Female Prime Minister: Eps 1-6

Chinese DramasDrama Reviews

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!?!?

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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. >_<)

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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………..

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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.

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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!)

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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!  😀

Overall

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. 🙂

heisui

I'm heisui, an Asian drama blogger and the creator of My Drama Tea. I love stories and writing, so I watch dramas and blog. I especially have a penchant for Japanese and Chinese dramas, and those hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. Oh, and I'm Legend of Zhen Huan-obsessed!
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  • Yay! You’re watching this train wreck! I watched it during the summer, and it was a bunch of fun purely for the fact that it’s dumb and brain numbing and Chen Xiao is bloody awesome! I found the story passable, it’s the same old and I wouldn’t really call it female power so much as it seems to lure in the audience based on the female interactions, because watching women being bitchy to each other is apparently entertaining. Also for someone who’s a supposed strong female, she’s really dense when it comes to just interacting with the guy she wants to be with. The constant back and forth between the OTP drove me nuts because of how dumb they were, actually I almost felt like I was back watching a teen shoujo because of the teenage style romance and the amount of whiplash between the two because they’re so immature. But given that you’re only on ep 6 I wouldn’t peak my hopes up for anything substantial, I only managed till the end because of all the pretty lol.

    I kind of have to disagree on the costumes though >.< They were so bright, they really could have done with some subtlety, I think in the stills and photographs they can come off looking rather pretty but for 40+ eps I thought I was going to go blind with all that colour, and the blue and yellow kind of reminded me of that Disney movie…I think they ended up looking like minions.

    • Oh ok you might’ve misunderstood what I was saying about the costumes. I like the deeper colored ones (like the deep purples, blues, etc.) but the super vibrant ones are too much. Maybe the bright green ones for the female ministers is tolerable but what in the world were they thinking with that neon yellow & blue for the maids? Anyways the costumes I like are mainly the ones for the empress & Gao Zhan’s sister. They have the deeper colored clothes.

      OH NOOOO it’s a train wreck!??!?! I will have to brace myself!!!! T_T Ok..I guess I won’t be too surprised if Lu Zhen is totally slow when it comes to her relationship with Gao Zhan since it is a long drama. I wish it wouldn’t drag it out but I suspect it will. 🙁

      • Mmm I think my opinion is based on a comparison of what I’ve already seen in period dramas, there are and have been better costume designs compared to what’s shown in Lu Zhen. From what I remember I thought that every time they picked a really bright color they went too simple with real outlandish by using very simple patterns which drew more attention to the colour itself…but I have to admit some of Yang Rong’s outfits were likeable, she had a few more muted colours in the drama…but meh I think I’ve seen better.

        Yep, the ending is sort of like a cycle-breaking up and getting back together. The drama tried so hard to build the usual star crossed epic lovers that it totally misses it by a mile and more.

        • My main comparison for this would be War of Desire or Beauties in the Tang Dynasty since they are also dramas about a heroine who becomes a maid in the palace. I think in comparison to those 2 dramas, this drama does have the better costumes. Then again..the costumes in those dramas were kinda bleh so.. T_T”

          Yup see period c-dramas ALWAYS love the star-crossed lovers thing. T__T” ALWAYS..

          • Meh I guess it’s just a case of personal preference with the costumes, I guess I’m just not a fan of too vibrant colours specially since I find it hard to believe those sort of dyes even existed back then, (which to be fare is a very small liberty taken in comparison to the entire drama).

            My gripe with the drama wasn’t the fact that they had opted to build the OTP as star crossed lovers, but the fact that they tried so hard they missed it altogether, and what with trying to give it the entire length it felt like a modern couple having an office romance. When I think epic romance I think of a pair that actually understands each other, when they break up it’s because of something grand and not something trivial as ‘oh I saw him talking to his ex’. It felt like they had mutual liking but…as cheesy as this sounds they didn’t display an understanding on a metaphysical level. For a couple that vows to be with each over and over again (and trust they had way~ too many scenes doing that) , they misunderstood each other way too often for me sort of think of them as star crossed. I think if anything it was Chen Xiao and Zhao Li Ying’s chemistry that sort of made me feel like there was some kind of romance of adults.

            • Ok I’m not looking forward to their romance now. =____= sounds like it will be painfully long. I don’t like it when they try to give the lovers ‘obstacles’ AKA tons of silly misunderstandings. ARGHH!! I just wanna see how she becomes the prime minister!!

  • I don’t watch many c-drama so even the most cliche ones seem like a nice break from k and j-dramas. I’m really enjoying this one having just started it this weekend. I’m on episode 40 and still enjoying. I needed a good fast-paced historical to keep me from going crazy while waiting for Empress Ki episodes. This definitely does exactly what I expected it to do.

