By Karen and Cathy
Karen and Cathy explain cultural and historical references episode by episode in popular Chinese historical dramas as well as Chinese pop culture news. The podcast is in English with proper nouns and phrases spoken in Mandarin Chinese. Currently, they are discussing The Story of Yanxi Palace. Completed dramas/movies include: The Story of Ming Lan, Empresses in the Palace, Royal Nirvana, Palace (2013 film), and Mulan (2020 Disney movie) among others.
The Story of Yanxi Palace - Ep 22 + 23: The Culprit
After 20+ episodes, we finally find out who was the man who harmed Ying Luo's sister and ultimately caused her death. It is none other than the Emperor's closest brother, Hong Zhou. Hong Zhou is shown to be an arrogant and obnoxious man who then uses his money and status to force Ying Luo into letting go over her anger towards what he did to her beloved sister.
September 27, 2022
The Story of Yanxi Palace - Ep 21: The Goddess
Ying Luo manages to foil two plots against her and the Empress in episode 21 while helping turn the Empress into the Goddess of the River Luo or Luo Shen which enthralls the Emperor. Not only that, the Empress's turn as the goddess creates a wave of imitators in the palace as maids all hope for beauty and good fortune but to deadly results.
September 20, 2022
In The Know - Chinese Pop Culture News - Li Yi Feng is Canceled!
Weibo exploded over the Mid-Autumn Festival weekend as the popular Chinese actor, Li Yi Feng was caught in a scandal for soliciting prostitutes. Karen and Cathy break down the timeline for what happened and how the story broke for the now canceled actor.
September 16, 2022
The Story of Yanxi Palace - Ep 19+20: The Childish Emperor
Emperor Qian Long contracts scabies and the Empress volunteers to tend to her husband. Wei Ying Luo, trying to find more information about her sister's death, also agrees to come along. The Emperor turns into a pouting child as he tries to combat his illness and is "bullied" by Ying Luo in an effort to cure him. At the Emperor's birthday, the women of the Imperial Harem present their gifts. The Empress, a painting. Noble Consort Gao, a western orchestra. Noble Lady Shu, a Buddhist relic. The Emperor is very pleased with all of his gifts. However, trouble stirs for Ying Luo and the other palace maids.
September 12, 2022
Love Between Fairy and Devil (苍兰诀 2022) Review
Our latest drama review is for Love Between Fairy and Devil (苍兰诀 2022)! Listen to our latest episode to hear Karen discuss the general plot, characters, what she liked and didn't like, and her overall review of the drama! Set in a fantasy land, Xiao Lan Hua (ft Esther Yu) as a kind-hearted young orchid fairy with limited powers and no real name. She watches over the written fates of all beings. One day, she accidentally realized that her secret love, the powerful Chang Heng (ft Zhang Ling He) will be in danger and rushes over to protect him. This results in her a life changing encounter with Dong Fang Qing Cang (ft Dylan Wang), the powerful leader of the Yue (Moon) clan who had been locked away for 30,000 years. This interaction changes the fates of all three individuals
September 09, 2022
The Story of Yanxi Palace - Ep 18: The Drunken Concubine
The 5th prince is ultimately saved from pending death after a local doctor is summoned by the Emperor to reveal that the newborn simply had jaundice and could be cured easily. This diagnosis and additional evidence brought forth by Consort Chun turns the tables against Noble Consort Gao who is confined to her palace as punishment. After a degrading visit by her father, Noble Consort Gao refocuses her energy on the Emperor with a stunning rendition of the Drunken Concubine to recapture his attention.
September 06, 2022
In The Know - Chinese Pop Culture News - Zhang Tian Ai Exposing Xu Kai Cheng's Infidelity, Yang Zi and Liu Xue Yi Sharing Cake
In our episode recorded September 1, Cathy goes over the two big scandals of late in the Chinese entertainment industry- 1) Yang Zi supposedly sharing cake with her friend, Liu Xue Yi which would not have been problematic if they weren't caught in a series of lies denying this, and 2) Zhang Tian Ai released a recording of her and Xu Kai Cheng, whom she was dating, where he admits to cheating on her. What's worse is that he had turned his sights on Gu Li Na Zha and lied to her about his current relationship status.
September 02, 2022
The Story of Yanxi Palace - Ep 17: The Golden Child
Noble Lady Yu gives birth to a son while the Empress is away but her son is born with golden pupils. Noble Consort Gao who arrived just as the child is born, claims that this is a terrible omen and orders the child to be buried alive. Why would that be? There is a ton of history that Cathy explains in this episode so be sure to check it out!
August 29, 2022
Love Like the Galaxy 星汉灿烂 月升沧海 (2022) Review
Our latest drama review is for Love Like the Galaxy 星汉灿烂 月升沧海! Listen to our latest episode to hear Karen discuss the general plot, characters, what she liked and didn't like, and her overall review of the drama! The young woman Cheng Shao Shang finally meets her birth parents who are both generals in the army for the first time since birth after they went off to fight in war for her entire life. Meanwhile, Shao Shang crosses paths with several young men including Ling Bu Yi, the young and accomplished general raised by the Emperor and Empress. This is a 56 episode drama starring Leo Wu or 吴磊 and 赵露思 Zhao Lu Si in the title roles.
August 26, 2022
The Story of Yanxi Palace – Ep 15-16: Snapped
Wei Ying Luo successfully enacts revenge on the arrogant Prince Yi at the Sharing Prosperity by Sharing Meat ceremony. However, Fu Heng catches onto her ploy and avoids punishment. He promises Ying Luo that he wasn't involved in her sister's death. With the death of her family, Consort Xian finally snaps and cleverly enacts revenge on Concubine Jia. She is no longer the sweet and serene consort but a calculating and cunning woman. Meanwhile, the Empress seeks the aid of Consort Chun to help her get pregnant again. Rumors begin flying around in the palace of an "improper" relationship. What really happens? Listen to find out!
August 22, 2022
Mid August Drama Updates - Being a Hero and Ode To Joy 3 now streaming
A few surprising releases hit platforms the last few days including Chen Xiao and Wang Yi Bo's police thriller Being A Hero and the 3rd installment of Ode to Joy.
August 19, 2022
The Story of Yanxi Palace - Episode 13+14: Encounters with Prince Yi
Consort Xian experiences life-changing events after learning that her father participated in bribery. Her brother and mother also both passed on the same day. Given this event, she vows to become more powerful in the palace. Meanwhile, Prince Yi, cousin to the Emperor, decides to help Noble Consort Gao in eliminating Yingluo with little success.
August 16, 2022
The Story of Yanxi Palace – Ep 10-12 The Pekingese at the Lychee Banquet
Noble Consort Gao's dog is the star of these episodes as it first was used by Concubine Pin to scare Noble Lady Yu in hopes of causing a miscarriage. That fortunately failed but the dog became the center of attention once again after Ying Luo used it to misdirect the Emperor's ire when it was revealed that the lychee trees he specifically gifted to the Empress was destroyed. Elsewhere, Consort Xian's desperately seeks money to save her brother who fell in in prison.
August 08, 2022
August Chinese Drama Updates – Yang Zi, Cheng Yi, Lei Jia Yin and more
Cathy brings you the latest updates on currently airing Chinese dramas and the announced dramas that will air in August 2022.
August 05, 2022
The Story of Yanxi Palace - Ep 8+9: Leveling Up to Chang Chun Palace
Ying Luo is summoned to work for the Empress at Chang Chun palace which was her plan all along in order to create opportunities to speak to Fu Heng, the Empress's brother about her deceased sister. But now at Chang Chun palace, she must engage with the likes of Noble Consort Gao more frequently. Elsewhere, Consort Xian has to decide what to do after finding out her brother has been embroiled in a corruption scandal.
August 02, 2022
A Dream of Splendor 梦华录 (2022) Review
We're finally doing review episodes! Our first review will be of A Dream of Splendor 梦华录! Listen to our latest episode to hear us discuss the general plot, characters, what we liked and didn't like, and our overall review of the drama! Set in the Song dynasty, the story follows the lives of three women, each with unique skillsets, who head to the capital of Dong Jing, overcome personal troubles and create a thriving restaurant business. The drama stars Liu Yi Fei, Liu Yan, Lin Yun and Chen Xiao.
July 28, 2022
The Story of Yanxi Palace eps 6+7: The Lost Peacock Thread
In episode 6, the Empress's birthday draws near and the Embroidery Department was tasked with making a Phoenix Robe using a precious peacock thread. Wei Ying Luo got the honors to sew the robe. Unfortunately, a thief stole the thread, plunging the whole department into chaos. Ying Luo miraculously finds a solution and gains favor with the Empress. In episode 7, the eunuchs try to catch the thief. The naïve Ji Xiang gets framed for the crime and suffers a horrible punishment. To avenge her friend, Ying Luo plots to lure out the real thief and seek justice. Does she succeed? Listen to find out.
