Maids in the Televisual City: Competing Tales of Post-Socialist Modernity

Hong Kong University Press
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Television Dramas in China, 2008, 1, pp. 89 - 102
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Chinese television dramas over the past few decades have seen the rise and decline of various narratives: stories of successful entrepreneurs, stories of Chinese going to live overseas, anti-corruption political drama, crime and police drama, not to mention epic historical dramas reinterpreting Chinese historical figures and events. None of these, however, quite captures the imagination of urban residents as vividly as narratives of ordinary people living mundane lives in their homes on an everyday basis. And no other narratives speak to the emerging urban middle-class's fear and anxiety about the urban "other" more palpably than the stories of the maid. For the first time since the founding of the PRC, the relaxing of the hukou system unleashed massive rural-to-urban migration, which has permanently and profoundly changed the streetscape of the Chinese city as well as the habitat of its residents.
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