    • Well, oftentimes in period c-dramas the OTP’s are all tragic and they don’t end up together at the end..either because ‘fate won’t let them’ or..because of death. T_T I didn’t mean in modern c-dramas, it is mainly in period c-dramas that I notice this.

  • I watch-skimmed through this for Huan Yun… up until she drops off the map and becomes more of a background “supporting” character… -_-;;

    The costumes are nicer with the dark tones but since the backgrounds are bright and everything as well, I still found myself suffering from eye-strain from watching this… People must have gone blind simply from serving in the imperial palace back in the day, let alone having to live in it!! Thanks, Yu Zheng!! XD

    • I’m very curious about what Huan Yun’s character is gonna be like. She is both scary and cool in the beginning episodes. O_o

      I am quite used to the blinding colors thanks to YZ. I think they try to make it visually appealing by over saturating everything but instead it makes it look like it is everything in excess…

      • He has an “excess” but the bad kind… I would personally use “eye-catching with… erm… varying standards of quality…” Maybe it’s just my personal standards but “excess” to me sounds like good to decent quality and an overload of it to the point where it’s unreasonable most of the time when we use that word. If you really look closely at the props and backgrounds and other stuff that Yu Zheng puts out, it’s clear it’s not really “quality” since you see lots of plastics and materials I would describe as “obviously-fudged-on-the-materials-side” such as using plasters and stuff. It’s just it’s done in bright and eye-catching colors so you stare and your eyes are attracted to it. He does have an overload of stuff to this standard to the point where it interrupts the plot-lines sometimes like when he throws in random-Hollywood-inspired-but-kinda-poorly-made-CGI-scenes-just-for-experimentation’s-sake but… ehh…

  • Liu Xue Hua starred as Empress Dowager in this. Lately, every C drama seems to have her as the Empress/Empress Dowager. I remember watching her in Chiung Yao drama when I was a little kid.

  • This drama had so much potential and it failed so miserably. It says a lot that the drama didn’t spur much discussion throughout its run. I will even claim that only hardcore fans of the Gao Zhan and Lu Zhen pairing (or Chen Xiao/Zhao Li Ying) would recommend this drama to anyone else. Every other character just seemed more appealing to me than the two leads. Their relationship was pretty good in the beginning but it got boring so fast with them proclaiming their love for each other in practically every episode.
    Yang Rong as Huan Yun was utterly captivating! She was a total scene stealer. What a shame that such a perfectly cast character was given so little screen time. Huan Yun was intriguing and impressive and the one good thing that came out of that series apart from the highly addictive theme song.

    • I’m on ep19 now and it’s still an enjoyable watch. I am nervous that the drama will get worse though =_= Lol I was really surprised by Huan Yun, she is FIERCE!

  • I turned down this drama and only picked it up today. Why? The cover was bad lol, I’m serious that not a single person looks good on the cover (even Chen Xiao doesn’t look like Chen Xiao… on the cover). And the pictures were not attractive enough, I must blame the clothes&styling for that. I was so bored so decided to check it out at last, Zhao Liying was a bit better here than princess pearl and Cuo Dian Yuan Yang. She finally got a smart role and she did well acting smart, she really could have been a much better Ziwei instead of the super low confident and dumb-looking new Ziwei. Sad she never gets any good hairstyle throughout the whole time but still manage to pass being pretty, and the clothes were never good either…especially blue and yellow??? LOL. Yang Mi’s Palace hot pink maid dress was so barbie but at least cute and pretty haha.

    Am I the only one who is totally not shipping CX and ZLY at all? I had no idea why they were being shipped, I really thought they were going to be a great match LOL, but their romance was not even convincing. Most of the time he doesn’t even trust Lu zhen, always being unreasonable, having stupid mood swings by acting so damn nice to be willing to die for her and then acting evil the next second, he was not even there for her for the most part, not using enough logical skills to solve problems…etc. And also, it maddens me how he can abandoned his childhood sweetheart just like that? O.o I was actually really shipping her with that Mr. Shen badly. Towards the middle…I was already like not giving a F about her and CX, hoping they could’ve break up forever and ever.

    I’m most impressed of Yan Rong overall. And the funniest thing about this drama, each and every single episodes you hear the word “Lu Zhen” over 10+. It weaken towards the end but at the beginning&middle, damn you’ll hear it actually 20+ and it’s a no wonder why the title is called Lu Zhen. 90% of the whole plot was just about girls drama…everyone being jealous of her and being mean to her, the guys were dumb and laid back doing nothing.

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