Tremble and obey
Why stressed-out Chinese fall for melodrama about life in the imperial court
A bit surprisingly, one of the best things about the "Story of Yanxi Palace", a television drama about an 18th-century emperor that has broken Chinese viewing records this year, is watching concubines being rude to eunuchs.
Even less predictably, the particular rudeness—combining scorn, resentment and a dash of fear—offers insights into how Chinese people cope with life in today's ruthless and unequal society.
An early scene shows the Qianlong emperor's chief eunuch, a tubby, squeaky dimwit, bustling into a silk-draped waiting-room with an order for the harem.
Return to your quarters, he announces, the emperor is working late.
"What? His majesty is sleeping alone again?" grumbles Noble Consort Gao, a boo-hiss villain.
"Let's go," she tells her fellow concubines, stalking past the eunuch without a glance.
"What else is there to wait for?"
"Yanxi Palace" is a gorgeously costumed fantasy, filled with poisonings, betrayals and young women competing for the Forbidden City's great prize: being bedded by the emperor.
"Join the army, you might as well become a general," as one ambitious recruit to the harem chirps.
The show is driven by female characters, including a kind but sickly empress, murderous concubines
and—at the heart of the 70-episode epic—Wei Yingluo, a quick-witted, justice-seeking maid, who rises to become Qianlong's beloved consort.
The formula is wildly popular, drawing 700m live-streaming views on the drama's best single day, in August.
Yet that night-time scene in the harem reflects some bleak realities of court life.
The eunuch is ridiculous, and obsequious to high-ranking concubines.
But he is also terrifying.
For the concubines live only to please his master, the emperor, an absolute ruler in whose name the guilty and innocent alike are shown being jailed, executed or exiled without hope of appeal.
因为嫔妃们活着就是为了取悦太监的主子——皇帝，这个绝对的统治者 。以皇帝的名义，有罪或无罪之人都有可能被监禁、处决或流放，无望上诉 。
The Forbidden City is a crimson-walled tyranny, filled with spies.
Noble Consort Gao's drawling insolence in the face of rejection is, in the end, bravado.
She is privileged, cosseted and ready to hurt those below her in the pecking order.
But in this system she has no individual rights.
And she does not challenge its rules.
1.fall for 爱上
He was fantastically handsome – I just fell for him right away.
I can't imagine sitting in traffic, getting stressed out.
3.cope with 应付 (困难局面)
Never before has the industry had to cope with war and recession at the same time.
I turn from my work and my eyes fill with the mist.
6.in the face of 面对
The president has called for national unity in the face of the violent anti-government protests.