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date: 15 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the political, economic, and cultural context that has given rise to Chinese serial TV dramas set in distant dynasties, and links recent transformations in their thematic content with popular and intellectual debates concerning the path, steps, and speed of China’s ongoing economic and political reform. The chapter elaborates how the shifts in the themes and foci of these dramas mirror shifts in Chinese elite and popular attitudes and discourses of the past two decades. The focus is on the emergence of what may be called “officialdom dramas” since the early 2000s, which treats systematic corruption as inevitable.

Keywords: television dramas, Chinese dynasty dramas, corruption, The Great Ming Dynasty 1566, Hai Rui

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