in the season. Gu Wei only started leeching fame off his TV drama and Jiang Xun recently. It's impossible for him to pass me in the rankings. Besides his dancing, what does he have? His singing is average, his acting is average."
Jiang Enyuan's manager furrowed his brows. "Are you sure?"
"I'm sure." Jiang Enyuan glanced around, then lowered his voice and whispered, "As long as my ranking doesn't drop in this poll, the agency will keep supporting me."
One day later, a nameless alt account posted a short audio clip to Weibo. That clip sent huge waves of controversy through the platform.
"Gu Wei only started leeching fame off his TV drama and Jiang Xun recently."
"Besides his dancing, what does he have? His singing is average, his acting is average."
"It's impossible for him to pass me in the rankings."
"Gu Wei will only ever be popular because of his scandals."
The audio hadn't been edited in any way. It was easy to identify the speaker.
The rankings for the season were due to be finalized in a week. Currently, Fu Zhi and Luo Chenxuan were ranked first and second respectively. Jiang Enyuan was in fifth. Jiang Ying was in seventh, and Gu Wei was in eighth. Each fan base was fighting valiantly to boost their idol's rank in the final moments of the season.
That audio clip spread through Weibo in the blink of an eye. In just one day, the little hedgehogs and Jiang Enyuan's fans had already feuded countless times.
The words spoken in that audio clip were just too vile. This time, Jiang Enyuan had truly angered the masses.
T.ATW's WeChat group—
[stone]: Finally, the long-awaited day of reckoning is here. JEY has shot himself in the foot.
[Fu Zhi]: I have some insider information. A certain agency has decided not to protect him anymore if he loses too much popularity this time.
[Yunkai Sees Mooncakes]: Nobody stop me this time. I'm gonna beat his ass.
[Fu Zhi]: We won't stop you. Beat away. Like our manager said, anything the little losers club does now will just be free publicity for our tour in April.
[The Sun At Dawn]: Let's do it. Let's take this band higher.
[Yunkai Sees Mooncakes]: Go, go, little losers club!
[Fu Zhi]: We'll give him a taste of our poison.
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: CuteBlush.jpg
The little hedgehogs' supertopic—
@FFXW's Arare: I won't say much. We all know what needs to be done. Get Weiwei's ranking up.
@Little Hedgehog Grow Up Fast: I'm still pretty new here. Can I get some advice on how to make the most of this last week of the season?
@Has Jiang Enyuan Apologized Yet: This may be my ID, but I don't even expect Jiang Enyuan to apologize anymore. I'm just waiting for him to become a washout.
@Has Jiang Enyuan Become Irrelevant Yet: It's still me. Changed my name.
@Little Hedgehog's Sunny Doll: A certain someone is really that full of himself, huh? We can't beat you in the rankings? Fine. Sisters, it's the final week. Charge! Get Weiwei's rank up, now!
The 'FoodForXunWei' group—
@KikiandChuchu: We may be shippers, but we can be fierce when it comes to popularity battles too.
@Sesame Crisp: Exactly. Who dares look down on us?
And at TMW's club—
"What are you fuming about?" Jiang Xun asked. He'd just caught a certain rookie slacking off during training hours.
"Boss, listen to this," Yi Qing seethed, playing the audio clip for him.
"I see," Jiang Xun said once the clip finished playing. "Then let's show him some real popularity."