Actor-screenwriter in controversy over 'groping' actress in TV drama
Published: Sep 15, 2022 01:16 AM
Photo: Screenshot of Douban

Photo: Screenshot of Douban

Chinese star Zhang Han has become embroiled in controversy following the recently aired drama "Gentlemen of East 8th" due to his inappropriate touching of the female character during their interactions.

Zhang was also criticized for pulling the actress' underwear in a previous episode. In the latest episode, Zhang's character touched and squeezed a female character's breasts.

In the latest episode of the show, Zhang and actress Wang Xiaochen are sitting at the dinner table and Zhang picks up Wang to sit on his lap, during which his right hand moves up from Wang's waist to her breast.

The drama has also been accused of being disrespectful to women and having very negative innuendos in many of its lines. For example, the character played by Zhang once said to a female character, "My mother has told me since I was a child that thin women are good-looking, and fat women are good in use. "

These episodes reveal flirtations and the male gaze at women that make people feel uneasy, netizens wrote on social media.

Zhang is the producer, writer and lead actor of the drama. He once told the media that it was a tribute to his youth that he carried his dreams until he turned 40, and claimed that he had been polishing the drama for a decade.

"I think these actions have reached the level of sexual harassment," one netizen wrote on China's Twitter-like social platform Sina Weibo. "It's more like Zhang is sexually harassing the actress in the name of filming."

The drama has now fallen to a 2.2 score on the Chinese movie rating platform Douban. The lowest possible score for a film or TV production on the platform is 2.0.

"It's ridiculous that such a production can be broadcast on TV. It lacks respect for the audience," one viewer wrote in the Douban comment section.

"We need some dramas with undistorted values," wrote another viewer.

In contrast to the strong public opposition this received, there have been a number of excellent Chinese TV dramas in recent years, such as "The Age of Awakening," "Remembrance Of Things Past" and "Reset."

Among these TV dramas loved by viewers, various types of dramas are involved, which fully reflects that as long as the plot is true and grounded, the creation is elaborate and sincere, close to the hearts and lives of ordinary people, and the values are upright, no matter what the subject matter is, a drama can be recognized and praised by viewers, observers noted.

But the tidal wave of criticism by viewers in just two weeks proves that films and TV shows with distorted values and no respect for women are unlikely to be recognized in today's China, they said.