|Name:||The Untamed, 陈情令, Chén Qíng Lìng|
|Creator:||Mo Xiang Tong Xiu |
墨香铜臭 Mòxiāng Tóngxiù
|Date(s):||June 27, 2019 - August 20, 2019|
|Country of Origin:||China|
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The adaptation was announced in March 2018 with the first two actors, Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo, announced in April. The series started airing on June 27, 2019 on Thursday and Friday with two episodes each day.
Due to censorship laws in China, all explicit romance between the main characters was removed from the story. In addition, some morally-grey characters were made into more black-and-white good vs evil characters. Despite the censorship of the romance, many fans were surprised at what was left in and felt that if the show was viewed with the original story in mind, it wasn't difficult to construe a romantic relationship between Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji. Key moments include being trapped in the Xuanwu Cave with most of the dialogue intact, and a scene that replaces their first kiss during the Hunt on Phoenix Mountain where Wei Wuxian calls Lan Wangji his "soulmate".
The series became available on Netflix in North and South America, Europe, India and Philippines in October 2019, expanding the fanbase as the show reached a wider audience.
July 12, 2019 saw the first Untamed fan meeting followed by a Roadshow that stopped in Hangzhou, Xi'an, Wuhan, Shanghai and Qingdao. Another fanmeeting took place in Thailand  on September 21, 2019. November 1, 2019 will see the final fanmeet in Nanjing, with the event selling out in just 5 seconds.
In English-language online fandom, MDZS and cdrama fans began watching the show via WeTV, Viki, or Youtube in July/August before it was released to Netflix, so the English-language fandom began gathering steam even before there was easy access to the show. Slash fans and others who had not previously been in cmedia fandoms then heard about the show and joined in. The pattern of the fandom's spread has led to it being called "the ancient Chinese gays pyramid scheme".
From a December 2019 review by Film Daily:
Fans of the series knew the regulations it was up against in China and were careful to protect the storyline. In discussing The Untamed online, chatters avoided explicit mention of the show’s gay undertones, referring to the topic using the misleading but politically charged hashtag “socialist brotherhood” in hopes of avoiding attention from regulators.
- Jiang Cheng/Lan Xichen (Xicheng): A slash ship pairing the brothers of the two main characters, and the second-most popular ship in English-language fandom, after WangXian (based on number of works on AO3).
- Jiang Cheng/Wei Wuxian (Chengxian): A ship pairing Jiang Cheng and Wei Wuxian. In English-language fandom there is discourse over the incest status of this ship due to their being raised together and referring to each other as martial brothers. In Chinese-language fandom, this is the second-most popular ship after WangXian (again, based on works on AO3).
- Lan Xichen/Meng Yao (Xiyao)
- Lan Xichen/Nie Mingjue (Nielan), Meng Yao/Nie Mingjue (Nieyao), and Lan Xichen/Meng Yao/Nie Mingjue (3zun)
- Jiang Yanli/Jin Zixuan (Xuanli): The canon M/F pairing of Wei Wuxian's sister, Jiang Yanli, and her husband Jin Zixuan.
- Jiang Cheng/Nie Huaisang (Sangcheng)
- Song Lan/Xiao Xingchen (Songxiao)
- Xiao Xingchen/Xue Yang (Xuexiao) and Song Lan/Xiao Xingchen/Xue Yang (Songxuexiao)
Some less prevalent ships/rarepairs include:
- Jin Ling/Lan Sizhui (Zhuiling)
- Jiang Cheng/Wen Qing (Chengqing): An M/F ship more popular in the TV fandom, as Jiang Cheng and Wen Qing do not interact as much in the original novel. In the show a romantic attraction on the part of Jiang Cheng is implied, but the ship is not canon.
- Lan Xichen/Nie Huaisang (Xisang)
- Mo Xuanyu/Nie Huaisang
- Jiang Cheng/Nie Mingjue
- Lan Jingyi/Lan Sizhui
- Juniors Trio (Jin Ling/Lan Jingyi/Lan Sizhui)
- Juniors Quartet (Jin Ling/Lan Jingyi/Lan Sizhui/Ouyang Zizhen)
- Niecest (Nie Mingjue/Nie Huaisang): An incest ship featuring the two Nie brothers, Nie Mingjue and Nie Huaisang.
