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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Opinion
Behind a viral TV drama
    2017-April-24  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    Wu Guangqiang

    jw368@163.com

    IT’s been a long time since a TV drama became the talk of the town in China. In 1989, every night when the 50-part TV series “Longing,” China’s first heavyweight TV drama, was broadcast, streets in cities and towns would become deserted; almost everyone was staring at a TV set, chasing one episode after another, anxious to learn what would happen next to Liu Huifang, the beautiful, kind-hearted and virtuous heroine.

    The play owed its extreme popularity partly to the fact that many Chinese families were just beginning to own TV sets, which grabbed their interest, and partly to the initial flourishing of TV programs produced by fledgling production teams. Mainland TV screens had been virtually dominated by plays from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Western countries due to the scarcity of quality home-made programs.

    The ensuing prosperity of Chinese entertainment, along with increasing diversity, greatly broadened the audience’s range of choices, hence eliminating the case of everyone tuning in to the single show. It had become the norm that 10 people would talk about as many shows while chatting about their latest favorite, until the broadcasting of “In the Name of the People,” a 55-part TV drama about the hunt for corrupt officials.

    Since the first episode premiered on Hunan Satellite Television on March 28, tens of millions of viewers have been riveted by the series of political themes, a topic that had rarely been attractive to an ordinary audience due to its generally boring and false nature.

    The first episode was also available on the online streaming platform, Aiqiyi, where it was viewed over 7.5 million times. It has been viewed some 350 million times across all platforms. The audience’s enthusiasm has not abated with the progress of the plot. The heat can be felt everywhere, and even most body-builders at the gym I frequent are watching the show while they jog on the treadmill.

    

    Adapted from a novel of the same name, the show, relating its story through the fictional character of Hou Liangping, the Procuratorate’s anti-graft department director, focuses on the investigation of a batch of corrupt officials involved in real-estate allotment in fictional Jingzhou City of Handong Province.

    A Chinese catchword may explain why the drama is so popular: jie diqi, which literally means “down to earth,” or “reflection of real life.”

    If previous officials-related Chinese movies or TV shows could be characterized by formulism, glorification and mystification, thus leaving people uninterested, then this new production has shrugged off all of those stereotypes.

    To their amazement, viewers found the dark side of society, where the insatiable greed of corrupt officials and the apathy of indifferent officials towards the grass-roots masses meet the complex office politics of the officialdom. To top it off, all the roles are incisively and vividly portrayed, which was previously unimaginable.

    Some graphic scenes from the series appalled the audience, including a corrupt official in bed with a blonde, and an official who had 100-yuan notes stashed in his fridge, under his bed and behind the wall, totaling 230 million yuan (US$33.5 million) getting busted. Such dissipation and debauchery on the part of corrupt officials is no news — there have been countless reports about them — but it is the first time that they have been shown on the screen.

    The characters’ words and deeds are more convincing to the viewers as they are more likely from flesh-and-blood humans, either a good guy or a bad one. Zhao Dehan, who hides cash in his secret villa, ostensibly leads a simple life, which is true of many “low-key” corrupt officials.

    Even the positive characters, including high-ranking Party and governmental officials, are no longer portrayed as impeccable. They are bureaucratic and arbitrary sometimes, and hypocritical and selfish at others.

    In sharp contrast with their previous depictions, the folks from all walks of life, like policemen, office clerks and ordinary men and women in the show, are all far from perfect; they have faults. Some police officers and women have criticized the show for belittling them.

    Despite some of its flaws, the program deserves praise. Revealing a true picture of China’s social life demonstrates the nation’s full confidence in wiping out corruption and rectifying the maladies of officialdom and society as a whole.

    Instead of covering up or whitewashing undesirable aspects, we should change them.

    (The author is an English tutor and freelance writer.)

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Shenzhen Daily E-mail:szdaily@szszd.com.cn