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杰.克

Chinese TV programmes exceptionally dramatic?

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杰.克

Hi all,

 

I have recently reached a stage in my Chinese learning (5 plus years) where I am beginning to feel I can watch TV programmes reasonably comfortably. Comfortable enough that i understand the majority of whats going on, and don't find it to much wretch when I don't. This is a great feeling as a) i think its an important milestone in my journey that i can be proud of and b) language learning has become more fun as i am getting to do it through an enjoyable medium (ie watching tv).

 

Most recently I have watched 3 programmes that i would describe as dramas/soap operas although they themselves included comedy in their listed genres. These where 我的亲爹和后爸 , 一又二分之一的夏天 and 浪花一朵朵. One thing I have noticed across all three is that they are exceptionally dramatic. What i mean by this is a lot of time is spent on; long shots on characters faces, everyone is in a love triangle, excessive use of emotions in each scene (rather than say action),  romance/betrayal/camaraderie/and despair seem to inflict every characters life, lots of use of emotionally powerful music in the background oh and did i mention long shots on characters faces. This one is particularly noticeable, often scenes will just be the camera flciking between two characters increasingly exasperated faces. Often i feel emotionally fatigued by just 1 episode

 

I say this not as a criticism, just as an observation. And I'm curious if you guys have also noticed? For reference, I am British and so have been brought up on 'western' tv. I had wondered if due to censorship, the scope for plotlines was more limiting, (cant sex up, have murders, drug barons, crime - read sopranos, breaking bad, game of thrones etc). Very interested to hear your thoughts on this as well?

 

P.S Although ive not watched them, I also hear latin american dramas can be similar to this

 

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Publius

Well, I don't watch much TV, but I think there's a simpler reason: budget.

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DavyJonesLocker
1 hour ago, 杰.克 said:

I say this not as a criticism, just as an observation. And I'm curious if you guys have also noticed? For reference, I am British and so have been brought up on 'western' tv. I had wondered if due to censorship, the scope for plotlines was more limiting, (cant sex up, have murders, drug barons, crime - read sopranos, breaking bad, game of thrones etc). Very interested to hear your thoughts on this as well?

 

 

agree, its the most god awful TV around, my gf watches them and every 5 minutes there is some useless petite girl crying about something or other, I just can't show any interest.

Same with the movies, they are way behind korean, japanese,  even the other asian countries. I am an avid world cinema fan, watch a movie  every 2nd evening on average. I don't agree about the budget being the issue. There are some magnificent movies by all the European countries made on shoestring budgets. Ireland, Denmark, Sweden for example which get later picked up by hollywood (and then ruined). 

 

My gym buddy is in the chinese movie industry and has a real love of cinema but always rants on about how Chinese TV and Film is just driven by money, the director is highly likely to pick the skinny pretty girl that looks about 12. He says there is no passion or desire in industry for making cinematic art . The actors are picked on 关系 not acting ability nor suitability for the role. The audience will be big enough to make and broadcast any sort or crap.

 

It's a shame as it was a lot better decades ago

 

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杰.克

I had also considered budget. Perhaps the tv shows have to focus on intense conversations, emotional scenes, and overbloated episode count in seasons etc which limits ability to have action or other such things. But this just doesn't seem to ring true at a casual glance. From my basic understanding Chinas film industry is booming, with incredible amounts of money sloshing around, and production costs getting ever cheaper (a lot of youtubers have great production values these days). 

 

DJL some interesting points, particularly about the guanxi and choice of actors, i had not considered that.

 

EDIT- also i notice breathing is very much used as dramatic expression! so many scenes with just breathing noises

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Flickserve

I was watching National Geographic wildlife recently and thinking this is crap (over dramatic and no educational value) compared to David Attenborough and the BBC. Maybe it’s a cultural thing that Brits can’t adapt ?

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Bibu

money and learning from korean, HK, US counterpart. Did not watch TV for 30 years. While I do watched some 10+ TV series, the so called 主旋律 tipo or  some 高圆圆和马伊琍 TV..

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mungouk
2 hours ago, 杰.克 said:

exceptionally dramatic. What i mean by this is a lot of time is spent on; long shots on characters faces, everyone is in a love triangle, excessive use of emotions in each scene (rather than say action),  romance/betrayal/camaraderie/and despair seem to inflict every characters life, lots of use of emotionally powerful music in the background oh and did i mention long shots on characters faces.

 

This sounds like a generic description of Soap Operas, full stop.  Especially the constant Extreme Close-Ups... they stop you noticing the wobbly scenery I suppose. 

 

44 minutes ago, Flickserve said:

I was watching National Geographic wildlife recently and thinking this is crap

 

Yes, same here, and I was actually watching a NatGeo programme that my friend had worked on so I was even more annoyed... the voice-over was way too hyperbolic and because it's made for cable (with 10-min ad breaks 3-4 times in a 1-hour slot) it's constantly reprising what's already happened and trying to build the jeopardy back up... with the result that the tension is turned up to 11 the whole way through, there's no light-and-shade, and it just becomes tiresome.

