• In the Name of the People

In the Name of the People (Photo : Oriental Projection/YouTube)

China’s anti-corruption TV series “In the Name of the People” continues to attract viewers both on free TV and video streaming sites. On iQiyi, one of the licensed online viewing platforms, the 55-episode drama has almost 6.4 billion views over 52 episodes aired so far.

Like Us on Facebook

Headline-Grabbing Plots

On free TV, its ratings reached 7 percent. It broke a 10-year record in domestic TV drama in China, Today Online reported. The high ratings is mainly due to the headline-grabbing plots of the series which often are just gossip but now dramatized in a prime time show.

A young prosecutor discovers a huge pile of money in the secret villa of a corrupt communist party cadre who kneels and weeps to seek pardon. In another case, a corrupt judge is caught having sex with a blonde foreign sex trade worker whose services are paid by a businesswoman.

Normally, those kinds of plots and scenes would be censored by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television. However, because the show is part of the anti-graft campaign that Chinese President Xi Jinping launched in 2012 when he came to power, those risqué plots are available to Chinese TV viewers.

Focus on Resolution to Corruption Problems

It helps that “In the Name of the People” is commissioned and paid for, at 120 million yuan, or $24.4 million, per episode, by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the national prosecutor’s office in China. Portraying those bold themes come with focusing on how these corruption problems were resolved instead of highlighting how pervasive corruption is in China. The media watchdog, after all, instructed the procuratorate to promote positive energy.

Because the show has become a template on how to tackle the sensitive subject of corruption, 11 more prime time corruption dramas would hit Chinese TV in 2017. According to Variety, drama series with anti-graft themes were popular in China several years ago, but Beijing stopped it in 2004 because the genre has been exploited too much and due to political sensitivities.

Past propaganda drama series focused on the establishment of the Communist Party. However, “The Name of the People” hit it big because it is contemporary. Often compared to “House of Cards,” the hit series is adapted from a novel by Zhou Meisen.