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Chinese adaptation of Singaporean drama ‘The Little Nyonya’ ignites heated discussion among viewers of the original

2020/6/30 14:47:26   source:Global Times

Promotional material of The Little Nyonya Photo: Sina Weibo

A Chinese adaptation of famed Singaporean drama The Little Nyonya premiered on Chinese streaming platforms on Sunday night, instantly sparking heated discussion on social media as viewers compared it to the original version released in 2008.

The adaptation, mainly directed by Chinese director Guo Jingyu with two directors from Singapore, tells the story of the struggles and perseverance of several generations of young women in a complex extended Baba Nyonya family in Malacca starting from the 1930s to present day.

Baba Nyonya refers to the descendants of Chinese immigrants from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) who settled in the Malay Peninsula and Indonesian Archipelago through interracial marriage with locals from the early 15th century to the 17th century. Male descendants are called Baba and female descendants are called Nyonya. Their culture is influenced by both traditional Chinese culture as well as local cultures.

Promotional material of The Little Nyonya Photo: Sina Weibo

The drama sparked feelings of nostalgia in some Chinese netizens for the original version, which was released on Singapore's free-to-air MediaCorp TV Channel 8 in 2008 and is still regarded as one of the channel's greatest television series.

Some Chinese netizens showed high anticipation for the new version. The hashtag for The Little Nyonya had earned more than 230 million views as of Monday afternoon.

"I was just a primary student when I saw the 2008 version of The Little Nyonya. All I remember is that it was a tragedy. I am very curious if the new version will be changed to be a happy ending, which allows the character of Yueniang to marry her lover," one Chinese netizen commented on Sina Weibo.

However, many netizens who have seen the original 2008 version have said they feel that "the 2008 version is a classic work that cannot be surpassed," and expressed their dissatisfaction over what they feel is a lack of creativity when it comes to the new version.

"The 2020 new version drama is basically just copying the 2008 version. It is also a bit of an embarrassment when it comes to the acting and plotlines. For example, the actors who are from the Chinese mainland are dubbed with a Hong Kong TVB accent even though the story takes place in Malacca. Meanwhile, the actors are not fully integrated into the roles and the overall feeling is not ideal, which makes it hard for it to be compared to or exceed the original version," Shi Wenxue, a film critic based in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday.

He added that the most important thing for an adaptation is localization and modernization, pointing to the drama Women in Beijing, a remake of the Japanese TV drama Tokyo Girl, as a good example.

The drama has a total of 45 episodes and is available on popular Chinese video streaming platforms iQIYI and Youku as well as television channel CCTV 8. 

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