LIFE / CULTURE
Second season of hit TV drama about youth in China draws huge interest among viewers
Catching up
Published: Aug 14, 2022 08:12 PM
Promotional material for <em>Growing Pain 2</em> Photo: Courtesy of Nancy

Promotional material for Growing Pain 2 Photo: Courtesy of Nancy

When news of a follow-up to the hit 2019 Chinese TV drama Growing Pain, about campus life and family relationships, hit social media a few months ago, it caused a huge amount of excitement on social media, as the high production values of the first season had drawn loyal viewers of different ages.

Growing Pain 2, which debuted in July and wrapped up last week, had Chinese audiences eager to catch up with the four young people from season one and find out how they were doing in their careers and how they were getting along with their parents and romantic interests.

"The script had been developed since 2019," Ren Shuangyou, chief producer of the series, told the Global Times, noting that they felt a lot of pressure because of the success of the first season.

The first series focused on four Chinese high-school students, including Lin Miaomiao (Zhao Jinmai) and Qian Sanyi (Guo Junchen), who faced challenges and pressure from school exams as they tried to get into university.

Under this pressure, the four teens, specially Lin, grow closer to their parents. Lin's mother Wang Shengnan (Yan Ni) even decides to move so that Lin can go to school more easily, and she urges her to study hard.

The genuine family stories and feelings of the characters won many plaudits for the series.

In the sequel, the four teenagers have graduated from university and found jobs, which brings them a new round of challenges.

The sequel aimed for a broader range of themes, covering family, the workplace and social life, and even social topics such as domestic violence and the difficulties women face in the workplace. 

The production team selected the professions for the four roles based on their personalities and backgrounds, Ren said. 

For instance, Lin Miaomiao loved literature in school so she found a job in media, while Jiang Tianhao became a young entrepreneur who started his own business after experiencing various failures.

As soon as it debuted, the sequel became one of hottest topics on Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo as the experiences of the young people in the series sparked numerous discussions among Chinese netizens.

The sequel also fleshed out other characters on the show, and through Lin told the stories of many ordinary people who are easily overlooked in daily life such as delivery workers and cleaning staff trying to make a living in big cities.

Ren said that the production team carefully considered how to connect with important social issues and reflect real life. 

Besides the main young characters, middle-aged people were not overlooked in the second season. Lin's mom experiences bias in the workplace because of her age and the need to look after her family, while Lin's boss is that target of domestic violence by her husband.

Ren talked about how to balance the stories of younger and older generations in the series, saying that intergenerational communication and two-way growth have always been at the heart of the series.

"Young people leave the campus, enter society and face new challenges, while middle-aged people face greater pressure and responsibilities. Although they struggle in different ways, they help each other in some way," the TV producer noted.