July 26, 2022
In The Know - Chinese Pop Culture News - Jay Chou's New Album, Jackson Yee's admission scandal and more!
In our latest In The Know episode, we discuss the latest woes that plague Yang Mi's new drama, Fox Spirit Matchmaker, including another tax evasion scandal. Jackson Yee and 2 other young stars have also been caught in an admission scandal that blew up Weibo. Finally, Jay Chou released a new album after 6 years! Listen to our latest podcast episode to check out our thoughts about the latest Chinese pop culture!
July 23, 2022
The Story of Yanxi Palace - Ep 5: No Patience For Childish Games
Wei Ying Luo stands up to herself against two other seamstress maids in the palace who are determined to kick her out else get her killed. The thing is, their tactics aren't too smart. Ying Luo takes them for a ride and shows exactly what she can do to protect herself.
July 18, 2022
The Story of Yanxi Palace - Ep 4: Stepping Out of Grief
We are introduced to Fu Heng, the handsome younger brother of Empress Fu Cha. He arrived to help jolt his sister out of her grief of her son's passing 3 year's prior. Elsewhere, Ying Luo is brought before Noble Consort Gao as the one who revealed to Lady Yu about Noble Consort Gao's plot against her child.
July 12, 2022
July Chinese Drama Updates - Zhao Li Ying, Leo Wu, Zhao Lu Si and more
Karen and Cathy bring you updates on currently airing Chinese dramas as well as the announced pipeline for future projects from July 2022.
July 09, 2022
The Story of Yanxi Palace - Ep 2+3: Here's to Revenge
We learn that Ying Luo is in the palace to discover the truth about her sister's death and help seek revenge against who killed her. Meanwhile, Noble Consort Gao is shown to be a aggressive foe in the palace.
July 04, 2022
The Story of Yanxi Palace - Ep 1: Welcome Back to the Palace
We are introduced to Wei Ying Luo, a young quick witted maid with impressive embroidery skills, as well as the imperial royal family of Qian Long, his Empress, Fu Cha Rong Yin and the rest of his harem.
June 27, 2022
The Story of Yanxi Palace 延禧攻略: Intro to the Drama
The Story of Yanxi Palace follows the young maid, Wei Ying Luo's journey as she enters the imperial palace during the reign of Qing Dynasty Emperor Qian Long to seek answers for her sister's death. Karen and Cathy provide an overview in this intro episode before diving into plot and historical analysis of the drama in future podcast episodes
June 21, 2022
In The Know - Chinese Pop Culture News (June 19, 2022)
In this new series for the podcast, In The Know aims to provide up-to-date information on the Chinese entertainment industry. This new episode series is a more casual look at what's going on with your favorite stars. In this premier episode, Karen and Cathy discuss four groundbreaking events that occurred in the first half of 2022 in Chinese pop culture news.
June 19, 2022
Royal Nirvana - Ep 8-13: Trick Shots
The Crown Prince has his romantic wishes dashed by his father as the Emperor contends with a myriad of military issues that threaten the safety of the empire's borders that culminate in an heart-pounding display at the important archery competition
June 14, 2022
Royal Nirvana - Ep 4-7: Exam Jitters
It's time for the imperial entrance exam and the Crown Prince's allies are once again caught in a scandal against his brother, this time around cheating at the exam.
June 07, 2022
Royal Nirvana ep 1-4: The Hat Trick
The Crown Prince prepares for his Capping ceremony. However, his older brother, the Prince of Qi conspires against him and plots to discredit the Crown Prince. It's a battle of wits as the two brothers try to outmaneuver each other to win the Emperor's favor. The Crown Prince is accused of being unfilial and disloyal by the Prince of Qi's allies. Who wins this round? Listen to find out.
May 31, 2022
Royal Nirvana 鹤唳华亭: Intro To The Drama
Set in the fictional world of the Qi dynasty, Royal Nirvana follows the story of the crown prince, Xiao Ding Quan, as he struggles to balance the role required of his title with this yearnings for love while also doing the right thing. In this intro episode, Karen and Cathy provide an overview of the plot and introduce the cast and characters for this 2019 drama.
May 23, 2022
The Story of Ming Lan - Final Thoughts！
Join Karen and Cathy as they provide their final thoughts and analysis on The Story of Ming Lan!
May 10, 2022
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 73: Happily Ever After
in the last episode of the Story of Ming Lan, the revolt organized by the Empress Dowager was easily dismantled by the Emperor and his allies including Gu Ting Ye who is alive and well. The conflict at court is finally resolved and the chaos at home is quelled after Madame Qin succumbs to flames out of despair. All that is left are the harmonious and simple days for Ming Lan and Gu Ting Ye to enjoy together with a loving family.
May 03, 2022
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 72: The Final Showdown
In the penultimate episode, Gu Ting Ye is sent off to fight in a war that broke out on the border but terrible news reaches home that he has been killed. Shortly after, Ming Lan must contend with an onslaught of soldiers intent on enacting another coup in the Capital.
April 25, 2022
The Story of Ming Lan - Episode 71: Reaping What is Sown
Many of Ming Lan's friends and family show up to support her during her son's banquet celebration in the midst of Gu Ting Ye's punishment. She uses the evidence gathered from the banquet to beat the Deng Wen Drum as well to request a retrial for her husband.
April 18, 2022
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 70: "Ohana Means Family"
Following news Gu Ting Ye's imprisonment, friends and family all try to help Ming Lan with what to do next. But the most important decision she has to make is whether or not to separate from Gu Ting Ye prior to any sentencing to protect herself and their son. She easily makes the decision to remain married to face upcoming challenges together.
April 12, 2022
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 69: Sucker Punch
Gu Ting Ye's enemies have all assembled to deal a devastating blow to him. Gu Ting Ye tries to protect the Sheng family and stay in the good graces of the Emperor. Unfortunately, the future looks bleak for Gu Ting Ye as enemies from his past all come to haunt him. In the meanwhile, Ming Lan needs to be watchful of enemies at home
April 05, 2022
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 68: Gathering the Troops
In the aftermath of Aunt Kang's death, Grandma Wang vows for vengeance and seeks aid from the Empress Dowager. The Empress Dowager continues to assemble troops within the Palace. Madame Qin also picks a side. In the meanwhile, Gu Ting Ye and Ming Lan have to deal with the aftermath of the near fatal attack. How will the couple respond to threats coming from all sides?
March 29, 2022
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 66pt2 + 67: Through the Fire and Flames
Ming Lan goes into labor after overhearing that Gu Ting Ye has died while protecting Prince Huan. Taking this opportunity, Madame Qin enacts her plan to finally eliminate Ming Lan - she sets fire to Ming Lan's residence and also goads Aunt Kang, who has escaped to the Gu Manor, into attacking Ming Lan.
March 21, 2022
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 65 + 66 pt 1: The Calm Before The Storm
Ming Lan is finally able to get some rest after her brother and husband returned to her aid in ensuring that Aunt Kang would pay for her crimes against Grandma Sheng. She is also able to have a frank conversation with her father on his poor treatment of her throughout her upbringing. The dust seems to have settled but we are reminded that Mo Lan still exists in this universe and she aids Aunt Kang escape from the Sheng family.
March 14, 2022
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 64: Love is Thicker than Blood
Ming Lan is still trying to get justice for her beloved Grandmother. The Wang family, however, tries every trick in the book to force Sheng Hong to let go of the matter. Ming Lan is about to do something rash but her brother Chang Bai and Gu Ting Ye return in time to save the day. Chang Bai passes judgment on his mother and Aunt. Is family thicker than blood? Will Chang Bai choose justice over his own mother? What will be the fate of the two Wang women? Listen to find out!
March 08, 2022
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 63: And the Culprit Is...
After Ming Lan has rounded up all the evidence to show exactly how her grandma was poisoned, she must face off against the Wang family who will try to acquit either Madame Wang or Aunt Kang or both from their deeds.
February 28, 2022
The Story of Ming Lan: Ep 62 - Justice for Grandma Sheng
Grandma Sheng falls mysteriously ill and the heavily pregnant Ming Lan returns to the Sheng Manor to tend to her. She discovers an evil plot to poison Grandma Sheng. Upon some further investigation, Ming Lan deduces that the schemer comes from within the Sheng Family. Who is it and how will Ming Lan get justice for her grandmother?
February 21, 2022
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 61: The Empress's Apology
The conflict between the Shen family and the Zhang family come to a head following Madame Zhang's harrowing labor process in the previous episode. At a loss for what to do next to maintain the peace in the empire, the Empress requests Ming Lan's presence who provides two stories for her to think about. The Empress heeds Ming Lan's advice with a grand apology to the Zhang family.
