NPR’s “All Things Considered” did an amazing story last week about the rising popularity of Friends among 20-30 year olds in China. They are really into it, as quotes like “I learned a lot from Friends: how to treat friends, girlfriends, my wife, how to be generous, how to be gentle” and “Everyone calls me Gunther here” (the latter by a gentleman who turned a 6th-floor loft into a mini-replica of the show’s coffee shop, Central Perk) clearly demonstrate. So it should come as no surprise that enterprising Chinese executives are trying to jump on this trend by producing a six-part, online, Video On Demand sitcom based on the show.
The Hollywood Reporter has the story, which I have excerpted below. The title alone should earn the producers a dozen Whatever The Chinese VOD Version Of The Emmys Are awards.
Chinese audiences will soon get chance to see what a 21st century Chinese take on Friends looks like, when a six-part sitcom makes its debut on the country’s major internet portals before the traditional Lunar New Year holidays begins in earnest next month.
I must know more about this. Immediately. I must know everything there is to know about every single part of this. Why are they only making a six-part show if Friends is so huge? Why are they doing it online? Why is it important that it debuts before the Lunar New Year? Why did it take like 15 years for Friends to catch fire in China? Do they assume David Schwimmer is one of the five or ten biggest actors alive? Are girls all over China running to their hairdresser and demanding “the Rachel”? Are people on the street greeting other will a smile and a “How you doin’?”
This is an important story and I demand answers.
Boasting a theme song from The Rembrandt’s Danny Wilde – who wrote the now unforgettable “I’ll Be There For You” number that opened each episode of Friends – …
Chinese Executive: Hello, yes, is Danny Wilde of The Rembrants available?
Danny Wilde: Speaking.
Chinese Executive: Oh. Hi, Danny. I thought you’d have a secretary or something.
Danny Wilde: Nope. What can I do for you?
Chinese Executive: Well, I’m producing a Chinese version of Friends, and I was wondering if you’d be willing t-…
Danny Wilde: I’M IN!
… the new show, Planet Homebuddies…
On my patented Things That Make Me So Happy I Might Just Explode Everywhere scale, the fact that the Chinese version of Friends is called Planet Homebuddies checks in at about an 8 or 9.
NOTE: The Things That Make Me So Happy I Might Just Explode Everywhere scale only goes up to 5.
… revolves around the lives and loves of six middle-class urban Chinese characters who live together in one big loft, counting among them a failed advertising executive, an IT specialist, a DJ and an art curator.
Look, I know the odds are pretty high that the DJ is going to be their version of Joey because that seems like the best employment fit for an idiot lothario, but seriously, how great would it be if it was Chandler?
Chinese Version Of Chandler: Could this beat be any sicker? [gets back together with Janice for some jackass reason]
“We noticed that working around the clock on weekdays and hanging out with friends on weekends is how most of today’s youth in China live their lives, with more and more adopting a ‘homebody’ lifestyle. Our new series will serve as the voice of today’s 20 to 30-year-old set in China, and examine this emerging trend.”
If you’re looking for a pretty simple, straightforward explanation for why and how China is kicking the world’s tail right now, the fact that they think a “homebody” is someone who spends a little time with friends after “working around the clock on weekdays” would be a decent place to start.
But anyway, this show is clearly going to be a huge success, which brings up an important question: Are there other Chinese versions of American shows in the pipeline? Please say yes.
The company is in the process of finishing Chinese Girl, a localized version of US TV series Gossip Girl starring Mini Yang, one of the country’s most prominent young actresses.
I am moving to China when they get to The O.C.