Reality Shows, Rom-Coms and Ping Pong Dramas: Chinese Producers Show Off TV Exports

Variety | 10/15/2019 | Cynthia Littleton
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At its best, television serves as a mirror for its audience. This year, the Mipcom conference trained its annual country-of-focus spotlight on original TV content produced in China.

That proved to be a timely choice as the conference came on the heels of last week’s headline-making clashes between Chinese and Western cultural values in the world of sports and entertainment. The NBA has endured a controversy that ignited after an official with the Houston Rockets tweeted his support of Hong Kong protesters as the league was in the midst of a pre-season showcase tour of China. “South Park” had its foul-mouthed animated characters bash both China and the U.S. in an episode called “Band in China” – and wound up banned in China.

Backdrop - Monday - Presentation - Slate - Dozen

Against this backdrop, Monday’s presentation of a slate of more than a dozen contemporary TV series and specials produced by Chinese media companies offered an intriguing glimpse of pop culture on the mainland, as sanctioned for broadcast by the ruling forces in the world’s most populous country. The Mipcom event was organized by China’s State Council Information Office and its National Radio and Television Administration.

The production values on display were strong and the genres familiar. One scripted drama centers on a drifter in Beijing who finds the meaning of life after meeting a young woman. A romantic comedy turns on two real-estate agents who accidentally rent the same apartment. An action-drama revolves around two very different rival ping pong players. Then there’s the reality show that sends fathers who have strained relationships with their children out to seek adventures with those estranged sons and daughters.

Look - Programs

Here’s a look at some of the programs presented:

“Mr. Fighting”: An hourlong drama about a drifter who finds his purpose. It had the look and feel of an uplifting 8 p.m. broadcast network drama. Premiered...
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