February 14, 2022
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 60: Family Is The Strongest Backbone
In this episode we delve into the Wang family as the matriarch and current head of the family arrive in the capital and give context as to why Aunt Kang and Madame Wang are the way they are. Elsewhere, Ming Lan steps up to save her friend, Madame Zhang, who went into labor. Madame Zhang is also supported by a powerful family - one strong enough to defy the Emperor.
February 07, 2022
Xuan Zang (2016 Film) - the Man who inspired Journey to the West
In a special Lunar New Year episode, we cover the 2016 film Xuan Zang! It chronicles the the travels of the monk Xuan Zang. During his 5 year journey, he traveled over 25,000 km along the ancient silk road west and south to India. Xuan Zang's pilgrimage from Chang'An to India has inspired countless stories and legends, including the Journey to the West. Join us as we discuss the story, the history, and the gorgeous scenery of this film. This podcast episode is sponsored by JubaoTV.
January 31, 2022
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 58pt 2 + Ep 59: Rockstar Grandmothers vs the Vile Aunt
Aunt Kang and Madame Qin cause nothing but trouble for the pregnant Ming Lan. Luckily, Ming Lan has Chang Mo Mo and Grandma Sheng. Chang Mo mo roundly tells off Aunt Kang for her rude behavior towards Ming Lan while Grandma Sheng helps Ming Lan see through the nefarious plot Aunt Kang planned for her.
January 25, 2022
The Story of Ming Lan: Ep 57 pt 2 + Ep 58 pt 1 - Setbacks
After all of the political fighting in the previous episodes, the Emperor turns his attention towards salt taxation. His son, the Prince of Huan, volunteers to head south to perform an audit. Mysteriously, supporters of the Emperor all become embroiled in scandal. Ming Lan and Gu Ting Ye find themselves in the middle as they try to help their friends. In the meanwhile, Ming Lan shares some happy news with her husband. She's pregnant! Unfortunately this is short lived as Gu Ting Ye must head south with the Prince
January 17, 2022
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 56+57 pt1: You Can Always Trust the Abilities of The Empress Dowager
In this episode heavy with political conflicts, the Empress Dowager plays a few tricks to cause trouble in the Emperor's plan to regain power.
January 10, 2022
Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings - Chinese Historical References Breakdown - Part 1!
Karen and Cathy explain the Chinese and Chinese-American historical and cultural references portrayed in the Marvel Superhero film, Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
January 03, 2022
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 55: The Husband That Just Wants to Be in a Romance Movie with His Wife
This episode is pretty much Gu Ting Ye being pouty that his wife isn't as clingy or as dependent on him as he would like. He thinks she doesn't love him and puts him in a sulky state.
December 27, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - ep 54: Marriage Counselors
Ming Lan's gathering is spoiled by the squabbles between the wife and concubine of the Empress's younger brother, Shen Guo Jiu. It's up to Ming Lan and Gu Ting Ye to try to reconcile the relationship between Shen Guo Jiu and his new wife Madam Zhang.
December 20, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 53: A Dose of Reality
Ming Lan and Gu Ting Ye have to host a banquet for their newly renovated home. All of the reputable men and women in the Capital arrive to attend the banquet. Unfortunately, several unsavory characters also attend including Ming Lan's step mother Madame Qin, aunt of no relation Madame Kang, and 4th sister Mo Lan. They are all up to no good. Ming Lan gets accosted by Qi Heng's wife and realizes that she must have a frank conversation with Qi Heng to stop holding onto the past.
December 14, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 51pt 2 + 52: The Supportive Husband vs The Un-jealous Wife
Ming Lan returns for a family lunch back at the Sheng family where she gets into a quarrel with her father and her sister Mo Lan over the topic of the deceased Mistress Lin. Luckily, Gu Ting Ye steps in to provide her full support. When returning home, Ming Lan is presented with a concubine for Gu Ting Ye which she readily agrees as a way to help Gu Ting Ye from further troubles. Hilarity ensues as Gu Ting Ye is annoyed his wife is not jealous at all at this new woman.
December 07, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 50 + 51 pt 1: The Wrath of Man Niang
Man Niang, Gu Ting Ye's former mistress's reappearance re-ignited Gu Ting Ye's drive to find his lost son. It's not easy though as the devious plans between Man Niang, the Bai family and Madame Qin are uncovered where the ideal end result is Gu Ting Ye's death.
November 29, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 49: When the past comes calling
Gu Ting Ye requests for leniency for his family from the Emperor but generates displeasure in court. With the death of his older brother, Gu Ting Ye inherits the title of Marquis. Ming Lan is granted a title too! Just as the couple expected a slight reprieve, the evil stepmother hatches a plan to reintroduce an old flame into the picture. Man Niang reappears and bargains with Gu Ting Ye to be named a concubine by withholding the whereabouts of their son. What happens between them? Listen to find out
November 23, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 48: A Moment of Clarity
Gu Ting Ye still refuses to assist his brother and cousins for their involvement in the previous coup and is in a stalemate with his brother Gu Ting Yu. After learning about the truth of his health, Gu Ting Yu makes hard decision and decides to come clean to his brother for all of their family's previous ill deeds. He grants Gu Ting Ye the title of Marquis for the promise that he will take care of his wife and daughter. Gu Ting Ye, finally relents and agrees to save his brother and cousins from jail.
November 16, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 47: Trying to Have Your Cake and Eat it Too
Tensions within the Gu Family escalate as 1) the 4th and 5th aunt first try to blackmail Ming Lan into helping their sons, 2) Gu Ting Ye's younger brother is taken in for questioning and 3) a stalemate occurs between Gu Ting Ye and his older brother on conditions to help the family. Elsewhere, the Empress Dowager is furious that Gu Ting Ye devised a trick to take the Imperial Seal from her for the Emperor
November 09, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 46: Oh, now you think of family?
Ming Lan is summoned to the Palace an unexpectedly is forced to greet the Empress Dowager. She's able to avoid a dangerous trap by finding a clever solution to the Empress Dowager's intended gifts. Qi Heng is now favored by the Empress Dowager and begins to investigate families from the failed coup. Two of Gu Ting Ye's cousins are thrown in jail and the families coming begging for help. Does Gu Ting Ye agree?
November 02, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 45: Struggles of an Auditor
Ming Lan is out inspecting the new farmsteads that were gifted to her husband. During her audit, it becomes pretty obvious that the overseers have been lying on their accounts. Ming Lan outwits one overseer but needs Gu Ting Ye's assistance on another. Who knew managing lands was so difficult? Her actions are reported back to the Capital and various factions begin to take notice.
October 26, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 44: Food Fight!
Goaded by words from Chang Mo Mo, servants engage in a full blown food fight in the kitchen while Ming Lan and Gu Ting Ye have esteemed guests over. While the purpose was to help Ming Lan against a combative Nanny Lai, the result is that all of these problematic servants can be removed with a plausible excuse. Ming Lan enjoys a well earned victory against her stepmother-in-law!
October 19, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 43: The Pesky Servants
With the gaggle of new servants in her household, it is now teeming with "spies" that report her every movement to her stepmother-in-law. Not only does she get a passive aggressive visit from her stepmother using intel gained from these servants, Ming Lan's reputation is also being sullied by this stepmother. How will Ming Lan fight back to regain peace in her household?
October 11, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 42: Madame in Charge
The newlyweds Ming Lan and Gu Ting Ye head back to the Sheng family to meet the family and are introduced to Aunt Kang, Madame Wang's sister. She can't stand that Ming Lan married so well and already starts to plot against her. Elsewhere, Ming Lan's new stepmother-in-law also sends her troops to control Ming Lan's new home in the form of servants. Ming Lan though, trained well by her grandmother, shows the new staff who's really in charge.
October 04, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Eps 41: New Hair, New Clothes, New Enemies
It's the first day after Gu Ting Ye and Ming Lan's wedding! Ming Lan is now officially a wife! Unfortunately that means that she also has to deal with new enemies, namely the rest of the Gu family. She is quickly summoned to meet the older ladies of the Gu family and has to deal with a tricky task. Luckily for Ming Lan, Gu Ting Ye has her back. The newlyweds also head back to the Sheng family to greet Ming Lan's family.
September 27, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 40 pt 2: Who knew getting Married was this Exhausting?
Ming Lan and Gu Ting Ye complete their marriage vows and officially become husband and wife! There's a ton of history and culture to discuss so keep your eyes open as you watch the episode. It's a joyous occasion for all. Ming Lan has an unexpected encounter with Gu Ting Ye's daughter. Gu Ting Ye makes a nighttime trip to buy a meal for his new bride before sharing his vast fortune with her. After the exhausting events of the day, the two finally retire to bed.
