Director Han Xiaojun takes aim at ‘Gen Z’ in TCM drama
Published: May 21, 2023 10:33 PM
Photo: Courtesy of Youku

Photo: Courtesy of Youku

Chinese drama Gen Z, focusing on the inheritance of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), has raised young people's attention and interest in this world renowned heritage. The show's director Han Xiaojun said he hopes "more audiences can benefit from the TV series whether it is the professional knowledge of Chinese medicine or in the deeper realm of life."

The drama, which is currently airing on Chinese streaming site Youku, breaks from traditional urban dramas to use a new production technique to delicately portray the calm professionalism of veteran and young Chinese medicine practitioners.

In the eyes of the director, TCM has always given people an impression that it is heavy and serious. When talking about it, people always think it is a profession made solely of veteran Chinese medicine practitioners, but in fact all these well-known experts grew up step by step from being young students.

"For young people, acceptance must first be put before inheritance and development. After you accept it, you can turn it into your own knowledge and gain understanding. This is particularly important for inheritance, and it is also a process of understanding Chinese medicine," Han told the Global Times on Thursday.

Starring Chinese actors Wu Gang, Zhao Lusi, Luo Yizhou, Zhang Meng and Jiang Shan, the latest show by screenwriter Liu Liu tells the story of three generations of TCM practitioners, how they accepted this traditional medical knowledge and learned to approach traditional Chinese culture with modern thinking under the guidance of their teachers. 

Since the series combines two elements, thickness and vitality, the director hopes to keep balance between portray of young people as full of vitality and tension and description of TCM knowledge as calm and stable. 

Liu Liu attained a master's degree in TCM, so many of the stories in the show were inspired by her personal experience. Before filming on the series started, the entire cast studied Chinese medicine for a period of time. The actors tried acupuncture and everyone corrected their previous misunderstandings about the subject through study.

The director realized that Chinese medicine is not a single discipline, but integrated with traditional culture, so telling stories about TCM can't ignore its "cultural inheritance."

Han and his team hope to expand the core concepts in a cheerful atmosphere and explain Chinese medicine knowledge through evocative cases instead of boring lectures. 

"Chinese medicine is actually very profound, but how can we make everyone understand it quickly? This series can be a key to the treasure house that is China's excellent traditional culture allowing everyone to learn a lot of things, such as how to have a positive lifestyle and attitude toward life," said Han. 

For the very first time, China's 24 Solar Terms are used to push forward the story in a series, which has wowed by young audiences with "the aesthetics of the Solar Terms" and the "new knowledge" about them. 

The director said that the Solar Terms were mentioned in the original script, but it lacked details about them. "After I saw that, I wanted to shoot them in their entirety, because I really like that, and wish to express Chinese culture in this way," he said.