Tropes & Fanon
- Fix-its/everybody lives & post-canon: Fix-its are commonplace for many of the more angsty and tragic moments in canon, as well as the deaths of key characters. Canon-verse fix-its will often diverge from canon at key moments or have certain characters make better choices in order to reach a happier outcome. Alternatively, fanwork creators will create post-canon works in which the characters resolve their past traumas/differences and move forward in a positive way.
- Time Travel fics: are a subsection of fix-it fics where one of the characters finds themselves back in time (usually waking up in their younger body) and deciding to save their loved ones from dying or their family from splintering. Most often the character traveling is Wei Wuxian.
- Everybody Lives, or "all the women live," or "everybody except a handful of villain characters lives" are all common in fix-its.
- Kidfic: The character A-Yuan (Lan Sizhui) frequently features in kidfic, commonly raised by Wei Wuxian as a single parent, or else adopted jointly by Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji. In these works, A-Yuan is sometimes a relative of Wen Qing's, usually her nephew.
- Sword names as social media/chat handles: One common trope in chatfic and social media AUs or fics featuring social media is to use the names of characters' words as their online handles. For example, Wei Wuxian becomes Suibian, Lan Wangji is Bichen, Jiang Cheng is Sandu, etc.
- Dual Cultivation - What better way to raise power and enhance healing than magic sex?
- Arranged marriage - Since the canon setting has a long history of arranged marriages (and there are several examples in canon), it's very common to see in fic, especially for WangXian.
- Rogue Cultivator Wei Wuxian - in canon-divergent fics, Wei Wuxian may not have been adopted by the Jiangs, or may have left them in his early teen years, before the Cloud Recesses lectures.
- Case Fics are fics where the main plot centers around a mystery or a problem that the characters have been sent to solve, usually in their canon roles as cultivators or in a 'modern with magic' setting. These tend to reflect the canon by having the characters deal with creatures from Chinese Mythology.
- Immortality and Reincarnation- Especially common in modern AUs, one or more characters may have lived through until the modern day, hoping to reconnect with their family & friends as they reincarnate.
There are also fics where the characters are creatures from Chinese Mythology, such as dragons or huli-jing. It is popular in fanart to portray AUs where Lan Wangji is a dragon and Wei Wuxian is a fox. They are often shapeshifters but not always. See Dragonji and Foxxian.
Fusion AUs are also popular, particularly with properties such as Jane Austen books. Relatedly, there are a subset of fics that aren't fusion but instead lean into genres such as Gothic Horror.
There is a popular fanon that Lan Wangji played 'Inquiry' to seek Wei Wuxian's ghost in the years between Wei Wuxian's death and return. The source of this is sometimes pointed to the fic 'Letter for Xian' translated into English by 6989 from the Chinese fic 与羡书 by 蓝忘机. See Inquiry.
Challenges & Events
There are many fic events and challenges, usually based around a character or ship. These are usually publicised on Twitter or Tumblr, with group chats held on Discord.
One challenge was in response to the XiYao Troll, where XiYao ficwriters came together to celebrate their ship in spite of the cruel comments they were receiving.
- Primer by Reading the End
- THE UNTAMED PRIMER Redux on aminoapps with many photo collages from the liveaction.
- @ForestofGlory: "New and improved lady-centric Untamed/MDZS fic rec starts here!" reclist thread on Twitter (2020)
- Some of You by tangerinechar: Social Media AU, Lan Wangji/Wei Wuxian. Lan Wangji gets drunk and tweets a love confession, Wei Wuxian panics, and all of twitter decides to matchmake Lan Wangji and his mystery guy.
- The (Several) Convenient Kidnappings of the Chief Cultivator by the Yiling Patriarch by misscam: Lan Wangji/Wei Wuxian, combines novel and TV series canon. “Yes, Clan Leader Jiang. It is most regrettable, but the Yiling Patriarch has once again kidnapped His Excellency. However, we have every confidence in His Excellency’s safe eventual return.”
- A Civil Combpaign by Ariaste: Jin Rulan/Lan Sizhui, arranged marriage
- The Absolutely True Story of the Yiling Patriarch: A Manifesto in Many Parts by aubreyli: Lan Wangji/Wei Wuxian, post-canon fix-it with some incorporation of novel canon. In which the junior disciples (namely, Lan Jingyi, Ouyang Zizhen, and a reluctant Lan Sizhui) turn to RPF in an attempt to rehabilitate Wei Wuxian's reputation so that he and Hanguang-jun can get together and get married and live happily ever after. It's... surprisingly effective.