September 13, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 40 pt 1: A Song Dynasty Wedding Procession
It's the day of Ming Lan and Gu Ting Ye's Wedding! Gu Ting Ye arrives at the Sheng manor with the wedding party to fetch his bride. Ming Lan is clothed in an extravagant green wedding dress! This is part 1 of episode 40. There's so much culture and history to discuss so we break down the episode and highlight everything that we see!
September 06, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 39: And She Says Yes!
Ming Lan was first quite off put by the tactics Gu Ting Ye employed to secure a marriage with her. However, after hearing his heartfelt confession and his guarantee that she will no longer have to hide and suffer as she currently does if she marries him, she accepts.
August 30, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 38: Spiderman Himself
Gu Ting Ye is determined to marry a daughter of the Sheng Family. Ru Lan finally accepts this marriage and arranges a final meeting with her beloved Wen Yan Jing, only to be spotted by Gu Ting Ye. The Sheng Family has no choice but to push Ming Lan out to marry Gu Ting Ye. Meanwhile Qi Heng does well on the Imperial Exams and has his mother propose marriage to the Sheng Family. Who will prevail?
August 22, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 37: When Plotting A Marriage Requires Military Tactics
Several marriages are causing drama in the Sheng family. Ming Lan's planned marriage is halted after being insulted and threatened by He Hong Wen's cousin's family while Ru Lan's love story is put in danger with the random appearance of Gu Ting Ye's marriage proposal. Too many schemes are happening just so Gu Ting Ye can get married!
August 16, 2021
Intro to the Movie: Palace 宫锁沉香 (2013)
In celebration of the 2 year anniversary of this podcast, please enjoy this special episode about the movie The Palace (2013). We discuss the plot, cast, and most importantly the history shown in the movie! We see some familiar faces and are brought back to a familiar time in history. Zhao Li Ying (Zanilia Zhao), the actress of Ming Lan in The Story of Ming Lan is the antagonist in this Qing Dynasty movie. While the plot leaves us wanting, the history and costume design are top notch. Let us know your thoughts!
August 16, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 36: Showing Who's Boss
With a new Emperor on the throne, Gu Ting Ye returns home as a favored general for the Emperor. He is able to retrieve his prized spear and declare to his brother and stepmother that he will fight for the title of marquis. Elsewhere, Ming Lan is waiting a marriage proposal from He Hong Wen but a random cousin of his shows up and wants to be his concubine. Ming Lan let's it be known that it is either her or the cousin. She will not share a husband.
August 10, 2021
The Story Of Ming Lan - Ep 34+35: The Emperor's Tough Choice
Probably the two most confusing episodes in the drama, the story turns to focus on politics where a plot to take the imperial throne is underway. Gu Ting Ye aids an unfavored royal family member to the palace while concubines are taking military family members hostage and a prince instigates a coup. All the while, the fate of the entire Song empire falls on Ming Lan's shoulders.
August 03, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan: Ep 33: Revenge at Last
Mo Lan finally gets her wish in marrying Liang Han but is sent off in a wedding that feels more like a funeral. Mistress Lin is severely punished for her actions by none other than her husband, Sheng Hong and exiled from the city. At long last, Ming Lan saw the downfall of the woman who killed her mother and unborn brother.
July 26, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 32: AHHH!! My Heavens!
Mo Lan's illicit relationship is discovered by her father. Chaos ensues as rumors begin to trickle out to the rest of the Capital. Madame Wang and Sheng Hong cry to the heavens over what to do with this ungrateful daughter. Mistress Lin continues to scheme and push for Mo Lan to marry into the aristocracy. Grandma Sheng becomes absolutely furious at the turn of events. Does Mo Lan get what she wants at the end? Listen to find out!
July 19, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 31: Like Mother Like Daughter In All the Worst Ways
Mo Lan is increasingly agitated to hear that Ming Lan might marry into nobility while their father only made a match with a poor student for herself. So, she decides, with goading from her mother that this is the only way to secure wealth and status, to let go of all humility and shame and throw herself at Liang Han, the son of a Count. Little do they know, it's all going according to Ming Lan's plan.
July 13, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 29+30: What Better Way to Cure Heartache than to Seek Revenge?
After being let down by Qi Heng, Ming Lan turns her attention to what truly matters - revenge against her mother's death. Countess Wu has her sights on having Ming Lan as a daughter in law and invites her to various events. Ming Lan seizes this opportunity to see what kind of mistake she can force her sister and Mistress Lin to make.
July 05, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 28: The Decision to Regret a Lifetime
The Duke of Qi has gone missing. Qi Heng and his mother try in vain to find him but to no avail. With no other option, Qi Heng heads to the Prince of Yong's estate. The trap was laid for him The Princess Consort threatens Qi Heng with the destruction of Ming Lan's family if he doesn't agree to a marriage with her daughter. He has no other choice but to agree. Ming Lan finds out and is heartbroken. Gu Ting Ye learns the news and immediately offers his services to Qi Heng to help him fight for Ming Lan, but Qi Heng does prioritizes his family and the safety of Ming Lang's family over his happiness. The story between Ming Lan and Qi Heng comes to an end.
June 28, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 27: The Banquet of Truth
Ming Lan returns to the Capital and continues her investigation of her mother's death. The women of the Sheng family are invited to a grand banquet at the Gu Manor. The young duke manages to steal some time with Ming Lan to proclaim his love for her. Gu Ting Ye crashes the party later to warn Ming Lan that Qi Heng will not keep his promise. Sure enough, Qi Heng's mother reveals the truth about their family's predicament that will force Qi Heng to choose between his family and Ming Lan.
June 22, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 26: Chaos at the Lantern Festival
Ming Lan returns to the Capital to hear that Qi Heng, the young duke, has been feuding with his mother to secure his and Ming Lan's marriage. Shortly after, the Lantern Festival celebrations are dashed with the kidnapping of a prominent woman with royal connections, causing fear in the city. Elsewhere, Ming Lan discovers more about her mother's death.
June 14, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 25: A Successful Separation and a Surprising Guardian Angel
Thanks to Ming Lan's efforts, her cousin Shu Lan is able to successfully separate from her despicable husband. Unfortunately, Ming Lan's great aunt passes shortly after. During the funeral procession, the group is attacked by bandits. Ming Lan becomes separated from the group and is rescued by none other than Gu Ting Ye. Does she make it back safely to the Sheng family?
June 08, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 23pt 2 + Ep 24: A Marriage Story (Shu Lan edition)
Ming Lan and her grandmother make it to their hometown to visit Sheng family relatives. Once there, they discover the abusive marriage one of the cousins, Shu Lan, is currently trapped in and try to help save her. Elsewhere, Gu Ting Ye enters the military to begin building a career for himself.
June 01, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan: Ep 22 + 23 pt 1: Knight in Shining Armor
Qi Heng thought his mother would help him propose marriage to Ming Lan but instead, she asked the Sheng daughters to be Qi Heng's sisters. Knowing that this devastated her granddaughter, Grandma Sheng brings Ming Lan on a trip to visit their Sheng family relatives to clear help her head. On the way though, Qi Heng follows Ming Lan via ship and vows he'll marry her, whatever his mother says. Later, Ming Lan's ship is attacked by bandits/pirates. She is saved by none other than Gu Ting Ye.
May 25, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 21: Stir-Fry and Lanterns
Gu Ting Ye has left the Capital to search for his son. Elsewhere, Qi Heng prepares thoughtful surprises for his mother's birthday in hopes of securing her permission to marry Ming Lan. Meanwhile, Ming Lan finally reaps the benefits of her long laid trap to rid her household of spies.
May 20, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 19 + 20: With Family Members Like These, Who Needs Enemies
Gu Ting Ye gets into an argument with his father over his marriage proposal with catastrophic consequences - his father passes away. His beloved stepmother takes this opportunity to reveal that she was lying about her affection to Gu Ting Ye all these years in order to kick him out of the family which she and Gu Ting Ye's older brother are effectively able to do. To add insult to injury, Gu Ting Ye also discovers that his mistress was also lying about everything and was in fact a gold digger all along.
May 12, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan: Ep 18 - Green Tea B****
Ming Lan gets to showcase her skills in preventing her best friend, Yu Yan Ran from being bullied by Man Niang - an outside mistress of Gu Ting Ye. Ming Lan immediately sees through Man Niang's character as a Green Tea B**** and puts her in her place. This prevents Gu Ting Ye from successfully proposing to Yan Ran but at least it's a satisfying display of Ming Lan's ability to stand her ground in matters of the household.
May 03, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 17: The Price of Love
After a triumphant display at the polo match, Ming Lan comes face to face, alone, with the young Duke of Qi. He professes his intentions to marry her which surprises her but she recognizes that her status does not befit his station. Regardless, he is willing to try to marry her as his wife. Back home, she is reprimanded by her father for participating in the polo match while Mistress Lin tries to get Sheng Hong to match her daughter with the Duke.
