- Information: China • TV Drama • 2018 • 87 episodes
- Original Title: 如懿傳
- Starring: Zhou Xun, Wallace Huo, Janine Chang, Dong Jie, Xin Zhilei, Tong Yao, Li Chun, Hu Ke
- Gents Score :
- My Rating:
Chinese palace dramas have been very popular because of their entertainment value and relatability to modern workplace politics. When discussing such dramas, you might notice that people keep referring back to certain dramas as the “standard” such as Legend of Zhen Huan (also known as Empresses in the Palace) and Story of Yanxi Palace. The latest hit to be held in high regard is Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace. While the English title may seem like the average rom-com, it’s actually anything but. Read on for my review of this 87-episode whopper of a drama.
The story takes place during the Qing Dynasty. Ulanara Ruyi is in love with the fourth prince, Hongli. Due to her aunt, Empress Yixiu, having committed a serious crime and been locked away, Ruyi is seen in an unfavorable light. She ends up becoming Hongli’s second wife. After Hongli’s ascension to the throne, Ruyi is thrust into the politics of the palace harem. But the higher she climbs, the more she realizes that life in the palace can change a person — often a change for the worse.
- Character development
- Talented actors
- Beautiful costumes and sets
- Hidden messages and metaphors galore
Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace is a story about different kinds of relationships. At its heart, it’s a story about marriage and its ups and downs. Thanks to the exceptional characterization and great acting, the characters come alive. Each character experiences their high points and low points and we’re taken on a roller coaster ride through each of their lives. Thanks to this, all the main characters develop depth and the audience is able to relate to them.
My favorite character is Ruyi; the actress, Zhou Xun, did a phenomenal job in her portrayal. She came across very natural. Usually you can somewhat tell when an actor is merely portraying a character. But in this case, Zhou Xun became Ruyi. I really enjoyed watching Ruyi grow as a character as well because unlike in other palace dramas, Ruyi kept her personality throughout her life. Without giving too much away, she matured and saw things differently as she lived her life. Her standards regarding various things such as relationships, how to treat other people, etc. remained the same for the most part. That in itself makes this drama worth watching.
The sets and costumes look extravagant albeit a bit modern at times. When combined with the excellent cinematography, lighting, and backdrops, it gives the show a very elegant aesthetic.
You know how some shows leave certain dialogues and scenes open to interpretation? Such is the case with Ruyi. I enjoyed how certain things didn’t need to be explained or over-explained. The actors’ portrayal would already explain their characters’ intention. “Read between the lines” so to speak.
In regards to historical accuracy, the drama is based on real Chinese figures in history. However, certain names may have been changed due to China’s censorship laws. Ruyi’s character did exist in history as well but the end of her story is shrouded in mystery because there is no detailed historical record of what exactly happened to her. But it’s proof that a story is really good if it makes the audience believe it really happened and also research the actual history (which I did after finishing this drama). You can read more about the history of Ruyi in my previous article.
- Slow pacing
For me personally, there wasn’t anything bad at all about Ruyi. Compared to other dramas, it does have slower pacing. But it wasn’t noticeable to me because I was so drawn into the story and characters already. In fact, I couldn’t wait to watch more because I wanted to find out what happens next.
While I’m giving this drama a five-star rating overall, the Gents score is very low due to the slow pacing. Unless you enjoy watching character development, Chinese period dramas, or Chinese palace dramas, I’m afraid you will be bored to death. But, I still want to recommend this drama because it’s so good and has so much substance. Please give it a try!
Overall, I consider Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace one of the best Chinese palace dramas to date. It has everything: great actors, beautiful costumes and sets, fleshed out characterization and plot, the story is deep, and of course politics and palace fights for extra entertainment. I really recommend it! Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace is now streaming on Rakuten Viki with English subtitles.
If you like palace dramas, you may also like Story of Yanxi because the characters in Ruyi and Yanxi are both adapted from the same figures in Chinese history. It’s very interesting to compare the two stories and see how the writers developed the characters. See a comparison of both dramas in my previous article.
This article is purely of my own thoughts and opinions. Your opinions may differ. Any offense caused by my rants and ramblings is unintentional. Thank you for understanding.