China’s hottest tv drama

I’ve never really watched much Chinese tv because, apart from some internet comedy series, I never found anything that could keep my attention for more than 5 minutes. Singing contests? Please. Reality shows with celebrities I’ve never heard of? No thank you. Dramas with a thousand episodes, ridiculous plots and dialogues and the worst actors I’ve ever seen? Pass. Dramas about the Sino-Japanese war and the Communist liberation? Kill me, please. And that was mostly what I could find when I turned on the tv.

Until… a few weeks ago. Some friends came home for dinner and, while the men were cooking, my friend showed me some new dynasty drama that had just been released: The Story of Yanxi Palace. There have been many dynasty dramas in Chinese television before, but for some reason this one has been a huge success: according to this article, 530 million people (that’s almost half of China’s population!!) watched it on August 12, and the series has had a total of 5.6 billion views in a month!!


As you can guess, some of those views came from our house!


The Story of Yanxi Palace (延禧攻略) is set in the Qing Dynasty, during the reign of emperor Qianlong (1735-1796). Wei Yingluo is a very clever girl who starts working in the Forbidden City (a.k.a. Imperial Palace) as a seamstress, but her real goal is to investigate the mysterious death of her sister, who used to work in the palace too. She is later promoted to be the empress’ maid and she finds herself in the middle of the plots and schemes of the emperor’s concubines, who really are a nasty piece of work. So how is this palace drama different to the previous zillion ones? I’m not very sure as I never managed to watch one! Maybe this one is slightly better written, characters have more depth and the actors have more than one facial expression. Also, the costumes, sets and photography are quite good. Or maybe I am just bored out of my wits waiting for this baby and I would have watched anything!

One of the evil concubines… she’s the queen of eye rolling and fake sweet voice, haha.


If you are interested in watching, I just found out it’s in Youtube! Only with Chinese subtitles, though. Language is a bit complicated sometimes as my imperial Chinese is the worst, but I learned a lot of expressions. My favourite is that, when talking about themselves, the empress and concubines don’t say “I”, but 本宫, which literally means “this palace”. Each one of them lived and was the head of a palace inside the Forbidden City, but what a strange way of referring to oneself!


Have you ever watched a Chinese tv drama?