China Focus: Netflix's adaptation of Three-Body Problem sparks mixed reviews among Chinese audience-Xinhua

China Focus: Netflix's adaptation of Three-Body Problem sparks mixed reviews among Chinese audience

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-04-10 15:34:00

TIANJIN, April 10 (Xinhua) -- Chinese cuisine or American fast food? The U.S. streaming entertainment platform Netflix's foray into Chinese science fiction with its adaptation of The Three-Body Problem, has sparked outpourings on Chinese social media.

The eight-episode series, based on the Hugo Award-winning novel by renowned Chinese author Liu Cixin, marks a significant departure from the original text, prompting emotional reactions from sci-fi fans.

The show transplants the storyline to the United Kingdom, and alters the genders, ethnicities and even names of several key Chinese characters in the book.

"Some plots and inner struggles of the main characters have been misinterpreted. It is kind of a different story," said Fan Min, a devoted fan of The Three-Body Problem.

"The controversial multi-protagonist setting and relatively rare three-line narrative of the Netflix's version have optimized the pace of the entire Three-Body Problem trilogy, which adapts to the young audience who have been accustomed to fast-paced and fragmented TikTok videos," said one netizen using the handle "Wannian."

The series has generated considerable buzz, with the "Netflix's Three Body Problem" hashtag on China's microblogging platform Weibo receiving over 170 million views and generating 95,000 comments. Similar debates have also proliferated on America's Reddit.

Many viewers worldwide laud the adaptation for its accessibility to Western audiences, as the hit has taken on deeper resonance outside of China.

Netflix's statistical triumph, with 115.6 million viewing hours and a top spot on its Weekly Top 10 list of the most-watched TV and films from March 25-31, underscores the series' global appeal.

"As a person who grew up in China, my work is naturally influenced by Chinese culture. But I want my novel to be accepted by readers in the United States and other countries," Liu said in an interview, reflecting on his aspirations for cross-cultural resonance.

"I have finished Three-Body Problem on Netflix and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the build-up to the finale and most characters in the show, especially Jin Cheng and Ye Wenjie," a sci-fi fan tweeted. "I haven't watched the Chinese adaptation or read the book. But I'm planning to do both."

After the Netflix version became a hit, the sales of physical books and e-books of The Three-Body Problem on ranked top 2 in the platform's literature and novel category.

A key prop that appears in the first two episodes -- the environmental science work Silent Spring, published in 1962, has also experienced resurgence in popularity.

Meanwhile, Netflix's re-imagining of Chinese science fiction has also aroused introspection among enthusiasts on the Westernization in the storytelling of Chinese literature and content.

Chen Peng, a professor from China's Nankai University, was more encouraging. He said he considered this a good example of Chinese science fiction stories being adapted into films and TV series overseas.

"From the perspective of cross-cultural communication, it's a positive stride," he said, emphasizing that work conforming to the cultural characteristics and cognitive habits of the target countries can reach effective communication. "Some of the original cultural parts have to be adapted during the process."

Chinese drama critic Jiang Ying said that the heated discussion and controversy surrounding the Netflix version reflects both the challenges and opportunities faced by domestic works in the process of going overseas.

"Adapting science fiction masterpieces into film and television works has always been an arduous task," Jiang said. "It is necessary to find a balance between commercial interests and artistic pursuits."

"Anyway, it is good for more people around the world to know about Chinese literary works and be willing to explore the original texts," Chen said.