Top idol Wang Junkai’s performance in patriotic TV drama gets cold shoulder from netizens
Published: Jun 09, 2021 07:14 PM
TFBoys (left to right: Wang Yuan, Wang Junkai and Yi Yangqianxi) sing at their sixth anniversary concert in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province on August 10. Photo: VCG

TFBoys (left to right: Wang Yuan, Wang Junkai and Yi Yangqianxi) sing at their sixth anniversary concert in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province on August 10. Photo: VCG

Wang Junkai, also known as Karry Wang, a young top-level super star who has more than 80 million followers on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo, recently got the cold shoulder from netizens after starring in an episode of a patriotic TV drama Faith Makes Great (2021) on Monday. Many netizens said they found the singer-turned-actor's performance wanting and called for idols to undergo more cultural and historical preparation before taking on roles in these types of patriotic series. 

Wang starred in an episode of It's Not Far Away as Lin Ming, a real life worker at a fertilizer factory who studies hard to pass the gaokao, China's national college entrance exams, and eventually becomes the head engineer on the country's Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Island Tunnel Project.  

After the episode released on Monday, it captured netizens' attention on media platforms such as Sina Weibo and Douban, not only because the 2021 gaokao exams also kicked off that same day, but also because criticism of Wang's performance  quickly gained ground among netizens, with even some of his devoted fans commenting that his performance has "room for improvement."  

"With hollow eyes that didn't show any sincere emotions, he delivered his lines like he was reading them from a book," a netizen posted on Chinese media review platform Douban, calling Wang a "joke of the Beijing Film Academy," the star's alma mater. 

"I've played a boy born into poverty… I think a role needs the actor to have lived the life he lived or spend time with similar people in real life, which can add texture to the actor's acting… I just think he took on more than he could chew," Dylan, a young actor in Chengdu, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

Some other netizens took the criticism of Wang's performance as a chance to call upon idols to better prepare if they intend to take upon such significant roles, adding that Wang made them realize that there needs to be a threshold for actors when it comes to TV and film productions. 

"Even though idol stars are appearing in patriotic TV shows more often, I think they are generally lacking particular life experiences, which makes it difficult for them to portray certain emotions. This is not saying they are not good or don't want to be good… the best actors for patriotic shows are who have heard those old and tough stories from their parents…" Xiong Gang, a 43-year-old fan of patriotic dramas, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

Wang is not the only super star to appear on the patriotic drama. Other popular stars such as Lay Zhang and Zhao Liying have also starred on the show, which celebrates the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC). However, actress Zhao Liying was praised by netizens for her portrayal of the character Lei, a young woman entrepreneur who decides to return to her rural hometown to help develop the local economy. 

"No, I don't think that all young idols are incapable. Actually I see the potential in them, even Wang. I think he tried, he just needs more time," emphasized Xiong.