Qing time-travel TV dramas

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File:"Palace Locks Heart Jade" (宫锁心玉).JPEG
"Palace Locks Heart Jade" (宫锁心玉)

Qing time-travel TV dramas (清穿剧) have become popular in China in recent years. In these stories, leading characters are modern people who travel back in time to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and play crucial roles in changing the course of history.

Qing time-travel dramas are popular mainly because of the number of rich historical characters, such as emperors, princes and princesses, to interact with or develop romantic relationships with. For example, the reign of Emperor Yongzheng has developed a very strong following of viewers. Fan clubs are beginning to appear, with the "Party of Yongzheng's Fans" (四爷党) being one of the most prominent examples.

One of the most popular time-travel TV dramas is "Palace Locks Heart Jade" (宫锁心玉), in which Luo Qingchuan, a modern girl, travels back to the imperial palace during the Qing Dynasty, and has a tangled web of relationships with the different princes who are vying for the throne. Despite receiving positive reviews, "Palace Locks Heart Jade" has created a public debate on whether it is permissible to fabricate history for entertainment purposes.

Fearing a negative influence on children who are unfamiliar with history, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), China's film and TV watchdog, has shown disapproval for some of the frivolous time-travel TV dramas. A SARFT circular issued in May 2011 suspended the broadcasting of some TV dramas which are "too casual" or "sheer fabrication."

However, some literary critics believe the problem doesn't lie in form, but in content. They argue that a good TV drama can win the test of time, and inferior shows will eventually lose popularity.