‘Bei­jing Girl’ drama falls short on re­al­ism

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - TWO CENTS - By David Lee

The re­cent pop­u­lar drama Bei­jing Girl has sparked de­bate and soulsearch­ing. The show fol­lows Chen Ke, a young woman from Sichuan Prov­ince, who moves to Bei­jing to chase her dreams. She’s pretty, smart and am­bi­tious.

As life un­folds, Chen’s ex­pe­ri­ence liv­ing in the fast­paced and in­creas­ingly af­flu­ent Chi­nese cap­i­tal is pre­sented to the view­ers in ways that charm, amuse, pro­voke, sad­den or anger them.

New to Bei­jing, the Sichuanese girl is ush­ered into the city’s nightlife scene, shocked at other girls’ com­ments about men, sex and money.

A young, pretty of­fice lady ac­com­pa­nies her rich male boss to a din­ner that is at­tended by ex­ec­u­tives from other com­pa­nies who smile know­ingly at the im­pro­vised cou­ple. Th­ese and many other scenes from Bei­jing Girl are fa­mil­iar to many non-lo­cal women who live and work in Bei­jing.

The dilem­mas, em­bar­rass­ments and awk­ward­ness along the jour­ney of pur­su­ing the Bei­jing dream are in­deed there. The scenes also stim­u­late soul-search­ing, as view­ers re­flect on their own ex­pe­ri­ences.

How­ever, this is not to say that the scenes are all real. Many view­ers are likely to say that they are quite the op­po­site of real life. In Bei­jing Girl, re­al­life sce­nar­ios are col­laged in an al­most friv­o­lous way which presents a sto­ry­line that leaves many view­ers in­cred­u­lous. Why is Chen so lucky, al­ways chang­ing jobs and earn­ing more money? It turns out that she did not earn them through hard work, but through her re­la­tions with many men.

The episodes have raised de­bates as to what con­sti­tutes suc­cess and hap­pi­ness in Bei­jing and how to achieve suc­cess and hap­pi­ness.

Chen’s story seems to show that guanxi (con­nec­tions), tricks and a pretty face are some of the best weapons women posses. In this case, Bei­jing Girl may well be ti­tled How Best Deal with Guys in Bei­jing with the tagline short­cuts through guys.

Nev­er­the­less, it’s still a good thing that the episodes talk about things of real con­cern to the many women and men who must deal with life’s many chal­lenges in the city, even though the sto­ry­line is out of touch with any se­ri­ous re­al­ism. If I sug­gest that Chen shows more of her hard­work­ing side to jus­tify her ris­ing pay and a lit­tle less of her com­plex re­la­tions with men, does it make me look too sen­si­tive or pro­gres­sive? Sadly, se­ri­ous re­al­ism in TV dra­mas is a rar­ity. Bei­jing Girl ap­pears to have made a worth­while at­tempt, but it’s far from enough. Many times, I’ve been awed by the tal­ent and hard work of the many non-lo­cal women in Bei­jing. They chase their dreams and help the city grow. But just as the Chi­nese cap­i­tal must em­brace th­ese dream chasers and of­fer them the best pos­si­ble op­por­tu­ni­ties for de­vel­op­ment and en­rich­ment, is it too much to ask pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies to give re­al­ism a more se­ri­ous try and of­fer en­ter­tain­ment con­tent that the many non-lo­cal women de­serve?

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