April 26, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan: Ep 16 - Love Matches at the Polo Match!
Countess Wu hosts a grand event! Everyone from the capital is in attendance! The main event of the episode is a polo match. Ming Lan attends with her family and decides to spend time with her best friend Yu Yan Ran. The Young Duke, Qi Heng, and Gu Ting Ye are also at the event. Yan Ran discovers that a prize for winning a polo match is actually one of her deceased mother's possessions and joins the polo match to try and win the prize from her own sister. Ming Lan, wanting to help her friend, replaces her in the match and is surprised to find out that her partner is none other than Qi Heng. What happens? Listen to find out!
April 20, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 15: Mini Promotion Time!
Ming Lan is given a mini promotion after both Madame Wang and Mistress Lin committed egregious errors in the last episode. With no suitable candidate to run the Sheng family household, Grandma Sheng recommends Ming Lan. This is the first time we see Ming Lan starting to stand up for herself and we are here for it!
April 13, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 13+14: Watch What You Say
Gu Ting Ye learns some devastating news from his father. He will have to find another career as he will not be able to take any more Imperial Exams until the age of 50. Dejected, he plans to leave the capital with his mistress and their children. His mistress Man Niang though seems to have other plans. In the Sheng family, the master, Sheng Hong is summoned by the Emperor and confined in the Palace. Madame Wang tries to seize an opportunity and dispose of her rival Mistress Lin but fails. Sheng Hong returns from his ordeal and punishes his son Chang Feng. What happened at the Palace? Listen to find out
April 05, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 12: Nightmare of One's Youth - The Exam
In this episode, we first discuss what the Chinese Imperial Exam is all about before seeing how Chang Bai, Chang Feng, Qi Heng and Gu Ting Ye fair in their first ever Metropolitan exam.
March 30, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 11: Scholarly debate
The Sheng daughters finished their lessons with Kong Mo Mo and are now back with Scholar Zhuang studying with the young men. In this episode, there is a spirited debate by the students on who is better - the eldest or the most capable. We dissect each historical example raised by the students and discuss Ming Lan's insightful conclusion.
March 22, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 9 pt 2 + 10: How to Become a Song Dynasty Lady
The Sheng daughters learn 3 of the 4 arts of life prominent during the Song Dynasty. But these skills are not the only things they learn. After tensions blow up between 5th daughter Ru Lan and 6th daughter Mo Lan, Kong Mo Mo, a formidable woman, reprimands not just the daughters, but their parents as well.
March 14, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 8 + 9pt1: Wealth vs Nobility
Gu Ting Ye brings his nanny to care for his mistress and two young children. After she arrives, she shares that Gu Ting Ye's mother was tricked into marrying his father and was treated very poorly because she came from a merchant family whereas the Gu family is of nobility. Gu Ting Ye's mother's dowry was used to repay the heavy debts that the Gu family incurred. This story deeply angers Gu Ting Ye. Elsewhere, the ladies of the Sheng family start taking lessons with Kong Mo Mo, an old friend of Grandma Sheng, to improve their manners.
March 07, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 6+7: Sneak Peek
The Sheng family receives unexpected guests which makes at least one of the Sheng daughters curious. In the end, the 3 Sheng daughters sneak to the main hall for a peak at the Countess and her son. Elsewhere, Gu Ting Ye is embroiled in rocky family dynamics now he's returned to the Capital City
March 01, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 5: Off to school!
The Sheng children have arrived in the capital city and are off to school! Years pass and we finally get to meet our main cast! A handsome young duke Qi Heng studies with the Sheng family and he is quite smitten with Ming Lan. Unfortunately, Ming Lan's two older sisters Mo Lan and Ru Lan are quite jealous of any show of affection from the young duke. Ming Lan has no choice but to avoid Qi Heng. Gu Ting Ye, who has been away for a few years studying at another academy, returns to study with the Sheng family. How will the sisters react?
February 22, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 3+4: Establishing the Roles in the Sheng Family
The presumed dead Gu Ting Ye appears at his grandfather's funeral, dashing some family members' plans to steal his inheritance. Ming Lan's mother goes into labor but the devious Mistress Lin doesn't aid the suffering woman. Ming Lan tries desperately to find a doctor but by the time she does, it's too late. Master Sheng and Madame Wang are furious at the turn of events and punish the servants. Grandma Sheng decides to raise Ming Lan under her care. The family leaves for the capital as Master Sheng is promoted. What will be in store for Ming Lan now that she has lost her mother?
February 15, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan Eps 2 - The trouble with coal
In this episode, little Ming Lan tries to improve her mother's living conditions after winning favor with her father. Her father Sheng Hong is outraged to find the destitute living conditions she and her mother lives in and tries to investigate. However the devious Mistress Lin is one step ahead and artfully implicates an innocent maid. On a peaceful boat ride, bandits try to assassinate two young boys. What happens to one of them?
February 08, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan - Ep 1: Engagement Party Drama
The drama begins by introducing us to two main conflicts. The first is that young Ming Lan, the main character of the show, and her mother are unable to secure coal to help them through the winter. The second, is that Ming Lan's oldest sister, Hua Lan's engagement party is almost ruined. Their brother drank too much and almost loses his sister's betrothal gift in a bet. We are introduced to the dynamics of the Sheng household and some interesting traditions of Chinese marriage during the Song Dynasty.
February 01, 2021
The Story of Ming Lan: Intro to the Drama
Set in the Northern Song Dynasty, this drama depicts the life of the 6th daughter of the Sheng family, Sheng Ming Lan. Though not of high birth, she is able to use her intelligence and perseverance to secure happiness in this interesting time period. This podcast episode provides the historical background of this drama, the Story of Ming Lan/ 知否知否硬是绿肥红瘦 and introduces the 2 main leads.
January 25, 2021
Empresses In The Palace - Final Thoughts
We conclude our discussion of Empresses In The Palace with our final thoughts. We discuss the historical figures the key characters are based off of and fun facts about the cast and crew. Lastly, we share our thoughts on the impact of this drama.
January 18, 2021
Empresses In The Palace - Ep 75 + 76: Revenge is Bittersweet
Zhen Huan is filled with hatred towards the Emperor after the death of the 17th Prince. Ning Pin schemes to slowly poison the Emperor. Zhen Huan seizes power in the Palace as the failing Emperor's suspicions towards the 6th prince reignites. In a final confrontation between the Emperor and Zhen Huan, Zhen Huan reveals her hatred towards the Emperor. The drama ends with Zhen Huan taking the mantle as Empress Dowager of the Qing Dynasty as her adoptive son, the 4th Prince, ascends the throne.
January 11, 2021
Empresses In The Palace - Ep 73+74: The Last Goodbye
The Emperor has finally caught on to the 17th prince's feelings towards Zhen Huan and sets multiple traps for the 17th prince to confirm his suspicions. Unfortunately, the 17th prince falls directly in those traps and the Emperor forces Zhen Huan to kill her beloved in an act of jealousy. In their final meeting, the 17th prince drinks the poison she wanted for herself to protect Zhen Huan one last time.
January 03, 2021
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 72: I cannot do it
The Empress and Emperor meet for one final showdown. The Empress finally confesses to her crimes but how will the Emperor react? What will happen to the Empress? The Emperor also has to deal with growing unrest in the Empire as a familiar face comes back to stir trouble for Zhen Huan
December 29, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 70+71: Check Mate
Zhen Huan continues to turn her attention to her biggest enemy in the Imperial Harem, the Empress. She needs to destroy the Empress's remaining power in the Palace, her adoptive son the 3rd Prince. Zhen Huan and her faction are forced to make sacrifices along the way as they devise plans against the Empress. Will they succeed?
December 21, 2020
Empresses In The Palace - Ep 69: Like Mother Like Son...But Not In A Good Way
The 3rd prince is following in his birth mother's footsteps in making decisions but not considering its consequences. He has fallen in love with one of his father's concubines, the beautiful Noble Lady Ying and is determined to make it work. Don't need to explain how that won't work. Meanwhile, there is drama brewing in the 17th prince's household as his two concubines fight for his attention
December 13, 2020
Empresses In The Palace - Ep 68: The Truth is in the Fragrance
An Ling Rong's pregnancy comes to abrupt end with some help from Zhen Huan. That's just the beginning. An Ling Rong meets finally meets her downfall as Zhen Huan and her faction exposes her of her misdeeds in the past. The two former friends meet for one final conversation where An Ling Rong makes a shocking statement
December 07, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 67: Little Bird
The Empress Dowager passes away which means the Empress loses a crucial ally. She needs to find ways to secure her own faction. An Ling Rong becomes pregnant and the Empress wants to promote her to a Consort. However, the title An Ling Rong receives leaves her seething with anger. What is this title? Listen to find out!
