Stories from an Editorial Office

Stories from an Editorial Office
[Bianji bu de gushi, 1991]
Television serial
Stories from an Editorial Office was produced by the Beijing Television Arts Centre and directed by Zhao Baogang and Jin Yan, and is widely regarded as China’s first television sit-com. Stories was the most talked-about television programme of the immediate post-Tiananmen period, at least until the broadcast of Beijingers in New York in late 1993. The ‘stories’ revolve around circulation difficulties at the lifestyle magazine Guide for Living (Renjian zhinan) at a time when the Chinese print media was moving from state subsidies to commercial self-reliance. The humour emerges as the editorial team of veteran journalists and youthful tyros seek out new ploys to rebuild their readership.
Despite widespread condemnation by conservative critics for its alleged vulgarity and excessive materialism, Stories earned the official ‘Fly to the Sky’ award (Feitianjiang) for its portrayal of reform issues. It also garnered the coveted ‘Golden Eagle’ award (Jinying jiang), which is adjudicated by viewers’ votes rather than critics. A fast-paced script, laced with rich Beijing street slang and self-mocking black humour, parodied many Maoist values.
The unusual aspect of Stories was that journalists were portrayed as enterprising rather than mere cogs in the wheels of the propaganda machine. The distinctive self-mockery (kan) that made Stories so successful was the work of a team of writers that included Wang Shuo and Feng Xiaogang. Stories provided a splendid vehicle for the comic skills of Ge You (one of China’s favourite film actors), Lü Liping and Hou Yaohua, a son of the legendary xiangsheng artist Hou Baolin.
Huot, Claire (2000). China’s New Cultural Scene: A Handbook of Changes. Durham: Duke University Press, 50–5.
Keane, M. (2002). ‘Television Drama in China: Engineering Souls for the Market’. In R.King and T.Craig (eds), Global Goes Local: Popular Culture in Asia. Victoria: University of British Colombia Press.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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