Since its premiere on 1 March to the finale on 25 March, the TV series “All is Well” caught Chinese audiences’ attention for nearly a month. Audiences discussed the characters as if they were real people in their lives.
Chinese Family Pains Vividly Reflected
In the show, after the decease of the mother in the Su family, the conflict between family members, especially between the three kids and their father, intensifies and the family starts to break down as the father seeks excessive support from his kids.
Although domestic life has always been a hot topic in Chinese TV series, “All is Well” provides an interesting perspective for us to look at parent-children relationship in modern China.
Coming from the same family, the three children in the Su family have distinctive characteristics: The big brother Su Mingzhe is a typical smart person but suffers from being overconfident; the second brother Su Mingcheng was spoiled by his mother and as a result continues to live off his parents until in his 30’s; Su Mingyu, the youngest daughter, grew up as an emotionally deprived kid and learned how to stand up and provide for herself. Each of them represent a different type of upbringing.—edited from Pandaily.com
All Is Well currently is rated 8.4 out of 10 on Chinese media review platform Douban and has become a major trending topic on social media, which some related hash-tags being viewed hundreds of millions of times.
Many netizens like the show for breaching relevant topics, such as traditional Chinese families’ preference for boys over girls, ‘kenlaozu’ (adult children who depend financially on their aged parents) and generational conflicts when it comes to providing care for the elderly.
Always Live with Parents to Show Filial Obedience?!
There is an old saying in China: “sons are raised to support their parents during old age.” According to traditional Chinese values, it is the responsibility of adult children to take care of their parents as the latter get older. It is not uncommon in China to see a young married couple have at least one of their parents live with them.
Wei Ping, a 28-year-old entertainment manager believes that people in China would feel that they weren’t living up to their responsibilities if they didn’t allow their parents to live with them after they got married.
In the TV series, the father in his 60s chooses to live with his second son and his daughter-in-law even though he is still healthy enough to take care of himself. Conflicts arise partially due to different habits and the younger couple constantly feels exhausted when it comes to satisfying the demands from the father.
Different from Wei’s thoughts on the matter, Wang Liye, a 23-year-old graduate as well as a fan of the show, noted that it’s becoming more common for adult children and their parents to recognize the necessity to live separately.
“It’s hard for parents and children to live peacefully under the same roof, especially when the mother can’t get along well with her daughter-in-law, which is a typical problem in Chinese families,” said Wang.
However, he did see how living together could be a mutually beneficial relationship. “It would be really nice and take some pressure off if parents could take care of their grandchildren for their working children.”
Sons Over Daughters — A Common Favouritism Issue
Some traditional Chinese believe it’s the son who is responsible for supporting his parents. For this reason, in the eyes of many traditional Chinese parents, boys were often seen as being more valuable than girls. This issue is also reflected in the show.
“The daughter Mingyu does so many things for the whole family, but her two older brothers still don’t care much about her and neither does her parents,” Wang noted while sharing her opinions on the show.
Both Wang and Wei feel that it is still very common for Chinese parents to put their sons’ interests before their daughters. “It’s such a pity that many Chinese girls don’t get the attention they deserve from their parents,”
The Giant infants Everywhere
One hot topic of discussion concerning the show is how the second son in the family depends on his parents even though he is already in his 30s.
Unlike his younger sister, he is good at flattering his mom and even butters her up to convince her to sponsor him for buying a house , a car and luxury handbags for his wife.
This is called ‘kenlaozu’ in Chinese, which literally means “gnawing the old people.” However, in Wang’s eyes, the second son has some redeemable qualities. For example, he took good care of his father when the latter lived with him for a while.
In recent years, the so-called giant infant phenomenon has become common in China. Although Chinese parents devote a lot of time and energy to their children’s welfare, some people end up becoming overly reliant on their parents and properties.
Wei said in China, it is acceptable for an adult child to get support from their parents under certain conditions, such as pursuing a career. “This is a show in which each main character has their own issues that are very typical of Chinese families,” said Wang.—edited from Global Times
Parents’ Expectation as an Eternal Topic
Living up to your parents’ expectations is an eternal topic between Asian kids and their parents. In “All is Well”, it appears that the elder brother Su Mingzhe doesn’t have any choice but to put his parents’ wishes before his own family needs.
Interestingly, Chinese-American actor and comedian Jimmy O. Yang, wrote about similar problems with his parents when he was trying to launch his stand-up comedian career in his latest memoir: How to American: An Immigrant’s Guide to Disappointing Your Parents. He described his experience coming to the United States at the age of 13, growing up as an immigrant in a traditional Chinese family, quitting his decent job as a financial analyst and finally pursuing his dream as a comedian.
His journey to become a successful and well-known comedian was not an easy one. A club DJ, a shoe salesman, an employee at a restaurant, and an Uber driver — these are just some of the many jobs Jimmy O. Yang held before making it big as a stand-up comedian.
While Jimmy O.Yang was lucky enough to have the courage to pursue his own dream and discover his own path, more Asian kids are like Su Mingzhe, who internalize their parents’ expectations as a measurement of their own self-worth. When dealing with family issues, Su Mingzhe always says to his siblings, “You indeed disappointed me.” He tries to act like the head of the family after his mother’s death, taking the place of his mother and projecting his expectations onto his siblings.
At the end of the TV series, Su Mingzhe goes back to the United States and continues his life as a software engineer. However, the theme of the series lives on in reality: the overbearing Asian parents and their children who try so hard to live up to their expectation. The parenting style of Asian families is brought to the screen, criticized from time to time, but still somehow unshakable. —edited from Pandaily.com
Edited by Joreal Qian