“Mad Men” Reflects Modern Life in China

As more Hollywood firms look to Asian themes or partnerships in filmmaking due to China’s rise, Chinese audiences are becoming a growing factor in the distribution of films. With the deal between Disney and YOU on Demand, television has become another arena of media distribution. The television industry has benefited from the growing exposure of American television sitcoms in China through the internet. According to the Los Angeles times, the hit-drama “Mad Men” seems to resonate with the young Chinese professionals living in a country that is undergoing major changes:

Like “Mad Men’s” characters, young white-collar workers in cities such as Beijing and Shanghai are often imbued with an alluring sense of living in a nation on the rise, even as they grapple with rapid and disorienting social, cultural and economic change.

“Mad Men” is licensed by Lionsgate for viewing on the portal http://www.sohu.com with Chinese subtitles and is available on some Air China international flights. It is one of scores of American shows benefiting from the increasing popularity and legitimacy of Internet TV, which offers spicier fare than China’s bland state-run channels and gives busy professionals the convenience of when-you-want it viewing in a nation largely devoid of on-demand programming, DVRs or TiVos.

To be sure, “Mad Men” seems unlikely to ever notch the popularity of American crime shows like “Prison Break” or “CSI,” which attract tens of millions of viewers here. And it’s far less of a phenomenon than “Friends,” which spawned a series of books with scripts from each season translated into Mandarin. (Beijing even boasts a Friends Café, modeled after the Central Perk coffee shop on the series.)

Although Chinese businesses remain strongly male dominated — in the World Economic Forum’s 2011 Gender Gap report, China ranked 61, way behind the U.S. (17) and Iceland (1) but ahead of Italy (74) — advertising is among the sectors in China in which women have made bigger strides. Martin Murphy, managing director of global brand management for Ogilvy & Mather’s Shanghai branch, noted that his office is headed by a woman.

While the growing popularity of American sitcoms continues, China Daily reports China has become the biggest TV series producer:

China has become the world’s largest television series producer after making 15,000 episodes in 2011.

The country is also the world’s third biggest film producer, Culture Minister Cai Wu said on Wednesday.

While briefing national lawmakers at a the bi-monthly session (scheduled from October 23 to 26) of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), the country’s top legislature, Cai said, in 2011 China produced 15,000 television series episodes and 558 movies.

It also made 260,000 minutes of animations and 4,000 hours of documentaries.


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