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Tuesday January 3, 2006 4:34 pm

Desperate Housewives Receives Chilly Reception In China

Desperate Housewives Oh dear. Looks like not everyone loves those crazy ladies on Wisteria Lane after all. Desperate Housewives recently began airing in China—in censored form—to great speculation. Would it succeed in a culture so different than what the show portrays? Would editing hurt the show? Would Susan get on everyone’s nerves?

Looks like the Chinese audience is less than receptive:

Ultimately, it’s the show that matters. To put it bluntly, “Housewives” does not have a demographic fit in the Chinese market. True, it is high in quality and has suspense, thrill and murder as plot hooks to entice a wider audience. But a typical television viewer in China is not someone well-versed in Western arts and literature, mesmerized by parallel narratives and ingenious tracking shots. It is usually someone with no advanced education but simply wants to kick off her shoes and relax after a hard day’s work.

For one thing, American serials like “Desperate Housewives”, with their witty innuendoes and multiple twists, are too fast-paced for Chinese taste. Some viewers complained they would get lost with the plot after a bathroom break. But with South Korean soaps, even if you skip three episodes, you can still follow the story lines.

On a deeper level, life on Wisteria Lane, the fictional California community in Housewives, is too far removed from ordinary Chinese, even the burgeoning middle class. A Chinese teenager would never, in her right mind, advise her single mother on the etiquette of dating. When Chinese housewives get into an adulterous mood, they would not turn to teenaged gardeners, who are usually migrant workers in rags, but to people with deeper pockets and higher ranks. A Chinese woman may act as fastidious as Bree Van De Kamp, but she would not take on the arch-conservative stance of an American Republican. A Chinese super-mom, in a country with family planning policy encouraging for one child, faces challenges very different from tending four unruly kids.

Simply put, the show fails to connect with the vast number of television viewers here because it implicitly requires prior knowledge of the US middle-class lifestyle, exaggerated for dramatic effect of course. That shouldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of those who crave for quality programming, but its target audience shrinks from the culturally curious to the culturally adventurous.


The fabulous Leora from the fabulous Desperate Blog has the full story.

Read More | Desperate Blog

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I bet if they did an anime version they’d love it.


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