Popular talkshow suddenly cancelled

Source: What’s on Weibo (9/13/17)
One of China’s Longest-Running and Most Popular Talkshows Suddenly Cancelled
By Manya Koetse and Diandian Guo

The popular Chinese talk show “Behind the Headlines” (锵锵三人行), that was broadcasted by Phoenix TV since 1998, has been suddenly terminated. The name of the show itself has become a ‘sensitive’ and censored term on Weibo since September 12.

One of China’s most successful and long-lasting talk shows has suddenly been canceled after nearly 20 years.

Without further official statements, the TV show announced its termination on its Weibo channel on September 12: Continue reading

Hunan TV slammed for chasing ratings

Source: Sup China (9/1/17)
Hunan TV slammed for chasing ratings
By Jiayun Feng

“Too many Korean pop stars are featured in shows produced by Hunan TV. It’s time for it to make some changes!”

“Since when did ‘mouthpiece of the Party’ (党的喉舌 dǎngdehóushé) become a good word?”

These two comments demonstrate how public opinion differed (in Chinese) on the rectification notice (in Chinese) released by the Communist Party’s Hunan provincial committee after an inspection of Hunan Television from February to April this year. In the notice, Hunan TV, the provincial satellite TV station, is criticized for lacking a sense of political responsibility, an excessive focus on high ratings, and spending too little effort on Party construction.

“For a long time, some leaders in Hunan TV deeply believed that ‘Entertainment is the foundation of a television station’ [娱乐立台 yúlèlìtái], and that ‘High ratings are the only criteria on whether a television station is successful or not’ [以收视率论英雄 yǐ shōushìlǜ lùn yīngxióng],” the notice says. “Some channels have been swinging between social benefits and economic benefits. They have failed to fulfill the mission of being a mouthpiece of the Party.” The notice also asserts that on the surface, the problem with Hunan TV seems to be its loose control of several channels and shows, but in fact it reflects the lack of political sensitivity among the TV Party committee. Continue reading

The First Half of My Life

Source: China Daily (7/19/17)
Popular TV drama explores modern women’s issues
By Zhang Xingjian | chinadaily.com.cn

Popular TV drama explores modern women’s issues

Poster of TV drama The First Half of My Life [Photo/Mtime]

Adapted from popular Hong Kong writer Isabel Nee Yeh-su’s novel The First Half of My Life, the 42-episode TV drama of the same title stands as a dark horse amid fierce TV competition during the summer holiday.

Gathering a cast full of veteran and renowned actors including Chen Daoming, Mei Ting, Ma Yili and Yuan Quan, the drama mainly tells the inspirational story of a housewife-turned-career woman.

In the drama, lead actress Ma Yili stars as Luo Zijun, a simple-minded and dubious housewife.

However, her carefree life encounters misfortune after an unexpected divorce. Continue reading

Ode to Joy goes wrong

Source: Sixth Tone (1/19/17)
Ode to Joy: A breath of fresh air on Chinese TV that turned toxic
A show about five millennial women making their way in Shanghai is a smash hit. What made it different from other Chinese TV shows, and where has it gone wrong?
By Jiayun Feng

Meet the characters of China’s hit show, Ode to Joy:


Andi 安迪

A former Wall Street executive who returns to China in search of her lost brother. Despite her beauty and intelligence, Andi has social phobias and no experience with relationships.



Qu Xiaoxiao 曲筱绡

Born to an affluent family, Qu is bold, fierce, and good at making drama out of ordinary life.

Continue reading

Bailu yuan tv drama shelved

Source: China Media Project (4/20/17)
Chinese Drama Shelved
By David Bandurski

CHINESE MEDIA REPORTED on April 17 that White Deer Plain (白鹿原), the television drama adapted from the novel of the same name by Chen Zhongshi, had been shelved after the airing of a single episode. It is not yet clear what the reasons are for the pulling of the drama — whether, for example, it is a suspension ordered by the authorities, or a decision taken by the show’s distributors — and there is so far no indication of whether or when the series might air again. Continue reading

In the Name of the People

Source: SupChina (4/10/17)
Writer of anti-corruption TV series — and insurance regulator — investigated for corruption

Xiang Junbo 项俊波 was a PLA soldier who fought with Vietnamese forces in a border war in 1979 and went on to become a television writer and producer as well as a banker and financial regulator. He became chairman of the Agricultural Bank of China in 2009 before heading up the leadership role at the China Insurance Regulatory Commission. During his TV years, he wrote what Hong Kong newspaper Ta Kung Pao calls (in Chinese) the country’s “first television series about auditing work,” the popular 1986 show The People Will Not Forget (人民不会忘记 rénmín bù huì wàngjì). Continue reading

In the Name of the People

Source: SupChina (3/24/17)
Cash, guns, and mistresses

In the Name of the People (人民的名义) is the title of a new TV series that premieres on March 28 on Hunan TV, one of China’s most popular and feistiest channels. Produced by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP), the show features guns, bedrooms piled high with cash, officials in bed with foreign mistresses, and a crack team of investigators rooting out corruption at the highest levels of government. The show is the latest and slickest propaganda made in support of the anti-corruption campaign initiated by President Xi Jinping soon after he became general secretary of the Communist Party in November 2012, and is being billed as “the first great anti-corruption TV show.”

The screenplay and a novel of the same name were written by the popular author Zhou Meisen 周梅森 with the support of the SPP, which allowed him to interview detained corrupt officials as part of his research. You can see a trailer for the TV show on YouTube and read an interview with Zhou by Southern Weekend (in Chinese). Reuters has a short article on the TV show.  

