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Series / Singing All Along

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"If I were to be an official, I want to be zhijinyu (mayor of the capital); if I were to marry, I want to marry Yin Lihua"
Liu Xiu, as recorded in the Book of the Later Han

Singing All Along (Chinese: 秀丽江山之长歌行, Xiu Li Jiang Shan Zhi Chang Ge Xing) is a Chinese series starring Ruby Lin as Yin Lihua, the second empress and first empress dowager of the Eastern Han Dynasty, and Yuan Hong as Liu Xiu, Emperor Guang Wu and founder of said dynasty. The series is set during the final years of the chaotic Xin Dynasty in Chinese history. The only emperor of the dynasty, Wang Mang, was incompetent in his rule and around the 20s C.E., peasant rebellions broke out all over China. The series dramatizes the lives of Lihua and Liu Xiu, as Liu seeks first to ensure the survival of his clan (descendants of the Liu-Han dynasty) and then later, to unify China and re-establish the empire of his ancestors. Along the way, his love and relationship with Lihua would be tested as war and rivalries threatened not only their bond, but very often their lives as well.


This series contains examples of:

  • Adapted Out: Historically, Liu Xiu's mother Lady Fan had brothers. One of them was Fan Hong, who was later noted for his humility and caution even as a relative of the emperor. note 
  • Altar Diplomacy: Liu Xiu's marriage with Lady Guo, which netted him a non-aggression pact from Liu Yang. note 
  • Artistic License – History: In-series, Lihua is portrayed as highly skilled in martial arts and military theory, and is a gadgeteer as well. Historically, she had none of these attributes. Also historically, her mother was Lady Deng, who's part of Deng Yu's clan, and there were no records indicating that she ever knew (or met) Liu Xuan; for much of Liu Xiu's early career, she remained at home.
    • Historically, Yin Shi had been one of the earliest supporters of the Liu brothers, and led about a thousand men to join them.
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    • Historically, when Zhai Yi rose in rebellion together with Liu Xin against Wang Mang (around 7 C.E.), Wang Mang had not yet crowned himself emperor; Wang would only crown himself emperor about 2 years after this rebellion (9 C.E.). In addition, by the time this rebellion took place, Liu Xiu's father Liu Qin had been dead for about 4 years.
    • Historically, there were no records indicating that Liu Xiu ever met Lady Guo before his trip to Hebei. Also, even after deposing her as empress note  Liu Xiu continued to bestow her family honors as would otherwise befit an empress' family. The only non-empress treatment she received were her burial honors. While her son the crown prince did offer his resignation, Liu Xiu only accepted this resignation in 43 C.E., 2 years after Guo was deposed. note 
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    • Historically, Liu Yang did send troops to assist Liu Xiu after the marriage-alliance with Lady Guo was established. In addition, Guo Kuang was Lady Guo's younger brother, and a careful person; he lived till Emperor Ming's era. note 
    • Historically, Empress Guo was deposed merely due to her grumblings of Liu Xiu's favouritism towards Lihua. Fan Ye, compiler of the Book of the Later Han and many other historians protested her innocence in the whole affair. Indeed, there were no records of the Yin and Guo clans fighting each other over court politics.note 
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Juggling the Yin and Guo clans formed the last arc of the series, after the Eastern Han had been firmly established. note 
  • Doomed by Canon: Since apart from Lihua and the Guo clan, the other characters' characterizations largely follow their historical counterparts', knowing the history of the era can spoil the story to a large degree.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: For Liu Xiu, Deng Yu, Feng Yi, Ma Wu, Wu Han and many others. note 
  • General Failure: Deng Yu against the Red Eyebrows (Chimei) in the Chang'an/western frontline. note 
  • The Ghost: Many of Liu Xiu's rival emperors were mentioned, but not seen in-series. They include Wei Xiao, Gongsun Shu and Liu Penzi. Wang Mang himself barely escaped this as he did appear in one scene ordering the massing of troops to attack Kunyang.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Liu Xuan, at least as compared to traditional historians who wrote him off as an incompetent pretender. note 
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Liu Yang and Guo Kuang. See Artistic License – History for details.
  • I Have Many Names: Many characters were known by their courtesy names or titles. E.g., Wenshu for Liu Xiu. note  During the latter part of his career under Liu Xuan, he was also known as "Prince of Xiao". After his ascension, Liu Xiu is also known as Emperor Jian Wu, after his era name. note 
  • Impoverished Patrician: Liu Xiu's branch of the clan. note 
  • Killed Offscreen: Li Yi and Feng Yi, among others.
  • Lonely at the Top: Even with Lihua by his side, Liu Xiu acutely felt this in his latter years as many of his comrades, including Feng Yi, Wu Han and Yin Xing, had passed away before him.
  • Magnetic Hero: Liu Xiu, with many former enemies/officials from opposing regimes defecting to him as they deemed him a worthy master to serve.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Liu Xiu sending Wu Han to Nan Yang, which stirred Deng Feng to rebel. note 
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: According to historical records, during the Battle of Little Chang'an, the battlefield was shrouded in thick fog. Leaving the fog out made filming a lot easier.
  • Punny Title: The original Chinese title contains the characters "Xiu" and "Li", which of course are part of Liu Xiu's and Lihua's names.
  • Puppet King: Liu Xuan as Emperor Gengshi, who was constantly under the thumb of the Lulin generals who nominated him.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Liu Xiu is the Blue to his brother Liu Yan's Red. Truth in Television.
  • Roman à Clef: The names of the Guo siblings have been changed, along with Lady Guo's eldest son's (Liu Xiu's first crown prince). note 
  • Rule of Drama: Historically, Yin Xing and Liu Heng did die young, but historical records did not treat their deaths as suspicious. note  Similarly, while Lihua's mother and brother were indeed killed by bandits, their deaths were not treated as suspicious.
  • Shown Their Work: The show included many stories recorded in the Book of the Later Han and Han Records from (the) Eastern Lodge (Dong Guan Han Ji).note 
  • Time Skip: The last event depicted in-series was the fengshan ceremony, which took place in 56 C.E. (also the year before Liu Xiu's death), 9 years after Yin Xing's death, which took place in 47 C.E..
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: In-series, poems are often used by characters to express their inner feelings and and their meanings were often not revealed. E.g. the poem quoted by Liu Xiu and Lihua during their discussion on her stay in the palace is taken from The Book of Songs. note 
    • Similarly, during the scene where Liu Xiu compared Lady Guo to Lv Zhi and Huo Chengjun, the significance of the 2 women were also not explained in-series. note 
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Chronologically, the scene where Liu Xiu was greatly ill took place around the mid 40s C.E.. Thus, the claim that he had fought in battles for 30 odd years made no sense. note 

Example of: