- Title: Invincible Stepmother
- Also Known As: 当家小娘子, The Young Lady in Charge of the Household , Dang Jia Xiao Niang Zi
- Director: Chen Yue Jin
- Cast: Jin Mei Chen, Chen Jun Yu
- Screenwriter: Cai Yao Yao
- Genres: Romance, Historical, Fantasy
- Number of Episodes: 24
- Duration: 10 minutes
- Date of Release: Dec 5, 2023
- Original Network: Youku
- Where to Watch: Youku
- Adapted from the web novel “Time leap: From Actress to Stepmother” by Chi Jin Yin
Hello readers! How are you? The holiday season is approaching, and I can feel the festive atmosphere everywhere. Many stores and restaurants are offering discounts, making it a great time for shopping and dining out. However, as someone who recently recovered from COVID-19, I am hesitant to go out and be around many people.
I didn’t want to spend another two weeks in bed with a headache and a bad cough, so I guess I would not participate in this year-end festivities. Fortunately, I still have many drama titles on my watch list. Today, I am going to review my first short-length Chinese romance drama of 2023, Invincible Stepmother. I hope you enjoy it, dear readers!
Invincible Stepmother Synopsis
Chi Yue, an actress, was transported to ancient times during a once-in-a-decade total lunar eclipse. She woke up as a widow with three stepchildren: a boy and two girls. Her husband had just been killed by bandits. Now, Chi Yue must figure out how to protect and feed the children, as well as pay their debts. She also has to deal with cruel and greedy in-laws.
The three children only have her as their support. Despite facing rejection from one of them, Chi Yue managed to form a bond with the children. Gradually, they accepted her as their mother, and together they worked to survive the hardships.
To make a living, Chi Yue had to rack her brain and use all her modern experience. She avoided all crises caused by greedy relatives and uncovered the truth behind her husband’s death. However, one question lingered in her mind: could she return to modern times, or would she be stuck in this ancient era with its people for ten years?
Invincible Stepmother Review
As a Cdrama fan, I must admit that I rarely watch short-length drama series because they are… short. I was not satisfied to watch a 5 or 15 minute drama. Therefore, I often opt for a longer-length series. Another reason was that the story of a short-length drama was not comprehensive enough. I like to watch rich dialogue and enjoy every little detail in a drama. And short-length series lacked those.
However, I’ve noticed that some short-length drama series were on the top of my Youku list. And I was tempted to watch them. I am not a narrow-minded person, and I am sure that there must be a reason why many people watch the series. So when I was sick and could not do anything, I decided to give it a try. This Invincible Stepmother drama was the first short drama I watched in 2023.
My first impression of this drama was the this drama was a heartwarming one. I like the soft color tone and the house looked like Xiao Yao’s house in the Lost You Forever drama. The courtyard and balcony with hanging plants were unforgettable. It was a charming set and I really liked it. The costume and hairstyle were also neat and tidy. Well, it was a little too neat for those who lived in the village, so it did not seem real.
My second impression came when I reached the middle of the drama. Chi Yue, who had a modern way of thinking, realized that it was hard to be a woman at that time. They were bound by old-fashioned rules. Women could easily get divorced because of the seven grounds for divorce in ancient China, which were: having no son, lascivious behavior, failure to serve her mother-in-law, loquacity, larceny, jealousy, and incurable disease.
And for some of them, the accusation could be based on their preference. In this drama, having in-laws like the Li family was a big disadvantage for Chi Yue.
Old Madam Li cursed her for making money in the village, saying it was something disgraceful for the family. But if Chi Yue did not go out to earn money, how could she feed her family? And how could she pay off her debts? So Chi Yue’s modern life was a breakthrough for the women in the village. She made herself an example of a successful businesswoman. She showed them that a woman could do what a man could do.
Chi Yue also made the women realize that they were more valuable than they thought and that if they wanted a good life, they had to earn it for themselves and stop relying on others.
This drama was enjoyable because of its family values. The interactions between Chi Yue and the children were natural and interesting. However, although Chi Yue was powerful, she was not perfect.
