The Coming of a Chinese Gossip Girl: Predictions from Real Chinese People
Josh Schwartz is taking Gossip Girl bi-continental and producing a Chinese version of the famous Upper East Side set series, the Post reports, made with Chinese actors and broadcast in China. It's hard for us Western folk here to understand exactly how the bourgie prep-school plot lines will translate in Mandarin, so we sourced two real Chinese people (one of them actually in China!) to make predictions on this forthcoming...hit..show.
The Post reports that an average 1.3 billion people stream the current American Gossip Girl online (illegally) -- more than the amount of people who watch the show in any media form in the U.S. total (total!). So there's definitely a market.
Schwartz, the show's creator, told the Post, "I think (the show) speaks to young people in a kind of universal way." We're not sure exactly what's "universal" about round-the-clock car service and closets full of Louboutins, but considering its popularity we'll take his word for it.
Our sources asked not to be named so as to remain un-Google-able to the Chinese government, so meet "Real Chinese Person 1" and "Real Chinese Person 2." The following is what we gathered from our helpful Real Chinese People on what the portrayal of the Upper East Side of China might be like.
Hong Kong's probably most similar to New York's high society neighborhoods.
Large sky-high penthouses, and the show's staple Palace Hotel equivalent, where a lot of steamy sexiness goes down, will most likely be the Peninsula.
Most wealthy people, at least in Hong Kong, go to international schools that teach English and ship you off to colleges in Northeast U.S. or England. That or they go to boarding school in England -- Chinese Serena will totally be coming back from a Public schools, or "local schools" as they're called, are where everyone else goes and are much stricter.
Only local schools have uniforms, and they are very traditional (knee socks, plaid, maybe even a tie). International schools have free dress. So, sadly, no jarring Jenny Humphrey uniform interpretations.
The general consensus is that the social hierarchy definitely exists, and is very similar to Americans'. Real Chinese Person 1: "I feel like there is a new generation of high society Chinese people who are very 'westernly rich'. They wear American designer clothes, and embrace the whole 'party-girl' lifestyle. They're also VERY VERY THIN."
On what they'll look like:
It's funny because in America, 16-year-olds look like 24-year-olds such as Blake Lively. In China, they look like 11 year olds, such as the Olympic Gymnastics team.
A lot of China's high society is also made up of new money, so the New York real estate titan will most likely have made his fortune starting a steel or garment factory from the ground up. Bass Industries as a giant sweat shop should be interesting.
She will most likely be Fillipina, and will have raised Chinese Blair since birth. She probably wouldn't wear a traditional French Maid outfit, though, unfortunately.
The Humphrey Clan:
There is not a big middle class presence in China -- most people are either really rich or really poor. And let's face it, the Humphrey's are more like upper-middle class in America, so no one is sure how that dynamic is going to play out unless they make them actually poor. For instance, it could play out like this: Jenny goes to local school but wants to get in with the international school crowd, but she can't because she has to take exams that ensure her place in local school. We can only imagine how the plot will thicken!
With famous quips like "You can't Affair to Remember me!" and "We don't do prom queen; that's for suburban high schools and the lame teen comedies that are set in them" -- could the Chinese Blair keep up? Well, how about "I would rather cry in the back of a BMW than ride a bike" ? Suitable.
You probably couldn't play scenes like this or this or this or this or this in China. So they'll probably focus more on the extravagant materialism -- which will surely be heavily criticized in the newspapers.
The international schools have a similar clubbing culture to the prep-schools in New York, but none of our sources "could not comment" on those experiences personally.
Chuck Bass would probably drink something called "Maotai" at the Palace Hotel Lounge. It comes with a special tiny cup to drink it out of because you're supposed to "savor" it. It's pretty gross apparently.
Incorporating Traditional Chinese Culture:
Real Chinese Person 2: "It will probably only be quintessentially Chinese in the way it's produced -- what kind of music is played, things like that. I don't think that by bringing GG to China, they are trying to draw parallels (like, [blank] district = UES). I think that the purpose is to create that same fantasy world, just in Mandarin ... It would be very difficult to incorporate "Chinese Values" into a show like Gossip Girl."
From what it sounds like, the Chinese Gossip Girl will be a lot like a sexless American Gossip Girl, so where exactly they're going to find the appeal is uncertain. Unless Chinese people just aren't perverts like us, in which case, we won't be streaming their version of Gossip Girl across the Pacific.
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