Though I do not know much about Eastern Han Dynasty's history, I have definitely chanced upon reading about the story of founding Eastern Han Dynasty's emperor Liu Xiu 刘秀 and his beloved second empress, Yin Lihua 阴丽华, during my obsessive research on my favorite Tang Dynasty's couple Li Shimin and his Empress Zhang Sun (old post about this couple here). The gist of this history goes something like this: pauper royalty Man X (Liu Xiu) married his sweetheart Woman Y (Yin Lihua), then abandoned her to marry Woman Z (Guo Shengtong 郭圣通) with prominent connections. Woman Y then turned down the offer to become empress and became a secondary consort. Woman Z got the empress title. Man X treated both women like a baby-making machine and knocked out five sons from each woman in sequential order. The end: Woman Y outlived everyone and vindicated herself by becoming empress #2. The original novel Xiu Li Jiang Shan gave this piece of history a new twist by making Yin Lihua (Woman Y) akin to a Mary Sue character. Actress and producer Ruby Lin stars Yin Lihua while heartthrob Yuan Hong co-stars as Liu Xiu.
|Complicated Relationship Diagram|
|Li Jiahang as Feng Yi|
In the drama adaptation, the scriptwriter decided to amplify the relationship between Feng Yi and Ding Rou. I read on the Chinese forums that Ding Rou doesn't even actually "appear" in novel but only gets mention in a passing through the mouth of other characters. She became the target of Guo Shengtong's dissatisfaction against Feng Yi and gave her a good beating. The TV adaptation will definitely expand on this short story arc and transform Ding Rou into the love of Feng Yi's life. YAY! No more Feng Yi + Yin Lihua romance!
Li Jiahang 李佳航 (Er Kang from the new Huan Zhu Ge Ge) and Riyiza 热依扎 (debuted in Zhen Huan Biography as Yelanyi) stars as Feng Yi and Ding Rou respectively. Though I never expected Li Guihang and Riyiza to collaborate onscreen, I like them both enough to not harbor not adverse feelings about the pairing. In a fan recorded video, I can feel they even look better in motion than in stills. I am very curious how Ding Rou succeeds in breaking Feng Yi's cool exterior and really hope their love story becomes one of the highlights of the drama production.
Riyiza and Li Jiahang during the opening press conference for Xiu Li Jia Shan with Ruby Lin and Yuan Hong.