Illustration: Lu Ting/GT
For a long time, Chinese TV series have been messing around with continuous disputes between wives and mothers-in-law, endless quarreling in complicated love affairs as well as dramatic struggling stories happening in the imperial palaces of ancient times.
The heroines in these screenplays navigate trivial family issues, conspiracies and relationships. Usually they are weak, innocent and considerate. They don't turn evil and fight back until some bad guys (usually evil women) try to hurt them. And when danger comes, there will be always a man to offer help.
More and more scripts intend to create an image of women through intensive conflicts and conspiracies, but finally end up with a lady who tides over all her sufferings with the full support of a particular man who is rich, powerful and of course good-looking.
Go Lala Go is a 2010 TV series adapted from a novel of the same name which tells stories about how a woman develops a professional career. It was considered something new for women to talk about.
However, the image of professional women fell into another cliché: wearing fancy outfits, working in leading companies, growing up rapidly from nobody to somebody and knowing excellent men who support her career.
No exception for Andy in Ode to Joy, a series about the efforts of five ladies living and working in Shanghai, or Luo Zijun in The First Half of My Life, which sparked controversy about the independence of women on social media recently.
Before divorcing her disloyal husband, Luo was a housewife living a luxurious life and knew nothing about working. But after separating she had to learn how to earn a living for her and her only son.
The truth is, in a real professional career, one has to struggle through various obstacles with relentless efforts. Not everybody happens to have almighty friends to ask for help. Being independent means facing everything with tenacious efforts instead of relying on someone.
Not to mention the dramatic plot that Luo finally falls in love with her friend He, which makes the series more like a soap opera instead of talking about the independent and tough spirit of women.
It reflects the production team's shabby understanding of related industries. Elites should be well-educated and have a deep understanding of the business world, instead of someone speaking several obscure terms and poor English words on their fancy high heels.
Maybe this is why Chinese audiences turn to foreign TV. Taking American television as an example, women's self-awareness and independence have become hot topics in recent years. It presents different roles with rich characters, from housewives, maids and young girls who try hard to find their real self in their lives, to professional women who struggle to balance families and work.
The Good Wife tells a good story how a woman, Alicia, becomes independent and revives her own career as a lawyer after her politician husband is imprisoned.
But not all heroines in American programs achieve great success in their careers like Chinese ones do. For Max and Caroline from 2 Broke Girls, who want to start their own food business, the process they work toward is more like a real-life journey of self-cognition.
Many times they are close to their dream, and just as many times, they lose their funds planned to be used for building their own business. In the end, the two still never have their own business. But it is as real as life, which is always changing and challenging.
We cannot deny that there are bugs in these foreign series as well. But the important thing is the real independent spirit of women they are trying to portray. It relates to independent thinking and progressive efforts, instead of unpractical imaginations and fabricated plots. There is still a long way to go for China's production teams on this topic.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Global Times.