Author：Verbena C. W，Elaine Yang
Urban drama series are always popular, whether it’s in China or anywhere else in the world, because these stories portray the way people live right now. Some hot shows from Europe and America, such as Desperate Housewives, and various workplace shows, have been popular for many years and continue to draw fans. In recent years, some urban drama shows from China have focused on romance and are showing a style unique to China, a love story of twin cities.
When a couple from two cities falls in love, there’s always plenty of conflict due to cultural and lifestyle differences. Back in 2011, there was a Chinese TV show called Two Cities, One Family. In the story, Lin Shen, a guy from Shanghai, fell in love with Beijing girl Hao Jingni, during a work trip. The young lovers defied their disagreeing families and married. When Jingni resigned her job to be with Shen in Shanghai, her mother-in-law, used to fine living, found fault with her simple lifestyle. The conflicts in marital life and the parents from both sides created plenty of drama, making the show a must-watch among viewers.
The regional differences between China’s north and south have continued to be hot topics online, and were frequently used in dramas, i.e., Northern Chinese wash face by cupping water with their hands but Southerners use a face towel. Northerners like to say north, south, east, and west, while Southerners like to say front, back, left, and right. Northerners raise their voice in an argument but Southerners like to nag… The most popular regional stereotype must be how Northerners seem more easygoing but lack attention to detail while Southerners like to scrutinize everything but can seem cheap. A love story of twin cities may seem romantic at first, but when it comes to real life, obstacles and challenges are endless.
A new drama launched this fall, National Life, also features a couple from Beijing and Shanghai and makes the theme of two-city romance hot again. In the show, a Beijing guy, Wang Shuwang, and a Shanghai girl, Lu Lu, met by chance in Thailand. After a series of adventures, the two fell in love and decided to marry in China, but were vehemently opposed by their families. Shuwang decided to give up his career in Beijing to open a ceramics shop in Shanghai, to prove to Shuwang’s family that he is a good provider. Lu’s family, however, still refuses to accept their union, then there’s the third-wheel intereference from Chun Yuqiu, a single guy, and Ma Sisi, a clothing boutique owner, adding more conflict to the couple’s relationship.
Both the audience and the media believe that National Life has surpassed past TV shows; the drama has dialogue that’s true to how people talk now, as well as the same attitude toward life and love. The line by Wang Shuwang, “If your not wearing makeup doesn’t scare me, why would I care about a messy house?” became a hit, while Lu Lu’s slogan, “If a woman doesn’t spend time on herself, is she still a woman?” also went viral. The show has many vivid portrayals of contemporary women in love, and the way the couple interacts is very real and relatable to the audience.
Chinese urban dramas featuring love stories in two cities are becoming ever more trendy, and these shows are being introduced abroad; it’s only a matter of tme before they’re also well-received overseas.