- Year: 2018
- Duration: 20 episodes X 25 min.
- Subtitles: Chinese only
- Difficulty: Intermediate / upper intermediate
Luo Haiyan has just graduated from university in Shanghai. Like hundred thousands of other fresh graduates, she’s about to enter the Shanghai job market. This is where her climb to the top of society starts. But what if she – as a result – becomes a “leftover woman”? Isn’t the shame of ending up as “剩女” too big to ignore? Can she really fulfill her dream of rising to Shanghai’s top 10 percent?
Why I recommend Women in Shanghai for Chinese learners.
The Shanghai dream
The ingredients of “上海女子图鉴” taste to you like a bowl of boiled rice flour balls covered in caramel sauce? That’s just a sign you are starting to appreciate the Shanghai dream:
Drinking red wine from huge glasses, ordering mocha or coffee americano (美式) instead of hot water. Having your private driver driving you through Shanghai. Living at top locations in the city center. Using Apple products only. Wearing the right handbag. Always be dressed in the newest fashion.
The Shanghai dream is never questioned. The viewer is simply expected to share the dream. How could you desire anything else?
Luo Haiyan is just an average girl from some Chinese cow town. There is nothing special about her. No traumatic events in her past make her stand out. No character traits that separate her from the masses. She’s an average girl, however, she for some reason wins the favor of her female boss and then success comes rolling in.
Putting off marriage
But the spectrum of options, even for a young and attractive woman of the emerging middle-class, remains limited in Chinese society. The recurring question is – of course – who will she marry?
The handsome neighbor guy, her responsible colleague, the ambitious entrepreneur, the elder billionaire? The more successful she becomes, the pickier she gets. Her mentor Scarlet reminds her that true freedom means never to become depend on any man.
Is this series any good as learning resource?
For our purposes here, let me just give a few points why Women in Shanghai is suitable learning material:
- Short episodes
- The rather thin plot is not too difficult to follow, even if you don’t understand every conversation
- Mostly putonghua with a taste of business Chinese
- Gives a feeling of modern life in Shanghai (the idealized, glamor version, that is)
Should you for whatever reason not be very interested in Shanghai: similar series have been made. Same concept, different city!
The Beijing version seems to have slightly better plot and even contains touches of irony here and there. Like the scene where the main actress pukes into her Gucci hand bag (or whatever brand, I forgot) that she finally could afford to purchase.
Do you have a TV-series that you would recommend for learning Chinese? Feel free to leave a comment below.