In the Name of the People 人民的名义 acquired a mass following when it aired, and has turned out to be THE national drama of the year, breaking 6% ratings during the latter half of its run (these days, dramas that surpass 1% are considered hits). Its success has led to the production of several more propaganda dramas that focus on corruption in government agencies.
Tempest of Anti-Corruption 反贪风暴 is the most high-profile of the lot, as it’s also endorsed by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate (In the Name of the People).
Upright young prosecutor Jian Jie is tasked with unraveling the events behind a development zone manager’s suicide, though his investigation is obstructed by local government officials. In the midst of it all, his future father-in-law, who is also an influential lawyer, goes missing, and Jian Jie begins to realise that things are not as they seem.
The 40 episode drama is directed by Zheng Xiaolong (Legend of Mi Yue) and Meng Ji (The 38th Parallel), and written by Ren Yun (Metamorphosis) and Gong Xiangdong (Editorial Department Story). Main leads Liu Tao (Ode to Joy 2) and Wang Lei (The Last Visa) have been filming since April.
Here’s a list of upcoming dramas revolving around a similar theme:
National Action 国家行动: Huang Zhizhong, Zhang Yi, Chen Baoguo (finished filming last year, based on a true case)
Anti-Ice Operation 破冰行动 – Yan Yikuan, Wu Gang (begins filming in July)
Climbing Tiger Mountain 打虎上山 – Yin Xiaotian, Tang Guoqiang, Liu Jia (finished filming in 2015)
Secretary of the CCDI 纪委书记 – Wang Zhiwen, Zhao Lixin, Yu Feihong, Chen Long (filming)
In the Name of the Law 因法之名 – Li Youbin, Li Xiaoran, Zhang Fengyi (pre-production)
Backbone 脊梁 – Ren Chengwei, Liu Xiaofeng, Ru Ping (finished filming)
Veteran actor Wu Gang rose to fame playing Li Dakang in In the Name of the People, and his online memes are a hit with netizens.
State Prosecution 国家公诉 – Siqin Gaowa, Gao Ming (script by Zhou Meisen, writer and author of In the Name of the People)
Absolute Power 绝对权力 – Tang Guoqiang, Siqin Gaowa (written by Zhou Meisen)
Black Hole 黑洞 – Chen Daoming, Ding Jiali, Dong Yong
Behind the Glamour 浮华背后 – Lu Yi, Sun Honglei (written by Jiang Wei, whose projects include Lurk, Borrow Gun and the upcoming Game of Hunting)
Anti-corruption dramas were actually super popular in the early 00’s, so much that the government got concerned and put a leash on them. As a result, corruption dramas were rare for the next decade since commercial dramas were wary of touching on the subject. Most interested in corruption instead did so by staying away from the modern era (ex. All Quiet in Peking).
My personal favorite is a 20-ep suspense series called Red Carnation 红色康乃馨 . Extremely well-woven and intricate plot, fast-paced and suspenseful, plus a lot of multi-faceted female roles. I remember marathoning it in a weekend with my parents. Sometimes I look at dramas like those and feel like China has gone backwards in terms of scriptwriting.
I’m not particularly fond of anti-corruption dramas because the govt tends to present themselves as the noble heroes (necessary, but boring).
Favourite C-political drama would definitely be Great Ming Dynasty 大明王朝1566. Some of the “allusions” make me cackle.
The scripts are definitely deteriorating, though the producers don’t seem to worry about quality all that much (why care when pretty idol stars can bring in the cash? XD).
I don’t see much improvement in the CG/production values dept either, esp. in the ancient idol dramas where they claim to have invested hundreds of millions of yuan (*cough* Princess Agents)
I think most of the corruption dramas in the 00’s were pure commercial dramas (just like how many of the current “red” dramas aren’t govn’t backed), which is probably why they got shut down once they became too popular.
Princess Agents was a big all-around disappointment. At least the parrot’s cute. …
Speaking of propaganda, does anyone else get the feeling that Hunan TV has been co-opted into toeing closer to party line recently? Hunan TV was basically the anti-CCTV for more than a decade, and SARFT would always make excuses to censor one of its shows if they got too popular. But now you can sort of start to see where the government has poked its fingers into the Hunan TV pie… maybe they just got tired of having all their shows cancelled.
Hunan TV has always had at least two party approved shows every year, it’s just that now they get more traction with more “idol actors” versus back in the days when it would be the lowest rated show they have all year (ex. 49 days w/ Hu Ge and Zhang Jiayi).
It’s not the content, necessarily, but it sort of feels like Hunan TV isn’t taking as many risks these days? It used to push the envelope more in terms of trying to get away with stuff, airing three-hour season finales even after being told not to, and that sort of thing. Though, now that I think about it, I guess a lot of its “extracurricular” programming has just migrated to Mango TV, so maybe it’s nothing.
They’ve been crucified, though, it’s just that the envelope is a lot tighter. I think just last month they managed to get an “unnatural hair color” ban for one of their programs.
I wish I could watch In the Name of the People with English subs! I love Liu Tao, I wish that was Zhong Han Liang as the male lead lol.
Try youtube. 14 episodes have been subbed.
14? Is someone other than David Yi subbing?
Leo McKinney (I think that’s his name), and he did a good job subbing too (even the Chinese idioms are subbed well)! But unfortunately many of the episodes have been blocked for copyright matters. :(
Zhong Hong Jiang would’ve been excoriated for poor acting by picky fans of this drama if he were cast as the male lead. Even Lu Yi was considered a poor choice in contrast to the acclaimed senior actors.