iPartment: one Case of Modern Chinese Sitcom

iPartment is a surreal sitcom in mainland China, it is produced by Shanghai Film Group corporation and Shanghai film studio. The story mainly takes place  in iPartment, and the word “i” means love in Chinese. A bunch of friends live in the  neighboring apartments, many funny things happen in every episode. It is basically a life-show comedy that fits well to the Chinese consumers’ tastes.

However,  recently it is under fire of copying the jokes from the American sitcoms, Such as friends and how I met your mother.  According to my experience of  viewing , “yes”, there are several scenes and jokes 100% percent same to the sitcom: How I met your mother.

Confronted with the issue, one iPartment producer denied plagiarizing the American shows,but he acknowledged the joke is gained from different resources. When asked about the detailed scene, an actor in the sitcom responses ” it is the homage to the American sitcoms .” One thing can be put forward here is the lack of creativity and originality. Economic boom in China  leads the media market to be inpatient in gaining profits. And the heavy censorship and block of American TV production also makes the situation worse, production team can copy a huge amount of materials without being detected by the majority of Chinese viewers.

Nevertheless, the situation also changes a lot in the digital era. For younger generation, we can use the Internet to access more resources including American TV series. Therefore, though it is hard to be found by major audiences,the buzz still exists  in  small group discussion. Meanwhile, due to the advantage of internet , when trailer of new iPartment season released, the short video spread swiftly on the online world. For instance,  the company uses a method called viral marketing though WeiBo ( A twitter-like service).   Despite the copy issue, many contents in the sitcom also contains the recent event and culture in China both online and offline. Some internet language are also used in the play  that are favored by the young audiences. Sometimes, this phenomenon can be categorized as a ” glocalized” procedure, which means the content is globally produced and it fits well to the local content. But in this case, it is quite different that in China the content is produced locally and contains the global content. Due to the two reasons, at first the ideology of  protectionism in  domestic cultural sphere  makes the transnational media corporation hard to enter the local market.  And then is the central government remains to be highly skeptical to the oversea cultural production.   And as said above , the content of sitcom is derived from various resources, it may incur copyright infringement in the future. Moreover, the process of what we called “Shan Zhai” (which means imitating or copying the content from other resources) also gradually deteriorates the original and innovative production in China.


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