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One Child
One Child
TV Series
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  • Cast:
    Katie Leung,Mardy Ma,Elizabeth Perkins
The journey of Mei a Chinese-born young woman as she is called back to Guangzhou by her birth mother in desperately seeking help to save her son who has been wrongly-accused of murder. The journey explores Mei's inner battle as she decides how far she will go to help the woman who gave her away and the brother she's never met.
Series cast summary:
Katie Leung Katie Leung - Mei Ashley 3 episodes, 2014
Mardy Ma Mardy Ma - Liu Ying 3 episodes, 2014
Elizabeth Perkins Elizabeth Perkins - Katherine Ashley 3 episodes, 2014
Linh Dan Pham Linh Dan Pham - Pan Qianyi 3 episodes, 2014
Sebastian So Sebastian So - Ajun 3 episodes, 2014
Donald Sumpter Donald Sumpter - Jim Ashley 3 episodes, 2014
Selina Lo Selina Lo - Xu Lian 3 episodes, 2014
Nicholas Goh Nicholas Goh - Wei Dongping 3 episodes, 2014
Kunjue Li Kunjue Li - Chang Hua 3 episodes, 2014
Lukaz Leong Lukaz Leong - Wu Jian 3 episodes, 2014
Sandra Yap Sandra Yap - Zheng Ping / - 3 episodes, 2014
Emmanuel Ighodaro Emmanuel Ighodaro - Samuel Abulu 2 episodes, 2014
Tobi Bakare Tobi Bakare - DJ Eddie 2 episodes, 2014
Deobia Oparei Deobia Oparei - Joseph Ojo 2 episodes, 2014
Enoch Frost Enoch Frost - Solomon Obhiorra / - 2 episodes, 2014
Harrison Wong Harrison Wong - Guan Xiaopeng 2 episodes, 2014
Barnaby Kay Barnaby Kay - Mr. Anderson 2 episodes, 2014
Alan Leong Alan Leong - Chang Hui 2 episodes, 2014
Seun Shote Seun Shote - Tunde Adeola 2 episodes, 2014
Yuyu Rau Yuyu Rau - Judge 2 episodes, 2014
Tai Yin Chan Tai Yin Chan - Huang Tao 2 episodes, 2014
Andy Cheung Andy Cheung - Chen Jin 2 episodes, 2014
Dave Wong Dave Wong - Guan Peng 2 episodes, 2014
Junix Inocian Junix Inocian - Mr. Lin 2 episodes, 2014
Yennis Cheung Yennis Cheung - Peng's receptionist / - 2 episodes, 2014
Michael Fan Michael Fan - Beijing Lawyer 2 episodes, 2014

One Child

GuangZhou is in southern China and they speak Cantonese there, not Mandarin as depicted in the movie. Even though Mandarin is the official language of China, Cantonese is the official language of GuangZhou.

I enjoyed the show as a whole. Art shows something different to different people.

(Possible Spoilers)

To me this show was a realistic representation of fighting back towards a corrupted system that doesn't work. Many of us have come to a point in our lives that there are things you can not change, no matter how much you may try. That may be a government, like in the movie or another system that you may be entangled in.

I think it did a good job of showing the hope and the drive that we all begin with to make the world a better place. The hope in people that they will do the right thing, then to slowly realize through everything that you are doing that it will not change with just you.

Maybe they meant it to be biased, or whatever else people have complained about. However the underlying story telling is what made me really like this show, I thought they did a good job.
An unlovable drama, unless you are looking for a glossy vehicle to reinforce stereotypical visions of Chinese justice, or the buds of a modern polemic against capital punishment.

Mei was adopted as a baby because, under Chinese One Baby policy, it enabled her mother to keep her son. Mei ended up in England with western adoptive parents, and is happily studying Astrophysics until the call to help comes in from Guangdong, where her brother has been framed for the murder of a Nigerian outside a nightclub, by a rich playboy. Thirteen witnesses testify that brother did it, including brother's best mate.

Thus Mei travels into China to meet her birth mother, and the few friends and activists trying to get her brother free. Although filmed entirely in Hong Kong, the settings suggest a Guangdong credible enough that most westerners can glimpse another world, including the unexpected dimension of a significant Nigerian community.

I will grant a little goodwill here. The mother and daughter reunion is done well, and I believed it, starting with total, interpreted, awkwardness and unwillingness of gesture, eye contact or touch, through to a little language and a proper reconciliation in three episodes. But the plot starts to unravel as it unfurls, and whilst it's obvious that Mei is likely to be putting herself at risk in her endeavours, somehow it isn't that exciting to watch.

The brothel party scene is just not credible. Mei suddenly goes from upright young student and plucky protester of her brother's innocence to the point where she has to have sex with several men in a few hours just to get evidence that can be used to pressurise witnesses. An ordinary girl needs some plot development to get there, and we're not invited to glimpse her reckoning. If the central idea is for Mei to be the bridge character who's western enough for us to identify with, this scene blows it away in an instant, as so few of us could do this even to save our brother.

The investigator suddenly and neatly gets all the witnesses to retract their statements. It's all too neat and lacking in narrative interest or drama, with just a hint of what it's like to be in the Nigerian community here. Above all we don't really have any experience in how this counter-persuasion might work, based on our knowledge of ordinary people in our culture, yet we sense this is possible in China and other places where justice is arbitrary, or a rich man's game. This is where the human interest would lie. The script has to help us understand the coercive, cognitive journey that makes people do what they do.

