Fightback continues against female role stereotypes

Xu Wei
Fighting Youth," an ongoing TV series highlighting the career and emotions of urban Chinese women, has aroused some serious debate on social media.
Xu Wei
Fightback continues against female role stereotypes

Fighting Youth,” an ongoing TV series highlighting the career and emotions of urban Chinese women, has aroused some serious debate on social media since its release on Dragon TV last Sunday.

Helmed by Mu Xiaojie, the drama series stars Yin Tao and Wu Jinyan as professional women who work hard to achieve career goals against the odds. Through their endeavors they manage to break down prejudice and discrimination against women, which still exists today in the modern world.

It took Chen Lan two years to write a script based on the true stories of women in the cosmetics industry. 

Wu, known for her depiction of a scheming 18th century imperial concubine in the popular epic drama series “Story of Yanxi Palace,” plays the lead role of Zhang Xiaoyu, a courageous 20-something cosmetics saleswoman. 

Although she doesn’t have an enviable background in education, her hard work pays off with help from veteran sales manager Lin Rui, portrayed by Yin.

The series depicts the growth, energy and independence of modern Chinese professional women, and how they succeed to fulfill their dreams amid fierce competition.

The TV cameras also capture the real-life issues confronting today’s women and offers solutions and inspiration to an audience who may resonate with the characters’ career experiences. 

Viewers have been impressed by the series’ realistic take on office politics. 

Netizen “Cross and Tick,” on China’s film and TV review website Douban, revealed she had experienced a similar scenario in her workplace to that of the program’s heroine — her pitch was also stolen by a colleague. She was frustrated at first but it did teach her a good lesson.

Netizen Sophia said, “Women in the series are charming and confident with their own shining lives and values. It is different from some dramas, which are focused on palace intrigue to win an emperor’s love, or a trivial relationship matter between a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, ‘Fighting Youth’ is more encouraging and thought-provoking.”

Realistic female-themed series and movies are increasing in popularity. Women in these productions don’t want to be labeled or stereotyped or made to feel it’s too late to make changes. 

Another feminine-based drama, “Nothing but Thirty,” recently won critical acclaim for its in-depth depiction of urban women turning 30 years old. 

All three women in the series faced challenges in marriage, love and career. But they didn’t lose hope or confidence during a crisis. Real-life problems such as the balancing of work and family, children’s schooling and extramarital affairs were discussed on the screen.

“Nothing but Thirty” director Zhang Xiaobo says feminine dramas should aim to portray women’s dilemmas in a fast-paced modern society.

“Women of different ages have their own stories, which can inspire a lot of good TV productions,” said Zhang. “People need to show respect for women’s diverse choices.”

“My Best Friend’s Story,” adapted from a novel by Hong Kong writer Yi Shu, is another ground-breaking women’s drama. It follows two women’s friendship, growth and love from their campus days. Starring Ni Ni and Liu Shishi, the series portrays a solid and touching friendship between two women of different family backgrounds and personalities. 

Later this year, “Her Story” will be released. The movie, by three celebrated female directors, Sylvia Chang, Li Shaohong and Chen Chong, is about how the pandemic has impacted on ordinary people’s lives. It also examines a man’s role in the lives and growth of today’s women.

Dong Wenjie, producer of “Her Story,” said women are generally defined as a wife, mother, daughter and lover in most TV and film productions. But in this film, totally shot by women filmmakers, they will not be male-affiliated characters.  

Dong revealed the film was inspired by stories of Chinese female medical workers, who cut their long hair in the fight against COVID-19. The film’s aim is to arouse public awareness about women’s courage and power. 

Fightback continues against female role stereotypes

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