TV series directly relays the experiences of women and reveals how they combat prejudice, face challenges and build confidence, Xu Fan reports.
The scourge of gender inequality, such as women being paid less than men for the same work, or having their voices ignored, still plagues society. There is no doubt that women’s social status has improved, albeit gradually, but many still face barriers and unwanted challenges as a direct result of their gender.
A new production is now highlighting these challenges. Hear Her is China’s first miniseries of its type and it uses a format of eight standalone monologues. It has made a massive impression online. Each episode stars a well-known actress, including the award-winning Yong Mei and the hugely popular Yang Mi.
Obtaining 8.4 points out of 10 on the popular review aggregator Douban, the show touches on some of the most common social issues, ranging from domestic violence to midlife crises and the objectification of females.
Producer Jin Na tells China Daily that the show’s idea was first conceived in 2018, when she caught the occasional episode of the BBC’s monologue series Snatches: Moments From Women’s Lives.
Inspired by the series from Britain, Jin then acquired the format license from the BBC to shoot a Chinese version, persuading actress-filmmaker Zhao Wei to take on the role of chief executive producer and one of the series’ seven directors.
Delivering a monologue is a powerful way to directly display a person’s inner pains and struggles, Jin says, adding that she believes the show can help women’s voices get heard by more people.
“Women play various roles in our society. They are daughters, wives and mothers, so women’s problems also concern men. If the pains and struggles of women can be understood by men, I believe the world will become more open and tolerant,” says Jin, who is also a scriptwriter. She won a Silver Bear for Best Script for director Wang Quan’an’s film Apart Together at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2010.
Zhao directs two of the eight tales, respectively starring Qi Xi as a young woman who struggles with the anxiety of her appearance and Yang Mi portraying a robot featuring a supposedly perfect female shape.
While the latter aims to explore the theme of female objectification, the former relates some of Zhao’s confusion in her early career.