Introduction to the Chinese Series 甄嬛传 (Empresses in the Palace)


Main Characters and Staff

Main Characters:

  1. Zhen Huan (甄嬛), portrayed by Sun Li (孙俪): Zhen Huan is the central character of the series. A beautiful and intelligent young woman, she enters the Forbidden City with dreams of becoming a concubine to the Emperor. Initially, Zhen Huan is trusting and naive, but she swiftly learns to navigate the treacherous palace life.
  2. Empress Ulanara (乌拉那拉氏皇后), played by Cai Shaofen (蔡少芬): The formidable Empress of China and Zhen Huan’s primary rival. Empress Ulanara is a ruthless and ambitious woman who will stop at nothing to maintain her power.
  3. Hua Fei (华妃), portrayed by Jiang Xin (蒋欣): Hua Fei holds the esteemed position of the Emperor’s favorite concubine. She is a proud and assertive woman who dares to challenge Empress Ulanara.
  4. An Lingrong (安陵容), played by Tao Xinran (陶昕然): Initially, a timid and introverted concubine who faces bullying from Hua Fei. However, circumstances lead An Lingrong down a darker path, making her a pawn in Empress Ulanara’s schemes.
  5. Wen Shichu (温实初), is brought to life by Li Dongxue (李东学): A young and idealistic doctor who falls in love with Zhen Huan. Wen Shichu grapples with the conflict between his love for Zhen Huan and his loyalty to the Emperor.


  • Director: Zheng Xiaolong (郑晓龙)
  • Writer: Liu Lianzi (刘潋子)
  • Producers: Cao Ping (曹平) and Sun Li (孙俪)

Main Story

The core narrative of “Empresses in the Palace” (甄嬛传) revolves around the life of Zhen Huan, a young woman who ventures into the Forbidden City with aspirations of becoming a concubine to the Emperor. Initially, Zhen Huan is trusting and inexperienced, but her journey through the treacherous palace world soon transforms her into a master of intrigue.

Empress Ulanara and Hua Fei, the two most powerful concubines in the Emperor’s court, target Zhen Huan. Empress Ulanara, with an unwavering resolve, seeks to retain her authority at any cost, while Hua Fei harbors jealousy toward Zhen Huan’s beauty and intelligence.

In her quest for survival within the palace’s intricacies, Zhen Huan strategically navigates her way into the Emperor’s favor, becoming one of his most trusted concubines. However, her newfound happiness is short-lived as she uncovers the deception orchestrated by Empress Ulanara and Hua Fei.

Heartbroken and disillusioned, Zhen Huan exits the Forbidden City and later gives birth to a daughter. Years later, she returns to the palace, driven by a desire for vengeance and to safeguard her daughter.


The series boasts a stellar cast, featuring Sun Li, Cai Shaofen, Jiang Xin, Tao Xinran, and Li Dongxue.

  • Sun Li: A renowned Chinese actress acclaimed for her roles in popular dramas like “Empresses in the Palace” and “The Legend of Mi Yue,” with numerous awards to her name, including the Best Actress Award at the Golden Eagle Awards.
  • Cai Shaofen: A Hong Kong actress celebrated for her contributions to popular dramas such as “The Deer and the Cauldron” and “Charmed,” as well as appearances in notable films like “The Bride with White Hair” and “The Forbidden Kingdom.”
  • Jiang Xin: A Chinese actress known for her performances in well-received dramas like “Empresses in the Palace” and “Ode to Joy,” with accolades such as the Best Actress Award at the Magnolia Awards.
  • Tao Xinran: A Chinese actress recognized for her roles in prominent dramas like “Empresses in the Palace” and “Ru Yi’s Royal Love in the Palace,” with honors like the Best Actress Award at the Huading Awards.
  • Li Dongxue: A Chinese actor acclaimed for his contributions to popular dramas like “Empresses in the Palace” and “All Quiet in Peking,” holding distinctions such as the Best Actor Award at the Flying Apsaras Awards.

Pro and Con Reviews

The series has received predominantly positive feedback from both critics and audiences. Critics commend the show for its realistic portrayal of the Qing Dynasty palace and the depth of its character development. Audiences appreciate the series for its intricate plot, opulent costume and set designs and the portrayal of strong female characters.

Nevertheless, some critics have raised concerns about the series’ length and its occasionally slow pacing. Additionally, certain viewers have voiced criticisms regarding the portrayal of the Emperor and his concubines, finding aspects of the narrative unrealistic.

In summary, “Empresses in the Palace” (甄嬛传) is a well-crafted and engaging Chinese series that merits viewing. It appeals to a wide spectrum of audiences, encompassing historical drama, romance, and intrigue enthusiasts. Notably, the series has exerted a considerable impact on Chinese culture, shedding light on traditional customs and promoting them to a global audience.

Empresses in the Palace

Behind-the-Scenes Fun Facts

  • The series marked a groundbreaking achievement as the first television series permitted to film within the Forbidden City in Beijing, China.
  • Featuring a colossal cast of over 2,000 actors and actresses, the series demonstrates remarkable scale and depth.
  • The lavish and authentic costumes and sets employed over 10,000 pieces of jewelry and accessories in their creation, emphasizing the attention to detail.
  • The series achieved substantial commercial success, accumulating over 10 billion views on iQIYI, while also earning acclaim from critics for its authentic depiction of the Qing Dynasty palace and well-rounded characters.

Impact of the Series

“Empresses in the Palace” has made a notable impact on Chinese culture. Its realistic portrayal of the Qing Dynasty palace and the portrayal of multifaceted female characters have garnered praise. Additionally, the series has served as a source of inspiration for a new generation of Chinese women, encouraging independence and assertiveness.

The show has also garnered recognition for its positive portrayal of traditional Chinese culture. By showcasing customs like tea ceremonies and Chinese opera, the series has contributed to the promotion of Chinese culture on the global stage.


“Empresses in the Palace” (甄嬛传) stands as a well-crafted and captivating Chinese series that deserves your attention. With its rich blend of historical drama, romance, and intrigue, it appeals to a diverse audience. Furthermore, its substantial impact on Chinese culture, particularly in promoting traditional customs to a worldwide audience, underscores its significance in the realm of television storytelling.

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