- this river runs to you by sundiscus: Modern With Magic, Dragon!Lan Wangji, Wei Wuxian/Lan Wangji. In which Wei Wuxian is a curse worker secretly searching for a lost dragon, Lan Wangji is his new assistant, and the two things may not be entirely unrelated.
- live from new york by varnes: SNL!Modern AU, Wei Wuxian/Lan Wangji. The one where they all work at SNL, Yanli's ex-boyfriend is hosting, and that's just the beginning of everybody's problems.
- Tempo Rubato by Spodumene: Modern AU, Jane Austen Fusion, Lan Wangji/Wei Wuxian.
- The Roots Grow Riotous by hansbekhart: Modern AU, Magical Realism, Lan Wangji/Wei Wuxian. The Plant Horror Fashion AU.
- 总有一天; a place to hide (can’t find one near) by yiqie: Modern AU, Musicians, Lan Wangji/Wei Wuxian. A Hurt-Comfort fic exploring mental health.
- Letter for Xian | 与羡书 translated by 6989 from 与羡书 by 蓝忘机: Potentially the origin of the '13 years of Inquiry' fanon.
- Upon Our Silver Bridge by TheWanderingHeart: Case Fic, Post-Canon, Lan Xichen/Jiang Cheng. Lan Xichen's sorrows have caught the attention of something.
- Lynchpin by ShanaStoryteller: Time Travel Fix-it, Jiang Cheng centric.
- anyway, here's wuji by kakikaeru: Post-Canon, Lan Jingyi/Lan Sizhui, Wei/Wuxian/Lan Wangji. A fic in which Lan Jingyi comes into his own.
- raw silk and uncut wood by hisevilforest: Canon Divergence, Song Lan/Xue Yang/Xiao Xingchen.
- The Montreal Trip by aphilogicalbatman: Modern AU, Xiao Xingchen/Xue Yang/Song Lan.
- made for each other by flower_dragon: Omegaverse AU, Canon setting, Arranged Marriage, Jiang Yanli/Jin Zixuan. In which Alpha Jiang Yanli and Omega Jin Zixuan are pretending to be the other way around.
A Selection of Rarepairs
- Then I Tell You How You Make Me Whole by xcourtney_chaoticx: Canon divergence, Jiang Cheng/Su She.
- held my burning heart by jjtaylor: series, Modern AU, Lan Xichen/Lan Sizhui and Lan Xichen/Lan Sizhui/Jin Guangyao
- WWMMD? by 99_9: series, Modern AU, Jiang Cheng/Jin Zixuan
- An Elegant Solution by girrafeter: Arranged Marriage Fix-It, Nie Mingjue/Lan Wangji/Wei Wuxian. When Nie Mingjue welcomes Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji into his home, he realizes two things very quickly: 1.) They clearly want each other so badly they can barely stand it, and 2.) Nie Mingjue is Into That.
- Imago by astrophylite: Gothic Horror AU, Nie Mingjue/Nie Huaisang/Jin Guangyao.
- MDZS Rarepair Fic Rec: Make Me An Offer I Can’t Refuse, Archived version, reclist by rabbitcrimes, fics by various authors
- Grandmaster of Troublemaking (The Untamed) by NKZephyr Edits. Wei Wuxian-centric vid set to Troublemaker by Olly Murs (feat. Flo Rida) (October 19, 2019)
- 畢生知己 - bì shēng zhī jǐ (The Untamed) by Cescedes. Wangxian centric vid set to Drop by Ludovico Einaudi (October 6, 2020)
- Believer (The Untamed) re-uploaded with permission by NodeZero. Characters of the Untamed, set to Believer by Imagine Dragons (September 23, 2019)
- Breath of Life (The Untamed) by Dealing Spades. Wangxian / Wei Ying centric vid set to Breath of Life, by Florence and the Machine (August 22, 2019)
- Play Dirty (The Untamed) by Gentlesideoffury. Xue Yang centric-vid set to Play Dirty, by Kevin McAllister (feat. Sebell) (December 7, 2019)
- "But this time he wasn't alone anymore." (The Untamed) by Julicorn. Wangxian-centric vid (with subtitles taken from the novel) set to Angels, by The XX (May 5, 2020)
- ascend and try again by alpheratz on AO3. Yunmeng Trio and Wangxian angst. (November 3, 2019)
- THE UNTAMED SUMMARIZED by marlboroblues on tiktok?, reposted to tumblr. Slideshow of screenshots from The Untamed set to a text-to-speech reading of an anonymous Dreamwidth comment explaining the plot by describing all the characters as "Jin Ling's uncle". Several versions exist, including a screenshot of the original dreamwidth thread reposted from reddit to tumblr and a version on tiktok with a fanart family tree. The original comment was posted to the warlock4warlock community here. (September/October 2020)
- Good Good CQL/The Untamed Boys by Giraffeter. Video of Untamed characters with audio from the McElroy Brothers on Monster Factory. (July 2, 2020)
In English-speaking fandom, there are numerous meta essays, overviews and primers that explain various aspects of Chinese history, culture, linguistic wordplay, etc. in the context of The Untamed to help guide a non-Chinese audience. There is also meta discussing the differences in characterisation, plot, etc. between the original novel and the TV adaptation.
