First Impressions & Unfiltered Thoughts: Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace

I pushed play on the latest Chinese historical drama Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace.  Come find out my first impressions & unfiltered thoughts and see if this show should be your next binge watch.

Slow start

I went into this drama expecting to be pulled in immediately. I remember seeing the teaser for Love in the Palace months ago and it promptly went on my to watch list. My love for palace dramas is well known and the quality was noticeably top notch. So when I started the drama and wasn’t hooked right away I was disappointed. The only reason I kept watching was my intention to write this post. Thankfully, I was kept on because by the end of episode three I was hooked and wanting to know what happened next.

I think what kept me from loving the drama from the start was the lack of romantic OTP (One True Pairing) moments. We didn’t see their relationship develop, only Emperor Qianlong asking his father to marry Ruyi and their eventual nuptials. Which happened at the same time he married another woman AND took a concubine. It is a bit hard to believe in true love when it is surrounded by a bunch of other sexual relationships co-existing.  Quick Note…. if you have issues with harem stories this is not going to be the drama for you because it is full of them.  It was only after I started watching for the political intrigue among the various wives and concubines that I really started getting sucked into the narrative.

Wallace Huo is sexy and smart

Wallace Huo playing Emperor Qianlong is one of the best things in this drama.  He is both sincere yet decidedly Emperorish.  You can always tell that he is thinking three or four steps ahead over how his actions are going to impact the court.  It is fascinating to watch.

That said, it isn’t always the most romantic.  Especially when he lets his harridan of a mother force him into the hands of his other wife and concubines.  Can’t we just see the OTP be cute without having to worry about how our leading man has to sleep with another woman due to politics?

Double meanings

You really have to pay attention to the dialogue and not just the various character’s physical mannerisms.  I am amazed at how many characters remain all smiles and sunshine while plotting another’s demise.

Machiavellian politicking EVERYWHERE

There is so much politicking being done in this drama.  With a good 90% of it being done by the inner court (harem).  Talk about seeing the viciousness of the fairer sex. The majority of these women are scarier than any hulking warrior might be.

Beautiful visuals

I am in love with the styling in this drama.  The vibrant silks and fur-lined dresses are dazzling. It is like stepping into a whole different world full of clothing and accessories that feel extra exotic.  Add in the fact that they went all out on the palace decor, and you have a drama that is a visual feast.

Do I recommend?

My feelings are split when answering this question.  On one hand, I do like the harem politicking and the beautiful styling/cinematography.  On the other, I am not a huge fan of our leading lady’s performance.  She isn’t horrible, but she doesn’t make me sit up and say “wow” either.  For now, I am going to continue on and see where the journey takes me.  So if you really like Harem dramas you may want to give this one a try.  But if you are looking for a show that is going to wow you with romance and all the feels that come with it, I would maybe look for something else.

Til our next drama experience,


Dramas With a Side of Kimchi

You can find Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace episodes HERE on Viki

9 thoughts on “First Impressions & Unfiltered Thoughts: Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace

  1. Urgh! I have been looking forward to this drama since last year (I think was when news started filtering through with costumes and pictures of the set). It still sounds blah. Will just wait another couple of episodes (or ten) and see if your interest in it has picked up. If not, there are way too many dramas to watch and so little time. Onto the next one!

  2. These kind of harem drama is never going to be about rainbow and sunshine. It’s better to not expect any OTP whatsoever, the worst thing you can do in the palace as a woman is sincerely in love with the Emperor ;), that’s just asking for a brutal death. These dramas are mainly about the cruelty of the palace, how the women fighting for power until their last breath, the political intrigues and the anticipation of seeing just how far these women willing to go (it’s usually VERY far). I hope you can at least make it to episode 18, I guarantee the female lead’s acting will blow your mind!

  3. I like the female lead. I dislike the harem story. It’s like the emperor does nothing at all except visit different concubines or get new ones.
    And while Wallace Huo in real life is smart, how smart is he to be manipulated by all these different women? This story seems like all the other harem stories, but with different actors.
    It’s very well done but there’s nothing new here as far as I can see.

  4. This series is supposed to be a sequel to the popular Empresses In The Palace that aired in 2012 so I’m not surprised that it takes on the similar slow pacing and grandiose cinematography. The gem of the prequel is in it’s meticulous storytelling and exciting politcking within the inner court. But I’m quite confused as to whether the story takes place right after its prequel or is it a whole new story in an alternate universe.

  5. I started watching and I can’t stop! I adore the female lead! I am fascinated by all the palace intrigue and the political machinations in the harem rival or surpass anything happening outside. Harem stories always make me a bit uncomfortable because the Emperor bed hopping is just accepted and encouraged practice. I do like how they address this through the eyes of a Westerner, though, and how everyone things his “tales of monogamy” are made up! The costumes and cinematography are incredible too.

  6. I was very excited for this drama but it quickly disappoint me with a big “BLAH” the very second I hear Zhou Xun’s voice and see her face. But even if they got a younger girl to play, the show was quite slow. Or, it can be fast sometimes, just way too fast. The pace doesn’t make the story interesting. Poor directing I would say. I cannot feel any of the chemistry. When important things happen they don’t give you an intense feeling to connect with the characters.
    I am not a harem story person, but, Legend of Yanxi gong drew me in because it was not that hard to forgive the emperor for having many wives. Hoping it would be the same in this show, but it focuses on the king too much that it gets hard not to almost resent him at times. The leading actress is just hard to root for and get excited about what she will do next.

  7. I find this ‘sequel’ totally confusing. Why is the Ulanara empress wearing the same dress (almost) that Huan wore in Empresses? Why is the emperor alive? Why is Hong Li 4th prince suddenly? And why is the camera work so different? I wouldn’t call this a sequel, but rather a whole different series.

  8. 3 years of waiting and I must say it was worth the wait 200%. I have been waiting for a drama with real acting, plot and cinematography after the legendary mother of all palace dramas ‘Empresses in the palace. For all those whining about the main actress’s voice, you need to take several seats and take it back because not only is she an expert at her craft but the main actress delivers one of the finest performances ever on television. Her enigmatic charm and seduction of emotions is on another level. She uses that unique soothing voice with various emotions to empower the character like no other would. Wallace Huo is charming as usual but he gets to share his prowess with one of China‘s greatest actresses and the result is astounding. The incredibly supporting cast is equally well cast and the director knows how to milk sharp performances out of them. The beautiful concubines, Consort Jia is the one actress to watch out for after she had the right stuff to comomerate an unforgettable performance that will be remembered in history of dramas after the legendary Consort Hua in Empresses in a palace. Consort Ling, Yu, Chu…etc very beautiful actresses …. sorry but not sorry for enjoying a beautiful drama, beautiful sets, beautiful actors/ actresses and phenomenal acting and direction. 20/10🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾

    • I keep coming back to this show. I binge watch for a bit and then I leave it, but it keeps drawing me back. I love the female lead’s voice. All of the harem intrigue is just riveting, and I am kind of fascinated by all of the pomp and ceremony that revolves around being one of the consorts or concubines. This is a story of strength and survival, and I think they are telling it in epic fashion. I do find the constant ups and downs that come with being in and out of favor exhausting, but that captures the volatility of each person’s position in the palace. It is also just stunningly beautiful.

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