By Beth Main.
Chinese authorities are concerned that a Qing dynasty costume drama will teach Chinese youths the wrong workplace ethics, and could lead to a rise in office sabotage and intrigue.
The 76-episode drama series “Legend of Zhen Huan” (甄嬛传) has been hugely popular both in Taiwan and on the mainland, depicting the life of sassy Zhen Huan as she finds her place in the palace and moves up in the social hierarchy, from a 17-year-old concubine to a ruthless dowager empress.
Chinese authorities are concerned that content such as the fighting between the concubines could be misconstrued as representative of the modern workplace and that young Chinese graduates might think that poisoning their boss was the way to win the heart of the CEO. Authorities also fear that the characters’ struggles might be seen as hitting too close to home in the midst of China’s just-completed once-in-a-decade power transition, said Lin Hsi-hui, head of Taiwan’s Multimedia Production Association.
The story was adapted from an online novel written by 28-year-old Liu Lianzi, who says she was inspired to write by another costume drama that was popular when she was a student, and wanted to awaken the search and hope for love among her audience. Critics have interpreted the story as a guidebook for women on how to survive in the modern workplace or even as a depiction of how Liu Lianzi succeeded in the online publishing industry.
Chinese writer Tzeng Yuan wrote recently in Taiwan’s China Times:
“The Internet has liberated all the external factors that have for long restrained women at work … and no one had anticipated that a woman, when breaking the silence, would have told a story that should totally distort our look at history.”
Partly because of “Zhen Huan”, Chinese authorities have decided to limit historical dramas to just 10 percent of the total of next year’s complement of TV series, and to think twice before drinking the coffee the new intern made.
Liu Lianzi’s blog.
Episode of Zhen Huan on YouTube