Chinese TV series gaining popularity in Africa


Chinese TV shows that depict young people's lives in modern society are crossing the cultural divide and attracting a growing set of global audiences. One of the examples is the Chinese TV series "A Beautiful Daughter-in-law Era," a 36-episode light comedy about a modern Chinese couple.

The TV series was first aired in Shanghai in November 2009. It was dubbed in Swahili and broadcast in east African countries in 2011. Kenyan actress Josephine Moeni Waweru and actor Khamis Juma Swaleh were chosen to do voice dubbing for the two leading roles in the African version of the series.

Wang Liping, screenwriter of the TV series, said she had doubts as to whether African audiences would be able to connect with the TV series. However, to her relief, it has proven to be a success in Africa.

Tanzanians have said that they have been able to understand the series due to the emotional entanglement and personal relationships depicted in the show, as they resonate with African people as deeply as they do with the Chinese.

Kenyan Janet Nzomo said the tension between the show's mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law also exist in Kenya.

Kenyan people may be able to find ways to solve their personal problems by watching the series, she said.

"The overseas market is eager to know young Chinese people's state of mind in modern times," Wang said.

Although China is one of the world's most prolific producers of TV series, its series are not particularly popular overseas. The popularity of "A Beautiful Daughter-In-Law Era" may serve as an impetus for Chinese TV producers who are seeking to bring their work to other countries.

Chinese TV is typically limited to tales about ancient imperial life and kung fu in the global market, said He Xiaolan, president of the Shanghai-based WingsMedia.

"But in fact, foreign markets are calling for more stories that depict the real lives of young Chinese," He said.

Chinese TV shows with complicated storylines and historical settings are not popular among western audiences, as they prefer simpler stories about human nature, according to Cheng Chunli, a senior marketing director at the China International Television Corporation.

In recent years, some TV shows that focus on the lives of urban Chinese have achieved some success in the foreign market.

"Go Lala Go!," a TV series that details the adventures of a female office worker named Du Lala, has also started to reach global audiences. The series has been exported to Singapore, Malaysia, the United States and Canada.

The series' export price per episode is about 10,000 U.S. dollars, paralleled only by "The Legend of Bruce Lee," a biopic about the kung fu icon.

Exported series are typically "optimistic, modest and harmonious," according to He.

Wang said she will continue to focus on the lives and dreams of ordinary people in her work, as well as make her work more appealing to both domestic and international audiences.

"The Chinese dream will be more easily accepted by foreign audiences when it is manifested in small and touching stories," said Meng Jian, a professor at Fudan University.