Romance of Tiger & Rose (2020) 传闻中的陈芊芊 : C Drama Series Review

The rom-com ancient series is entertaining & quite creative in its storyline. A scripwriter, Chen XiaoQian, is writing a script for a production when she is transported back to her script in her dream. In Huayuan City, she is now the 3rd Princess (QianQian), who is a martial art expert but not so intelligent and has a really bad reputation for being a bully in the city. She snatches the Crown Prince of Xuanhu City, Han Shuo, and ordered him to marry her.

Huayuan City & Xuanhu City are as different as the sun and the moon, whereby the former is led by women with special privileges while the latter is managed by the men. The series follows through QianQian’s journeys in order to survive (her original script provides for QianQian to die by poisoning in the 3rd episode). The original storyline as imagined by QianQian is supposed to be a romance between the ChuChu, the 2nd Princess and Han Shuo, leading to a tragic ending between the 2 rival cities. Although she is the scriptwriter, as she lives through QianQian, she finds that she is unable to control the storyline as the characters chooses differently from what she anticipates in her own storyline.

The Poster

While trying to survive & ensure the plot of the series follows through, QianQian ends up healing Han Shuo’s heart ailment. Han Shuo although torn between his desire to conquer Huayuan City and his growing love for QianQian, ends up giving in to co-existence. Pei Heng, the only male minister, who used to be betrothed to QianQian also falls in love with her due to her generosity & sincerity. ChuChu on the other hand, begins to think negatively and turns into the dark path in her obsession to gain approval & obtain power.

When watching this series, expectations on the quality of storyline & the common sense behind it will probably not prevail. However, the series is popular because of the 2 main leads ie QianQian and Han Shuo, portrayed by Zhao Lusi and Ding Yuxi. Both have great chemistry, and QianQian’s character is very loveable. QianQian’s kindness, thoughtfulness & sincerity attract Han Shuo, and leads him from a single-minded objective of conquering Huayuan City to being accommodative. Han Shuo’s character is originally written to be cold, indifferent & ruthless. However, he turns out to be slightly different from what QianQian imagined it to be as he is quite fair in his own assessment & able to make decisive decision following his heart. Ultimately, QianQian slowly falls in love with Han Shuo without even realising it herself. Zhao Lusi as QianQian is very lively and able to portray an adorable side to the character, without being annoying. She is independent, and sincere in her treatment of everyone around her. The combination works well.

The lovebirds…

The triangular love story with the addition of Pei Heng does not excite as it is more of a one-sided attraction on Pei Heng’s side. Pei Heng’s character is originally written as a self-righteous & dutiful minister, but his flaws begin to show when he does not really understand QianQian and often makes choices which clashes with what QianQian wanted. I also felt that the character is weak, as he is sometimes indecisive & does not pursue what he wants wholeheartedly. Perhaps the upbringing in a society which places more emphasis on female brought upon such flaws.

The two sidekicks i.e. the close servant of QianQian & Han Shuo, Zi Rui and Bai Ji respectively are a delight to watch. Their characters are almost complete opposite of each other – Zi Rui being talkative while Bai Ji almost always reluctant to speak. However, their misadventures & mistakes are always funny to watch, and their attempts to redeem themselves almost always make it worse. Their interactions with each other are also amusing as both are protective of their masters, but both are also trying to compete & out-do each other.  

Zi Rui – QianQian’s servant… yak yak yak…
Bai Ji – Han Shuo’s servant – block of wood?

The trio of storytellers of whom QianQian always discusses her plots & issues are also a joy to watch. Perhaps as a scriptwriter, QianQian feels that the storytellers can relate to her conflicts better. Her interactions with the storytellers are also very cute, especially when she asks for advice on how to set the story right on its plot. It actually shows great respect that experienced storytellers are consulted for their experience in managing the storyline, which is a very sweet innuendos implied in the series.

Trio of Storytellers with QianQian

Villain-wise, Huayuan City Owner, the Empress (QianQian’s mother) seems to fit the role at the beginning. As the series progresses, there are more dimensions to her actions & reactions, giving more emphasis that there are always reasons behind every step taken. When ChuChu becomes obsessed with her own selfish needs, she is probably the one villain that I want to hate. Her character is originally written to be kind & righteous as the female lead, but her character somehow lacks colours. All she ever wants is approval from her mother, and she becomes more obstinate when she finds out the truth. The character is very annoying, and I seriously did not understand why she ends up as the City Owner after all!

Colourless ChuChu

One other favourite couple worthy of mention is Han Shuo’s parents. Their scenes are short but very profound and funny. Han Shuo’s mother, speaks little but her facial expression betrays her real feeling. After hearing some common sense from QianQian, she realises that she has sacrificed a lot for the family and her own feelings & interests should take precedence. When her husband begins to annoy her, her reactions to divorce him is over the top, but drives through a key point to her husband. To give credit to Han Shuo’s father, he finally realises that he loves his wife for who she was – a lively, passionate girl who went to war with him (and beat him too!). Such a sweet couple.

Conclusion 7/10

Rom-com, funny to binge watch without giving much thoughts to the details. Light-hearted, the series is entertaining and keeps me laughing for a significant part. Re-watching the series is a big no-no, as it will just highlight all the flaws in the series.

The series also does not portray the characters in black & white, as all the characters choose their decisions & actions based on their thoughts & reasoning. A character originally written to be ruthless & a villain turns out to be decent & redeeming, while a character originally written to be kind-hearted turns into the dark path and became obsessed with gaining power. Morale of the story – no matter who a person is, there are always options to choose.

The series ends well, so watch it when you need a good laugh.

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