The melodramatic writings of Qiong Yao have inspired a whole slew of slushy satire如何像琼瑶剧主人公一样谈恋爱? (危险动作，请勿模仿)
At some point, we’ve all come across someone who seems to think life is a soap opera—and they’re the star: Every breakup, minor setback, and work spat calls for drama and despair.
Fortunately, there’s a handy to stop them from chewing the scenery too much. Next time your friend has an emotional outburst, try asking:
Why are you suddenly so Qiong Yao? N@ z0nme t$r1n Qi5ng Y1o q@l1i le?你怎么突然琼瑶起来了？
Known as the “Godmother of Romance,” Taiwanese author Qiong Yao (Chiung Yao) is not just one of the bestselling romance writers of all time; she’s also a cultural phenomenon. Born in 1938, Qiong Yao, whose real name is Chen Zhe, published her first novel at 25 and has produced over 60 works since, most famously Princess Pearl, the basis of the hit 1998 TV series. In 2018, the series was rebroadcast by Hunan TV and, even 20 years after its premiere, once again became daytime TV’S top-rated show, as viewers relished the nostalgia of Qiong Yao hallmarks— melodramatic plots, love triangles, and most importantly, sappy dialogue.
The Barbara Cartland of Asia’s personal style is so familiar that the author’s penname, meaning “precious jade,” has become a byword for sentimentality. Thanks to mass media, dialogue from Qiong Yao’s works have become widely spread and parodied online as “Qiong Yao-style lines.” Take the following scene from Princess Pearl, in which the lovers Fu Erkang and Xia Ziwei share honeyed words:
Ziwei: I'm begging you, could you please stop being so dashing? W6 qi%qiu n@, b%y3o zh-me shu3iq# h2o ma?我求求你，不要这么帅气好吗？ Erkang: I'm begging you too, could you please stop being so sweet? W6 y0 qi%qiu n@, b%y3o zh-me w8nr5u h2o ma?我也求求你，不要这么温柔好吗？
In most real-life romance, overhearing such a conversation would make one’s flesh crawl; but between friends, this exchange can be sarcastically used to express a false depth of gratitude for some routine favor:
A: Here, I picked up your package for you. N@ de ku3id#, w6 b`ng n@ l@ng le.你的快递，我帮你领了。 B: I'm begging you, could you please stop being so nice to me? W6 qi%qiu n@, b%y3o du# w6 zh-me h2o x!ng ma?我求求你，不要对我这么好行吗？
Of course, romance is not only about sweet words. Even (or especially) the closest couples quarrel occasionally. When this happens, take note of the clever way that Ziwei deals with a jealous outburst from Erkang:
Z: You're overreacting! N@ h2o gu7f-n o!你好过分哦！ Z [shyly]: But I like your overreaction very much. D3n w6 h2o x@huan n@ de gu7f-n.但我好喜欢你的过分。
Another mushy Qiong Yao hit is Romance in the Rain, the 2001 TV adaptation of which starred the same principals as Princess Pearl. In one of its most well-known scenes, heroine Lu Yiping reunites with the hero, He Shuhuan at the railway station when the latter returns from war. Now, even if just meeting a friend for a movie, there’s no reason why you must stick with a conventional greeting—instead, like Yiping, why not shout from a distance?
Shuhuan, don't come to me! Let me fly to you! Sh$hu1n, n@ b%y3o gu7l1i, r3ng w6 f8ib8n gu7q&!书桓，你不要过来，让我飞奔过去！
Besides dramatic reunions, Yiping and Shuhuan are known for their many verbal clashes in the course of their (probably emotionally abusive) amour fou. When the two decide to point fingers at each other, they show no mercy:
S: You're heartless, you're cruel, you're unreasonable. N@ w%q!ng, n@ c1nk&, n@ w%l@ q^n3o.你无情，你残酷，你无理取闹。 Y: Are you not also heartless, cruel, and unreasonable? N3 n@ ji& b& w%q!ng? B& c1nk&? B& w%l@ q^n3o?那你就不无情？不残酷？不无理取闹？ S: How am I heartless? How am I cruel? How am I unreasonable? W6 n2li w%q!ng? N2li c1nk&? N2li w%l@q^n3o?我哪里无情？哪里残酷？哪里无理取闹？ Y: How aren't you heartless? How aren't you cruel? How aren't you unreasonable? N# n2li b& w%q!ng? N2li b& c1nk&? N2li b& w%l@ q^n3o?你哪里不无情？哪里不残酷？哪里不无理取闹？
OK, enough: The debate goes on for another half-page, but luckily, the exchange is so iconic that, as long as you include the three key phrases, most people will immediately get the reference:
A: I am sorry, but I have to take a rain check on our dinner. Du#buq@, w6men ch~f3n zh@n9ng g2iti`n le.对不起，我们吃饭只能改天了。 B: You are heartless, you are cruel, you are unreasonable. N@ w%q!ng, n@ c1nk&, n@ w%l@ q^n3o.你无情，你残酷，你无理取闹。
It seems that writing quarrels is Qiong Yao’s secret to inflating her page count. In Princess Pearl, Ziwei and Erkang also have a long, repetitive fight.