November 30, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 66: The One Happily Ever After
The Emperor has his eyes set on Zhen Huan's youngest sister as she reminds him of his late wife. Unfortunately, she and the Emperor's 19th brother have already declared love for each other. Elsewhere, Zhen Huan's foes are starting to fall, leaving the Empress with fewer and fewer allies.
November 23, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 65: The Substitute Wives
The Emperor has started setting his sights on other conquests and this time, he turned to Zhen Huan's sisters. In order to escape this attention, Huan Bi, Zhen Huan's maid/half-sister, may or may not have orchestrated an opportunity to align herself with the 17th prince. While she has loved him for many years, he still only has eyes for Zhen Huan. Unfortunately, in order to prevent any further suspicion between him and Zhen Huan, he accepts marrying Huan Bi and the daughter of a duke, Meng Jing Xian.
November 16, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 64: The Chrysanthemum Wilts
After a tumultuous day, Zhen Huan's heavily pregnant best friend, Shen Mei Zhuang, suffers a shock that forces her into labor. Though the doctors do their best to save both mother and daughter, Shen Mei Zhuang passes away with the two people she cares for most by her bedside. On a lighter note, after the events of the adultery accusation, Zhen Huan's younger sister gains the attention of both the Emperor and the 19th prince.
November 09, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 62pt2 + 63: The Interrogation
Zhen Huan is accused of adultery by the Empress's team in front of the entire Imperial Harem. The supposed lover though? The imperial doctor Wen Shi Chu. This is clearly a set up in an effort to destroy Zhen Huan. The Empress's team does everything in its power to prove Zhen Huan's infidelity while Zhen Huan's team work together to protect her. In an intense scene as the two sides battle it out in front of the Emperor, Zhen Huan must keep her nerve as she is accused that the Emperor is not the father of her twin children.
November 02, 2020
Empresses in the Palace Ep 62 pt 1 - Skating to Favor
An Ling Rong lost her voice in the last episode and needs to claw her way back into favor. She hatches a plan to perform a show on the ice. However, to do so, she must practice skating and lose a lot of weight to capture the attention of the Emperor. Zhen Huan is more than happy to assist her if it means that An Ling Rong will never be able bear children. This is the calm before the storm that will engulf Zhen Huan and her loved ones.
October 26, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 61: Players - Choose Your Team!
After successfully giving birth to twins, Zhen Huan enjoys a promotion and is now the second most powerful woman in the Imperial Harem, just behind the Empress. This of course, prompts the Empress to start further retaliation against Zhen Huan. As these two powerful factions emerge in the palace, the various ladies have to decide which team to be a part of.
October 19, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 60: A Sigh of Relief
Following the discovery of the forbidden relationship between Zhen Huan's head maid and the Emperor's head eunuch, Zhen Huan masterfully secures their release from hard labor and further corporal punishment after a carefully crafted conversation with the Emperor. Both maid and eunuch are returned to their posts with fines. Later on, Zhen Huan, heavily pregnant with twins, meets her former lover, the 17th prince. After a heartfelt encounter, she is attacked by a group of cats that causes her to go into labor. Fortunately, she successfully gives birth to a healthy boy and girl.
October 12, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 59: The Empress Strikes Back
Shen Mei Zhuang is pregnant but who is the father? The doctor has his hands full to take care of two pregnancies. It's been smooth sailing for Zhen Huan for a while and the Empress needs to strike. She gets the perfect opportunity to do some from a tip from a former ally. What does Zhen Huan have to do to protect herself and her servants?
October 05, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 58: He Who Wears Green Hats
Zhen Huan, having found her footing back in the Imperial Harem, has started to retaliate against her enemies. She quickly confines Qi Pin, the woman who's father framed her own father for crimes that exiled him, and her former friend An Ling Rong. Both of these ladies were part of the Empress's group who is public enemy number 1. Meanwhile, the Emperor finally visits Zhen Huan's best friend, Shen Mei Zhuang. The two have an awkward dinner where the Empress Dowager even sends them some alcohol to help them along but he decides to leave. She is saddened by her current state, gets drunk and her servants call for the Imperial Doctor Wen Shi Chu to provide her some medicine. After he arrives, one thing leads to another and... the emperor once again wears a green hat.
September 24, 2020
Disney's Mulan (2020) Part 2: Give me back my Mushu! - Full Movie Recap and Review
[Spoilers!] We really wanted to enjoy this movie but unfortunately, this fell short of our expectations. Listen to our full recap of the movie with our thoughts and explanations of various easter eggs, nods or inaccuracies to Chinese culture and history. Our review of the film starts at around the 33min mark. Overall, we give this film a 5/10. Including a CGI dragon called Mushu voiced by Eddie Murphy may have saved some of this film.
September 14, 2020
Disney's Mulan (2020) Part 1: Summary and History
[No Spoilers!] The new Mulan is out! In this spoiler free discussion of the movie, we provide an overview of the film, an introduction to the main actors and describe the historical background of Mulan. Listen to this episode to learn about the centuries old ballad that inspired this movie, the enemy that threatens the Mulan's home and the dynasty this story is set in. We further discuss make up and costumes seen in this film. Part 2 will be our full review of this film!
September 09, 2020
Empresses In The Palace Ep 57: Laying out the Chess Pieces
Zhen Huan is back at the palace and already fending off attacks to her life and her unborn child. She, being older and wiser now, is ready to face these challenges and starts gathering intel in the palace. She see there is conflict between two concubines, one of whom's father framed her own father several years ago and caused her family to be exiled. She does not provide any mercy before starting her retaliation, albeit in a cunning way, against those who have wronged her.
September 01, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Eps 56: I'm back baby!
Zhen Huan finally returns to the Imperial Harem after three years. She is back with a vengeance! Look at that makeup, the hair, the clothes! How will the other ladies in the Imperial Harem react to her return? Some are happy but the majority are not. All we can say is Zhen Huan is BACK
August 25, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Episode 55: Surprise Pikachu Face
In an effort to protect her grandkids, the Empress Dowager decides to allow Zhen Huan, now pregnant, to return to the palace. The Emperor, now with his mother's permission, is resolute in bringing Zhen Huan back. So much so that he gives Zhen Huan a new identity to make her path as smooth as possible, much to the surprise of the Empress. But as Zhen Huan is preparing to return to the palace, she receives a shocking surprise.
August 17, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 54: Halted by the Stars
Zhen Huan "reveals" her pregnancy to the Emperor who is ecstatic at the news. Zhen Huan plots to return to the palace as a concubine but word reaches the Empress. She plots to prevent Zhen Huan's return to the Imperial Harem with the help of an Imperial Astronomer. Zhen huan needs to find another path to return. The Empress turns her attention towards the Emperor's remaining sons.
August 11, 2020
Empresses in the Palace Eps 52 + 53: Only One Path Forward
The Empress continues to wield her power in the Imperial Harem by manipulating a Consort into harming a new concubine. While the Empress Dowager sees through these horrible acts, there is no one in the Imperial Harem powerful enough to counter the Empress. Meanwhile, Zhen Huan, pregnant with the 17th prince's child, hears devastating news. She has to decide how to proceed given her precarious situation and the need to provide medical attention to her exiled father. Her only route is to seek attention from none other than the Emperor.
August 04, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Eps 50 + 51: Planning for the Happily Ever After
The main character Zhen Huan is blissfully enjoying quality time with the 17th prince. He, wanting to cement their relationship, decides that the two sign a marriage contract. The two do so before he heads off on a trip assigned to him by the emperor. Elsewhere in the palace, the emperor fell ill due to stress from work but also because in his subconscious, he missed Zhen Huan. When he wakes up, he takes a liking a horse tamer maid named Ye Lan Yi and makes her into a concubine. Many of the women in the imperial harem are jealous but they need not have been. Ye Lan Yi does not like the emperor and did not wish to become a concubine at all.
July 28, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 48-49: A Rom Com Interlude
These 2 episodes give the opportunity for the 17th Prince to fully showcase his love for Zhen Huan and be that knight in shining armor. He rescues her when she is sick and stays outside her residence in the evenings to make sure she is safe. Do his efforts pay off? Elsewhere, the Emperor has decided it's time to eliminate another threat so he instructs his mother, the Empress Dowager, to remove the minister Long Ke Duo. The love/hate relationship between the two is revealed and the Empress Dowager ultimately does her duty to the throne.
July 21, 2020
Empresses in the Palace Ep 46-47: Life as a Nun
Zhen huan leaves behind her life as an Imperial Concubine after giving birth to her daughter to become a nun at a temple outside of the palace. Her life there is challenging but she does it in order to keep her daughter safe. Inside the palace, the Empress is gloating about finally removing the threat that is Zhen Huan. Once she confirms that Zhen Huan is now harmless, she is able to have full control of the palace with her minions, An Ling Rong and Qi Pin. It is evident, however, that the Emperor is still not over Zhen Huan but it seems that Zhen Huan is resigned with doing hard labor at the nunnery.
