You may or may not know this but I have been slightly (AKA a lot) obsessed with Chinese costume drama. It started out of boredom with the shows I was watching (which were not a lot) and the need to watch something more visually pleasing and firmly rooted in fantasy. I quickly got hooked. Since then I have watched amazing series with absolutely exquisite settings and costumes, great story lines, well-rounded characters, and as an unexpected side-effect I have even been learning a little Mandarin.
Some of the great ones (not all with happy endings) were “Eternal Love” (also titled Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms) with Yang Mi and Mark Chao (so handsome), Ashes of Love (which made me laugh and cry all at the same time) with Yang Zi and Deng Lun , The Rise of the Phoenix starring the very handsome Chen Kun and Ni Ni, Two Handsome Siblings with Hu Yi Tian and Chen Zhe Yuan (if you want to watch something light but with heart, watch this one), The Princess Weiyoung with Yan Tang and Jin Luo, Legend of Fuyau with the lovely Yang Mi and sizzling hot Ethan Juan, I Will Never Let You Go with Vin Zhang and Ariel Lin (another fun one), and the unforgettable The Untamed with Sean Xiao and Wang Yibo, two pretty boy band young men who proved to be amazing actors.
There were a few who were not as good. The Legend of the White Snake was a little boring and repetitive and had an unsatisfying ending (not bad, just didn’t hit the spot), not to mention too many loose threads. The Legend of Chusen never ended (I’m hoping they will bring more episodes) which was very frustrating. The love story is beautiful and I can’t wait to see how it ends.
The one thing I find annoying in almost all of these is the translation. I’m a linguist so I know how hard it is to translate from any language because you have to take into account not only the meaning of the individual words but also its semantic and/or contextual meanings. The one I just finished watching, The Legend of the Phoenix with the extremely handsome Jeremy Jones and He Hongshan was a great story with kickass women who did not allow their traditional social roles to get in the way of becoming legends in their own right. But there were so many plot holes. Or at least that’s what it felt like; knowing how important language is for the comprehension of a story, I am wondering whether the terrible translation was not what created those holes.
I just started a new one, Destiny of the White Snake with Yang Zi (who is quickly becoming one of my favorite Chinese actresses) and Ren Jialun and I am enjoying the beautiful settings already, not to mention all the mythology behind the story. And Yang Zi is an expert at playing clueless but charming characters. Lots of chemistry between these two from the get go.
As obsessions go this one is pretty harmless and fills my head with ideas, not to mention what it does to soothe my spirit with its beauty. It is a festival for the senses. The images are so vivid that I swear I can smell the peach blossoms or the lotus blooms, the incense they burn in their Ancestral Shrines and the oils they diffuse in every room. If you have never tried it, check it out. Be prepared because the captions are often a nightmare, but you get used to it after a while. The beauty and magic of the plot, the characters, and the settings will take you out of this world and God knows we so need that right now.