Author：Verbena C. W，Elaine Yang
There’s a Chinese proverb which says “Three women make a show.” A group of women and their conversations often lead to lots of stories and conflicts, with unpredictable results.
What if even more women got together, what kind of drama would there be? Back in 1998, when American TV show Sex and the City became a hit, it was quickly followed by Desperate Housewives and Gossip Girl, other popular shows featuring women and their drama.
In the past two years, China has produced its own fascinating show on urban women. In 2015, there was Ode to Joy, and later, its sequel. The first show earned hits of more than 50 million on Youtube, with views of more than 1.64 million for the first episode alone. Both numbers broke YouTube’s 2016 record, making the show the top Chinese drama. In China, Ode to Joy’s single day views broke 6.8 billion, total online views of more than 10 billion, and more than 7.8 billion in topic searches. The show’s overseas records are equally impressive, with an average viewing time of 20:31, a total of 29438 online comments, and it became the number one Chinese show. By the end of the show’s season 2 in 2017, the third season became hotly anticipated too.
Ode to Joy revolves around three young women from small towns who are trying to succeed in Shanghai. Fan Shengmei, Guan Ju’er, Qiu Yingying are roommates, together with successful overseas returnee An Di, and charismatic rich girl Qu Xiaoxiao, the five women live in the same apartment building called Ode to Joy. The characters’ disparate personalities, personal baggage with work, relationships, and family background make a interesting drama as the women are at first guarded and later become best friends, helping each other with work crises, family obstacles, and heartbreak, and bear witness to the journey each is making in the mesmerizing city of Shanghai.
When it comes to the show’s popularity, a lot of female viewers said each character on the show, no matter the personality or background, could make you identify with them, and even feel as if their life, whether successful or failure, whether happy or miserable, is a reflection of themselves.
This conversation-starter show has also generated plenty of discussions online. Successful female executives are called “skinny white monsters,” rich girls are known as “pale, rich, and pretty,” while women from impoverished backgrounds who want to change their lives are known as “phoenix women,” and naive women who fall for relationship traps are called “silly, pale, and sweet.” No matter the nickname, female and male fans all have their favorite character. The women’s clothing, hair, and accessories also became trendy as their pursuit in life are awakening the viewers’ own desires and fears.
Some viewers called the show “a guide to love and relationships,” teaching women how to judge men, and how to become confident and have self-worth. It is also a guide to workplace smarts, with unwritten rules and achievement goals. The show has many classic lines, such as “The world is a giant toy machine, as I watch you through the glass, I only want you,” and “Let’s toast to love that’s from dopamine and not hormones,” which are funny and memorable.
Shows based on reality are the most popular with the audience, as women change with the times, there will be even better dramas in the future.