YUXIN ZHOU WRITES — On April 2, the Chinese TV drama series “All is Well” ended. The show was about a typical Chinese family, in which, yes, (as the title suggests) all is well.

Is it? While the show features an ordinary Chinese family, in one episode Mingyu (played by Yao Chen,) the youngest daughter, returns home from school to find out that her mother has rented out her room— to pay for her brother’s college education! Yet this same traditional Chinese mother refused to finance Mingyu’s education. The youngest daughter then disowns her family and become a successful modern woman.

At the series end, though, she returns to the family. Everyone reconciles.  All is well.

But wait! Mingyu achieved great success, all without family support. In one episode, her mother even said, “there is no good for a girl to be educated.” No wonder Chinese viewers dubbed her “the most miserable daughter in China.”

And while Mingyu is a TV character, for Chinese women, even in this modern age, such situations are all too real. China has a long tradition of favoring sons over daughters. It appears as an abnormal sex ratio at birth (the number of males to females at birth) in most provinces. Males are the preferred gender. Simple as that.

“All is Well” was a good show that accomplished some good things.  A commercial hit, it increased public awareness of the struggles modern Chinese women face. It encouraged them to talk openly—in public, on social media. Many didn’t like the ending. It was too harmonious and sweet for their taste. Why didn’t Mingyu walk away from her family forever, viewers ask? Why didn’t she do what they themselves are not yet brave enough to do?

The TV series may have ended, but the controversy goes one. “All is Well” has struck a chord with modern Chinese women. They don’t want to be real-life Mingyus. They want to feel brave, empowered, and braced for societal change.  

Stay tuned, everyone.

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