We Are Family?: There Goes the Sisterhood in The Legend of Xiao Chuo

The Legend of Xiao Chuo

The Legend of Xiao Chuo is about our feisty protagonist Yanyan (Tiffany Tang), but central to its plot is her relationship with her sisters, Wuguli (Lu Shan) and Hunian (Charmaine Sheh). How do we go from sisters are doing it for themselves to two sisters out for themselves?  The disintegration of the sisterly bond is caused by putting jerky guys ahead of family.


I’m just going to say it: it’s all Wuguli’s fault! From the time she first steps into the drama, this second sister is suspect. Other characters frequently admit that she’s always been this way: spoiled, selfish and out for self. But when she decides to try to save that punk Xiyin (Ji Chen) by leaving the house with the travel token she steals from her father,  she puts all of them on a path that can only end badly and puts him ahead of her family. I would have left her in jail. 

And let’s talk about Xiyin for a minute. Let me get this straight: you and your father poorly plan out an attempted coup, fail, then blame the emperor who you know is going to retaliate violently, but somehow you still vow to get the throne. Okaaaaaaay, but all of Xiyin’s subsequent attempts fail too and when they do, he resorts to even more crazy and outlandish plans. Methinks that you are not smart enough to be on the throne.

It is Wuguli’s never-ending support of Xiyin that causes the breakdown of the sisterhood. I don’t know how she thinks that supporting Xiyin’s quest for the throne does not equal hurting her sister. For example, Wuguli knows that he’s trying to hurt not only her sister but the royal heir she’s carrying when they go to punish the guys who kill their father, but only at the last minute saves her from the plot. Wuguli always manages to rationalize Xiyin’s plans and stick with her man. This comes to a climax when Xiyin (and his punky son) are killed during YET ANOTHER coup attempt. So instead of admitting her bad decision-making, Wuguli doubles down and hatches a plan to get rid of her own sister. HER. OWN. SISTER. Aaaaaaand paints herself as a victim, blaming her sister for killing her husband, you know, during the coup attempt. I have no sympathy for her.


I have bit more sympathy for Hunian, Yanyan’s long-suffering oldest sister. She’s the one who takes for fall for Wuguli’s poor choices and marries Yansage (Tan Kai) to get her sister out of jail and save her family from punishment. She constantly tries to cut Wuguli slack and is routinely disappointed. She’s no-nonsense and usually does what needs to be done.

But like Wuguli, she starts to rationalize the bad behavior of her power-hungry husband. She knows that Yansage is the bad emperor’s brother who has enabled his violent behavior. When he misses his opportunity to stop the successful coup by Mingyi and Han Derang, he also starts plotting the long game to get the throne. During his coup attempt,  he manages to kill Hunian’s maid, cause Hunian to lose their child and locks her up while he storms the castle. Of course, the coup does not work, and he’s mortally wounded in the process.   

I’m willing to cut Hunian some slack: after all, they were married and over time she developed feelings for him even though he’s a jerk. And you would think she would be the last person to turn against Yanyan. But before she kicks the bucket, Wuguli tells Hunian that Yanyan was responsible for Yansage’s death (you know, during the coup where he was dead set on killing her on his way to seizing the throne). Hunian stops speaking to her sister for years as she guards the Northern border.

Here’s where Hunian starts to go off the rails and disregards her sisterly bond. She picks up some random stable boy and makes him a general, then lets him disrespect her empress sister! Then, she chooses said random stable boy over her sister when she breaks him out of prison for his attempted assassination of the emperor, Yanyan’s son and Hunian’s nephew. She’s totally shocked when troops show up on the northern border and deliver punishment for, you know, attempting to kill the emperor. If this was anybody else, she’d be eliminated for helping an assassin try to kill the emperor but Yanyan spares her life. And Hunian is mad for years after.  C’mon girl.


Both Hunian and Wuguli blame Yanyan for disregarding the sisterly bond. But, if their judgement were not clouded by their relationships with jerky men, they would see that it was their choices that destroyed the sisterhood.

Even though Yanyan starts out as willful, she develops into a responsible empress and regent. (Oh, there will be a separate post on Yanyan and Han Derang!). She is always trying to preserve the sisterly bond. Even though Xiyin schemes on multiple occasions, she cuts him slack because of Wuguli, never punishing him to the extent he deserves. When Yanyan hears about Hunian’s shenanigans on the northern border, she tries to be understanding. But let’s be clear: when you try to usurp the throne or kill an emperor, you need to be prepared to pay the cost for failure.  I really resent both Hunian and Wuguli  blaming Yanyan for what their husbands did, painting her as some power-hungry empress who disregards the family bond. Yanyan has no choice but to ultimately eliminate the jerky men who happen to be husbands to her sisters.

Image: “The Legend of Xiao Chuo.” MyDramaList. https://mydramalist.com/photos/Wzr05_3 (Accessed 27 Dec 2020)

Solid As A Rock: True Love in The Princess Weiyoung

Weiyoung (Tiffany Tang) and Tuoba Jun (Luo Jin), The Princess Weiyoung
Weiyoung (Tiffany Tang) and Tuoba Jun (Luo Jin), The Princess Weiyoung

While this C-drama revolves around the titular princess (Tiffany Tang), it’s really the relationships that drive the narrative. The relationship between Weiyoung and Tuoba Jun (Luo Jin) is unbreakable, while other couples fail miserably.

