Popular Chinese TV series on the pressures of raising children is more effective than condoms: a ‘magic contraception tool’

13-May-2021 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 5:02 AM Print This Post

A popular Chinese TV series about home education has been branded as a “magic contraception tool” because viewers say it discourages them from having children.

Xiao She De, or “A Little Dilemma”, describes two middle-class city-based families making difficult choices about the education of their young children who face fierce academic competition at school.

Screening on TV channels and video streaming websites since April, the series has been rated as one of the top three most viewed and has triggered discussion on social media. “It’s this year’s most magic contraception TV series. It’s more useful than condoms,” wrote one viewer on China’s microblogging site Weibo.

Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team.

“After watching it, I don’t want to get married and don’t want to have kids,” a second viewer wrote.

“Kids nowadays are so exhausted! They have to start studying from the time they are in their mothers’ bellies. If I have a child, I will simply hope he or she will be happy and healthy,” a third commenter wrote. “But wait, after careful thought, I think he or she should have not-bad scores. That means the kid has to spend a lot of time studying. So don’t have kids. No kids, no trouble at all.”

Similar comments are flooding the internet about this TV series which is intended to be a true portrayal of mainland parents’ anxiety regarding their children’s education. Parents are torn between forcing their young children to study hard and sacrifice their interests and play time, and letting their children have a relaxed and happy life.

One of the main characters in the series is an 11-year-old boy named Yan Ziyou. He is a top student because his mother has sent him to extracurricular institutions for additional lessons since he was in kindergarten.

After he entered the fifth grade, with strong competition for a seat at a key middle school looming, his mother added more after-school classes for him and forbade him to play soccer his sole hobby. As a result, the boy hated study, achieved poor scores and developed mental disorders. “I think my Mum doesn’t love me. What she loves is me with top scores,” Ziyou once said in class.

The other character in the programme is a girl called Xia Huanhuan who is in the same class as Ziyou. Unlike Ziyou’s mother, Huanhuan’s parents don’t make her attend any after-school classes; instead they let her play. She is good at singing, but she came bottom of the class.

Huanhuan’s life changed dramatically after her mother realised that impressive academic results can be essential to a person’s future development. Huanhuan’s mother then copied Ziyou’s mother and filled her daughter’s holiday and weekend schedules with academic classes. Huanhuan then got high scores in class but she was depressed all the time and had a bad relationship with her parents.

“How poor these kids are! I sympathise with Ziyou and Huanhuan,” wrote one of the viewers on iqiyi.com where the series is shown.

Besides educating children, this television series also portrays another “big mountain” on the shoulders of middle-aged people: caring for their elderly parents. In one episode, after Huanhuan’s grandmother fell and damaged her bones, Huanhuan’s father took a month off work to stay at home to take care of her. He also picked up the children from school, which was the grandmother’s job before she fell. His plan, though, meant his boss became dissatisfied with him.

The series was released at a time when China saw its birth rate continue to decline. Last year, 10 million children were born on the mainland, according to statistics from the Ministry of Public Security. This is far fewer than 14.65 million births registered in 2019 and 16.04 million of 10 years ago.

China abandoned its rigorous one-child policy in 2016 to allow couples to have two children. But the change has not been effective in motivating couples to have children. The hashtag of “young people dare not have babies” has received thousands of comments on Weibo, with internet users saying they can’t have babies due to house prices, work pressure and cost of raising a child.

“I even tell my kids not to have a kid,” one viewer wrote.

“I think Xiao She De should not be broadcast,” commented another. “It spreads parents’ anxiety. It would make it even more frightening for couples to have babies.”



Category: China

Print This Post

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.