According to the BBC, ‘Yanxi Palace’ is the most Googled show on Earth-despite the fact that Google is blocked in China. Most of it comes from other Asian countries such as Singapore and Malaysia, but the drama has smashed viewership records worldwide.
It has been streamed more than 15 billion times on iQiyi, China’s version of Netflix. And that’s just China alone. It achieved 530 million views (half a billion!) within a single day, while Game of Thrones Season 7 Finale had 16.5 million views on the day it was released.
However, on January 28, a damning commentary was published on state-run news outlet Beijing Daily. It cited the negative influence of the drama on socialist values. The promotion of ‘court culture’ could potentially promote materialistic lifestyles to Chinese viewers.
These were the five qualities it decried:
- Making the ’emperor’ lifestyle a fashionable goal,
- Polluting modern society with the back-stabbing portrayed in the show,
- Casting the emperor and his subordinates in a positive light while ignoring the glory of today’s heroes,
- Championing excess and extravagence while downplaying the importance of hard work and frugality,
- And promoting commercial incentives while weakining positive moral guidance.
Following the editorial, the show was pulled from air in China. According to Zhejiang Satellite TV’s program schedule, ‘Yanxi Palace’ was supposed to air at 11:00 am on Tuesday (29th), but was replaced by the comedy ‘Love Apartment’.
At the same time, Shandong Satellite TV’s ‘Yanxi Palace’, which was originally broadcast at 10 pm on the same day, was also replaced by ‘Ode to Joy’.
Geng Song, associate professor at Hong Kong University, said the cancellation was most likely not a coincidence.”It almost happened at the same time so definitely there must be some link between the two,” he told CNN.
“This has happened many times before. People are saying that TV producers or TV stations are dancing with shackles on.”