The Rural As “The Other” In Urban Women-Centred Dramas Of Contemporary China | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online


In recent years, a growing number of Chinese urban TV dramas both adopt a women-oriented perspective and feature main female characters with strong career ambitions for upward social mobility. Noticeably, a common narrative stock in this type of women-centric urban TV dramas is the struggle of young white-collar women of rural background to establish their lives in the cities while being constantly haunted by their original families with backward gender norms. Conducting narrative analysis on three popular women-centric urban TV dramas between 2016 and 2020, this paper illuminates how rural China has been “othered” in urban dramas that represent and underline young women’s autonomy from an apparently feminist stance in contemporary China. By doing so, the paper fills the gap in the existing literature of Chinese TV studies in terms of the intersectionality of gender, class and the urban-rural hierarchy in media representations. The paper demonstrates that these three women-centred TV dramas analogously construct an abject rural other that disrupts the rural migrant protagonists’ endeavour to establish a normalized middle-class life in urban China. The stereotyped and essentialized rural otherness on the one hand serves to highlight the protagonists’ individual aspirations and career pursuit in spite of their immanent tensions. On the other hand, it also consolidates and romanticizes the urban middle-class masculine authority which underpins the reemphasis of women’s domesticity in contemporary China.


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