On the first night of being a stepmother, Li Zi Xi asked for a bedtime story from her. Chi Yue told Li Zi Xi about the story of Snow White, who had a wicked stepmother. This raises the question: did Chi Yue not worry that the children would see her as evil, like Snow White’s stepmother?
I love the relationship between the siblings. They take care of each other in the cutest way. Li Zi Qiang always has a sour face, but he has a sense of responsibility and protects his sisters. Li Zi Chen looks after Li Zi Xi as if she were his own child, and Li Zi Xi does nothing but be an adorable little girl.
The shorter-length series had a quicker story pace but lacked the detail of the 45-minute episodes. I am somewhat dissatisfied with this aspect, but I tried to keep an open mind. This type of short-length drama is a good choice for a binge-watching session when you have a busy schedule.
The chemistry between the cast was quite good, but I did not feel a strong connection between Jin Mei Chen and Chen Jun Yu, probably because this drama lacked romance. The feelings were one-sided only. Ji Hong fell in love with Chi Yue, but she did not reciprocate his feelings. Li Zi Qiang was right in saying that Chi Yue seemed detached from everyone in the ancient world, except for the children.
Although I am not completely satisfied with this story, it is a good interlude for me, who is always opting for a longer series. Perhaps after several short series, I will be able to find a gem.
The cinematography in this drama was good, but the excessive use of filters made everything appear blurry. The set was meticulously built and was quite detailed. Overall, the drama could benefit from less use of filters.
A good life is earned by ourselves,
said Chi Yue to the village women.
After a long day of work, Chi Yue wanted to rest. However, she woke up in a different time and place. Especially when she realized that she was lying inside a coffin. Chi Yue realized that she had turned into another version of herself who lived in ancient times.
In the modern time, Chi Yue is an actress and has never been married. She disliked children, especially after she had to spend some time with three little chatterboxes. In ancient times, Chi Yue was a mother with three children who resembled the three chatterboxes at the shooting set.
Her transmigration, like many dramas or novels with a transmigration theme, was related to a rare astronomical event – a lunar eclipse that occurred only once in a decade. Upon waking up, she found herself in ancient times. To her surprise, she noticed that several people around her resembled her modern-day colleagues, but she was the only one who retained memories of her modern-day life.
The real Chi Yue was not a good person, as she was willing to cooperate with her greedy in-laws. She mistreated the children and even attempted to sell Li Zi Chen. Due to the greed of her in-laws and relatives, the three children were living a poor and sorrowful life.
If you look at Chi Yue’s shooting scene in modern times, the story is somewhat similar to that of ancient times. Chi Yue acted in a scene where she had to slap Li Yi because Li Yi had hurt her children. Chi Yue caught Li Yi slandering her behind her back, and she used the scene to take revenge by slapping her many times.
It is worth noting that the Li family held an important position in the Xikong village. Their ancestor was a scholar who built the village. However, Old Madam Li is a venomous person who pretends to be a reserved and law-abiding citizen. But in reality, she is just a cruel villain.
Villainous relatives are a common trope in Cdramaland, especially in historical or period dramas. If Invincible Stepmother is your first Cdrama, brace yourself, dear readers. Upon entering Cdramaland, one may feel as though anything is possible, including terrible deeds between family members.
The Li family consisted of Old Lady Li and her children, Li Yi, Li Ping, and Li Cui. Li Yi became the County Magistrate’s concubine, while Li Ping married Chi Yue as her second wife. Chi Yue’s first wife is not mentioned, but it can be assumed that she is deceased. After Li Ping’s death, her children were left with Chi Yue.
Li Cui also married and had a son named Li Zi Xiong. Unfortunately, this family has a reputation for being bullies. Li Ping worked hard to earn money to buy a house in the county where he could live only with his family. Unfortunately, he passed away before he could achieve his goal.
Chi Yue learned about this from her business partner, Zhang Dagui. Before his death, Li Ping informed his children about the money he had saved and his intention to buy a new house. Upon hearing this, Chi Yue began to suspect that her husband’s death was not a coincidence.
The conflict and crisis in Chi Yue and the children’s lives are mainly caused by the Li family. Old Madam Li and Li Cui wanted to get their hands on Chi Yue’s business profits. They accused Chi Yue of being a fox demon who killed all the chickens in Xikong village and wanted to kill her. However, with her quick wit and the assistance of Ji Hong and the children, she was able to refute the accusation.
