The Complete Guide // Empresses in the Palace Review (2011)
Welcome to our Empresses in the Palace Review, the Chinese TV Show from 2011.
Empresses in the Palace – 后宫 甄嬛传 Hòugōng·zhēnhuán zhuàn
All women who dare to compete with me for His Majesty’s favour must die.
Zhǐyào shi gǎn gēn wǒ zhēngchǒng de nǚrén jiù dōu dé sǐ.
Empress in the Palace Review || Introduction
Empress in the Palace Review || The Empress
Empress in the Palace Review || How to Watch
Empress in the Palace Review || Useful Vocabulary
Empress in the Palace Review || The Story
Empress in the Palace Review || Chinese Level
Empress in the Palace Review || FAQ’s
Empresses in the Palace || Introduction (No Spoilers)
There is a very rich and powerful man who can marry many wives.
This man is Yongzheng (雍正 Yōngzhèng), an emperor of China’s Qing Dynasty. He has many half-brothers but is afraid that they would take the throne from him, so he throws several into prison and kills most of the others.
Yongzheng is also quite a playboy, who one day might like a wife but the next day kill her, and find another woman!
There is a also hierarchy between his wives. Some might be young and beautiful, good at singing and dancing or good at calligraphy.
Others are good at writing poems, making music or come from powerful families.
Yongzheng gives them a place/status according to his preferences in the court.
One of these wives is the empress and all the other wives and concubines need to kneel down to her.
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Empresses in the Palace || The Empress Yi Xiu
Yi Xiu, played by Hong Kong actress Ada Choi (蔡少芬 Càishǎofēn) is the empress and pretends to listen to her husband’s mother and be very nice to the other wives.
However, the reality is very different.
When one of her husband’s other wives gets pregnant, she secretly gives them medicine so they miscarry and lose their child.
This is to make sure that there are no sons of other wives who could threaten her status.
Yi Xiu is a very intelligent and educated woman, but at the same time very cruel and jealous.
Empresses in the Palace || How to Watch
There are 76 Episodes and each Episode lasts about 45 minutes.
The TV show is available on Netflix in most countries, however you can watch it online too.
- Empresses in the Palace on YouTube – free of charge
- Empresses in the Palace on YouKu – about 20 CNY per month membership fee.
If you want to discover the “Chinese Netflix”, check out our post below.
iQiyi Review // China’s Netflix vs Actual Netflix
iQiyi Review | The best way to learn a language is immersion. We take a look at how China’s version of Netflix, iQiyi, compares to the Netflix.
Empresses in the Palace : Useful Vocabulary
- 甄嬛传 Zhēnhuán Zhuàn – The Legend of Zhen Huan
- 传 Zhuàn – Biography
- 后宫 Hòugōng – Harem
- 皇上 Huángshàng – Emperor
- 皇后 Huánghòu – Queen or Empress
- 嫉妒 Jídù – Jealous
- 嫔妃 Pín fēi – Concubine
We encourage you to list more vocabulary in Chinese as a comment below. Don’t be shy!
Empresses in the Palace || Why do Emperors have Concubines?
The Chinese emperor used to be expected to have a lot of children. For this he needed to have many wives and concubines.
In this Chinese TV show, one of these women is Zhen Huan.
The original Chinese name of this TV series is “The Legend of Zhen Huan” and the story is mainly about Zhen Huan’s life in the harem.
(Check out our blog post on Chinese pregnancy traditions to understand why such a… busy man might need more than one lover after their wife gave birth).
Empresses in the Palace Story || Spoiler Alert
Zhen Huan looks like Yi Xiu’s sister whom the emperor was in love with.
The emperor treated Zhen Huan very well and she thought that the emperor loved her, was very happy and also loved him.
Zhen Huan is a very smart and intelligent lady. She also reads many books, which makes the emperor like her even more.
This made the Empress Yi Xiu very jealous. She first used Zhen Huan to remove Hua Fei, a concubine who threatened her status.
She then made sure Zhen Huan discovered that the emperor did not love Zhen Huan but only the fact that she looks similar to the late empresses sister.
Zhen Huan is merely a substitute. This breaks Zhen Huan’s heart and she leaves the palace very disappointed.
She then falls in love with the emperor’s brother and gives birth to twins: a girl and a boy.
However, the emperor misses Zhen Huan and takes her back to the palace.
Still with us!! Let’s keep going…
By now Zhen Huan only wants power and is no longer the little girl she used to be.
She knows what kind of person the empress is and starts to take revenge. The battle of the concubines begins.
Rulu Jiang ( 蒋欣 Jiàng xīn) is an actress from Xinjiang.
In Empresses in the Palace she is Hua Fei (华妃 Huá fēi) the most popular character in the series.
She loves the emperor but is very jealous and threatens to kill anyone who challenges her.
Yet she is the only person who is honest about her intentions and her love towards Emperor Yongzheng.
Empresses in the Palace || Chinese Level
To immerse yourself into Chinese language try watching the show without English subtitles.
All actors in Empresses in the Palace speak standard Mandarin, which makes understanding it a lot easier.
The story is quite complex and fast moving, so if you just started to learn Mandarin, you will frequently have to pause and re-watch scenes to fully understand them.
Make sure you switch on Chinese subtitles as seeing the characters while helps with listening comprehension.
How to do this on Netflix? Have a look at this blog post about learning languages with subtitles in Netflix or alternatively tune into our quick video guide below.
Empresses in the Palace || FAQs
What is Empresses in the Palace?
It is a 2011 Chinese television series which is known under the Chinese name of 后宫 · 甄嬛传 hòugōng · zhēnhuán zhuàn
How many episodes of Empresses in the Palace are there?
There are 76 episodes in total.
How long is one episode of Empresses in the Palace?
One episode of Empresses in the Palace lasts for roughly 45 minutes.
How can I watch Empresses in the Palace?
How do you say Empresses in the Palace in Chinese?
Empresses in the Palace in Chinese is 后宫甄嬛传 hòugōng·zhēnhuán zhuàn.
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