The Story of Ming Lan, based on the novel written by Guan Xin Ze Luan, follows the concubine-born 6th child of the Sheng household from her childhood into adulthood. Ming Lan first meets Gu Ting Ye, the 2nd son of the Gu Family, as his rival in a game of Touhu, but when she encounters him again in a time of need he goes to great lengths to help her. This dynamic plays out on a grander scale when they meet again as adults. Both Ming Lan and Ting Ye are unfavored children who suffer as a result of internal scheming in their households. Ming Lan adapts by learning to hide her talents, spirit, and intelligence, while Ting Ye, long painted as a scoundrel, decides to live recklessly. Yet they each have a rare gift of foresight. Through cunning schemes and daring endeavors, they both rise in position and work to obtain justice from those that have wronged them. Together they shape the new Emperor's regime and work to sow and harvest a bright future.
(Source: AH at MyDramaList) Add Synopsis In Portuguese
- Native Title: 知否知否应是绿肥红瘦
- Also Known As: Concubine's Daughter: Biography of Ming Lan , 庶女明兰传 , Do You Know? It Ought To Be a Wilting Flower Amongst The Lush Leaves , 海棠依旧 , 知否？知否？应是绿肥红瘦 , 知否知否應是綠肥紅瘦 , Know whether it should be green, red and thin , Don’t you know? The green should be plump and the red lean by
- Directors: Zhang Kai Zhou
- Screenwriters: Wu Tong, Zheng Yi, Zeng Lu
- Genres: Historical, Comedy, Romance, Wuxia, Life, Youth, Drama, Family, Political
Cast & Credits
- Zanilia ZhaoSheng Ming Lan [Sixth sister]Main Role
- William FengGu Ting Ye / Zhong Huai [Marquis]Main Role
- Zhu Yi LongQi Heng / Yuan Ruo[Duke]Support Role
- Karlina ZhangSheng Ru Lan [Fifth sister]Support Role
- Cao Cui FenOld Mrs. Sheng [Ming Lan's grandmother]Support Role
- Kira ShiSheng Mo Lan [Fourth sister]Support Role
The Flower That Blooms In Adversity Is the Rarest One of AllThe Legend of Ming Lan is a very complex and meaningful slice of life drama. My review is split into two parts: a summary and analysis.
The synopsis is misleading. ‘Mistreatment’ is a very general statement. That can mean anything. The titular character suffers from neglect from her family; her grandmother fills that need: she loves her and cherishes her. The titular character is both sensible and practical: she acknowledges the reality of her situation and the world she lives in and chooses to be smart about it instead of letting it define her. The titular character makes the deliberate choice to blend into obscurity: her mission is to avoid attention because she learned at a very young age that standing out can invite danger and I think this is a way of taking back her control of her life in the best way she can. She presents herself as a submissive, dreamy person never interested in the things that make others scheme. As a result people think she is nonthreatening and even foolish for not wanting more i.e. 'ambitious'. Thus, about half of the drama instead focuses on her family and the personal actions of her relatives. Like a sponge she absorbs everything, learning about peoples behaviors, tricks, motivations and good/bad choices. On the other hand Gu Ting Ye (future husband) experiences a lot of abuse from his family, but his gender means he can’t take Ming Lan’s route—there are different expectations on him—and as a male, physical punishment is far more common. The second half then follows Ming Lan after she begins married life and how she works very hard to protect her family, support her husband, and finally step into the limelight as a formidable person who will fiercely protect the people around her and is unafraid to seek justice in an eye-for-an eye kind of way (for extreme crimes) instead of burying them. The second act really steps up the ante as Ming Lan has much bigger fires to put out and the stakes and risks are bigger, especially since her husband becomes important to emperor, and that carries a risk all on its own (i.e. the higher you rise, the harder you fall).
I do not think everyone would agree with me that this drama is perfect because I strongly believe that whether you love, like, or hate it boils down to personal preference. For example, I did not like the drama Love 020 because it was not my style—too light—but it succeeded in what it intended to deliver very well so I ranked it an 8. In contrast, Perfect Couple was not only not my type but I think poorly executed so I gave it a low rating. This drama more than succeeds in what it wants to do and I loved it. With these examples I want the reader to know I am trying to be frank and fair with my review but I truly enjoyed the show so there may be some bias.
For you, the reader, I think there are some important things you may wish to know before making this 70+ episode commitment:
1) The titular character does not receive the majority of screen time in the first half (in my opinion). The titular character does not receive the majority of lines. The titular character is the focus of the show though.
2)The drama uses the rigid moral rules of the day as a source for conflict regularly. Filial piety, virtue, family reputation, and roles (being a good/bad daughter; good/bad wife; good/bad son; good/bad citizen)
3)The writers/directors (I think) attempt to tell a strongly character driven drama, meaning conflict is resolved through dialogue. Characters are consistent. Events don’t disappear from the story line, they stay with people for the rest of the show. Just like people, characters remember. Characters are impacted by choices other people make, sometimes in a life changing way. The last ten episodes are more action based as big end games begin to unravel and play out.
I have a deep appreciation for this story. I think the acting was amazing, the writing and presentation, down to where people stand in a given scene, was done with remarkable attention to detail. Characters are intelligent and not easy to trick. The acting was extremely believable.
If you want a love story told on a grand scale (Ashes of Love, Eternal Love) this may not be for you because romance is just one of many aspects of this drama. In addition, if you want something light, I would steer clear. But this is not a palace drama (Empress of China) because the plotting is not anywhere near that level, and throughout all 70+ episodes, only a couple of people die—people are not dropping like flies.
For those looking for romance, I cans say that an important aspect of Ming Lan's character is she never wants to inconvenience anyone or rely on others. The male lead prove through his actions that he is someone she can inconvenience and rely on so their love story is sweet.
I think potential viewers should consider these points because often people start a drama and are frustrated with plot and speed. Others may call it a slow burner but it never felt that way to me. I eagerly await(ed) each new episode and the episodes flew by. I never fast forwarded. I don't know what to watch after this!
I am making a project to review every episode, so if you have questions about plot you can find them there but just be warned these episode summaries contain massive spoilers. Because of a bug that has not been fixed yet, I can't have paragraph breaks so I have used the (.............) method to delineate breaks.
A rich tapestry of Song dynasty lifeFrom the writers that brought Battle of Changsha, you can expect a tightly-woven, authentic slice of life story. Each character and plot line, even the minor ones, have been written with so much raw detail that you feel every undercurrent of emotion simmering within. It is for viewers to sip and savour like fine wine - the longer it takes to ferment, the more intoxicating the fragrance. The subtle nuances, layered plot lines and complex characters...they all come together to paint a picture of quiet beauty, like our MC Ming Lan. Some viewers complain the pace is slow, but you'll be surprised how quickly you get drunk.
The acting is top-notch, delivered by a superb cast of veterans and not just pretty faces, lending justice to the well-written characters. These are not characters to fawn over, but you can imagine every flawed individual in the flesh, because that's how good and how real the acting is. There are no caricatures of stereotypical villains or dumb self-sacrificial heroes. The covert glances, slight hand gestures, undulating voices and variable facial expressions are all on point to hit right in the feels. Even the maids and servants can have their own unique charisma.
Not to mention, other aspects like the music is simple but sophisticated without the usual lyrical overtures of historical dramas. The instrumental scores are effective in supporting rather than outshining the storyline. The costumes and sets are a feast for the eyes. The cinematography is exquisite. I personally love the soft sepia tones created by lots of warm natural light. There is a lot of effort spent on shooting every scene to maximize the visual impact.
Ming Lan is the definite, must-watch family drama!