Chi Yue was in dire need of money and decided to promote her product to Zhang Dagui when he came to the village. She struck a business deal with him, which made Old Madam Li furious. The Old Madam had planned to make Li Cui as Zhang Dagui’s apprentice, but Chi Yue ruined her plan.
Li Cui even attempted to kidnap Li Zi Chen and sell her to a thug from another village, but Chi Yue managed to find her and the kidnapper. Chi Yue’s martial arts skills helped her save her daughter and strengthened her bond with the children.
The children had become Chi Yue’s motivation to work and earn money. Chi Yue had been planning to leave them a way to survive when she left. However, her children were suspicious that she would leave them, and even Li Zi Qiang, the oldest, told her that Chi Yue did not seem to belong to that place.
Chi Yue knew that she might have the chance to leave the ancient time during the next total lunar eclipse. She did not know when it would occur, so she felt rushed to secure a stable living situation for her children. She did not want to leave them in misery.
Ji Hong, who had already fallen in love with her, was willing to care for the children as his own. Chi Yue was grateful for his kindness. This character was very nice and kind. He had no flaws, except for being too blunt with his feelings. It was amusing to see him blush and giggle when he thought of Chi Yue, and let’s not forget the heart finger sign that Chi Yue taught him. He was adorable when he did it.
Ji Hong appeared gentle and kind, but he was not weak. He could speak sternly to save Chi Yue, and he did so elegantly. Ji Hong is a compatible partner for Chi Yue. However, if they proceed with the relationship, I am not too confident that they will have a smooth road in love. Chi Yue’s status as a widow with three children would be a major obstacle in their relationship.
The conclusion of Invincible Stepmother was considered a happy ending. However, first Chi Yue must unravel the mystery behind Li Ping’s death. If you like, you can read it here at Invincible Stepmother ending explained.
As an action movie actress, Chi Yue (played by Jin Mei Chen) had strong power, good martial arts skills, and quick thinking. She was not someone to be trifled with, and if someone hurt her, she would make them pay several times over. Despite her tough exterior, she had a strong sense of justice and kindness in her heart. Although Chi Yue could easily abandon the children because she was not related to them by blood, she stayed to protect and support them.
Chi Yue’s modern mindset set her apart from the other villagers. She relied on herself, had many innovative ideas, and was not bound by old-fashioned rules. However, her ideas could be unconventional. For example, when Matriarch Li asked her to donate some of her flesh for her medicine. The thought was repulsive, and Chi Yue made it even more so, causing me to lose my appetite while binge-watching. To get back at the matriarch, Chi Yue tricked the old lady into drinking the medicine that was specially prepared for her.
The old lady drank the medicine happily, knowing that it contained human flesh (ewww). Then Chi Yue explained that the flesh on the medicine was from her clavus. The old lady felt nauseated and vomited when she learned this. Although Chi Yue did not actually use her own flesh, her plan was clever but disgusting.
Despite being stuck in ancient times, Chi Yue still prepared to leave something behind for her children by building a business as insurance for them. When she left, the children had to survive on their own. It was quite a risky move to leave the children with a lucrative business, especially when they had evil relatives around them. No matter how smart they were, Li Zi Qiang, Li Zi Chen, and Li Zi Xi were still a child.
Chi Yue knew that Ji Hong liked her; it was evident in his eyes. However, she did not want to form a relationship because she could leave the ancient times at any time.
Ji Hong (played by Chen Jun Yu), the nephew of the Chief village, is a scholar whose appearance and demeanour reflect his education. He speaks with a gentle and courteous attitude. While traveling alone to Xikong, Li Cui mistook him for a thug hired to ruin Chi Yue’s reputation.
As a scholar, Ji Hong had planned to take the imperial examination and become an official. However, Ji Hong’s dream was not to become a government official but to be an inventor. Despite this, he felt obligated to follow his parents’ wishes due to filial piety. Only Chi Yue supported him in pursuing his dream.
