Huang Xiaoming, Barbie Hsu, Peter Ho, and the future of Chinese dramas

Cover art of the book, which is in the process of being made into a manga

Cover art of the book, which is in the process of being made into a manga

In recent news, Huang Xiaoming just replaced Dylan Kuo as Ou Chen in the Summer of Bubbles after investors complained to Peter Ho, the producer and co-star (as Luoxi) of the drama. Huang Xiaoming apparently liked the script so much that he agreed to be paid a fraction of his worth just to be in the drama. Other than the fact this’ll be the first Taiwanese drama starring a mainland actor, it’s also significant as Summer of Bubbles is one of the several mainland books that’s been recently picked up as dramas. A word on the direction of Chinese literature and dramas.

Huang Xiaoming looking princely

Huang Xiaoming looking princely

Summer of Bubbles is by Ming Xiaoxi, who’s probably my favorite contemporary author after Guo Jingming. Compared to Guo Jingming’s melodramatic tales of tragic heroes, Ming Xiaoxi’s books are probably more chick-lit, with a typical two guys-one girl plotline and little social commentary. But with excellent plotlines and beautiful prose, Ming Xiaoxi succeeds at painting the magical wonderland of any girl’s dreams.

How will Peter Ho portray this hottie? I have no idea.

Can you picture Barbie and Peter as them?

Guo Jingming’s Tiny Times, a metropolitan tale that’s been called a blend of Gossip Girl and the Devil Wears Prada, will also be made into a drama this year by EE Media, which is also making the new Meteor Garden. I need to finish reading it, but so far, it’s been really different from his previous books. It’s more fast-paced and almost superficial, like the city and its inhabitants that Guo Jingming portrays. Maybe I’m out of touch with Chinese metropolitans (not that I’m very fond of big cities in general), but it’s one of my least favorite works by him so far. Nevertheless, an overwhelming majority of Chinese citizens liked it.

The mainland entertainment industry is rapidly changing, and along with it is its literary circle. Until recently, novels were written either for adults or children, with nothing in between (except for  study guides). Yet with the recent bloom of young authors like Guo Jingming, Han Han and Ming Xiaoxi, that’s changing.

Han Han, whose good looks have been underrepresented on this blog

Author Han Han, whose good looks have been underrepresented on this blog

CFensi pointed out the comparison between them and directors.

The 5th generation Chinese directors, even the 6th generation …their experiences were mostly in rural China and hence we get a lot of The Road Homes and whatnot. But those younger directors who grew up in urbanized China like Zhang Yibai prefer painting a picture of Chinese city life. Here, people like Guo Jingming, product of the “Little Emperors” generation in China, who like shiny, pretty things have begun changing Chinese literature to something more modernized.

Interestingly enough, here’s the very similar commentary by the New York Times:

For all the over-the-top melodrama and brand-name dropping, his novels’ contemporary urban settings, Guo said, are far closer to the reality of his readers’ lives than the harsh countryside of China’s modern classics. And his frothy novels…do reflect social issues in their own way.

Actress Yang Mi caught with a copy of Tiny Times while on a trip to Egypt while on a double date with Hu Ge, Yuan Hong, and Liu Shishi...yeah, I lied about the double date part, but the rest is true

Actress Yang Mi caught with a copy of Tiny Times on the airplane to Egypt while on a double date with Hu Ge, Yuan Hong, and Liu Shishi...everything is true except for the double date part

Of course, I would like to point out that out of the seven novels he has written, only Tiny Times has brand name dropping, one is set in a fantasy land and another in ancient China. In conclusion, don’t read that article because it has many factual errors, not to mention an obvious bias.

But back to the topic. In the past few years, there has been a growth of TV series, movies and literature targeted at the youth. The popular drama Fen Dou/Struggle is a prime example of this. Its tale of a group of young college graduates striving to achieve thezir dreams echoes many of the struggles that today’s youths face. It was so successful that it was made into a play, which you can read about here.  With the success of such works and the eventual growth in power of the younger generations,  we can expect to see more and more dramas targeted at the new audience. Can these works will do for mainland dramas what Guo Jingming and Han Han did for its literature?  Stay tuned, and we’ll find out.

Peter Ho's vision of the Summer of Bubbles poster before the change of cast

Peter Ho's vision of the Summer of Bubbles poster before the change of cast

A synopsis of the book, whose complete story can be read legally here.

When she was 11, Yi Xiamo, an adopted child, fell in love with the prince of the school, Ou Chen, the young “Master” who arrives to school in Lamborghinis and private jets. When Xiamo was 15, her father adopted another child.

He was Luoxi , a heartless, irresistable orphan who stole the attention of her world. Out of jealousy, Ou Chen sent Luoxi to England. That fateful day he left, Xiamo‘s parents died in a car crash. Angered at Ou Chen, Xiamo told her she hated him.

