I’m not sure how many of our readers, if any, are Chinese citizens, but there’s a good chance they won’t be catching up one of the most popular series on television, The Walking Dead, five months from now. And The Walking Dead is only the tip of the gore-soaked iceberg, as the Chinese government is cracking down on online streaming sites, both legal and illegal.
Last month, TV viewers all over the country were shocked and disappointed to find that Chinese authorities shut down two of the nation’s most used file-sharing sites, meaning access to hundreds of U.S. TV episodes (along with their Chinese subtitles) were completely vanquished. Moving forward, the government has made it clear that, starting in April, they’re tasking broadcast regulators with only approving less mature content to go through their legal streaming sites, such as Sohu, a site where over 103 million views have been tabulated for Netflix’s flagship political drama House of Cards. That show, with its sex-for-power plot points and negative talk about China’s communism, will definitely be on the cutting block. It seems like even the words “cutting block” will be removed.
This is hardly the first time something like this has happened in China, where The Walking Dead and Showtime’s Masters of Sex are hugely popular. Back in April of this year, authorities completely banned streaming of The Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife, NCIS, and The Practice. And most of those series, in entire seasons, don’t feature as much censorable material as AMC’s zombie-filled ratings juggernaut. I guess they won’t get getting the spinoff either, should it become a series.
According to CNN, the reaction to these threats from Chinese citizens seems to be along the lines of “I’m going to find a way to download it anyway, because TV is great.” Part of the reasoning behind the potential ban is making sure people don’t completely neglect Chinese programming for U.S. series, though that seems to be more of an issue with quality control. It’s unclear how well horrible shows like Bad Judge and Hemlock Grove do with Chinese viewers, but I’m betting they leave that shit alone.
I guess the question is really how so many U.S. series were allowed to get popular there in the first place, given how strict the government is about seemingly everything. One would think that the most foolproof plan would be for the nation’s TV networks would just import U.S. series legally and reap the rewards from it, even if it meant taking the censorship scalpel to some shows. Is the joy of watching The Walking Dead so firmly engraved in seeing gross shit and death happen that a few snips would be so devastating?
Oh, yeah. It would be.