Author：Verbena C. W，Elaine Yang，Kitten Wang
The fifth season of The House of Cards, as adapted from the British novel of the same name, started streaming recently. As a successful streaming show based on the political world, its popularity has made the worldwide audience realize the unique appeal of political-themed entertainment, and created a new trend of political shows. The audience liked to think these shows were based on real events, hot topics. The storylines tend to be very current, made viewers feel like part of the show, and revealed the secrets of the forbidding political world.
There’s plenty of excellent Chinese literature based on the political world as well. Back in 2010, Xiaoqiao Laoshu, a former bureaucrat, wrote the bestselling The Journal of Hou Weidong series. The books featured 304 bureaucrats of all levels, 84 political crises, 66 government departments and agencies, and 23 subtle promotions and demotions, creating an intricate and elaborate narrative of the rise to the top for an ordinary public servant over 10 years, and exposing the secrets and illusions of a mysterious world for readers.
After publication, the book won both “Best Political Novel,” and “The West Lake Bi-Annual Award for Genre Novel.” The book and its sequel, The Political Adventures of Hou Weidong, are still bestsellers in China today, and helped to continue the popularity for political novels.
In 2017, the TV Show, In the Name of The People, managed to bring the passion for political shows to a fever pitch in China. In the show, a program manager at a national bureau was reported to be corrupt. When Hou Liangping, Chief of the Anti-Corruption Department of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, came to investigate, all he saw was a plainly-dressed man eating noodles in a shabby old house.
The show used Hou Liangping’s anti-corruption investigation as the main plot to portray the way contemporary prosecutors protected ethical integrity, law, and order in China. The veneer of the corrupt was exposed layer by layer in the story. Douban.com, a book and movie review site, rated the show as high as 8.3 (out of 10). The show’s average nationwide rating was 3.03%, with a 10.24% rating share, and won multiple major awards including “The Most Influential TV and Movie Show in the Internet Era for 2017.”
In the Name of The People was controversial as soon as it streamed, with many audience members both praising and criticizing it. A lot of people liked how “it didn’t lecture, was not full of slogans, and was filled with suspense, just like well-made American shows,” and how it was able to touch on sensitive topics like “political and business collusion,” “backroom deals,” and “political inaction,” etc., showing the Chinese government’s determination to fight corruption. The powerful cast also attracted audience from all generations.
There were also some viewers who complained about the pace of the show; one minute, the show was tense, the next, the show focused on some pedestrian part of life. The audience joked that the show should be called “In the Name of Ordinary People’s Lives,” but the drama continued to be immensely popular. The novel which inspired the show was sold out and took six days to arrive. The kind of tea mugs, jackets, and even earrings used by the show characters became bestsellers. Viewers began discussing how characters with different personalities handled pressure in a political environment, claiming they want to learn stress-coping from Hou Liangping, to be able to joke and diffuse tension whenever pressured at work.
While some people still think current politics should not be so closely linked to commerce and marketing, but in the not-so-distant future, political shows will still be hot. People are hoping for real life people with the kind of integrity shown by the show’s characters, and they’re hoping for more excellent shows like this to inspire them.