This is a cover poster of "The Princess Weiyoung" The leads are hugging towards the right of the camera. It features, green-ish, yellow-ish trees to the left of them, in the background.

You are missing out if you haven’t seen this show.

Give me a show that manages to get better with each episode and that is definitively good from beginning to end. How about a show that is coherent in its entirety? Some might be thinking of the HBO hit, Game of Thrones, which for a while, held the title of the best series by the masses but the last few seasons highlighted its failures and disappointed viewers with a rushed ending. However, “The Princess Weiyoung” surpasses Game of Thrones in almost every way and stands as a brilliant artistic piece from start to finish.  It does what Game of Thrones attempted to do but better.

Stories like “The Princess Weiyoung” are viral in China because of their ability to excite viewers throughout a series and hold their attention. Like other stories of its kind that focus on imperial Chinese history, this 2016 show touches on quasi realism within a somewhat fantasy world about the founding of the Wei Clan and unification of states which have now become known as China. The series indulges the minds of viewers to produce an image of the most salacious theories they have conceived about the imperial lineage and true stories behind the founding of China to suggest that maybe the history that is widely publicized is just the shallow bits of a darker and juicer tale.

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This series is a story about power, ego and love through the journey of a girl named Feng Xin Er (Tiffany Tang). A princess of a fallen empire, Xin fights to avenge her family by bringing retribution to the people who harmed her family and destroyed her kingdom. With that goal in mind, and a bit of luck, she meets a servant girl on a farm named Li Wei Young. Although the young girl eventually dies, it opens an opportunity for Xin Er to finally avenge her family by impersonating Wei Young so she can gain access to her enemies.

But the real Weiyoung is naturally an unlucky person and so is Xin Er. As a child Xin Er was said to be cursed to have a difficult life. Her intelligence, which in her case is a credit and a curse draws unwanted attention by many (in an environment that can be very deadly if the wrong person is threatened or jealous of your merits). So as Wei Young, Xin Er incites envy in family and strangers, who are constantly in disbelieve that a servant girl can overshadow them despite their elite upbringing. This problem will follow her throughout the series as she tries to survive the whims of insecure people who will do anything for power and status.

“The Princess Weiyoung” is an unusual drama because villains in the series have a central role and focus. Careful attention is given in developing their narrative, motive and identities. Almost every character’s true intentions are hidden and revealed to be nuanced and strategic. Because of this the bad guys are not always easy to spot. Wei Young is easy to root for but her life is made so difficult, that while watching it’s hard to ever imagine her success. Yet it also causes an emphatic connection because you’ll yearn so hard for her to keep fighting and you’ll desperately hope for all of her pain to stop. The show causes an emotional viewing experience, one that will have you feeling helpless as though you are watching a family or close friend experiencing trauma but all you can do is silently support them from the sidelines and smile or cry for them.

Themes of Jealousy, deception, gratitude, loyalty and love are at the essence of “The Princess Weiyoung”. These subjects are packaged through the narratives of every archetype in the form of lessons, almost as a model of how to not live your life. Characters that have a fault which is left unaddressed, cause their own undoing. For example, the emperor is easily deceived, Weiyoung’s lover often acts irrationally because of how consumed he is by her love and it causes both great pain. The lessons for success that are also woven between each story line are plentiful but simple: don’t allow your ego to grow so large that you underestimate people; power corrupts but is necessary to survive, and jealously can fuel a great evil. Yet, the story is not aimless, it’s so meticulously written in a way that makes every moment and detail meaningful.

Still, in the mist of so much pain and suffering there holds a beautiful love story between Tiffany Tang and her real life husband Luo Jin who plays her love interest Tuo Ba Jun. Their relationship is so powerful, it seems to be the perfect, ideal of how a love and partnership should be like. Their love is transcendent and breathtaking; absorbing even—which is a mark of how skillful both actors are in delivering their chemostry through the screen.

“The Princess Weiyoung “is everything you want in story about power. Each line and story arch is well planned and meaningful to the story so as to make the series satisfying to watch. The acting prowess of actors like Mao Xiaotong is so amazing in some moments, you’ll find yourself breathless, shocked and rendered staid at the raw emotion and genius in her acting ability to humanize and brew empathy and compassion for her heinous character. You will definitely question your alliances with some characters. Overall, the consideration delivered in the acting of the cast is incredible which perfectly matches the skillful writing and cinematography. You can see the amount of attention and care put into the show because of how well done it is. This should be the bar for a TV show; anything less is inadequate.

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