“It’s Not Easy Being King” 《大王不容易》- (aka “King Is Not Easy”) – is an amusing Chinese series about a king who switches bodies with a palace maid and the hijinks that ensue. It’s a short and sweet, twenty episode series that makes for the perfect weekend binge session. These are the first series lead roles for both Zhang Yi Jie and Bai Lu, who make a good comedic pair both in the main story, as well as in a series of short skits at the end of each episode where they play a modern day version of their characters.
The story starts with Da Xi (actress Bai Lu, “Zhao Ge”), a popular chef, who has made it her goal to marry a handsome man. When she sees palace guard Shao Yong (Zhao Yi Qin, “Memory Lost“), she falls head over heels, closes her restaurant and finds a way to become a palace maid in the hopes that she can find him and make him fall in love with her. Thwarted at every turn, she decides one night to climb the wall that separates her from where her crush resides on the palace grounds.
In the meantime, the young king, Ji Man (Zhang Yi Jie, “Demon Girl“), has tried to test the love of his consort only to realise that, should trouble come, she has no trouble bailing on the king. Frustrated that he can’t seem to find a woman who likes him for something other than his title, he takes a late night walk and discovers Da Xi, whom he thinks is an intruder, and attempts to knock her off the wall. She ends up crash landing on him and, one sudden lunar eclipse later, the two have swapped bodies.
At first their frustration leads them to threaten to do embarrassing things with the other’s body if the other person doesn’t behave in theirs, but they soon realise that they’ll need to work together until they can figure out how to switch back. Da Xi uses her role as the king to try to make Shao Yong marry her, but Ji Man, as the maid, instead helps the guard get his real true love.
Da Xi also tries to help mend the king’s relationship with his mother, the Queen Dowager (Xu Bai Hui, “The Distant Distance”), which angers Ji Man who is still mad at his mom for pairing up with his uncle after his father died.
I enjoyed watching the two leads go from sparring with one another to becoming a couple and I thought they had good chemistry together. Their short skits at the end of each episode are especially hilarious and I would love to see them do a series just based on those characters. (Maybe a sequel to this series?)
My only complaint was that the series sometimes would take half of an episode just to do a flashback of past events that didn’t really need that much explanation and which took up time that could have been used for more misadventures with the couple.
Dong Hui (“Love Yunge from the Desert”) as the wannabe seductress consort, Ni Shang, made for an amusing second female lead as she tries and fails to get the king’s favor or scare off Da Xi. I also enjoyed watching Liu En Shang (“Princess Agents”) as the king’s faithful servant, Shen Jia, who often finds himself in awkward situations or misunderstandings as he tries to help the king.
As I got to the end of the series, I began to see a lot of similarities between it and “Eternal Love” where the story you start out watching suddenly turns into an entirely different one later on. But while I’m fine with leaving “Eternal Love” where it ended, this pairing I’d definitely like to see again and I’m hoping that the finale they gave it means there will be another season.
You can find this series on Dramafever’s website and the final four episodes with English captions will be posted at the end of September.