It's just too clunky. It doesn't flow dramatically, but it isn't awkward either: in the second episode Mei and the activists dismantle the false evidence fabricated by the powerful local family and their stooges in the local administration without any dramatic tension at all. It just happens. Is there to be no fightback? Is anyone in the state apparatus watching? Is the rich family closing against them? The trouble is, you're thinking, "there's no fightback? It should all come down on them in a minute – or maybe it won't and this is another rubbish BBC drama out of its incredible depth." So your options are, you give up without watching the last episode, or you risk watching, knowing it must all come down on them unless it is it utter pap. Either way there's no excitement: the plot has been navigated into sterility, and the final counter-counter persuasion by the rich guys doesn't have any impact.

Finally, Mei goes to see the murderer at his Daddy's pad. She knows he did it. He knows she knows he did it (I think). But he still makes a play for her, and she goes much of the way along with it, allowing herself to be entertained out with his friends. Well, by now perhaps I should change my view of this woman. Perhaps she really is ice-cold inside enough to do this too. But – well, no, again it's just not credible, and I don't blame the actress. It's just no, as in no real hole-free plot. Oh, and by the way, some rich playboys in some corrupt dystopias can kill without feeling of guilt or remorse, but I dare say this isn't the norm, and his plot and character doesn't smell credible either.

Oh-hang on: another thread. Now Daddy offers her a deal: brother's mate swings for the crime instead. But this time our ice-maiden doesn't take it. Too moral I suppose, but no overt thinking displayed apart from some doubt depicted by hesitance on a flashy escalator. After her earlier actions have so committed her, you can't really imagine why she would baulk at this even though she has met the mate and his parents. To a rational moraliser it is at least a philosophically reasonable deal: either way an innocent man takes the rap: this way it's not your brother, but it's your action that causes it to be the mate instead. Discuss. And why doesn't Daddy offer one of the Nigerians, the traditional outsider fall-guys, instead? This would make sense, especially as it's said to be pressure from the Nigerian consulate this time that demands a head for a head rather than the more conventional financial restitution. So the Nigerian ex-pat community are everyone's fall guys, but the Nigerian Government holds enough sway to demand a framing. Hmm. That would need some explicit plot development to convince.

And the questions you really want to know are, does the supposed Chinese system of supremacy of the collective will over the individual really force all these individual actors to behave like this, and how do real people feel about such arbitrary justice? Unasked in this non-drama, I fear.

Oh yes, and what about the activists? All jailed bar one. No hint of their stories?
... and I hate to slate their productions, especially the more contemporary work that often challenges the viewer in all the right ways. Unfortunately, with 'One Child', it seems the story's flight to reaching full potential was undermined by the writers trying to fit too much into such a short series.

In setting the story against a backdrop - or, really, a foreground - of serious political, social, and human issues (adoption, corruption, death penalty, etc.), it seems the writers were aiming to make the characters' journeys all the more powerful and poignant. However, the inclusion of multiple big topics and the limited screen-time meant that none of the core elements of the story, ranging from the characters' emotional lives to the socio-political challenges of present-day China, were done much justice. Mainly, the emotionally-charged subject of adoption and a belated family reunion was undercut by the political elements that are thrust a little too obtrusively in the viewer's face.

BBC dramas are usually so unique and powerful because of their nuanced handling of both personal and political subjects. Sadly, 'One Child' came across as a Westerner's idea of China, where all the typical things we "know" about the country (one child policy, government corruption, economic inequality, etc.) are lumped together in a clumsy caricaturing that makes Mei's own story seem strangely outlandish and improbable.

Simply put, there was too much going on in what was only three episodes. The writers should have either explored all the above themes in a longer series, or simply focused on one. As it is, the emotional storyline was underwhelming and the political elements overdone. It really is a pity, as the story had the potential to be an enthralling drama...
The death penalty is a terrible thing; and China's system of justice leaves much to be desired. I know of the latter from the personal experience of a friend. But 'One Child' is an ordinary exploration of these themes, told from the perspective of a Briton who becomes involved in a legal case involving her long lost brother. The problems with the story are various. How could someone who can't speak a word of Chinese expect to influence the case? The motives of the heroine are spotlessly good, which makes the series somewhat dull. And the China that is presented, while clearly a far from ideal state, is also a China where everyone speaks perfect English and dresses in smart clothing. The mostly new-found wealth of the Chinese ruling class is an interesting fact; but there are also profound cultural differences between the Chinese and westerners, observable at a micro-level: this isn't a point about good and bad per se, just about different modes of behaviour, but 'One Child' gives us very little insight into how Chinese and westerners think and act differently, even though this should naturally be at the heart of the story. Kudos is due to the writers for not choosing a senselessly happy ending; nonetheless, the series is still a little formulaic and bland.
It's a typical portrayal of sensationalism.

Since there were no scene shot within the realm of Mainland China, lots of ideologies presented no matter during the main narration or through all the sceneries are from little to utterly biased.

And even worse, the title of the TV, which is misused and clearly a misnomer,conveyed the ideology and stereotype which is intentionally shaming the government of China and can raise unnecessary debate and discussion of the inhumanity of the certain policies.

People who watched this or are expecting to watch it should do some research about the notorious "one-child" and ask around the real meaning if you can access a real native Chinese who's not oppinionated.

Shades everywhere, all I can say now.