That night, Ou Chen lost his memories in another car accident.
Five years later, Luoxi became a superstar. To pay for her brother’s expensive hospital fees, Xiamo, too, decided to become a celebrity. Though memories of her biological mother, a singer/prostitute, haunted her, she eventually rose to success with her phenomenal beauty and talents. The two met, fell in love again, and became the golden couple of the entertainment industry.

That same five years later, Ou Chen saw her performing on stage. Though he has lost his memories, he couldn’t help but being attracted to that mysterious girl on stage. Did they know each other? Did he love her?

When Ou Chen found out the truth about their past, he swore he would make her pay for betraying him, but he couldn’t help but loving her. He brought her company in the hopes of burying her, but instead helped her in her road to stardom.

Yet when the person she loves the most, her sweet little brother Yin Cheng, fell ill once more and needed a kidney replacement, only Ou Chen’s kidney had the right fit. She begged him, telling him she would do anything if he gave his kidney to Yin Cheng. He asked her to marry him.

The day of the wedding, Yin Cheng found out about the deal and refused to accept the kidney.
The day of the wedding, Luoxi tried to commit suicide.

What will happen to Yin Cheng? To Luoxi?
Who will Xiamo marry?
Who does she love?

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36 thoughts on “Huang Xiaoming, Barbie Hsu, Peter Ho, and the future of Chinese dramas

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  4. the not so korean part about it is that xia mo (barbie) ended up with ou chen (peter) instead of luo xi (xiao ming). she had better chemistry with luo xi >.< so mad she did not end up with him…. Dx

  5. I just finished watching Summer Bubbles and I LOVE IT!!!!

    It’s this movie that made me pay attention to Peter Ho. Previously in all his other movies i have watched him and liked his acting but not enough for me to google him and read about him but in Summer Bubbles, he brings to every gal (in my opnion) a fantasy of what true love is!!!
    He’s the BEST!

  6. thanks for sharing the info. i’m interested to know the details of this story.

    and i’m hoping now to see the entire series. ;)

  7. This is so random…but did you guys know that the gir who wrote the NYT article l (Aventurina King) on Guo Jingming is currently a host on Hunan TV?

  8. I’m looking forward to this. I feel like this should be the direction of idol dramas in China (minus Huang Xiaoming’s age…). High-qualitied, unique plot, and good acting. I wish this was the first mainland drama people watch and not Meteor Shower with its bad mix of imperfect director, bad publicity and goofy clothes… my hope depends on the plot and the acting…

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  10. Hmm…Does anyone know what role HXM will be playing? I thought he was playing Ou Chen however I read in the news that he’ll be playing Luo Xi…?

  11. Huang Xiao Ming is perfect for the role because how much he has to struggle in the entertainment industry to get to where he is today – when his classmates – Vicki and Chen kun were already famous, he was still unknown…

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  13. I’m glad to see there’s more collaboration between China and Taiwan. One thing that I hope they focus on more is the soundtrack.

    Right now the dramas seem to only have the intro song, the end song, and then a theme song they use throughout the entire series—and that gets really annoying really quick. (The worst is the old TVB series that recycle the theme music from series to series :) )

    Hopefully they’ll put some attention into that and perhaps feature some up-and-coming indie bands as well.

    * * *

    There’s another thing that I’m not sure if I’m the only one who thinks this, but do Taiwan dramas seem to have poor sound quality?

    A lot of times the sound is a bit “tinny” and inconsistent in volume. Add that along with the bad acting and it’s one of the reasons I find it hard to watch Taiwanese series (unless they’re historical/wuxia-ones where the voices are redubbed).

    I actually notice this in some Mainland dramas as well—but in these cases the actors are much better so I can deal with it.

  14. Well, Dream Links is subbed? If you are wondering what the production values of New Meteor Garden/ Hana Yori Dango will be like, then this is a good way to see because they’re both from Hunan TV.

    It’s a romantic comedy. I haven’t watched it, but I heard it was good, in the way most people like…the kind of warm fuzzy feeling kind of way.

    This is the first part of the first episode.

  15. Oh yay. I’m so glad that Chinese dramas are becoming more modern. I know there are many good ones based in ancient times, but I’m just not into them x.x. The plot sounds pretty interesting though. Very Asian-drama-like, but I like that xD.

    Does anyone know where I can find mainland dramas that are English subbed?

  16. My favorite Cdramas are “Tian Mi Mi”, “Xing Fu Xiang Hua Er Yi Yang”, “Goddess of Jade”, “The Story of a Noble Family” and Ruby Lin’s “Boy and Girl”.

    I think them choosing Huang Xiao Ming is a much better choice than the previous rumored person. I can actually picture Huang Xiao Ming as Ou Chen. I read the book and even though it can be chessy at times, it’s not as cliche as Kdramas. Xia Mo is actually more of what guys in Kdramas act like – the cold one. It’s not a bad read. I also loved Ming Xiao Xi’s “Hui You Tian Shi Ti Wo Ai Ni”

    Okay, I’ll stop rambling on, lol.

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