Chances are the title “Female Prime Minister” already sounds familiar to you since the drama was kinda the hype earlier on in the year. (It aired in spring 2013) Actually the lead actress is not as well known (as far as I know) so I think the main reason everyone was excited about it was that the popular Chen Xiao is the lead actor. >_> Well a long time ago, I checked out a couple random scenes from random episodes (I have no idea why I didn’t start from the beginning, don’t ask.) but it never really clicked with me so I decided not to watch. Also although the idea of the female prime minister made me think ‘gee maybe this is an opportunity for moar GIRL POWER’ I also thought ‘prime minister……..isn’t that like……POLITICS?’. Yup, I didn’t want to get stuck watching a drama about court politics for a whole 59 EPISODES so I was all “…………PASS.” But now here I am, starting the drama all the way from the beginning and guess what..I watched all of these 6 episodes in one day. I didn’t know it would be this addicting, what the heck!?!?
From the start I have always felt iffy about the casting of Zhao Li Ying as Lu Zhen, the heroine. I admit it, I judged a book by its cover and thought that she was definitely not what I imagined a female prime minister would look like. O_O After seeing her in these first 6 episodes though, I believe she is a good choice for the casting because she is both super smart and also very kindhearted all in one. Her appearance makes her look really innocent and young but actually she is unexpectedly clever and quick-witted, which I love!
Anyways at first I wasn’t all that interested in Lu Zhen’s Cinderella story in the beginning episodes. She’s the privileged daughter of a porcelain maker who, of course, is very outspoken, bold, takes part in the family business, and always harps on and on about how she doesn’t want to get married & how men & women should be equal in society. Of course, I totally support Lu Zhen in her GIRL POWER thinking but whenever I see characters like this in period c-dramas, I always feel a bit skeptical because I doubt someone in that time would really be that steadfast in such beliefs. Anyways Lu Zhen is also the victim of a very evil stepmother (no evil stepsister though, the stepsister is actually good) who kills her father, frames Lu Zhen for murder, tries to force Lu Zhen into an arranged marriage with an old guy, etc. etc. Long story short Lu Zhen escapes and enters the palace as a new palace-maid-trainee. Of course we all know that in the end, her time in the palace will eventually lead to her becoming the female prime minister of the kingdom!!! Really that is where things get interesting, so if you would prefer to skip the whole Lu Zhen Cinderella story then I would suggest you start where she enters the palace. (But the beginning episodes do have a lot of background story for the complicated palace-politics so I don’t think you should miss those parts. >_<)
Anyways here Female Prime Minister has A LOT of the typical palace-maid cliches that are often found in the period c-dramas…such as…
- The head maid who is bent on kicking out the heroine.
- The jealous rival maid & her minions who keep on picking on the heroine or stirring up trouble.
- Lu Zhen, of course being the heroine, is still ever-persevering and ALWAYS the best at everything no matter what her bitter enemies try to do to her.
- The evil empress and empress dowager
All of these cliches are there but they don’t feel too overdone or exaggerated. For instance usually all these cliches will obviously be saying “oh, look at the poor poor heroine, victimized by her own fellow maids!” or “oh BLESS HER HEART, she is so kind and wonderful!”. Although Lu Zhen is often the victim of other people’s bad intentions, she does not put on the ‘woe is me’ act; instead she takes all of the bad things that happen to her & turns them into good things. Also I like how Lu Zhen is not totally kindhearted to the point of utter stupidity, nor is she SOOO naive and benevolent that everyone can take advantage of her. *cough* XUE WU IN LAN LING WANG *cough* In fact it is a lot of fun seeing Lu Zhen go through all of these ‘trials’ as she trains to become a palace maid because I actually feel like I can root for her!
Well, as I said before, the title “Female Prime Minister” totally denotes GIRL POWER and as expected, there is A LOT of it! All of the female characters in this drama are really the key players whereas the male characters take the back seat!! Bwahahaha! So far all of the female characters who are already in high-ranking positions (i.e. the other female ministers, the empress dowager, the new empress, etc.) are all very scheming and very skilled at maintaining their power. The main characters are all split into the two ‘camps’ if you will, or the 2 sides of the battle over the throne. The first side is the Empress Dowager’s. Her family is very powerful & controls the majority of the court, and furthermore her first son is now the new emperor of the kingdom. She is at odds with the other side–the crown prince, Gao Zhan, who should’ve ascended the throne but didn’t. The new emperor’s empress is also on Gao Zhan’s side (read: against the empress dowager! This leads to A LOT of stare-downs and intense moments O_O) and………..
SURPRISE SURPRISE, Gao Zhan (Chen Xiao) is also Lu Zhen’s FATED ONE. They meet coincidentally too many times to count and are practically living together like a married couple by episode 3. They get separated once again but meet each other once again when Lu Zhen enters the palace. (it’s the cliffhanger of episode 6, go figure. T_T) So far I think their chemistry is alright, but from what I have heard from other fans the chemistry will get better and better later on. I highly doubt they will get to be together in the end because..you know, it’s a c-drama.
Here’s where things get more complicated..the empress, Huan Yun, has an old flame for Gao Zhan. Oh yeah, I can already see the love square forming! I am actually kinda scared for this love square to be fully developed because I have the feeling that Huan Yun will be one VERY DIFFICULT opponent for Lu Zhen. She totally threw me off in episode 1 because I was constantly second-guessing her! Is she crazily obsessed with Gao Zhan? Is she good for trying to get back the throne for Gao Zhan? Is she evil for trying to screw over the emperor? And it doesn’t really help me decide when she ends her opening scene by evilly cackling. O__O” But I think Huan Yun is an interesting antagonist because she is really hard to predict and she’s also quite fearless when it comes to taking on the empress dowager herself. I also wonder about her past because she has mentioned a few times before that she is of a lower family and that she hates being cooped up in the palace. Oh, and she has a complicated past with Gao Zhan! (of course!)
As for the quality of the drama itself, the setting is pretty standard for period c-dramas but WOW!!! The costumes are great! I was totally underestimating the costumes (I particularly am not a fan of the super bright neon yellow & blue colors of the maids’ outfits) so when I saw the characters in all their glorious costumes I was totally glued to the screen, HEHE. Actually all the pics above are of the empress Huan Yun, because of course as the empress she has the most beautiful outfits of all. A lot of the colors for the outfits are very vibrant but I’m glad that there are also plenty of more deep-tones for the women in the harem. Sure the vibrant colors look nice at times but I don’t want to be staring at neon clothes for the entire drama. T_T” The other good thing about the costuming is that the hairstyles are not total flops. Lu Zhen’s hairstyle does not quite flatter her face shape but oh well. For the most part, all of the hairstyles actually look great! 😀
I was pleasantly surprised by Female Prime Minister and I’m glad I started watching it. I’m still kinda hesitant to commit to the whopping length of 59 episodes (omg what have I gotten myself into) so I figure that there will be some parts that I will have to skip through in the future episodes. I think a lot of people were watching for Lu Zhen x Gao Zhan but really, I’m more interested in how Lu Zhen will battle her opponents & work her way up the ranks in the palace! Also if you’re interested in recaps you can find them at Dramatic Tea Leaves. 🙂