China generally lacks LGBT representation in Chinese media; yet the country’s first-ever queer show, an online sitcom, has reached a viewership of 24 million people over several streaming platforms.
Rainbow Family is about a 24-year-old graduate student, Xie Kezan, who moves in with straight lifestyle magazine editor Song Yi, who pretends to be his girlfriend when his parents are around. They are joined by Public Relations Director Austin Erbao Huang and his ex-boyfriend, Lin Xiaozun, who drops by for free food and with the hope of them getting back together.
Somehow this show has managed to strike a chord with China’s LGBT community, even though it’s not being broadcast on television. The State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television won’t allow queer shows because it says that homosexuality is one of the unacceptably “unhealthy topics regarding sex.”
The show is being compared to Will & Grace, seventeen years after the series premiered in the United States. Rainbow Family is produced by Ling Jueding, who also is the CEO of ZANK, a gay social app.
According to Fusion, he said “Most Chinese people aren’t hardcore homophobic, they just would rather remain ignorant about homosexuality unless it starts to affect them in some real way. I hope this show can provide a real and positive portrayal of the lives of gay and lesbians, just like Will & Grace did for Americans.”
Watch an English-subtitled version of the first episode below: