mini-series plot recap (by country and episode length)

Television dramas remind us that love is cross-culturally a means of negotiating gender inequality, but that is expressed through culturally specific forms of unhappiness and resolution there of. My trip to Taiwan reminded me, however, that even within Chinese speaking communities, young lovers face different challenges. Below, a list of mini-series plot recaps by country and episode length based on my own television habits. As a general rule of thumb, two episodes of an Asian mini-series is the equivalent in length of one US American made for television movie. Also, in my plot recap, I first note the happy ending and then in parenthesis a sad story version. And yes, please add insight from your experience watching these pervasive and addictive forms of popular culture.

US American = boy meets girl, boy and girl have sex, a murder brings them closer together (or one of them may be the victim) in one made for television movie;

Japanese = boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, a suicide brings them closer together (or one or both commit suicide) in 12 episodes;

Korean = boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, inherited and usually unsuspected history between their parents brings them closer together (or results in them being separated for years that each stoically endures) in 16 or 20 episodes;

Taiwanese = boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, their mothers begin a battle that brings them closer together (or forces one or both of them to choose between their lover and their mother) in 30 to 40 episodes;

Mainland = boy meets girl, boy and girl are attracted to each other, they soon realize that together they can rule the country more justly (or together they can’t seize power because corruption is just too endemic) in 80 episodes.

2 thoughts on “mini-series plot recap (by country and episode length)

  1. this is hilarious, thanks for the recap. I don’t have a TV so I can’t report on Israeli TV traditions. But I am envious that your job as an ethnographic anthropologist requires you to watch a LOT of TV, about which you might otherwise feel guilty.

    • I know, it’s all DATA. I’ve also noticed a middle class preference for moderation in melodramatic plots. Extreme violence in the US and Mainland dramas disturbs me, in Japanese and Korean dramas extreme humiliation disturbs me, and in the Taiwanese the extreme passivity of some young characters disturbs me. Otherwise, its me, the tube and a snack!

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