Some of you may have been reading my twitter feed and may therefore be aware that over the past three weeks I have become completely obsessed with a Korean Sageuk (Historical) Drama. IT'S THIS ONE AND IT IS GLORIOUS. Streaming within the US on Hulu - subtitledStreaming outside the US with fansubs
Okay, I will level with you. This show is 62 hours long. And I found some of the early episodes kinda campy, which I think was mostly just me acclimating to a certain amount of culture clash in terms of visual storytelling and acting styles as well as requiring slightly more attention than usual due to subtitles. But you know what? It just kept getting better and better and now that I've seen it all, I can say with absolute sincerity that this is one of the best fucking TV shows I have ever seen.
It's enormous in scope - it tells the tale of Queen Seondeok of Silla, the first female monarch in Korean history, and, I believe, in recorded East Asian history. It was, at the time, forbidden for a woman to govern a country. Information on the historical figure
can be found here. The TV show tells a fictionalised version of her life; with 62 hours to work with, it's unsurprisingly detailed in its account of more than forty years of history with a huge number of subplots and minor characters, but the centrepiece is the remarkable, glorious power struggle between its two female protagonists.
Deokman (the name of Queen Seondeok before her coronation) and Mishil (a noblewoman and consort to several kings who has been not-so-secretly controlling the court for decades) take on the roles of Mulan-as-Luke-Skywalker and the Catherine De Medici of Ancient Korea respectively as they brawl across every arena from the personal to the political, on the battlefield and in temples, they fight each other with the economy and with science and with the people they love. It’s about individuals versus institutions. It’s about power and love and ambition and dreams.
It made me cry. Nearly nothing on telly makes me cry. It pulled my soul out through my chest, broke it, and then pushed it back into my throat.
I wanted to keep this relatively short, so consider the above my recommendation. But for the interested, and those not averse to some spoilers, there's...just so much more I want to babble about, I will do so after the cut. ( This story, this story, these people. )
Damn, but I loved this show.
Apparently it was a total ratings juggernaut, which is just awesome.