Having covered the Xiao Chuo’s sisters in a previous post, it’s time to get to the main couple of The Legend of Xiao Chuo: Xiao Yanyan (Tiffany Tang) and Han Derang (Shawn Dou)! While these two may not spend the bulk of the drama together, they are literally a ride or die pair!
Yanyan and Derang start out like many couples in historical Chinese dramas. In their case, Yanyan is the spirited daughter of the prime minister, blissfully ignorant of the political intrigue swirling at the highest levels of government as she lives her best life. Derang is the well-spoken-of young man making a name for himself despite not being born on the grassland. Of course these two come to like each other. Then, tragedy strikes! Political shenanigans result in a coup (one of several!) and #TeamRighteous wins! It turns out, Derang plays a part in this, working with Yanyan’s father and the newly crowned emperor (oh, we’ll get to this punk in a minute).
Our intrepid couple’s future is shattered by, of all people, the new emperor. What was once a trio of heroes is destroyed when Xian Mingyi (Jing Chao), our new emperor, decides he needs to jack his best friend’s (Derang) girl, Yanyan. Out of all the women on the grassland, he needs his best friend’s girl. No one buys his justifications: empresses traditionally come from her family; she’s the smartest person; she needs to help the state. Mingyi thought she was cute used his power as emperor to “confer” a marriage on her. Full stop.
Such betrayal is central to the plot, but I have to say I was surprised at Yanyan and Derang’s reaction. First, Derang is UP-SET and lets Mingyi know about it in no uncertain terms. After laying him out, he goes straight to Yanyan, explains the situation and proposes DEFYING THE ROYAL ORDER, and her response is basically, “Say less,” AND THEY RIDE! They might be quasi-friends with the emperor, but they have no guarantee that he won’t whack them for defying the imperial edict. They don’t care. They try to bounce and I respect them for that. They know the risks and they are willing to take them together.
Of course, this plan does not work. They are caught, by Yanyan’s older sister no less, who has to literally beat down Derang to break them up. But joke’s on Mingyi, because even though Yanyan enters the palace and is the best empress ever and Derang becomes a notable official, they remain committed to each other. They are both upstanding citizens working for the good of the state, despite Mingyi’s shady behavior. He is low key(?) resentful of their relationship for the rest of his life. THEN, he has the audacity to take some chick he meets in a field as a concubine and leaves Yanyan to find out about it on these royal streets! She is literally the last to know. He embarrasses her as she’s running the country because he’s too sick, but he has enough energy to find a new concubine. He knows he’s wrong and can’t even explain himself. And let’s just say she isn’t on Yanyan’s level.
After many trials, happily, our intrepid couple eventually get their life together as Mingyi FINALLY kicks the bucket. They earned it. Even though C-drama couples often encounter troubles, for a brief, shining moment, at least this couple did not resign themselves to their fate.
“The Legend of Xiao Chuo.” Rakuten Viki. https://www.viki.com/tv/36953c-the-legend-of-xiao-chuo (13 Jun 2021).