As a travelholic, it’s been quite challenging for me during this period of staying home and not going out anywhere, but the silver lining was that I discovered the best healing show for this period.
Back to Field is a Chinese variety show that allows us to enjoy rural country life with a core cast of celebrities living on a farm for an extended period of time, and hosting new celebrity guests each day to help with the work.
There are four seasons already from 2017 to 2020, and I believe new seasons will come in the future. They filmed in a different place for each season, introducing us to different cultures and activities, and each season usually lasts for 12 to 14 episodes. There have been some cast changes throughout the four seasons, but the core part remains the same and maintains the family dynamics.
First, let me introduce the main cast.
Huang Lei (S1 to Present): Huang Lei is a 49-year old well-known and respectable veteran actor, writer and director. I didn’t know much about Huang Lei before watching this show, apart from having heard of his name. While watching the show, I found that he has lots of connections in the entertainment industry and is well-respected by seniors and juniors alike. Due to that image and seniority, he appears as a head of household figure in this family.
He Jiong (S1 to Present): He Jiong is the most beloved MC and host in the Chinese entertainment industry. If you are like me and more or less familiar with the Chinese entertainment industry, you will definitely know him as well. He is very well-known for being kind and friendly to the juniors and during this show as well, he acts as an easygoing uncle figure in the family, in my opinion. He could be seen making the guests comfortable and creating and maintaining a good atmosphere.
Henry Lau (S1 to S2): He is a 29-year old Canadian-Chinese singer-songwriter who is also well-known as an ex-Super Junior member for K-pop fans. He joined the first season and the second season but couldn’t join the later seasons because of his busy schedules. He is hilarious and provides comedic relief with his not - so - standard Mandarin, sometimes making the guests confused. At the same time, he entertains the guests and us with his musical talents in playing instruments. He is an older brother figure in the family.
Peng Yu Chang (S2 to Present): Peng Yu Chang is a 25-year old young actor, who starred mainly in films and is recognized for his acting talent. In my opinion, he is a very genuine celebrity who doesn’t care so much about his image and is one of my favorites in the show. During the show, he is often seen acting really crazy and funny, but at the same time, he is really hard-working and reliable. He was a younger brother figure in the family in S2 when Henry was still there, but later in S3 and S4, he became an older brother figure to Zhang Zifeng, the newest member of the family.
Zhang Zi Feng (S3 to Present): Zhang Zifeng is the youngest in the family - a 19-year old young actress, who came from a child actress background and has a lot of acting experience. She is also considered as one of the best young actors in the industry. She is a bit quiet, and she gives out a more sensible younger sister vibe, as compared to the two older brothers.
So here comes the main part of this article: Why should you watch this show?
I am sure there are similar shows like this, but the three reasons that make this show unique are:
1. Main Cast's dynamics
I really like the family dynamics and roles they have created for each cast - Huang Lei as a parental figure, He Jiong as a more easygoing figure, Henry and Peng Peng as brothers, Zi Feng as the youngest sister. As the show is usually filmed in the spring season, the casts even said it's like they returned to their homes during the spring break. It’s enjoyable and endearing to watch their interactions, especially when you know their past acquaintances with each other. Huang Lei and He Jiong have known each other since their debut times in the 1990s. Huang Lei and Zi Feng have acted as father-daughter in a drama called A Love for Separation, and Peng Peng and Zifeng have acted as siblings in a movie called Go Brother! So, their interactions seem more sincere. He Jiong and Henry are also well-casted. They both have very outgoing and easygoing nature and could really create a good atmosphere, especially with the guests who are less familiar with the main cast.
Huang Lei and He Jiong teasing Peng Peng
The Bickering Siblings
2. The Amazing Guests
So, about the guests - in my opinion, this show has amazing guest appearances, even those who wouldn’t usually appear in variety shows can be seen here, mainly due to Huang Lei’s and He Jiong’s good connections. The show has both veteran actors/directors and upcoming actors and celebrities appearing as guests. Some of the well-known older guests are Zhou Xun, Janine Chang, Li Bing Bing, Huang Xiao Ming and younger guests include Shen Yue, Chen Fei Yu, Lu Han, Kris Wu, Tan Song Yun, Timmy Xu and Darren Wang. As the guests spend the night, you will also get to know them better and discover their past history with the main cast or with each other, through their conversations. It was amusing to discover some long-standing relationships among them.
Some of the guest photos here in no particular order:
Season 4 Ep 4 with Huang Xiao Ming
3. The Healing Nature of the Show
As the main concept of this show is all about experiencing rural life and rural activities, you will also get to watch the main cast and the guests doing some real hard work, for example, farming, fishing, picking vegetables and fruits and Huang Lei Laoshi spending in the kitchen all the time and cooking. It’s really healing to watch them taking a break from the city and enjoying the rural life even though you yourself might not be able to. It’s also fun and interesting to watch how different types of casts adapt to this rural life.
Finally, some tips:
Season 4 is currently is the best season, in my opinion. To be honest, I started watching from Season 4 and backwards. I think it was a good idea because the main cast’s dynamics were already good and the season had some great guests. Also, they featured the impact the pandemic had on the local community where they were filming, so it was more interesting and relatable to watch.