Student-made Chinese internet drama “Living Together” will soon be airing on Chinese TV, marking one of the first times that an all-student production has made the leap to prime time television. However, as Global Times reports in their feature on the program, the plot and other key elements of the ultra-popular show will be altered in order to meet Chinese television censorship standards.
What will result is a dramatically different story from the original, making you wonder what the point of bringing the show from the internet to the small screen was in the first place. According to Global Times:
The first season, originally consisting of 15 10-minute episodes, was “condensed” into four longer episodes in anticipation of its July 26 airdate on Chongqing Television during prime time.
However, that was only after the TV station slashed content deemed inappropriate, such as gambling, smoking, skipping classes, cheating, coeds living together and flagrant use of the Putonghua equivalent of the “F-word.”
Maybe it’s just us crazy Westerners and our anti-censorship biases, but we don’t see the show retaining much of its original content under these censorship rules. The show’s plot revolves around 9 students – male and female – living as roommates off-campus, so how exactly will the show still function if all instances of “coeds living together” are eliminated?
Still, in the end, it seems as if Living Together (soon to air under the name “Story of Roommates”) got off pretty easy. An interview with CCTV censors on Danwei (Note: VPN/Proxy required in China) provides a bit of a look into exactly how rigorous TV censorship is:
A reporter with this magazine previously addressed this issue with film censors, learning about the standard for films: frontal nudity is not permitted, while rear nudity cannot be shown in close-up. In television, however, essentially none of this is permitted. Lengthy kissing scenes are removed, and revealing photographs hung on walls that appear in the frame are blurred out.
After scenes suspected of being “erotic” are cut, dialogue is usually retained to preserve plot continuity. Shots are either of scenery or of the exterior of the room.
And if censoring “skipping classes, cheating, [and] coeds living together” seems stringent, we don’t even know what to say about these examples that Danwei posted of things that drew the attention of CCTV censors:
- A ribald folk tune had to be removed from a period piece;
- The mother of a Japanese soldier in a war drama expected him to fight to his death in China, implying that the Japanese people fully supported the war;
- None of the four main characters in a drama about car racing was motivated by the love of the race;
- A series in which a party secretary was accused of rape only to be cleared in the final episode could mislead viewers who didn’t watch the show all the way through to the end.