What do you get when you take the awesome actress from Shan Shan Comes to Eat, pair her with her real-life husband, throw in some smart and savvy, and stir in the inner-workings of a minor official’s home? You get the story of Ming Lan! Kdrama Jen has been begging the fangirls to watch with her. Read on to see if her 5 Reasons to Watch will convince you!
So… I think I have watched more Chinese dramas this year than Kdramas. One of the reasons is because I adore resourceful and smart characters. They can be good, bad, or kind of grey, but as long as I understand their motivation and they keep me on my toes, then I will likely fall for them. The Story of Ming Lan is full of amazing characters like this! So, I start my list with this reason:
Beautifully Developed Characters
There will be people you hate and there will be people you love in this drama. There will also be people you think you don’t like, but then they surprise you. I think this drama does an exceptional job of helping viewers see many different perspectives and developing even minor characters in ways that enrich the overall story. Also, just like in life, there is nobody depicted who is perfect. Despite taking place in another time and place, the emotions of the characters are relatable. I also can understand the motivation of every character. I may not agree with their actions, but I do understand why they are responding in that way. For me, that is the hallmark of an excellent writer. I don’t have to like the character, but I do have to understand them.
Smart and Strong Women
You might think in this patriarchal settings that the men have all the power. That is certainly not the case on this drama. Almost every plot point is moved forward because of the machinations and actions of women. I love seeing Ming Lan use her intelligence to problem-solve, but I also find all of the maneuvering of the mothers of various daughters and sons to be absolutely fascinating! Women hold an alternate power that is making me rethink some of my earlier assumptions.
I am having a hard time describing why, but this drama has a different feel to it. It is the first Chinese drama I have watched that has all of the harem politicking we might see in Yanxi Palace or another palace harem drama, but because this is a minor official’s home, we see a different perspective. I have said it before, but it is almost like a slice-of-life kind of view. Kmuse said it’s kind of like Downton Abbey, but with concubines. It is a fascinating glimpse into the power dynamics of a minor official’s home and raises questions about who really holds the influence. Is the man really in charge of his household or is it his mother?
I must admit, the reason I started watching is because I love Shan Shan and I wanted to see her in a drama with her real-life husband. Then, I started watching and I kind of fell into SLS (second lead syndrome). The second lead is handsome, kind, and thoughtful. At the time, I was comparing him to the guy who came back to town with a mistress and two kids. That would normally be a deal-breaker for me, but I am telling you, Gu TingGe won me over! Their chemistry is incredible, but the two characters truly understand one another. He sees Ming Lan for who she really is and he is equally as smart! Just wait until you see all that he does to try to win her over.
Plot Movement by Polo (Thanks, Mehitable)
It fascinates me that a game of polo is used as a plot movement device several times throughout this drama. I love how it is used to being about some major changes and shifts in the story arc, just as polo was once used in China as a way to make important decisions. It is this attention to historical detail that has me enjoying Story of Ming Lan in a cerebral and scholarly way in addition to simply enjoying the way everyone tries to outmaneuver one another.
So, there you have it! I have given you five reasons to watch Story of Ming Lan, but really you just need to dive in and discover your own reasons to keep watching. Please comment below to let us know if you have it a try and share your thoughts!
Until next time…
Dramas With a Side of Kimchi