Since its premiere on Mar. 1 to the finale on Mar. 25, the TV series “All is Well” caught Chinese audiences’ attention for nearly a month. Audiences discussed the characters as if they were real people in their lives. In the TV show, after the decease of the mother in the Su family, the conflict between family members, especially between the three kids and their father, intensifies and the family starts to break down as the father seeks excessive support from his kids.
Although domestic life has always been a hot topic in Chinese TV series, “All is Well” provides an interesting perspective for us to look at parent-children relationship in modern China. Coming from the same family, the three children in the Su family have distinctive characteristics: The big brother Su Mingzhe is a typical book smart person but suffers from being overconfident; the second brother Su Mingcheng was spoiled by his mother and as a result continues to live off his parents way into his 30’s; Su Mingyu, the youngest daughter, grew up as an emotionally deprived kid and learned how to stand up and provide for herself. Each of them represent a different type of upbringing, however, I found the big brother Su Mingzhe to be the most interesting, not only in that he has a U.S. background, but also in the way he interacts with his father.
Su Mingzhe: a “Tripple-A student” haunted by his parents’ expectation
After graduating from Tsinghua University (one of the top 2 universities in China) and Stanford University with a Ph.D. degree, Su Mingzhe found a
When Su Mingzhe’s father asked to move to the United States, he immediately agreed without talking to his wife, not taking his financial situation and increasing living expenses into account. After making the promise, he was soon challenged by his wife and began to stagger.
One interesting detail was brought up by a Chinese blogger, who works as a project manager in Silicon Valley. In the TV series, Su Mingzhe earns an annual salary of 100+k USD. However, he doubted
Parents’ Expectation as an Eternal Topic
Leaving the inaccuracy of Su Mingzhe’s salary aside, living up to your parents’ expectations is an eternal topic between Asian kids and their parents. In “All is Well”, it appears that Su Mingzhe doesn’t have any choice but to put his
Interestingly, Chinese-American actor and comedian Jimmy O.
“In America, people will always tell me, ‘Money can’t buy happiness. Do what you love,’” writes Jimmy O.Yang, best known for playing the Chinese app developer Jian-Yang on the HBO comedy Silicon Valley. “In my Chinese family, my dad always tells me: ‘Pursuing your dreams is for losers. Doing what you love is how you become homeless.’”
While Jimmy O.Yang was lucky enough to have the courage to pursue his own dream and discover his own path, more Asian kids are like Su Mingzhe, who internalize their parents’ expectations as a measurement of their own self-worth and who fear
At the end of the TV series, Su Mingzhe goes back to the United States and continues his life as a software engineer. However, the theme of the series lives on in reality: the overbearing Asian parents and their children who try so hard to (or not to) live up to their expectation. The parenting style of Asian families is brought to the screen, criticized from time to time, but still unshakable.
Featured photo credit to sina