TV series depicts challenges students overcame to take 2020 ‘gaokao’ exams during epidemic
Published: Oct 11, 2022 08:32 PM
Promotional material for <em>The Examination for Everyone</em> Photo: Courtesy of iQIYI

Promotional material for The Examination for Everyone Photo: Courtesy of iQIYI

Entering 2020, senior high school students throughout China were tensely preparing for the most significant examination in their life, the college entrance exams, or gaokao, when disaster suddenly struck the country with the outbreak of novel coronavirus.

This is the background of the new TV series The Examination for Everyone, directed by Shen Yan and starring actors Chen Baoguo, Wang Qianyuan and Hu Xianxu, as well as actress Li Gengxi.

The series focuses on five exam candidates in East China's Anhui Province from different family backgrounds. 

In the face of the sudden changes that took place after the outbreak of COVID-19, each family tries their best to keep their lives on track and help their children get ready for the coming exams. The five families in the show reflect the real life of Chinese families who found themselves in the same situation back at the beginning of the pandemic.

Show scriptwriter Nie Chengshuai told the Global Times that one of his most important goals was to remain close to the reality, so he did not avoid discussing some social and educational issues that cropped up at the time.

"The parents and educational workers for the 2020 gaokao faced so many special difficulties during the pandemic that were unprecedented. We want to highlight this content in the series," Nie said.

Coming together

On the eve of the Spring Festival 2020, the sudden outbreak of the epidemic completely changed the lives of senior high school students, thus lifting the curtain on their "biggest test."

The pandemic was not the only challenge that the senior high-school students of Jinhe county, Anhui Province, had to overcome in 2020 as a flash flood brought forth new challenges. 

Through the joint efforts of the educational workers, the local government and all sectors of society, the right answer was given for this "ultimate exam."

The scriptwriter told the Global Times that they chose five ordinary families with different backgrounds and two high schools with contrasting educational views and methods when creating the series in order to reflect most families and schools in China.

Talking about why they chose to focus on Jinhe county, director Shen Yan told the Global Times that the place is faced with more difficulties than other places around the country as the flood hit the county while the coronavirus was wreaking havoc. 

Amid these disasters, the efforts of students, parents, schools and other facets of the society to ensure the exams take place smoothly was worth complimenting.

To grasp the realities of the 2020 gaokao in the county, Shen said that the actors and actresses visited the area before the filming started to get to know the local teachers and students who lived through the events of the time.

Airing on streaming platforms such as iQIYI since September 21, the show has been praised by viewers for its depiction of the examinees' families, the different educational concepts of the two schools and the dedication of medical workers.

Many audience reviews of the show have stated that viewers were impressed by the efforts made by all levels of the society for both large groups and small families as well as the educators who were not willing to give up on their students.

They also remarked that the show allowed them to feel young Chinese people's indomitable spirit to achieve their dreams despite repeated setbacks, which has helped the nation to overcome countless challenges.