July 13, 2020
Empresses in the Palace Ep 45 - The "Death" of Zhen Huan
Things continue to go downhill for the pregnant Zhen Huan. This time, her family is in trouble and her father is first imprisoned before the family is exiled to a cold and destitute location. All of this was done to hurt Zhen Huan by the Empress and her pawn, An Ling Rong. The two manipulative ladies, seeing that Zhen Huan is about to give birth, devise a way to cause her to miscarry in an effort to kill both mother and child. Despite this, the most devastating blow comes from none other than the Emperor himself. Zhen Huan discovers the source of all her favoritism and attention these past years in the palace. Will she be able to cope with the news?
June 29, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Episode 44: Unexpected Surprises
This episode of Empresses in the Palace is full of unexpected surprises, and most of them are not good. The main character Zhen Huan is bedridden after falling from favor in the last episode. In an effort to get a doctor to see Zhen Huan, a huge sacrifice is made by one of Zhen Huan's loyal servants. When the doctor finally does arrive, it's revealed that Zhen Huan is pregnant! While this may be the only way Zhen Huan can keep her position in the palace, she is not overjoyed. Later on in the episode, Zhen Huan's friend, the imperial doctor, Wen Shi Chu also tells Zhen Huan that a gift she's been using for a long time contains a very harmful substance which was probably the root cause of her miscarriage many months ago. Zhen Huan is disgusted but it seems that all her enemies have revealed themselves. Her goal now is to make sure her pregnancy comes to term.
June 22, 2020
Empresses in the palace Ep 43: Nothing but a replacement
Having vanquished the famous Hua Fei, Zhen Huan thought she could have some peace in the Imperial Harem. Little does she know, other people have turned their attention towards her as the next target in the Imperial Harem. Zhen Huan unknowingly falls into a trap set by the scheming Empress. Zhen Huan learns of a heartbreaking secret that might break her spirit in the Imperial Harem.
June 16, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 41 + 42 Death of a Titan
In our longest episode yet, we close a chapter in Zhen huan's journey in the Imperial Harem with the death of one of our fan favorites. A new Noble Lady joins the ranks but is she an ally or an enemy? We also say farewell to one more woman who was perhaps doomed from the beginning by her own greed and circumstance.
June 03, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 39+40: Game, Set, Match
Despite Consort Hua's best efforts to retain favor for her family, the Emperor is focused on eliminating threats to his throne which involves getting rid of Consort Hua's brother, the famous General, Nian Geng Yao. The Emperor works with court ministers and advisors to figure out what to do with Nian Geng Yao while Zhen Huan works to bring down Consort Hua in the Imperial Harem. The result? The once powerful Nian clan sees its fall from grace.
May 25, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 37+38: Will a last minute concubine save her?
The Emperor continues to set his trap for Hua Fei's family. Zhen Huan continues to strengthen alliances in the Imperial Harem as she also plots for Hua Fei's downfall. Hua Fei realizes she's in a precarious position and makes a heart-breaking decision to have one of her maids become a concubine. But is this enough for her?
May 16, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Eps 36: Take a Step Back
The 10th Prince is still causing trouble for the Emperor. Zhen Huan again delivers a plan to satisfy all parties. However, she also recognizes that it's time for Consort Nian to be restored back to favor. The Empress Dowager warns Zhen Huan about the dangers in meddling in the affairs of court.
May 10, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 35: Leveling Up
Zhen Huan has successfully recaptured the attention of the Emperor and is now back on top. With the experience of her miscarriage behind her, she is now a transformed woman. Zhen Huan spends the whole episode strategizing to strengthen her position in the palace. This time though, she is much more firm and will not be pushed around again.
May 04, 2020
Empresses in the Palace Ep 34: The Butterfly Effect
Zhen Huan finally recognizes the severity of situation and her own naivety. She hatches a plan to regain favor from the Emperor with the help from some butterflies. The Emperor needs to decide marriage candidates to secure an alliance. The rest of the ladies in Imperial Harem are worried about their own future prospects with Zhen Huan's change in fortune.
April 26, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 32 + 33: Being "Slapped" Out of It
While An Ling Rong has recaptured the attention of the Emperor and has now been promoted to a Noble Lady, her friend, the main character, Zhen Huan is still heartbroken over her miscarriage. It's been months but Zhen Huan's depression causes a rift between her and the emperor. These 2 episodes revolve around her friends, allies and even the Empress Dowager, trying to help push Zhen Huan to understand that she needs to snap out of it. Otherwise, more suffering and pain may be in her future. Only until Zhen Huan is quite literally "slapped" out of it, does she finally decide to take some action.
April 21, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 31 Part II: Power Vacuum in the Imperial Harem
The Emperor and Zhen huan are still grieving over the their child. He hasn't entered the Imperial Harem in a while. Both Zhen Huan and the newly demoted Consort Nian have fallen out of favor. The Empress sees this as an opportunity to have another woman capture the Emperor's attention. Who is she?
April 15, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 30 + 31pt1: The Secret Behind the Fragrance
Due to Hua Fei's reign of terror, Zhen Huan unfortunately loses her child. Hua Fei is punished severely and the episode revolves around the aftermath of the miscarriage. It turns out, there are more sinister forces that caused the miscarriage beyond Hua Fei's arrogance and punishment. Instead, it is Hua Fei's, now demoted to be called Nian Fei, special fragrance called Huan Yi Xiang that is the root to many mysteries in the palace. Thanks to Zhen Huan's friends, the Imperial Doctor, Wen Shi Chu, and An Ling Rong, a fellow concubine, Zhen Huan is able to understand why.
April 11, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 29: Reign of Terror
The Empress got what she wanted or rather who she wanted. The Emperor and Empress leave the Forbidden City for a short trip but that means leaving the newly promoted Noble Consort Hua in charge. What will happen during her reign of terror? Spoilers starting roughly 21:40.
April 06, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 28: Setting the traps
In this episode, the Emperor and Empress begin to lay their traps for their respective prey. Hua fei's brother is becoming increasingly insolent but the Emperor is aware of all his actions. The mother of the 3rd Prince, Consort Qi, is tricked into becoming a willing pawn for the Empress. Hua Fei is promoted to a Noble Consort but many are not happy about this news.
March 27, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 27: It Doesn't Pay to be a Foodie
In Episode 27 of Empresses in the Palace, the main character, Zhen Huan is pregnant andjust in time for her birthday. The emperor is very excited to celebrate with her and even asks his brother, the 17th Prince, to help plan the festivities. It's quite a display and, of course, causes many of the other ladies in the imperial harem to be jealous. Unfortunately, the rest of the episode isn't as rosy. One of Zhen Huan's main friends in the palace, this cute and bubbly girl who loves eating sweets, meets an unceremonious end during a trip out in the garden.
March 22, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 26: Keep your mouth shut
Our heroine is pregnant but plenty of people are seething at this news. Hua fei is upset that she's not pregnant and tries everything she can to become pregnant. We learn a bit more about old feuds and past miscarriages. Zhen Huan gets promoted to a Concubine but does she realize the danger she's in? Spoiler section begins at 27:50
March 15, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 25: The Cat's Out of the Bag
A seemingly harmless garden viewing party at the Empress's palace ends in chaos when the Empress's cat "accidentally" attacks the pregnant concubine, causing her to have a miscarriage. This accident was orchestrated by none other than the Empress herself and her new pawn, An Ling Rong. In a surprise twist, Zhen Huan, the main character, finds out she is also pregnant. While she is very pleased, it's clear that her pregnancy will attract a lot of unwanted and harmful attention.
March 01, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 23 + 24: The Plague
Episode 23 and 24 is focused on the plague that rocks the imperial palace. Even though everyone is trying to find a cure, Consort Hua manages to infect Shen Mei Zhuang with the disease as a way to get rid of her for good. Fortunately, Zhen Huan steps in and asks her friend, the imperial doctor, Wen Shi Chu to help. Zhen Huan is also able to help clear Shen Mei Zhuang's name after the fake pregnancy scandal。 She shows the Emperor evidence that Consort Hua was the mastermind behind everything. However, Consort Hua ultimately does not get punished. Elsewhere in the palace, Noble Lady Fu Cha is pregnant (for real!) which is exciting and disappointing to many in the imperial harem and we see further glimpses of the Empress's true nature.
February 22, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 22: The ladies head to the Opera!