One of the things that makes the Weiyoung and Tuoba Jun’s relationship so strong is that they are individuals in their own right. Weiyoung starts out as a princess, a little willful, but with a strong sense of justice and personal loyalty. She never talks down to the servants and respects her father and grandmother. She’s been educated, and this will come in handy after her family is murdered and she finds herself in The Great Wei, seeking justice for her family and her people. Even under these circumstances, Weiyoung is shrewd yet kind. She treats her servants like sisters, and stands up for others.

Most importantly, she’s not just a pretty face. Weiyoung is smart. She’s like Sherlock in her ability to unravel the complicated schemes against her. They come fast and furious; it’s like, “It’s Tuesday, someone must be trying to kill me.” She’s also brave, talking back to the Emperor on the regular, especially when wrongs have been committed. She takes all of the negative insults people hurl at her and remains her own person.

Surely it is these characteristics that make her attractive to Tuoba Jun, who isn’t too shabby himself. Although he is a member of the imperial family, he lacks their ambition and violent tendencies. The year he spends roaming the world allows him to have more connection to regular people, and he feels for them. The Emperor talks about his people, but it’s Tuoba Jun who risks his own life to help them. Tuoba Jun is a cheery guy! He has a sense of humor, messing with his servants and Weiyoung. Most of all, he is consistent and persistent.

Admittedly, it takes what seems like forever for Weiyoung to recognize and respond to Tuoba Jun’s charms, but once they are a couple, they are ride-or-die. They work together. Tuoba Jun never belittles Weiyoung because she’s a woman, and Weiyoung never thinks that Tuoba Jun is weak because of his compassion. Tuoba Jun is vocal about his support and love of Weiyoung, and Weiyoung explains over and over again her loyalty to Tuoba Jun. They believe each other, and even when it looks like their love will fail, it comes back as strong as ever. They are committed to each other.

This is something TeamEvil fails to recognize, which is why their schemes always fail. The more they try to tear them apart, the stronger they get. Who is on TeamEvil in The Princess Weiyoung? Although they often act independently, there are several members who view Weiyoung as a threat or want to possess her.

First Lady of TeamEvil is Chang Le (Li Xin Ai). From birth, she’s been groomed to believe that she’s the best in the world. She cannot tolerate others even getting a little bit of attention. She is actively beating others down in the Li household, and her prime target is Weiyoung. It gets worse when Tuoba Jun returns from his year of living dangerously. While he’s been gone,  she’s been fantasizing about marrying him and ingratiating herself with elders to look like the ideal wife for him. However, by the time Tuoba Jun returns, he’s not giving her the time of day and Chang Le blames Weiyoung. In truth, he was never interested in her. She lacks the confidence and compassion of Weiyoung, and uses her powers for evil. Chang Le goes to crazy lengths to get rid of Weiyoung and look innocent in front of Tuoba Jun, but he knows about her evil ways.

Second-in-command on TeamEvil is Chang Ru (Mao Xiao Tong). She looks like she’s just as sweet as Weiyoung, but she’s even more scheming than Chang Le! Working in the shadows, she initially manipulates others in order to be recognized by Tuoba Yu (Vanness Wu). That sometimes coincides with helping Weiyoung. But like Chang Le, Chang Ru comes to see Weiyoung as a threat, and as a result, targets her for her machinations. She blames Weiyoung, first for “bewitching” Tuoba Yu, then for rejecting him. In both scenarios, she fails to blame Tuoba Yu, who pursues Weiyoung in an extreme case of one-sided love.

In some ways, Chang Le and Chang Ru are different. Chang Le wants to marry Tuoba Jun as much for his power as for his personality. It’s about being gaining fame for herself and lording it over others. Chang Ru only wants to be recognized by Tuoba Yu. Her needs are few; she’ll settle for being a consort (maybe even side-consort?).  But, both fail to recognize that they are the problem. Chang Le is an entitled wench. She doesn’t care about Tuoba Jun; she just wants him as a possession. Chang Ru blindly pursues Tuoba Yu based on an incident from their childhood. They also fail to define themselves outside of these men. This is why Tuoba Jun and Tuoba Yu don’t reciprocate their feelings, and why the schemes of Chang Le and Chang Ru often fail. Both Chang Le and Chang Ru pursue the wrong men for the wrong reasons.

A surprising member of TeamEvil is Tuoba Yu (ok, not so surprising, given that he’s evil). While the women are all in their feelings about the men, Tuoba Yu is the same way about Weiyoung. Even though Weiyoung makes it clear on multiple occasions that she has no interest in him, he continues to pursue her. While Tuoba Yu seems to care about Weiyoung on some level, he, like Chang Le and Chang Ru, only wants to possess her. He doesn’t care about her thoughts and feelings. He only continues to save her so that he can, at last, say that she is his.

Meanwhile, Tuoba Jun and Weiyoung’s relationship withstands everything TeamEvil throws at it. They continue to love each other through attempts to poison Weiyoung, implicate her in national scandal and reveal her true identity. Even when she loses her position, she rises from the ashes. And right beside her is Tuoba Jun, always. In one scheme where it really seems that Weiyoung is the culprit and done for, Tuoba Jun says, “Even if she did this, she has her reasons. I believer her.” They believe each other, through extreme circumstances, because they are two individuals in a relationship who respect and trust the opinion and intelligence of the other.

TeamEvil pursues the opposite of what Weiyoung and Tuoba Jun have: a relationship based on mutual respect.

Image: 1
Creative Commons License
Solid As A Rock: True Love in The Princess Weiyoung by CeeFu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.