 

Oh I do think Brits can adapt, but we have our limits! 

 

 

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杰.克

Mungouk, my meaning is exceptionally dramatic. What I'm interested to getting to the nub of, is on the spectrum of dramas, Chinese ones seem to be exceptionally dramatic and Im curious to be what the reasons for that might be. Perhaps someone has some interesting cultural insight?

 

Im also pondering, is it in my Britishness we tend have exceptionally undramatic tv programmes? Perhaps our general coldness, and 'stiff upper lip' culture has led to this? 

 

Interested to hear anyone who has any cultural insights (again no comment on which is better). Im just keen to understand how this has come to pass 

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Flickserve

Have you watched Bollywood productions and compared? They might be even more overly dramatic.

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杰.克

Actually in regards to this thread, where ive discussed excessive use of emotion as opposed to say action scenes, I would have to say my impression of Bollywood is that they are quite different from Chinese.. They tend , in my opinion, to be fantastical, and really heavy on insane action scenes. Special effects that are really quirky etc. Quite different to Chinese

 

But we digress, Im really keen to focus the conversation on Chinese shows. 

 

Perhaps exceptionally dramatic is the wrong word. Very emotion laden could be better

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889

Perhaps someone who's familiar with traditional theatre forms in China can tell us if there are any parallels. My limited exposure suggests it is not a subtle art form.

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Moshen
Quote

P.S Although ive not watched them, I also hear latin american dramas can be similar to this

 

I don't feel my Chinese is up to watching TV series yet, but due to my better grasp of Spanish I am an avid watcher of Spanish-language telenovelas, most of them Mexican-American but a few from Chile or Colombia or even Spain.

 

These tend to have bold, well-drawn characters in somewhat melodramatic plots, involving bribery, kidnapping, twins, false identities and thwarted romances, not to mention drug-related or political or rich vs. poor violence.  The best ones are engaging and well-acted.  The plots, as I said, can be kind of fanciful, but they always have a definite beginning, middle and end.  And almost every episode ends with some kind of cliffhanger.  Culturally, they tend to be quite revealing about the role of religion, class, family, etc. and I enjoy watching them from that point of view as well.

 

From what you described, the Chinese dramas seem not to be up to that standard.  The Latin American telenovelas are emotional, but appropriately so relative to the plot and not to excess.

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Dawei3
11 hours ago, Flickserve said:

National Geographic wildlife recently and thinking this is crap (over dramatic and no educational value) compared to David Attenborough and the BBC

I'm an American who lived in England for a couple of years (years ago).  I found that British documentaries were generally much better than American.  Even today, when I'm watching an "American" show I like, I often find that it is produced a UK-company.  Even the "very American" TV show, Gold Rush, about Alaskan gold miners is filmed & produced by Brits (by RAW)  (I like British humor too).  

 

I understand the feeling about Chinese shows being overly dramatic - and not just drama shows.  Just flipping stations, a special kind of music comes on & it's clear it's a propaganda based history or other show.  As noted, this may be cultural.  Certainly 京剧 has excessive drama  - but maybe Western opera does too?  I'm not a fan of either so it's harder to compare them.  Movies & TV shows from long ago in the US sometimes also seem overly dramatic.  

 

I have some Chinese drama & love story movies that I really enjoy, so it's not that every show is overly dramatic - only some.  

 

 

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vellocet

Consider you are the average Zhou.  You have a life of tedium and toil.  You do the same thing, every day, with 1-2 days off a month, if that. You have family members who regard your income and/or labor as their lifelines, and thus you have little time for anything other than work. You don't get the emotional experiences that wealthy Westerners regard as average, or indeed as a baseline beneath which only bizarre and deplorable humans live.  You do, however, own a TV.  And through this TV, you get the emotional experiences that wealthy Westerners regard as average.  Living vicariously is a lot better than living your own life, which is colorless and menial.  Naturally Westerners regard living vicariously through the TV as bizarre and deplorable, but what do they know what it's like to be the average Zhou?  

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杰.克

Very very interesting and though provoking vellocet. Not something I'd considered. Is this something that has been communicated to you before?

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imron
20 hours ago, vellocet said:

Living vicariously is a lot better than living your own life, which is colorless and menial.

Like sands through the hour glass, so are the days of our lives..

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vellocet
17 hours ago, 杰.克 said:

Is this something that has been communicated to you before?

It's just something I've observed.  It really outrages me when foreigners piss on the Chinese for being losers.  It's like, do you have any idea what life is like for those people?  And the answer isn't no, the answer is I don't care one red cent about those people and do not wish to know; I do, however, greatly enjoy ripping them for not being like me.  

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889

Nothing distinctively Chinese about people locked into hard, bitter lives.

 

Have you ever seen Death of a Salesman?

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