Z: She says you went to see the snow and the stars and the moon together, and talked [about things] from poetry to song to philosophy. T` shu4 n@men y#q@ k3n xu0 k3n x~ngxing k3n yuliang, c5ng sh~c! g8f& t1n d3o r9nsh8ng zh9xu9.她说你们一起看雪看星星看月亮，从诗词歌赋谈到人生哲学。 Z: But I've never seen the snow and the stars and the moon with you, nor talked from poetry to song to philosophy. W6 d4u m9iy6u h9 n@ y#q@ k3n xu0 k3n x~ngxing k3n yu-liang, c5ng sh~c! g8f& t1n d3o r9nsh8ng zh9xu9.我都没有和你一起看雪看星星看月亮，从诗词歌赋谈到人生哲学。 E: It's all my fault. I shouldn't have gone to see the snow and the stars and the moon with her, nor talk from poetry to song to philosophy. D4ush# w6 de cu7, w6 b&g`i h9 t` y#q@ k3n xu0 k3n x~ngxing k3n yu-liang, c5ng sh~c! g8f& t1n d3o r9nsh8ng zh9xu9.都是我的错，我不该和她一起看雪看星星看月亮，从诗词歌赋谈到人生哲学。
E: I promise, from now on, I will only see the snow and the stars and the moon, and talk from poetry to song to philosophy with you. W6 d`ying n@ j~nh7u zh@ h9 n@ y#q@ k3n xu0 k3n x~ngxing k3n yu-liang, c5ng sh~c! g8f& t1n d3o r9nsh8ng zh9xu9. 我答应你今后只和你一起看雪看星星看月亮，从诗词歌赋谈到人生哲学。
Like life, love is full of ups and downs: Qiong Yao’s lovers inevitably experience various vicissitudes in life—accidents, separation, and even death—yet always manage to inject their misfortunes with pathos. In one episode of Princess Pearl, Ziwei becomes temporarily blind, and weeps to Erkang, who is himself seriously injured and comatose:
How can a shattered me save a shattered you? Y! g- p7su# de w6 y3o z0nme zh0ngji& y! g- p7su# de n@?一个破碎的我要怎么拯救一个破碎的你?
So next time someone asks for a favor but you are busy with your own issues, simply reply:
“Sorry, but a shattered me cannot save a shattered you.” Du#buq@, d3n y! g- p7su# de w6 w%f2 zh0ngji& y! g- p7su# de n@ a.对不起，但一个破碎的我无法拯救一个破碎的你啊。
Yiping, on the other hand, is better at talking than writing. When her boyfriend Shuhuan returns to his hometown, she vents her to diary:
Day 1 after Shuhuan left: Miss him. Sh$hu1n z6u de d# y~ ti`n, xi2ng t`.书桓走的第一天，想他。 Day 2 after Shuhuan left: Miss him, miss him. Sh$hu1n z6u de d# -r ti`n, xi2ng t`, xi2ng t`.书桓走的第二天，想他，想他。 Day 3 after Shuhuan left: Miss him, miss him, miss him. Sh$hu1n z6u de d# s`n ti`n, xi2ng t`, xi2ng t`, xi2ng t`.书桓走的第三天，想他，想他，想他。
And so forth: Qiong Yao’s heroine may not be good writer (albeit, she is a fine mathematician), but this template is pretty useful. Two years ago, when Kobe Bryant retired, one of his fans wrote on social media: “It’s day one after Kobe left. Miss him.”
Though Qiong Yao’s success in romance writing is unmatched, her works are frequently criticized for promoting the wrong values, with moral guardians even labeling some of her lines as literary “poison.” In Fantasies Behind the Pearly Curtain, the heroine Ziling falls in love with her sister Lüping’s fiancé Chu Lian, and they have an affair. Chu decides to come clean to Lüping, but before he can do so, Lüping, a dancer, loses her leg in a car accident.
Chu then marries Lüping out of guilt, and when she finds out the truth, Lüping takes revenge on the whole family. At this point, Ziling’s husband Fei Yunfan calls out Lüping in one of Qiong Yao’s most notorious lines:
You just lost a leg, but what about Ziling? She lost half her life! Not to mention the love she threw away for you. N@ zh@bugu7 sh# sh~q& le y# ti1o tu@. Z@l!ng ne? T` sh~q& le b3n ti1o m#ng! G-ng b%y3o shu4 t` w-i n@ g8sh0 di3o de 3iq!ng.你只不过是失去了一条腿。紫菱呢？她失去了半条命！更不要说她为你割舍掉的爱情。
This line is usually quoted as evidence of Qiong Yao’s “incorrect” views on love and life. In the show, Lüping becomes speechless in the face of such impassioned criticism. But perhaps, she should have just replied: “You are heartless, you are cruel, you are unreasonable!”