Ji Hong fell in love with Chi Yue because of her intelligence, kindness, and strong character. Ji Hong was always willing to help Chi Yue. He was worried because she was alone and had to take care of three children. Ji Hong was not someone who could hide his feelings very well, even the youngest child, Li Zi Xi could see that he never took his eyes off her mother.
Old Madam Li
The old woman is the mother of Li Ping, Chi Yue’s husband, and the grandmother of their three children. She was greedy for money, envious, ruthless, or in other words, totally evil. She wanted to control Chi Yue for her own gain. Old Madam Li (played by Tong Xiao Mei) was the mastermind behind every crisis that Chi Yue had to face. However, despite using every possible means to bring Chi Yue and the children down, she could not outwit a modern person like Chi Yue.
Old Madam Li only cares about her daughter, Li Yi, and her son, Li Cui. She never cared about Li Ping and his family. Li Ping was good at doing business, so the old madam always had her eye on his money and Chi Yue’s money as well.
Both Li Cui (played by Tang Xin) and his wife were cruel but stupid. They tried many times to take advantage of Chi Yue and the children. Chi Yue’s belongings were taken away, and the children were deceived into owing 20 liangs ( FYI, I have no idea how much 1 Liang is in today’s currency. I only know that 1 Liang is equal to 38 grams).
Li Cui relied heavily on his mother, Old Madam Li, always seeking her advice since he was not good at devising plans. Li Cui and his wife acted as henchmen for Old Madam Li and Li Yi.
Li Yi (played by Yu Xiao Wan) is the eldest daughter of Old Madam Li and the older sister of Li Ping. She was married to the country magistrate as one of his concubines and was also responsible for managing one of his businesses, the distillery. However, she embezzled some of the distillery’s profits for her own purposes.
Li Yi has a temperament similar to her mother’s – Old Madam Li – and is envious, ruthless, and greedy. She hated the Country Magistrate’s third wife, Chun Niang, and tried to harm her and pin the blame on Chi Yue.
In modern times, Li Yi is Chi Yue’s co-star who slanders her by talking badly about Chi Yue to others. She ended up getting slapped many times by Chi Yue.
Li Zi Qiang, Li Zi Chen, Li Zi Xi
Li Zi Qiang (played by Zhu Bin Yu) is the oldest child. He was the boy with a sour expression who often spoke harshly. However, he was a good brother who would protect his sister and had a sense of responsibility. Sometimes, he got frustrated because of his inability to solve their family’s problems. He wanted to help Chi Yue, but he was too proud to admit that he had been rude to her.
Li Zhi Chen (played byMo Zi Xuan) is the middle child. She is a kind-hearted girl with a positive mindset and trust in Chi Yue. Although her brother hated Chi Yue, Li Zi Chen is the one who thought of treating Chi Yue when she fell into a coma on the first day of transmigration. Li Zi Chen’s life was in danger because she was almost sold to bad guys. Li Cui and his wife pretended to want to sell Li Zi Chen to find her a good husband in the city, but in reality, they were only interested in the money.
Li Zi Xi (played by Ye Quan Xi) is the youngest. Li Zi Xi is an adorable child who loves eating and bedtime stories. Her siblings adore her and would do anything to protect her. Li Zi Xi loves Chi Yue because she is always kind to her. Despite being the youngest, Li Zi Xi could see more clearly than her siblings that Ji Hong fell in love with their mother.
In modern times, Li Zi Qiang, Li Zi Chen, and Li Zi Xi are young actors who played Chi Yue’s children.
Invincible Stepmother is a heartwarming family drama with a short but sweet storyline. The plot and ending may be predictable, but the overall story is enjoyable. The drama includes typical Cdrama villains, but the standout aspect is the children, particularly Li Zi Xi, portrayed by the talented young actress Ye Quan Xi. My favorite scenes were whenever she cried.
If you prefer short dramas, I suggest waiting until there are enough episodes to watch them all at once. It can be annoying to watch for only 10 minutes and then have to wait a day for the next episode. This is just my suggestion as someone who prefers 45-minute episodes of dramas.
Anyway, I hope this review helped you if you set your eyes on this Invincible Stepmother drama but not sure whether it is worth your time or not. Do not forget to write your opinion about this post. Thanks for reading and see you in the next drama review!