This review for the Netflix K-Drama series Under the Queen’s Umbrella season 1 does not contain any major spoilers.
The historical drama genre is not exactly unique in the world of K-dramas. Many of them are released every year, with some choosing to add a romantic angle to the proceedings, others fantasy elements and a good portion opting for palace drama. This last formula is the one executed with in netflix‘s Under the Queen’s Umbrella, director Kim Hyeong-sik’s first domestic release since 2018 About time.
Basically, the plot revolves around Queen Hwa-ryeong who, through no fault of her own, finds herself struggling with a turbulent life. One of her sons, the Crown Prince, is ill, and his illness is severe enough to cause bouts of unconsciousness and widespread worry. The rest of his children, the Grand Princes of the realm, are somewhat sidelined, written off for their lack of determination. Then, to make matters more complex, the Dowager Queen seems to be secretly planning to get rid of Hwa-ryeong and company. of the palace, wanting to install another crown prince to shake up the royal family.
Completed by presenting the Queen’s own ambitions to stay where she is while protecting her loved ones, among other personal stories involving the rest of the set, this is a story rooted in royal conflict. . Syringed with clear lines drawn between good and evil, cynical and benevolent, everything is easily accessible, a commendable feat considering the breadth of the characters.
Generally, the series is also fascinating. We may only have two episodes, but there’s been loads of drama already. Whether it’s Prince Uiseong’s displays of his chip-on-the-shoulder attitude believing he should be heir to the throne or Grand Prince Gyeseong’s private life, there’s a lot going on around the palace, which means viewers always have something to eat. . Most notably, the Queen’s persevering attempts to protect her children from potentially imminent danger are most engaging, especially as they play a significant role in giving the series its heightened intensity.
One point worth making is that for something that’s meant to be a dark comedy, Under the Queen’s Umbrella largely thrives in its dramatic elements. The humor is often well placed, of course, but the real gravity of the fast-paced plot is much more intriguing and that’s what helps elevate the show to the next level. For example, as funny as things like the candid school lesson about sex are, they don’t quite pack the punch of startling reveal scenes or bold proclamations.
With that in mind, the series is bolstered by its strong roster of acting talent. Unsurprisingly, Kim Hye-soo stands out as Queen Hwa-ryeong, complementing her performance with a typically nuanced display of raw emotional resonance. Able to pull off a multi-faceted portrayal that oscillates between despair, desire, and poise (and more), Kim provides the character she plays with an abundance of layers, all of which are easily translated for the viewer. Equally strong is Kim Hae-sook as Queen Dowager Cho, a conniving elder who is happy to disrupt the established system to get what she desires, even if it harms others.
Continuing, Kang Chan-hee also deserves praise for his memorable display as Prince Uiseong. Giving his character an obviously bitter smugness, Consort Hwang’s unflinching son is cleverly constructed as a genuinely reprehensible man one hopes for his reward as things progress. Similarly, Moon Sang-min, Yoon Sang-hyeon, Yoo Seon-ho, and Park Ha-joon all do a solid job of making the Grand Princes likable, and the complete opposite of their most resentful opponents.
Complete with the usual polish and flash of a period drama, Under the Queen’s Umbrella quickly settled into a comfortable groove, making the most of its palace setting. The challenge now will be to maintain the momentum launched in the series’ opening week, although judging by the seeds currently being sown, it will be met with flying colors.
What did you think of Under the Queen’s Umbrella season 1? Comments below.
You can watch this series with a Netflix subscription.
- Under the queen’s umbrella summary of season 1, episode 1.
- Under the queen’s umbrella summary of season 1, episode 2.
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