Oh My General
By: Caroline Frost · September 02, 2018
After a life of passing herself for a man to lead the army, General Ye Zhao (Ma Sichun) finally comes home, only to be rewarded for her services by marriage to Prince Wujin (Sheng Yilun). But the spoiled and hedonistic prince is determined not to wed this barbaric woman.
For my first review of a Chinese drama, I’m choosing to write about a UFO of a show. Honestly, the premise — a woman as the stern, badass party of the couple is eye-catching, but what’s even better is that it’s not an empty promise like one might expect from a Chinese production. Really, this was unexpectedly feminist of them.
Because this woman may want marriage and kids, but that doesn’t take anything from her strength of character. Just because she wants it doesn't mean she needs it. She exists, has a life of her own beyond her husband, who has his own friends and occupations. In other words, this is a healthy relationship between two completementary people who respect each other, without complying to the gender roles society would have them fulfill.
Yes, you got that right. Oh My General is basically the role reversal drama you never knew you’d been craving, and it works. Why does it work? Because neither of the main characters appears ridiculed or overly praised for their respective attributes. Lying down on his side like a damsel doesn’t make Yujin ridiculous or effeminate, but delicate as he’s supposed to be. He loves decorating and the arts, but it doesn’t make him weak in the slightest. Although he doesn’t know any martial arts, his mind more than compensates.
Ye Zhao, on the other hand, dresses, walks, fights and talks like a man. She knows absolutely nothing about flowers, sewing, or household-managing, and her idea of room-decoration stops at hanging a spiked mace over her bed. But her martial arts are outstanding, she’s loyal, kind, smart, and she will take none of your bullshit, sir. And you know what takes the cake?
You don’t believe me, do you? You think I’m overreaching? I’m really not, trust me. It’s said on several occasions, both by herself and others, that she’s a notorious flirt, and would love nothing more than for her husband to get more concubines so she can be surrounded by beautiful women and flirt all day. Heck, this couple’s idea of a romantic trip is flirting together with pretty girls.
So, um. Yes. Consider me stunned. I couldn’t believe it the first time she said it, let alone the others. This... is incredible, and I wonder how they managed to get this past censorship, but you know. Let’s not look gift horses in the mouth.
Inclusion, yes, that's great. But what about the romance?
Well, my lovelies. I suggest you hold on to your hearts and don't watch in the dark with somebody trying to sleep, because Ma Sichun and Sheng Yilun will have you squealing, giggling, and generally cooing over their sizzling chemistry in a heartbeat. Really, the romance in Oh My General is so sweet you'll probably need a dentist appointment midway through, with all the couple goals you could imagine. Seriously, they're so romantic, I can't help but sigh dreamily just at remembering some scenes.
Another thing that really stood out in Oh My General was the obvious effort to include poetry, an effort which actually went very smoothly. There are verses to be recited every other episode, even during combat training, and you have to appreciate the beauty of them as you watch.
The one downside to Oh My General would be its pacing. While the “falling in love episodes” are awesome and will definitely keep your attention, those that follow feel like fillers and frankly could have been scrapped altogether without any loss. A lot of screentime is given to secondary characters we could care less about, and parts of the ending felt reaaally rushed.
Overall, though, Oh My General makes for an entertaining watch with compelling characters... just be prepared to skip forward a little when you get to the fillers.
Need more reasons to watch Oh My General? Check out the piece I wrote for Soompi about this show: Looking For An Atypical Period Drama? Here Are 7 Reasons “Oh My General” Is Worth The Watch.
Title: Oh My General
Starring: Ma Sichun (Sandra Ma), Sheng Yilun (Peter Sheng)
Number of Episodes: 60
Genres: LGBTQ+, Romance
My grade: ★★★★☆