As China becomes a major commercial economy, the silk, embroidering, and weaving trade is booming – and a few influential families have risen to the top. The industry’s powerhouse is the Gusu District in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province. And arguably the greatest weaving dynasty of them all is the Ren family, which carefully guards the secrets of its weaving prowess. Chinese traditional culture dictates that males are the dominant force in society. As such, the head of the family is nominally Ren Xue Tang, a gentle-hearted soul with a love for poetry and philosophy – and no head for business. His wife of some 10 years Shen Cui Xi is the polar opposite. Fiery, opinionated, and fiercely competitive, she keeps the family business firmly on track, with her peerless embroidery skills. But when he tries to close the net on a ring of smugglers, Ren Xue Tang gets into trouble and encounters Zeng Bao Qin, formerly the love of his life. Following the accident, Zeng Bao Qin finds herself in the Ren family home and face to face with Shen Cui Xi, her bitterest love rival. But hard times are ahead for the family as enemies circle, and it seems that only a partnership between these two women will help them avoid a painful fall from grace. Can they put their rivalry aside to cooperate – or will jealousy and love stand in their way? (Source: Viki.com) Edit Translation
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What an underrated, unexpected gem.I highly recommend, give it a chance! You won't regret it.I give it 10/10! If I could I would give it 20/10! It wasn't the most perfect drama to ever exist by any means, it had multiple issues but! It made me VERY VERY happy! Constantly and consistently from beginning to the end, on multiple fronts.
Amazing casting and acting. All the characters are very human and down to earth. None of them were perfect and all of their flaws and plus sides were shown equally in every ep. Sometimes they are progressive, sometimes not, but the show never judges them too harsh and instead sheds a sympathetic and understanding light on them which added SO much gravitas and strength to their characters.
It showed that period dramas can have women that are more than the "weak, pitiful, purpose is to marry well and make babies" stereotype and the "21st Century feminist who doesn't give a damn" stereotype.
Marvelous Women ladies were none of those, and both of those and also more at the same time. Even the most minor character got their own storyline and it was integrated well to main plot, so it wasn't forced or distracting.
From the premise I mainly just expected a typical pretentious Yu Zheng drama about Suzhou weaving and a dash of GL, but it ended up being quite the thoughtful discussion about period typical sexism, patriarchy, misogyny, polygamy, sex work, what does it mean to be "virtuous" and where does the woman's choice lie among all that, and much more to various but quite satisfying degrees.
I think it just shows how rare this kind of storytelling and how much I've been craving for it, when I think back about my initial impression of this drama, how unsure I was about what to make of it. I couldn't even pinpoint that this was exactly what I wanted at the beginning! Because I haven't seen such a work in so long, I was unused to it.
And now I think it spoiled me for period dramas. I'll be subconsciously judging and dropping 2x more dramas than I used to in future.?
Ancient Poetry in Motion and Girl Power!!Marvelous Women（当家主母）is a 35 episode drama produced by HuanYu Entertainment. The drama premise itself revolves around the art of Chinese traditional weaving culture, Kesi (cutting silk) and how the two women in that era tries to defy the traditional norms.
Produced by HuanYu Entertainment, the drama aesthetics itself is visually stunning. Marvelous Women uses a soft and muted colour palette and grading making it visually pleasing for the eyes. It has beautiful cinematography, such as wide, fluid shots that will draw you into the story. In addition, the outfit details and daily items details during the Qing dynasty is also shot beautifully.
What I loved about Marvelous Women is that all the characters are three-dimensional and real. Their actions are understandable, they didn't feel generic, they felt like real people with real stories. For instance, one of our female leads, Zeng Baoqin was once from an affluent family, but her family was ruined overnight, thus she was sold to a brothel. From then on, her personality changed and her outlook towards life has also changed, and through learning about her story, you can understand where she came from and why she does this and that. Moving on, the female characters in the drama are also not those young and innocent women but they are all strong and independent women. Both female leads started off as friends during their childhood, but then they grew up and become love rivals but then they became friends again. I simply love how both of them worked and racked their brain together to protect Ren family.
The cast of Marvelous Women is not stellar or star-studded but every single performance is stellar. This is one of the examples where drama doesn't have to have actors to bring tremendous traffic or to be star-studded; a good script, cinematography and production is the key. The most commendable actor I find is Zhang Huiwen (Lin Shufang) and Mao Zijun (Wei Liangong). There is not much to say about both the female lead's acting, both Jiang Qinqin and Yang Rong manages to be complex while never compromising on the very real human emotions being experienced by the characters. Meanwhile, other than Zhang Huiwen's character in Nirvana in Fire 2, I have never taken a liking to the characters she played until now. Her portrayal as Lin Shufang is excellent. YES, she tends to play dramas where she's cold and aloof, but here I can see a few changes and I find myself immersed and invested in her story. Mao Zijun on the other hand, his acting has never disappoints but his depiction as Wei Liangong here is very fleshed out. He managed to depict a sickly but gifted scholar perfectly, he speak through his eyes. Also special mention to the little boy who played Xiushan, he is so adorable!!
Moving on, honestly, I don't think I have any issue that I find in this drama, only that the whole drama is average in every aspect, the only thing that stood out in this drama is its cinematography and aesthetic. But as a Yu Zheng production, his aesthetic has always been the same, if you have ever watched Story of Yanxi Palace or Winter Begonia, you can find that there are a lot of similar and recycled elements. It is still pretty and beautiful, but it is just not refreshing.
In conclusion, the story itself isn’t that compelling but if you are looking for a visually stunning drama with a beautiful aesthetic, do pick this up!