Source: China Daily (1/12/16)
Low-budget bi-love show becomes an unexpected hit
By Song Jingyi (chinadaily.com.cn)
“I haven’t read the novel, but recently I watched the drama, with the initial intention of merely to find out what is the fuss over it among Chinese netizens. It turns out to be much more enjoyable than expected because it’s just simply light-hearted and entertaining – despite all the cheap-looking props, settings and costumes. The general sentiment is that the quality of the cast and an interesting story really compensate for these shortfalls. The characters are also extremely lovable,” said a drama fan with the handle milquety on Facebook.
Currently, the show has raked in more than 700 million views after being released less than one month ago and is rated 8.2 out of 10 on douban.com, a Chinese SNS website, while the rate of The Legend of Mi Yue was only 4.9.
A male’s mind in a female’s body
This is the history of the struggle of a ‘woman’ in the harem. At the same time, this is also the history of the suffering of a ‘man’ in the harem. The biggest attraction for audiences seems to be the bisexual relationships of main character Zhang Pengpeng , who has a man’s mind in a woman’s body.
The story is set in motion when a modern playboy named Zhang Peng jumps into a swimming pool to save a girl’s life, but is accidently kicked in the head and falls unconscious. Upon waking, he discovers that he now inhabits the body of a beautiful woman living in ancient China named Zhang Pengpeng, who Zhang later realizes is the wife of a prince. Comedy ensues as Zhang tries to survive as a woman with a straight man’s mind.
When the show first starts, Zhang often flirts with his maid and his husband’s other concubines, most of whom are voluptuous women who don’t care when Zhang comes into contact with their bodies since he’s in a woman’s body. However, love comes in time and he falls in love with his husband, as he finds his more feminine side, and even has sex with him.
It’s rare to see a gender-bending role such as this appear so prominently in a Chinese drama. With Zhang’s male spirit and female body, each relationship between the two sexes develops quite naturally.
Ungryhippo, another drama fan, said, “I admit there are times I’ve forgotten that the crown princess is really a man and I’ve discovered he seems to be rather accepting of his new body and perhaps even the love interests of two men. The romantic scenes are wonderfully played out and unexpectedly unique and not too cliché. I am definitely looking forward to the upcoming episodes.”
In an interview with Xinhua news, screenwriter Qin Shuang, a talented post-85s said, “I aim to subvert the conventions of the costume drama. If every scene is brilliant, your production is going to be utterly monotonous. Creativity and entertainment value should be your primary considerations. “As for the success of the drama, she said she never expected it to happen.
A low-budget but creative hitUnlike other domestic TV shows that have high budgets for every episode, Go Princess Go is a very low-budget show.
Some netizens have found that costumes look like they were made from curtain fabric and there is a noticeable lack of patterns, and the accessories look like they were bought from street vendors. Some netizens even joked that all of the dreamlike scenes with wind and fog seem to be made from a blower!
There are no background actors. In scenes where there should be crowds of people, such as an ancient football match or a grand meeting, only several figures are ever seen in the background. Even the emperor, father-in-law to the princess, never makes an appearance and is only talked about by other characters.
Director Lv Haojiji explained. “This is my first Internet show; I want to do something different, but special. As for the clothes, I refer to some designs of European fashion brands in season 2014-2015 instead of using the traditional and cliché costumes. Maybe it is a bit difficult to accept this kind of new fashion style,” Lv said.
“Because of the lack of money, the whole cast and crew are mostly made of amateurs. But we did our best. In most cases, we needed to hold multiple jobs simultaneously. All the shoes of the leading actors and actresses were bought by me on Taobao, the Chinese giant online retailer. It took me several months to finish” Lv said
The popularity of Go Princess Go tells us that a lack of budget doesn’t have to hurt ratings. Audiences don’t really care where a show bought its costumes or how much money it spent. All they care about is whether a show can continue to amuse, shock and impress them. Innovation, boldness and sincerity are more important than extravagant budgets.