In my attempts to complete the listening part of the Super Challenge, I’ve attempted a lot of different TV shows and films. I generally like TV more because it’s easier to get into—episodes aren’t as long as films and there are a lot of them, which make them especially good for language learning.
I also really like Chinese dramas. Something historical, maybe fantasy, always with a pinch of romance; that’s my jam. So, having just finished Eternal Love (三生三世十里桃花) on Netflix and being around 80% of the way through my listening goal for the Super Challenge in Mandarin, I started a new Chinese drama: 锦绣未央。
I’m gonna try and document my watching-of on the blog, mostly because it gives me a place to gush/vent about all the stuff going on—but I’m also going to add little vocab lists to make it more of a learning experience for everyone! 😉
🙈 Warning! Spoilers ahead! 🙈
We start with the day Princess Fengxing (Xin’er, but also our titular character, Weiyang) was born. She’s born, there’s omens about her having to suffer (as is to be expected!) and then her father, King Hexi, has to go and surrender to the Wei army, who are basically at the gates.
Time passes and Xin’er grows up; she’s mischievous but kind-hearted (she likes dressing up like a man and sneaking out of the palace—and clearly meets some dude who’s important and going to be vital to the storyline later; also I *love* her and Jun Tao’s swaggery guy walk when they finish up that scene!) and everyone’s super excited that King Hexi is finally returning to celebrate his mother’s birthday. So far so good, except the Li family are getting involved—Chiyun Nan, a general, wants to take hold of Hexi’s kingdom because he can mine iron; he’s a cousin to the Li family, who just want all the power. (That seems to be a recurring theme.)
On Xin’er’s grandmother’s birthday, King Hexi arrives home, everyone’s happy, birthday celebrations are happening, etc., etc., except—oh no! No one gets to live a happy life in this world! Chiyun Nan and Li Minfeng work together to frame King Hexi, saying that he rebelled against the emperor—they kill him and then start searching for Xin’er and her grandmother.
There’s some real Anastasia vibes as Xin’er and her grandmother flee and it’s really sad to think of this poor girl, who’s grown up in luxury compared to many other people, but who’s just essentially met her father for the first time and then has seen him be killed in front of her, and now she’s on the run, and she really doesn’t understand why.
Her grandmother ultimately sacrifices herself for Xin’er, as does Xin’er’s bodyguard, Jun Tao (and she was so great! I’m so sad she’s dead!) and Jun Tao’s father, also a palace bodyguard. Xin’er ends up passing out and rolling down a hill… will she be safe?
(I mean, there’s like seventy episodes, so she’s probably gonna make it through a few of them!)
I’m enjoying it so far. I’m ready for a good revenge story (though I imagine things are going to get ~complicated~) and although all the courtly rules and stuff drive me a little bit crazy, I’m excited to see how Xin’er/Weiyang is going to twist it to her advantage.
I only collected a few words this episode, but a couple of them were ones where I knew how to say them but didn’t know the character, so 🤷🏻♀️
皇上 – huang2shang – emperor
公主 – gong1zhu3 – princess
将军 – jiang1jun1 – general
跪 – gui4 – to kneel
I’m gonna go watch a ton more episodes now; if you’re watching this show or have seen it, let me know what you think!