TV series reveals life of firefighters, showing image of modern China
Published: Jun 07, 2023 07:37 PM
Photo: Courtesy of Tencent Video

Photo: Courtesy of Tencent Video

Chinese TV series going overseas are following a new trend. 

As Chinese period dramas gain ground overseas, especially in Southeast Asian countries with similar cultural backgrounds, a string of diverse genres such as modern social dramas, suspense and science fiction have been heading to international platforms and showing a different image of modern China.

Recently a new TV series has grabbed the attention of audiences. A Date with the Future, which began airing in China on Friday, focuses its camera on a special group of heroes: Firefighters.

The storyline begins with protagonist Jin Shichuan, who saved a girl named Xu Lai's life during an earthquake rescue operation 10 years prior. The two make a vow to each other and from there the story unfolds.

The TV series recreates the daily work life of firefighters in China including during disastrous events such as fires, earthquakes and collapsed buildings. 

The series is also currently available on an array of streaming platforms in countries including Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and Vietnam, as well as YouTube. 

"Just like this modern show depicting the image of Chinese firefighters, a lot of TV dramas in recent years are showing a different side of China by depicting those people whose work normally goes unseen by society," noted Xie Ting, a Beijing-based entertainment industry insider, to the Global Times.

"This trend in Chinese TV series not only tells the stories of people that many audiences normally don't see, but also gives a more all-round image of China's diversity," Xie added.

The TV series not only depicts the image of modern firefighters, but also reflects the true story of what happened in the tragic Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, when a girl was saved by a firefighter. The story touched the hearts of many people at the time.

The feeling it conveyed gives the audience a sense of warmth and encourages them to have a positive attitude toward life.

In the opinion of experts, in addition to the boom experienced by Chinese TV series, the diverse range of Chinese TV series going overseas is another trend that is helping modern Chinese society be understood by international audiences.

"Film and television works based on China's excellent traditional culture have always been an important type of content going overseas. At the same time, we have also found that film and television works based on modern life are becoming an important genre as well," Yang Bin, assistant research fellow at the Academy of International Communication of Chinese Culture of Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the Global Times.

Over the past several years, Chinese period dramas have become favorites among overseas audiences: Ever since Empresses in the Palace hit Netflix in 2015 for the first time, more overseas streaming platforms are buying newly released period dramas. In 2018, drama Nirvana in Fire gained popularity in Argentina and in 2021 South Korean platforms bought the broadcast rights of at least five period dramas from China.

Sun Jiashan, an associate researcher at the Chinese National Academy of Arts, told the Global Times that Chinese period dramas and other TV dramas are mainly popular in Southeast Asia, but this also provides Chinese studios valuable experiences for other dramas going overseas.

Since then, modern series such as suspense show The Bad Kids and patriotic shows Minning Town and The Age of Awakening have all gained ground overseas.

 "With the help of contemporary works, overseas audiences can more intuitively understand the lives of contemporary Chinese, and can more truly feel the fruitful achievements of Chinese social modernization and development," Yang noted.