- CQL’s worst crimes, according to cyan by pumpkinpaix on tumblr (19 April 2020): Meta discussing some of the changes made in the TV adaptation compared to the novel, and the perceived issues with them.
- Anonymous asked: I have questions about the untamed's name, specifically, is that a fair translation of the title in Chinese by hunxi-guilai on tumblr (23 March 2020): Meta analysing the choice of title for the TV adaptation in Chinese, 《陈情令》, and its English equivalent.
- kudosmetwice asked: Hello! First of all, I'd like to thank you for all your thorough explanations and translations of the Chinese in CQL! by hunxi-guilai on tumblr (16 March 2020): Meta discussing the linguistic nuances of Lan Wanji's signature phrase in the show, "无聊".
- Anonymous asked: 师父 I have a tiny discussion request (only if you have the time/inclination). by hunxi-guilai on tumblr (15 April 2020): Meta discussing the linguistic implications of a specific exchange between Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian after the latter returns from the Burial Mounds.
- WRT martial/adopted siblings in Ancient China should not seen as equivalent to modern adoption: why do Jiang sibs call WWX their brother? by asideoftrashpl1 (7 May 2020): Twitter thread explaining how the cultural concept of "siblings" differs between ancient China and modern western norms, and why "martial siblings" like Jiang Yanli and Wei Wuxian would have been extremely marriagable by the norms of the time.
- chinese cultural context for moments in cql—a helpful thread! #陈情令, a Twitter thread by @hobis_pouch (15 January 2020)
- ever wondered about the chinese title of the untamed, 陈情令? spoiler: it doesn’t translate to ‘the untamed.’ by hobis_pouch on twitter (13 January 2020): a short thread analysing the meaning of the show's Chinese name and where the English translation of 'The Untamed' came from.
- Nie Huaisang's cultivation style
- Twitter meta about Jin Guangyao and the way that Nie Mingjue and Nie Huaisang react to his actions. By LaT_CQL.
Links & Resources
- 陈情令 | The Untamed (TV) fanworks @ AO3
- The Untamed RPF fanworks @ AO3
- Untamed/陈情令 fanfics at fanfiction.net
- CQL and CQL RPF recs @ fancake
- untamed recs @ fanart_recs
- 《陈情令》主演齐聚粉丝见面会 肖战王一博合唱
- The Untamed Thailand Fan Meeting Highlights
- The Untamed Concert In China Is Scheduled For November
- Tickets for The Untamed Concert in Nanjing sold out in 5 seconds
- The Untamed: A Primer by sonickitty via Tumblr. "Part 1. Part 1. So You Want To Join The Pyramid Scheme". Published February 20, 2020 (Accessed May 4, 2020) (archive link)
- ‘The Untamed’: Chinese boy love drama we can’t stop watching, Archived version, 2 December 2019. (Accessed 5 May 2020.)
- Tweet by @asideoftrashpl1: if you filter AO3 works by language, after Wangxian, Xicheng is most popular for English works... BUT CHENGXIAN IS THE MOST POPULAR PAIRING FOR CHINESE WORKS. Food for thought. Posted May 7, 2020 (Accessed May 10, 2020) (archive link)
- Tumblr post by baoshan-sanren on February 16, 2020. (archive link)
- Twitter thread by Lat_CQL on August 8, 2020. (archive link)