TV drama names Xi as traitor

Source: SCMP (3/3/17)
Censors step in after Chinese TV drama scene names Xi Jinping as ‘traitor’
Names of Chinese president and other top leaders featured in period drama scene listing spies from the rival camp
By Kinling Lo

The offending scene was immediately censored after screenshots of it were circulated online. Photo: Handout

The scene, which appeared in an episode of the Qin Empire 3 drama series, was aired on state broadcaster China Central Television last Tuesday.

It showed the names of Xi and other top Chinese leaders including Premier Li Keqiang, former president Hu Jintao, former premier Wen Jiabao, written in ancient Chinese script on bamboo slips.

In the show, the names on the bamboo slips listed traitors who were spying for the rival state of Zhao that the Qin army was trying to identify.

The surname Zhao, or “a member of the Zhao family”, is a euphemism used in recent years to describe China’s rich and powerful elites. The term has its roots in Chinese writer Lu Xun’s political satire The True Story of Ah Q, which featured a wealthy landlord who went by that surname. Continue reading

Ancient poetry game show

For more on this tv show, see http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1032000.shtml — Kirk

Source: Global Times (2/15/17)
Popular game show on ancient Chinese poetry hints at return of traditional culture
By Zhang Yuchen

Top left: Dylan Walker appears on the second season of game show <em>Chinese Poetry Conference</em>.Top right: Students recite Chinese poems in Handan, Hebei Province, on October 16, 2014. Photo: CFPA scene from <em>Chinese Poetry Conference</em>

A scene from Chinese Poetry Conference

Game show Chinese Poetry Conference, which just completed its second season on China Central Television (CCTV), has brought ancient Chinese poetry back into the public spotlight.The literary talent of the show’s host, competitors and panel of experts wowed audiences in China, reigniting the nation’s passion for ancient Chinese poetry.

Competitors from all different walks of life took the stage on the show, even including some foreign competitors. Continue reading

Dating show puts veto power in parents’ hands

Source: Sinosphere, NYT (2/16/17)
Chinese Dating Show Puts Veto Power in Parents’ Hands

The format of “Chinese Dating” adheres to Confucian traditions. The show’s hostess, Jin Xing, far left, is one of China’s most popular entertainment personalities. CreditChinese Dating

BEIJING — You are a young Chinese man whose father tells you the most important skill his future daughter-in-law must have is caring for her home and family. Your mother rejects a 40-year-old woman as your potential mate because she may be too old to bear children.

This is not prerevolutionary China, but a new TV dating show. Continue reading

Overview of Spring Festival Gala

Source: SUPChina (2/1/17)
The biggest TV show in the world
By The Editors
What China’s Spring Festival Gala says about a nation and its New Year traditions.

A screenshot of the opening fanfare for the 2017 Spring Festival Gala.

Over the years, China’s Spring Festival Gala, known as Chunwan (春晚 chūnwǎn), has evolved to become more than an officially sanctioned TV extravaganza to celebrate Chinese New Year. It’s also an accompaniment to the feast that most families enjoy together on New Year’s Eve. It’s hated as much as it’s loved, but it’s so popular that it can make the career of any musician, actor, comedian, or magician who performs in it. Produced annually by China Central Television (CCTV) since 1983, the show is a major topic of conversation around the dinner table and on social media during the weeklong Spring Festival holiday. The show this year reached 78.72 percent of China’s 1.35 billion people, or well in excess of 1 billion viewers (stats in Chinese here). Continue reading

TV shows with subtitles?

We are team teaching a course on film, television, and new media art in China at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago this semester. We are having a difficult time finding a few television shows with English subtitles. Can anyone recommend how to find subtitled versions of:

  • River Elegy
  • Yearnings
  • A Beijinger in New York
  • Foreign Babes in Beijing

With much appreciation,

Orianna Cacchione and Jennifer Lee

Popular Media, Social Emotion and Public Discourse review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Hui Faye Xiao’s review of Popular Media, Social Emotion and Public Discourse in Contemporary China (Routledge, 2014), by Shuyu Kong. The review appears below, but is best read online at:


My thanks to Jason McGrath, MCLC media studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

Popular Media, Social Emotion and
Public Discourse in Contemporary China

By Shuyu Kong

Reviewed by Hui Faye Xiao
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright January, 2017)

Shuyu Kong, Popular Media, Social Emotion and Public Discourse in Contemporary China. London and New York: Routledge, 2014. 154 pp. ISBN: 978-0-415-71989-6 (Hardback: $140)

Shuyu Kong, Popular Media, Social Emotion and Public Discourse in Contemporary China. London and New York: Routledge, 2014. 154 pp. ISBN: 978-0-415-71989-6 (Hardback: $140)

Continuing the scholarly investigation of China’s radical socio-cultural transformation in her Consuming Literature: Best Sellers and the Commercialization of Literary Products in Contemporary China (2004), Shuyu Kong’s latest book, Popular Media, Social Emotion and Public Discourse in Contemporary China, examines the burgeoning cultural public sphere shaped by the widespread use of new media, “including the internet, mobile communications and other social media” (3). In the past few decades, a fast-growing body of scholarship has paid attention to the escalating coverage of new media in contemporary Chinese society and speculated upon its socio-political ramifications. Jürgen Habermas’s ideas of public sphere and civil society have been frequently cited by intellectuals and scholars concerned with China’s democratization. However, Kong’s use of public sphere stretches Habermas’s definition, which tends to emphasize the participatory politics of free-willed rational bourgeois individuals. Rather, this book revolves around a new conception of popular media as a public site of cultural production and participatory consumption as well as a transmitter of social emotions and affects. This innovative approach is much needed for a better understanding of today’s Chinese society, which is experiencing yet another change in the “structure of feeling” as a result of an ongoing post-revolutionary “cultural revolution.” Continue reading