I have so much to say about the new Chinese drama Joy of Life 庆余年. As a fan of the original fiction as well as the author Maoni, I am satisfied with its skillful adaptation of the novel and the tight plot. The casting seems fantastic because this drama features a lot of big names such as Chen Daoming, Li Xiaoran, and Wu Gang.  I would rate a 9 out of 10 based on the first ten episodes. 

Joy of Life premiered on Tencent and iQiyi on November 26, 2019, and has scored a relatively high 8/10 on Douban, the Chinese Rotten Tomatoes. The drama focuses on the growth of Fan Xian, the adopted son of Imperial Secretariat Fan Jian. Fan Xian grows up in a rural area and he comes to the capital because of the impending political marriage with princess Lin Wan’er (Li Qin). The engagement with the illegitimate daughter of the Grand Princess makes Fan Xian extremely popular among the ambitious princes and their parties, although he tries to avoid joining the political game. The main character struggles a lot in the deadly political crisis, and eventually, he achieves his goals and has a happy ending with Wan’er. 

In my opinion, Zhang Ruoyun fits the character very well. Fan Xian is very cynical and talented. He started to learn about poisons with his teacher when he was four. The king played by Chen Daoming doesn’t have a lot of screen time so far, but I can feel his strong coercion. He displayed the solitary strength of the King in a few shots. The cute and pretty “Chicken-Thigh girl” played by Li Qin also matches what I have pictured in my mind. Even though she is afflicted with tuberculosis, Wan’er enjoys her life and falls in love with her true love at first sight. 

I am very moved by the relationship between Fan Xian and his grandmother. To protect Fan Xian from potential assassination, the elderly lady pretends to ignore her grandchild when he is little. When the young man decided to go to the capital, she refused to say goodbye, but whispered to ask the subordinate, “Has the young boy already gone?” This scene really touched me. I was surprised when Fan Xian kissed the old lady’s forehead when saying goodbye because in traditional Chinese culture, kissing has never been viewed as a way of saying goodbye or greeting as in Western cultures.  

Even though Joy of Life is set in ancient times, it has always promoted the concept of equality. Whether it was Fan Ruoruo (Song Yi), who is heavily influenced by Fan Xian from childhood, or Chen Pingping (Wu Gang) who is the director of the government’s investigative department and the close friend of the king, they both defended equality, freedom, and justice. 

There are so many things that I love about this drama, from the action scene, cinematography, even the OST is just so captivating. The current broadcast scheduling per week do not satiate my appetite for this drama, and I certainly demand more. I kept replaying the opening theme “One Life One Thought 一念一生 by Li Jian. Anyway, the original book is long enough for three seasons, I have heard that the production crew plans to film season two next year, but I feel like that will largely depend on the ratings for this season. 

This is a review submission by: lin$ong. You can submit your reviews here.

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4 thoughts on “Drama Review: Joy of Life Eps 1 – 10”

  1. Count me in as well. This drama drew my interest as the young Boy Fan Xian was so sassy and smart at his age. I adorbs him n the drama. I cannot wait for the entire 3 seasons to finish production. Thanks for talking about this!!!

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