"I pity the empress. Poor empress."
"Do you think Zhen Huan really loves the emperor?"
From campuses to offices, from shopping malls to the streets, talk about Legend of Zhen Huan is everywhere.
Unlike other long TV series, Legend of Zhen Huan, the 76-episode Qing dynasty drama series, has kept attracting new audiences along the way. It has enjoyed widespread popularity on the Chinese mainland over the past months.
The story is seemingly the same as those dramas which look into the lives of women in the imperial palace: it focuses on plots and intrigues within the Inner Palace during Emperor Yongzheng's reign.
The heroine, Zhen Huan (Sun Li), initially a kind and innocent young lady, enters the emperor's harem of concubines. Discovering that the palace is a cruel and harsh place, Zhen learns how to survive on her own.
However, Legend of Zhen Huan seems to arouse more discussion than any drama series. Why? Some experts say it's because it's a well-made series from inside out.
Niu Hanting, deputy editor-in-chief of Art Panorama magazine, told Xinhua News Agency that the sets, props and costumes are elaborate. And the screenplay and dialogue are well-written.
"The series takes care of every detail a good period drama should have," Niu said. "From that aspect, it's no coincidence that Zhen Huan could be big."
More importantly, Niu added, the TV series strikes a chord among audiences in different ways.
"For example, as a woman, Zhen is hurt by the man she once loved. And as a newcomer to the palace, she finds herself caught in the fierce infighting and she has to survive," Niu said.
"Everyone may find themselves in Zhen's position at a certain point."
Then it's not hard to understand why the story of Zhen Huan is even seen as a survival guide for newcomers in the workplace.
Its director, Zheng Xiaolong, once admitted that in terms of society today, the "promotion" of Zhen Huan reflects a person's career path in some way.
"Whether the principles can be applied in today's society, or not, I want to make the story as real as possible," Zheng told Sina.com.
"There are many fairytale-like series that make audiences ignore or avoid reality, and the complexity of humanity."
"But Legend of Zhen Huan, is a series that makes you think."