Unchained Love (2022) 浮图缘
Summary: A young concubine Bu Yin Lou 步音楼 ft Chen Yu Qi 陈钰琪 is to be sacrificed as tribute to the recently deceased Emperor. However, she is rescued as she is literally being hanged by the ruthless and powerful eunuch Xiao Duo 肖铎 ft Wang He Di 王鹤棣 from a request from the Emperor’s younger brother the Prince Fu 福王 ft Peter Ho 何润东. Prince Fu desires Bu Yin Lou for himself and tries different tactics to win her heart even though she is technically now a Dowager Concubine. At the same time , Xiao Duo finds himself drawn to the spunky, sassy, and amiable Bu Yin Lou when he finds that she is an observant and gentle woman. However, their current stations in life prevent the relationship from going any further. Xiao Duo also has another mission at the Palace that he must face alone.
This is based off of the book 浮图塔 by 尤四姐
Total Episode Count: 36
Initial Airing Date: Dec 27, 2022
Initial Score: 7/10 – A lighthearted comedy that shakes up the traditional romantic palace drama premise with a Eunuch falling in love with a Dowager Concubine. The leads of Dylan Wang and Chen Yu Qi make a convincing couple and are supported by a fun cast of characters. The straightforward script makes this an easy watch with little depth.
This is Dylan Wang’s first drama to air after his surprising success from Love Between Fairy and Devil 苍兰决. He’s paired with the lovely Chen Yu Qi, who has had several dramas air over the years but without making much of a splash.
I was intrigued by the premise of a ruthless and conniving eunuch falling in love with a Dowager Concubine. It is a cute watch because we see Xiao Duo falling in love with Bu Yin Lou but Bu Yin Lou has no clue this is happening because well, he is supposed to be a Eunuch! According to her, eunuch’s aren’t supposed to fall in love! The shenanigans and hijinks between the two when they first meet are quite funny. Xiao Duo finds himself being jealous at other’s attention towards Bu Yin Lou despite himself.
Xiao Duo is a dark knight in shining armor only to Bu Yin Lou, while Bu Yin Lou is the witty damsel who tries to fight against her fate but often will rely on the power and money of Xiao Duo. This just means that we do fall into some of the same romantic comedy tropes. However, in this drama, you’ll just have to really go along for the ride and not think too carefully on the feasibility on any of the plot points.
The leads do a decent enough job as the main couple of the drama and they play well off each other. However, it is jarring when almost every other character apart from the two leads uses his / her real voice in the drama. This then gives the side characters more gravitas when they’re on screen compared to the leads. This is especially noticeable whenever the Empress played by Zeng Li 曾黎 is on screen. She just commands the attention of the audience (at least for me) that not even the Dylan Wang nor Chen Yu Qi are able to do.
Overall, it just has a much smaller scope of a drama, so we’re focused squarely on the small cast of characters. It’s enjoyable for what it is, a romantic comedy.
I’m reading the book concurrently. The drama heavily leans into the comedy aspect and avoids some more of the explicit discussions surrounding eunuchs. I’ll discuss a comparison between the drama and the book for my full review.