First Impressions: The Story of Ming Lan

First Impressions cdrama The Story of Minglan
I stumbled onto this drama, because of the cast. Mainly drawn to Feng Shao Feng‘s acting, I started watching it. Even though there has been already 50 episodes released, you can still jump on the ride if you are still on the fence. 

 
Synopsis from Viki

Sheng Ming Lan (Zhao Li Ying) has been mistreated by her legal mother and half siblings her whole life after her mother’s death. Although she is the daughter of an official, she is the sixth child, and is often looked down on despite her beauty and intelligence.

Zhao Liying Minglan
Throughout her years of suffering, she decides to devise a plan to avenge her mother’s death. In order to do so, she must be patient and hide her true intentions from everyone else in the dynasty. One day, Ming Lan, meets Gu Ting Ye (Feng Shao Feng), the hedonistic son of the Marquis of Ningyuan. They fall in love and over the years their relationship leads to marriage. As a power couple working towards the same goals, can they avenge Ming Lan’s mother’s death? The Story of Ming Lan 知否知否应是绿肥红瘦  is a 2018-2019 Chinese Drama adapted from the novel “Don’t You Know”.
Minglan
Here we go for my first impression of this drama. 
The first episode sets up the rough relationship filled with belittling and scheming between Ming Lan’s mother and her status in the Sheng family. Inherently, Ming Lan (Zhao Li Ying) is affected. It also sets up the premise and significance of marriage between families of prestige, starting with Yuan family making an extravagant proposal for the hand in marriage to Sheng family’s first-born daughter. One thing to note for enjoyment of this drama for what it is is the importance of reputation. 
Minglan Family
Personally, I had a bit of difficulty following the relationships, titles, and names within the families based on the first episode. Without continued watching further into the series, this drama most likely wouldn’t have been on my radar, or I would have dropped it. I gave it the benefit of the doubt with some fast-forwarding to a more recent episode to keep my interest in the story. 
First Impressions cdrama The Story of Minglan
Character relationship map

This drama boasts strong character background and development for the main characters and supporting characters by starting from the beginning of childhood. The strong cast doesn’t fail to disappoint to bring the characters within the historical context to life. I’d give a review of the main actors’ acting, but they actually don’t appear until a couple of episodes in- like at least past three episodes. 

First Impressions cdrama The Story of Minglan
Ming Lan (Zhao Li Ying) left. Gu Ting Ye (Feng Shao Feng) right. The story follows theses two characters from childhood starting in episode 1.

My personal pet peeve about this drama, despite the strong character development and robust cast, is the pacing of the story. It’s rather slow. From an eye of a cinematographer or photographer, the drama has many beautifully crafted shots. It does come at an expense of the pacing of the story. The lighting of the drama takes a little getting used to, because the crew decided to light every indoor scene by candles. Hence losing the contrasting colors historical dramas carry with the extravagant colorful costumes. And even though it’s a love story you won’t see any of the slow-motion white-light filters. (I think it’s a refreshing way of storytelling. It allows the actors’ natural chemistry to shine through.)

From the storytelling aspect, it can feel like a drag with the lengthy conversations and extra shots. If you’re looking for a flashy, fast-paced drama with a soundtrack to go with it, then this is probably a drama that you can skip. There are some high-stake scenes, but you’ll have to take into consideration the context and step into the shoes of the character to potentially be invested in this drama. 

First Impressions cdrama The Story of Minglan
Behind the scene shot.




 
First Impressions cdrama The Story of Minglan
Qi Heng (Zhu Yi Long) as a supporting actor and potential love-interest of Ming Lan.
One thing I appreciate about this drama is the efforts in the background to prepare this drama that runs 79 episodes. I think every scene in this drama has a purpose to move the story a long, but you’ll have to be patient as the producer/director will spend several episodes on one character’s story then cut to another character’s story before bringing both character’s decisions together to show how they are intertwined. 


Pros: 
strong story
strong character background
strong actors

Cons: 
story pacing is a bit slow 

Non-deal breakers that you might want to take into consideration for your own drama-viewing purposes: 
not a lot of popping colors
not the typical-editing visuals
minimal use of music 

This is my first impression of the drama. I’ll keep watching this drama for the story and the acting. Although I might just wait until all the episodes are out.

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