Some of the most infamous Chinese TV character clichés, as defined by netizens
Mainstream television relies on stereotypes and Chinese TV is no exception: Women are always victims, waiting to be rescued by men; intellectuals are usually pedantic, dull, or laughable; and fuerdai, or the “second-generation rich,” are shallow, condescending bullies. Here are some of the most infamous Chinese TV character clichés, as defined by netizens.
Mary Sue (玛丽苏)
The popular Mary Sue (Mǎlìsū) refers to the idealized female lead: She is beautiful, virtuous, and has it all. Men swoon over her, women scheme against or idolize her, and while she herself would never stoop to plotting, it seems that wealth, power, and fame simply fall into her lap.
The name comes from the 15-year-old heroine of Paula Smith’s 1973 fan fic “A Trekkie’s Tale,” in which Lieutenant Mary Sue becomes the youngest, smartest person to graduate from Starfleet Academy. It was originally meant to satirize unrealistic characters in Star Trek fan fiction.
Character Actors is a story from our issue, “Cloud Country.” To read the entire issue, become a subscriber and receive the full magazine. Alternatively, you can purchase the digital version from the App Store.