China’s Youth Dramas Face a Mid-Life Crisis

Once ratings gold, the youth drama genre has lost most of its luster in recent years.

If there were ever an audience that could relate to being stuck in an endless time loop, it’s Chinese in the year 2022. So perhaps it’s no surprise that streaming giant iQiyi’s tale of two young people traveling back and forth in time, “Shining for One Thing,” has won over audiences and become a sleeper hit.

What sets “Shining” apart from similar shows like “Reset” — another time loop-themed series released this year — isn’t plot, but genre. “Shining,” which tells a story of young Chinese growing up and protecting each other, fits squarely into China’s once-vibrant “youth drama” genre, though whether the series’ success can revive the format remains to be seen.

In China, the “youth drama” is a specific TV show genre with over 30 years of history. Youth dramas have their roots in the early 1980s, in shows like “Once a Young Man” and “Idle Days,” which reflected on the tumult of the Cultural Revolution and the lives of the country’s first post-Mao generation. While these shows bore many of the hallmarks that would come to define the youth drama, they are better understood as predecessors to the genre, helping lay the foundation of what was to come. Continue to read the full article here

– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.