The New National Obsession

“Hey hey, you see that?” Alvin nudged my back with his shoulder.

I followed his gaze to a girl leaning against metro handrail, focusing on the big screen of her iPhone 6 Plus.

“You get me?”

I threw him a big smile. “Of course I do!”

We were talking about just how the Chinese are addicted to this now-very-hit Chinese drama, “The Empress of China” I have been in Shanghai for one week already and I have observed this very common phenomenon: seeing Chinese people around watching this particular TV series on their phones / tablets everywhere, even in the crowded commuter trains!


This historical drama, starring the producer Fan Bingbing as the character Empress Wu Zetian, Zhang Fengyi, Aarif Rahman, Janine Chang, Wu Xiubo, Kathy Chow, Li Chen and Li Liren as the supporting characters, is believed to be one of the most expensive TV series in Chinese series and has been crowned one of the most view TV series in China when it first aired. Shortly after the short-term win, just when the wave of this Chinese drama started sweeping across China and other Asian countries, “The Empress of China “was suspended for days because the costumes were too revealing (especially in the chest region). To be able to return to the screen, the broadcaster was forced to re-edit the TV drama and then submit again for censorship. Wide shots and close-ups were being employed (heavily!) in order to significantly reduce the amount of cleavage.


Expectedly, the modifications have drawn a wave of mockery from the public fed up with ham-handed censorship. Chinese have lit up social media with complaints and jokes, with some posting cropped photos of celebrities and drawings that add in the missing cleavages to show the absurdity of the cuts.


Now let’s back to the obsession at hand. Despite the massive modifications that have greatly affected the composition and plot, Chinese still can not help obsessing about the drama. Based on my personal experience, you are bound to come across some elements of the drama series whenever you switch the TV on- from entertainment news to interview shows, or commercial advertisements and makeup artistry programs, “The Empress of China” is everywhere.

The hit is expected to persist, so do not be surprised with this phenomenon if you are coming to China in near future!

Want to come to China and experience Chinese soap operas first hand? Check out our website to find out more.


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