Is Beijing softening its tone towards Hong Kong? Women on TV, to be more precise. There used to be a time when most people, myself included, were glued to their TV sets to watch the latest dramas produced by local free-to-air broadcaster TVB.
But over the weekend, egged on by friends, I managed to watch a few episodes of My Unfair Lady, a recent TVB drama that has been the talk of the town. Men question equality of women-only Wonder Woman shows Premiering earlier this month, it has brought back the high ratings that TVB can no longer take for granted. And it has tapped into the zeitgeist, putting the focus on an interesting question: It has tapped into the zeitgeist, putting the focus on an interesting question: The show also presents different perspectives on love by the various female characters — and whether being passive or proactive helps them achieve happiness in life.
Meanwhile, across the border, tens of millions of TV viewers are captivated by Ode to Joy, which is going strong at season two. This series about the friendship of five independent Shanghai women reportedly garnered more than five billion views on the internet by early May. The two dramas have something in common: It reflects real frustrations facing Hong Kong women, such as home mortgages, office pressure or politics, and cheating boyfriends working on the mainland.
Chinese women make billions singing and slurping soup online Ode to Joy features a strong Shanghai context in how women from different backgrounds living in the same apartment building have learned to grow up together, looking for career fulfilment in a big city, and handling love lives and family relations. These are typical experiences shared by many struggling white-collar workers on the mainland. The takeaway here is not to give up when viewer interest is dwindling and shifting towards alternatives.
The fact is, Hong Kong is a city with no lack of opportunities for women. We will soon have our first female leader, chief executive-elect Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor , taking charge. Yes, her efforts to recruit more women for her cabinet have not been entirely successful , but not because Hong Kong lacks enough female talent. That ought to inspire another popular drama showcasing local talent.
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