Idol drama knockoff "Let's Go Watch Meteor Shower" panned in China

Wikipedia defines "idol dramas" as fashionably-dressed handsome actors and beautiful actresses pursuing epic romance within a thirty-episode or less format; it's the type of drama that specifically targets the young people demographics and has its origins from Japan's "trendy dramas".

In 2001, now-legendary Taiwanese producer Angie Chai created Meteor Garden, opening up Taiwan to a wave of idol dramas. After a decade of growth, idol dramas have given rise to F4 (Meteor Garden), Show Luo (Corner with Love), Wu Chun (Tokyo Juliet), Ethan Ruan (Fated to Love You), Mark Chao (Black & White), Joe Cheng (It Started with a Kiss), Jolin Tsai (Hi! Working Girl), Rainie Yang (Devil Beside You), Ariel Lin (It Started with a Kiss), Joe Qiao En Chen (Fated to Love You), and Cheryl Yang (My Queen). It is dramas that provide first exposure to the limelight for the path to stardom, and holds even more true in the Taiwanese television serial market for bringing about huge commercial opportunities.

Jia Ni Zhang and Ming Dao in "Always Smile" by Taiwanese producer Xiu Qiong He.

In comparison, China's television market is far from developed in entertainment for television serials. From the historical dramas to realistic modern-day dramas, no matter the script or the actors involved, the core popularity comes from their believable ties, well-crafted flow, and attention to cultural details. Sometimes, business-oriented themes sneak in, but when these shows premiere, they are always severely criticized and also have difficulty squeezing into the televised prime time slots.

But the internet knows no national boundaries, and is also a rampant source of piracy. The Chinese netizen youth have been enjoying Taiwanese dramas in recent years, and have also planted the seeds for idol dramas in mainland China. There are more or less three kinds of dramas that are paving their way through, including ones by Taiwanese producers attempting to film for a younger audience in mainland China such as Always Smile!, ones that firmly grab hold of existing entertainment properties such as "bootleg" drama Let's Go Watch Meteor Shower, and ones that that ride the recent fashion popularity such as Modern New Generation.

Chinese version of "Hana Yori Dango" manga. Although panned in China, it still receives decent ratings.

Of the three major routes taken by producers of these idol dramas, the ones that have fared the best come from Taiwanese producers. These include Hunan TV's Always Smile! and Anwei TV's Happy & Love Forever starring Taiwanese actor Ming Dao, which have been the ratings champions captivating audiences in China.

Tragically, Chinese idols are still experiencing a popularity gap with their counterparts in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea. Professionally-trained performers are losing out to those with raw youth and natural charm, thus causing mainland Chinese idols to often be labeled as defective "bootlegs". The classic example is Let's Go Watch Meteor Shower, which itself is adapted from the Japanese manga Hana Yori Dango and is actually being panned as the worst adapation of the famed manga.

Hu Ge and Ivy Chen in fashion-based drama "Modern New Generation".

Additionally, the sudden surge of popularity in fashion shows have inspired the creations of fashion-based idol dramas such as Modern New Generation starring Chinese actors Hu Ge and Ivy Chen, Invulnerable starring Chinese athlete-turned-actor Tian Liang, and In Love with an Anchorwoman starring Taiwanese actress Chery Yang.

Source: UDN

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