Op/Ed: My love for Chinese dramas


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I love Chinese dramas. Although I only started watching them in 2020, they have been around since the 1990s. Some of the most popular dramas are Xianxia, Wuxia and historical dramas. The best way to describe the three dramas is that Xianxia is based in a fantasy world filled with mythical creatures portrayed in Chinese mythology. Wuxia usually involves lots of martial arts and historical dramas are either based around Ancient China or the Republican Era, which represents the time of unrest right before the Chinese Communist Party came into power.

I frequently visit websites such as Reddit so I can find some new dramas to watch. I have now gotten to a point where my YouTube recommendations have curated a host of new shows for me to choose from, so I am never bored. I am not one for romance, but Chinese dramas take love to another level where lovers profess their undying devotion, even amidst troubling times.

The plots are always interesting, with the secondary characters constantly disrupting the romance of the main characters. One of my favorite Xianxia dramas is Eternal Love. The main characters, Ye Hua and Bai Qian, fall in love across three lifetimes. It is absolutely beautiful as well as being utterly tragic.

The reason why I call it utterly tragic is because, in Xianxia dramas, Immortals will have a “Mortal Trial.” If they succeed in the trial, they can cultivate in order to become a higher Immortal. By experiencing human woes such as heartbreak, sickness and death, the Immortal will learn to appreciate immortality. Bai Qian becomes a mortal woman named Susu during her Mortal Trial, but falls in love with Ye Hua while he is the Crown Prince of Heaven.

The relationship between a High Immortal (a royal or those who have cultivated to become powerful) and a human is forbidden within the Heavenly Realm. Once Ye Hua impregnates Susu, all hell breaks loose. Viewers get to witness the relationship blossom, but also falter, under the rules of Heaven. After a long separation, Ye Hua and Bai Qian meet again, but Bai Qian has forgotten her life as Susu.

Ye Hua must win back the love of Bai Qian and hope she remembers their shared love.

However, a drama that I call a “perfect 10” is The Story of Ming Lan because it details Chinese culture so well. Chinese culture is shown through the outfits, the natural lighting of the show and the ancient political sphere. It is set in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) and is filled with amazing dialogue, which mostly includes coquetry and the dynamics of noble families. Coquetry is flirting, and all the women do it because they need husbands in order to live well. The women in the show lie, cheat and steal in order to find good marriages.

You may be wondering why I would love a show with lying, cheating and stealing. However, amidst all of that, there is a captivating storyline.
The main character, Minglan, lost her mother when she was young and grew up as the unfavored daughter. Minglan’s sisters, Molan and Rulan, compete for the best clothes, food and jewelry by seeking their father’s love. Minglan does not try to seek her father’s love because his neglect of her mother caused her mother’s death. Eventually, due to a new love interest, Minglan decides to blossom by taking charge of her own life.

There are a whole host of Chinese dramas. If you’d like to watch Eternal Love or The Story of Ming Lan, both are available on YouTube, as well as streaming platforms like iQiyi or Rakuten Viki.