China now has its own “House of Cards” television program and, similarly, it has so far captivated millions of viewers with the first 10 episodes that were released.
The program, titled “In the Name of The People”, also tackles familiar themes featured in the hit American political drama: power play, corruption, indecency, and others.
Interestingly, the fictional show revolves around the stories of the senior officials in the ruling Communist Party. According to SCMP, it paints a bias in favor of the anti-corruption campaign of President Xi Jinping’s administration, although it doesn’t actually feature the president himself in the episodes.
Viewers, however, get to see a “deputy state-level” communist leader as a villain for the very first time.
In effect, the star-studded show has broken the country’s long-time ban on prime time anti-corruption-themed shows. Chinese censors blocked airing shows of this genre back in 2004 because it revealed details of corruption. Although fictional, Chinese authorities believed then that they would affect the public’s perception of the ruling party.
Fan Ziwen, the producer of the show, is incidentally a deputy director at the Film and Television Centre of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate. According to Fan, it was the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) itself which demanded the creation of more anti-corruption TV series and movies.
Is this a sign that Beijing is finally opening itself up for public commentary? As observers pointed out, it’s simply a sign that the government is now confident “that it is able to control the anti-corruption narrative and convince the public that one-party rule can also be clean.”
According to the show’s director, Li Lu, since state-owned companies were hesitant to invest in the project when it was still in the development stage, they turned to five private companies even though they had never invested in a television series before.
Viewers and critics have since been tuning in since the launch, amassing over 170 million views by Tuesday on Iqiyi.com, one of the channels permitted to broadcast the show.