Chinese drama Under the Microscope lets viewers learn the lives of ordinary people in the Ming Dynasty. IQIYI
When referring to history, some big events or historic figures may pop into our minds. That’s also what many history dramas are showing us. Yet, a recent Chinese drama – Under the Microscope which aired on iQIYI – turns to the lives of the ordinary people during the Ming Dynasty.
The drama opens with the story of a young man called Shuai Jiamo helping measure the land for a farming family, but only to find the calculation result is different from what’s recorded on the land deed. This “small event” lays the groundwork for the silk tax case later and introduces the problem of tax injustice in that era. Following Shuai and his friends’ fight to solve the problem, Under the Microscope gradually presents viewers with a realistic and vivid picture of the lives of ordinary civilians at the bottom.
Many details in the drama also help viewers get closer to ancient lives. For example, it shows people cutting silver to give change and carrying certificates for travel. It also shows the customs that the ordinary enjoyed like datiehua or molten iron fireworks and dragon dance.
The drama was adapted from the book with the same name by Ma Boyong. “Only learning the situation of the ordinary people can help us gain a better understanding of each order and law from the government and then the changes of the history,” Ma wrote in the book.
History, in fact, is a collection of stories of people. Though some people were brought to the spotlight for different reasons, it never becomes an excuse to take the “little” people for granted. After all, they are the main part of history and also the most direct thrust to influence the course of history.