Hua Fei's side hustle is working quite well for her. She is making a fortune accepting bribes. Everyone at the Palace more or less knows what's happening but will anyone stop her? Meanwhile, Zhen Huan and An Ling Rong continue to drift apart. It's almost the New Year so the concubines head to the opera! We'll discuss Peking Opera and exactly what the ladies pick to watch. Only in this drama do they make us do so much research on opera titles and stories to understand how they're trying to talk to each other. Enjoy!
February 07, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 21: Turning to the Dark Side
Hua Fei humiliates the main character Zhen Huan and An Ling Rong after summoning these two ladies to perform for her and the Emperor. We analyze the two poems that were performed. This humiliation, coupled with the fact that a cute, younger concubine named Chun Er is becoming closer to Zhen Huan, creates deeper chasms between Zhen Huan and An Ling Rong. By the end of the episode, we start seeing An Ling Rong turning away from Zhen Huan and joining the Empress's team. Elsewhere, further evidence is provided of Hua Fei's corruption and her brother Nian Geng Yao's arrogance.
January 31, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 19+20: Historical beauties and silk brocades
In this jam packed episode, Zhen Huan finally wins a round against Hua Fei. She unknowingly flirts with a handsome Prince and confronts a backstabbing sister. Even though Hua Fei seems to have regained favor, it's not all flowers and roses for her. The Imperial Court and Imperial Harem are closely linked. Does anyone understand the pieces on the board?
January 23, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 17+18: Collateral Damage - Family is sometimes the worst
It's looking like Zhen Huan has solidified her position in the Imperial Harem as her friend An Ling Rong gains favor from the Emperor. Hua Fei plots to destroy Zhen Huan, using the princess as a pawn. The princess's mother has no choice but to agree. After a few close calls, Zhen Huan finally realizes that there's a mole in her palace. Who could it be?
January 13, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 16: Golden Threads Win the Night
Things are getting desperate for some ladies in the Imperial Harem. New alliance need to be made while cracks are starting to from in others. Zhen huan must push another woman into the Emperor's bed. Who does she choose? How do they do it? To catch the Emperor's eye, you need more than just singing and flowers.
January 07, 2020
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 15: The Fake Pregnancy Scandal
All the excitement and happiness around Shen Mei Zhuang's pregnancy unfortunately turns out to be...fake. She's the victim of a scheme to get her killed and she fell for it. Her "fake pregnancy plot" was uncovered right in front of the Emperor and he has her punished. Zhen Huan tries to protect herself from the fallout and save her friend but has to endure humiliation from all sides.
December 24, 2019
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 14: Rising from the ashes - with the help of a Tang Dynasty Consort and a powerful brother
Zhen Huan just dazzled everyone with her dance the last episode but Hua Fei steals her thunder to regain favor with the Emperor. An Ling Rong receives some bad news about her father. The three ladies must weigh their options to save An Ling Rong's father. Alliances are created and cracks are formed. Who wins this round?
December 16, 2019
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 13: Princes and Dances, just your normal birthday bash
The ladies of the Imperial Harem have settled down in the Summer Palace. All seems quiet but Hua Fei's not going to stay out of favor for long. There's a birthday celebration for a princess and we get to meet a lot of princes. At the birthday bash, Zhen Huan performs one of the most iconic dances of the drama. Will that be enough to secure her favor with the Emperor?
December 07, 2019
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 12: Summer Vacation Time! What Could Go Wrong?
Following all of the recent drama, the Emperor decides to take a summer retreat with several ladies in his imperial harem. They head out to the beautiful Yuan Ming Yuan (圆明园) Gardens. Zhen Huan and her friend, Shen Mei Zhuang, marvel at the luxurious amenities of this summer palace, which unfortunately, no longer exist today. Though calm on the surface during this trip, we see displays of the Emperor's dangerous paranoia towards everyone around him. Elsewhere, Shen Mei Zhuang is eager to obtain the most valuable asset in the imperial harem - a child. The question is, will she succeed?
November 23, 2019
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 11: Do you believe in ghosts?
Episode 11 of Empresses in the Palace sees the main character, Zhen Huan, and her friends putting on a show to root out the main culprit behind the plot against Zhen Huan's life in the last episode. The ghost show is successful and causes the main antagonist, Hua Fei, to lose an ally. This episode is very fun to watch and we have an even more enjoyable time discussing ghosts, superstitions and traditions around death in Chinese culture and history.
November 14, 2019
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 10: Detective Zhen Huan!
Zhen huan investigates a murder attempt. She finally decides to enter the battlefield that is the imperial harem with surprisingly good results
November 04, 2019
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 9: Let the murder attempts begin
We discuss episode 9 of 后宫甄嬛传 Empresses in the Palace. Zhen Huan has received a lot of attention from the Emperor, causing much strife within the rest of the Imperial Harem. There's a murder attempt to one of our main characters and it becomes quite obvious that life within the Palace is perilous.
October 17, 2019
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 8: Peppercorns, peanuts, and dumplings! Oh my!
We are discussing episode 8 of 后宫甄嬛传, Empresses in the Palace. The Emperor and Zhen Huan finally have a romantic getaway. The Emperor spends much of this episode showcasing how much he favors her, much to the dismay of the other concubines in the Imperial Harem.
October 08, 2019
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 6+7: Level 1 Opponent
In Episode 6 and 7, the Emperor is enjoying spending time with, what we're calling as a Level 1 opponent, Yu Ying Er. She is a maid that is pretending to be the person the Emperor overhead in the plum garden. But of course, we know that person was actually Zhen Huan. Yu Ying Er is now a favored concubine in the Imperial Harem and is flaunting her favoritism everywhere, much to the annoyance of not just the rest of the ladies in the Imperial Harem, but also the Empress Dowager. Unfortunately for her, Zhen Huan and the Emperor cross paths again not too long after and he quickly forgets this maid and instead, turns his attention to Zhen Huan. Without having to work too hard, Zhen Huan is able to defeat this level 1 adversary.
October 01, 2019
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 5: Party in the Plum Blossom Garden
It's winter time and the main character, Zhen Huan, is still "sick". This results in disrespect by not only her own servants, but servants who are supposed to provide her with much needed materials to survive through the cold. Luckily, her good friend, Shen Mei Zhuang, steps in to help. Meanwhile, at the New Year's Celebration, the Emperor decides to take an evening stroll to see plum blossoms. He overhears none other than Zhen Huan in the garden making a wish but wasn't able to catch a glimpse of her. Fortunately or unfortunately, the young and dashing 17th prince, and a garden maid, Yu, also overhear Zhen Huan's wish.
September 23, 2019
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 4: Please welcome the most important item in this drama
In this episode, Zhen Huan decides to feign illness to avoid attention from the Emperor and confrontation by the other concubines after discovering remnants of a sinister plot against the previous inhabitant of her pavilion. We discuss this sinister plot and how it's related to Chinese medicine. In her absence, Zhen Huan's close friend, Shen Mei Zhuang, starts receiving attention from the Emperor. We learn that she loves the Chrysanthemum flower and delve into why that is and what it means about her. Unfortunately, Hua Fei is not happy to share the affections of the Emperor with these new ladies and makes that clear. We also see how the Emperor has to balance court and his harem as he deals with a rebellion in his empire.
September 12, 2019
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 3: So...what did we get ourselves into?
Zhen Huan and the newly selected concubines are settling into the palace. They quickly find out how deadly and dangerous the imperial harem, or hou gong, can be after just one formal court greeting in front of the Empress and Hua Fei.
September 02, 2019
Empresses in the Palace - Ep 2: Her Fate is Sealed
In Episode 2, we discuss Zhen Huan's deliberation by the Emperor and Empress Dowager as to whether or not she has a spot in the palace. The latter tries a few interesting tricks to keep Zhen Huan from gaining entrance while the Emperor is smitten Spoiler alert: Zhen Huan gets chosen to become a concubine. We also meet the rest of the ladies in the Imperial Palace which makes for an entertaining tea time discussion.
August 26, 2019
Empresses in the Palace - Ep1: Welcome to the Palace!
Chasing Dramas analyzes the episode 1 of hou gong zhen huan zhuan (后宫甄嬛传), Empresses in the Palace. The show begins in 1722 during the Qing Dynasty under the reign of Yong Zheng. We meet several key players in the palace and learn about how ladies are selected to be concubines in the imperial harem
August 22, 2019
Intro to the drama: Empresses in the Palace
Welcome to Chasing Dramas! We are excited to start discussing Empresses in the Palace 后宫甄嬛传. This episode will provide some historical background on the Qing Dynasty and cultural norms for the Imperial Harem before we jump into discussing the actual show.
August 14, 2019
Intro to the podcast: Chasing Dramas
Welcome to Chasing Dramas! This is a podcast that explores Chinese history through historical Chinese TV dramas. This episode introduces basic information about ourselves, Chinese Dramas, and the shows that we will discuss.
August 14, 2019