Low budget, high impact
If you haven’t already heard of Go Princess Go (《太子妃升职记》), get out of your cave immediately, otherwise you’ll miss the first Internet frenzy of 2016.
The Web-only series has become the most talked-about show recently. Its strange aesthetic and mind-boggling plot has intoxicated some viewers, while others simply deem it “toxic”.
The story revolves around Zhang Peng, a modern-day womanizer who hits his head and wakes up to find that his soul has been transported back in time. Worse still, he discovers that his soul is now housed in the body of a young woman, who also happens to be a crown princess.
You may wonder, “How’s that possible?” Be careful, because that thought may just draw you into the frenzy as well.
The show’s allure might come from what Chen Xiaoyun calls “satirical psychology”. Chen is the director of the New Media Image Research Center at Beijing Normal University. He told TNT News that some shows strive to be so outrageous that people watch them only to satirize them. Many of today’s entertainment programs use this strategy, he added.
Go Princess Go draws on this tactic as well. How far can its plot go? And how much more absurd can it be? Before you have realized it, you’ve already watched a couple of episodes and discussed them with your friends.
The show’s cheesy backdrops and Taobao-style costumes have been the primary source of satire. Every aspect of the series screams, “We can’t afford anything other than a wind machine for our actors’ hair.” And by the way, that wind machine really gets a thorough workout.
Crown Prince Qi Sheng is the only character in the series to get proper clothes that are long enough to cover his legs. And that’s only after he becomes the emperor, as the series unfolds. Other characters have to “flaunt” their bare legs throughout the entire show.
Despite its low production value, its cast still delivers convincing performances. For instance, Zhang Tian’ai, who plays the crown princess, switches deftly between male and female personas. She walks with her toes turned outwards, just like men do. She truly makes you believe that she has a masculine soul trapped inside her female body.
After the success of Go Princess Go, some media experts forecast an outbreak of similar TV series in 2016. Absurdity will be their common theme, Xian Yongjing, a director and commentator, told entertainment portal NetEase.com.
“Though Go Princess Go shot to fame by accident, it has motivated more TV series to cater to the taste of young people. And most importantly, it proves that a good show isn’t necessarily a costly one,” he said.