Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT
I thought I'd never become obsessed with another Chinese drama after bidding farewell to Nirvana in Fire. Surprise! It turns out that Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, despite the plagiarism controversy surrounding it, has not only become a hot topic in China but has also received high praise from foreign fans on dramafever.com, a video streaming website owned by Warner Bros.
Loads of five-star remarks were posted by viewers who enjoyed the drama, making it one of the most ubiquitous Chinese programs online and resulting in a strong penchant for Chinese drama.
Chinese aesthetics feature a collage of ancient Chinese images and chansons with dreamlike lyrics and melancholy melodies, constructing a fictional Neverland that is quite different from contemporary daily life and enriching foreigners' imagination of China. The exotic scenes offer another channel to learn about the beauty of Chinese culture. Also, the backdrop of love and romance seem to be the perfect motif for girls who dream of bittersweet rendezvous with a handsome, wealthy and considerate Mr Right.
Lovers in Chinese stories are more introverted, and the directors tend to use a lot of close-ups and details to fully depict the inner world of the protagonists. It is similar to techniques employed in video games.
Recent TV series have been using video game techniques to avoid possible repetition and stereotypes about love. The scenes in the Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms are reminiscent of fantasy video games. Also, the soliloquy from Bai Qian, handsome cast, and "boy's love" elements also evoke a visual novel effect.
The audience is faced with a double illusion. On the one hand, elegant soundtracks, fancy graphic effects, stars with high beauty scores and skilled voice actors cooperate to construct an audiovisual spectacle to extend and satisfy the sensory demands of the audience.
On the other hand, romantic love stories, regardless of their social stratum, properties and gender, deconstruct the reality of spectators with the belief that only love could be a panacea for life's dilemmas.
The more severely viewers are tortured by anxiety, the more urgently they desire such romances, which could explain why Chinese TV dramas are becoming more and more popular abroad. After checking the program rankings on dramafever.com, you could also find similar Chinese series such as the General and I and The Imperial Doctress.
Fortunately, the popularity of Chinese dramas has increased foreigners' interests in Chinese culture. Some foreign viewers have said that they would be willing to learn Chinese so that they could get rid of their dependence on English subtitles, and some would also like to travel to China.
The downside of success is that sometimes there is also a tendency toward homogenization to make a profit, which often brings awkward imitations.
Only if Chinese writers and directors keep telling creative Chinese stories, can Chinese culture blossom outside the country's borders, much like the flowers of Ten Miles of Peach Grove.
This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.