Jump to content
  • Sign Up

First episode 91 - 后宫甄嬛传


Recommended Posts

A part of the Grand First Episode Project -- See this thread for more info.

Language Difficulty: Advanced

Youtube: http://www.youtube.c...h?v=URd_inGbZL8

This TV series is about the Yongzheng Emperor's harem (is there a more politically correct term for that?). Despite the fact that it was very strongly recommended by a friend, I had just finished watching 雍正王朝; although I enjoyed it, I initially thought that the last thing I wanted to do was watch another TV series about the same emperor.

However, I had a look at the first couple of episodes and got hooked in by the intense political infighting between the concubines as they attempt to gain the attention of the emperor and discredit each other. Seems a bit like the way an all girls school has been described to me, but with murders and female sideburns. It is also interesting to see the way being an imperial concubine is in many ways just another civil service job, there is a set hierarchy of ranks and the concubines scheme for promotions in the same way as any other civil servants, it is just the way they earn the promotions is a bit different. The intimate scenes are particularly interesting in that the concubines, according to protocol, refer to themselves in the third person as "concubine minister" even when they are in bed with the emperor.

I tried watching 步步惊心 earlier this year, which was also about a young girl looking for love in the time of Yongzheng (with the twist that she had travelled back in time from the present day), but 步步惊心 heavily romanticised the story and this was eventually too much for me to take. 后宫甄嬛传 doesn't do this, it makes it clear that if you enter the imperial harem, you had better be not only beautiful but also extremely political sophisticated because as soon as you do, you will be faced by extremely smart and experienced women plotting to have you marginalised and frozen out, if not actually killed. Even for the most successful concubines, they can never hold the emperor's whole heart, and they know that as they get older, there will be fresh batches of young beauties entering the harem. So it is not surprising that the competition is so vicious, subtle, brutal and intricate.

Youtube link to the first episode - http://www.youtube.c...h?v=URd_inGbZL8

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

When I posted this last month, I didn't quite realise how enormously popular this is, everyone seems to be talking about it. I finished it last night and it really is quality television. I think what I like most about it is watching people who hate each other like poison being so elaborately polite.

I said above that this show does not romanticise palace life but once the main storyline emerges it is a bit "Hollywood" (or at least that is what I would say about a Western show, not sure if there is a more appropriate Chinese equivalent?). Still, it is set up with plenty of gritty realism and is overall a great watch. Strongly recommended for anyone with any interest at all in Qing court dramas.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

Apparently there is serious US interest in doing an English language remake of this to compete for mainstream viewers, which would be a big first if they can pull it off.

I would really like to see that succeed, although there are obvious challenges. This is quality television, maybe my favourite Chinese TV series.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've finished it. I would say the quality stays consistent throughout and it ends strongly. I think the way they tie up the ending is actually very clever.

But the purpose of the series is to tell quite a modern sort of love story in a Qing court context. So it starts out pretty realistic but once the love story really gets going (roughly halfway through from memory) maybe a bit more suspension of disbelief starts to be required. I think they carry it off though.

You could always wait for the US version, that is supposed to be only 6 one hour episodes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 months later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...