China and Inner Asia

Organized Panel Session

4 - Cinderella Stories Retold: Geopolitics of Chinese-Language Idol Dramas

Thursday, March 22
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Location: Roosevelt Room 4, Exhibit Level

Amid escalating political tensions in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and mainland China, the television industry has nevertheless witnessed an unprecedented degree of collaboration among these three Chinese societies. However, the extent to which these new developments are reshaping the geopolitics of television culture in China has largely remained understudied, despite the flourishing of Chinese television studies.


Taking as a case study Fated to Love You (2008), one of the most popular Taiwanese idol dramas, this paper addresses this gap in scholarship and illustrates the role that geopolitics plays in strategically manufacturing romance. Ostensibly, Fated to Love You repackages traditional Cinderella stories, and highlights how male saviors catalyze the metamorphosis of a female protagonist from a submissive girl to a confident career woman who also discovers true love. However, a closer investigation of Fated to Love You demonstrates the significant role that geopolitics plays in fostering the woman’s transformation. By detailing the spatial construction of Taipei, Shanghai, and Hong Kong in this drama, I demonstrate that Fated to Love You conforms to a hegemonic construction of Chineseness by romanticizing the cross-strait relationship on the one hand, while on the other hand problematizing this construction by mocking political culture in China and highlighting a distinctive Taiwanese identity. The multiple possibilities of reading Chineseness, through a calculated mediation of geopolitical relations, account for the drama’s trans-regional appeal. In pursuing this argument, I illustrate how a critical reading of a youth idol drama opens new avenues for understanding the cultural politics embedded in television genres. 

Shaohua Guo

Carleton College, Minnesota

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