Yearnings, Aspirations

Yearnings, Aspirations
[Kewang, 1989]
Television serial
Kewang [Yearnings] is a fifty-episode TV series produced in 1989. Directed by Lu Xiaowei and adapted by Ling Xiaoming from Wang Shuo’s original story, it was the first soap opera in Chinese TV history, apparently a response to the Brazilian soap operas then dominating the TV screens. Nevertheless, it was very much a product of its time. In that ‘innocent’ era when people yearned for love and sincerity, the theme of Kewang found its echo in the hearts of millions. As China had just survived the ten-year Cultural Revolution that ruined many lives, stories of sufferings and forbearance easily captivated sympathetic viewers. Kewang thus made history by ‘emptying the streets’ during its show time.
The story is set in Beijing from the 1960s through the 1980s. Huifang, a beautiful and kindhearted young worker, adopts an abandoned girl, Xiaofang, and marries a persecuted college student, Husheng. Her secret admirer, Dacheng, has had to marry someone else. Rehabilitated after the Cultural Revolution, Husheng resumes his relations with his college sweetheart. Divorced, Huifang continues her motherly care for Xiaofang.
Dacheng’s concern for Huifang makes his wife jealous, setting a chain of events which cause Huifang to be paralysed in a car accident. Learning that Xiaofang was actually his own niece, Husheng wants to be reconciled with Huifang. But she refuses, and so on and so forth. The leading actress Kai Li won the top prize at the Third Top Ten Actors Awards for her excellent performance as ‘the perfect wife’. Kewang won the Sixth Feitian Award and the First Prize for the Ninth ‘Golden Eagle Award’.
Keane, Michael (2001). ‘Television Drama in China: Engineering Souls for the Market’. In Richard King and Tim Craig (eds), Global Goes Local: Popular Culture in Asia. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 176–202.
Lu, Sheldon (2002). ‘Soap Opera in China: The Transnational Politics of Visuality, Sexuality, and Masculinity’. In idem, China, Transnational Visuality, Global Postmodernity, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 213–38.
Rofel, Lisa (1994). ‘Yearnings: Televisual Love and Melodramatic Politics in China’. American Ethnologist 21.4:700–22.
Zha, Jianying (1995). China Pop: How Soap Operas, Tabloids, and Bestsellers are Transforming a Culture. New York: The New Press.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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