The “Fanhua” Effect

Recently, with the popularity of director Wong Kar-wai's TV drama "Blossoms Shanghai (Fanhua)", several trends are quietly sweeping in.


The TV series "Fanhua", set in Shanghai in the 1990s, was filmed in Shanghai dialect and dubbed in Mandarin, inviting multiple Shanghai actors to perform. This has uplifted the previously weak dialects in the Wu language circle, expressing the warmth of the Shanghai version of "Fanhua" on the internet. Many netizens also said that when it comes to hometown dialect, some actors suddenly improve their acting skills and become very excellent.


There are several important locations in "Fanhua". The first one is definitely "Zhizhen Garden" on the Huanghe Road, the second is the Peace Hotel on the Bund, and the third is "Night Tokyo at 248 Jinxian Road" that only exists in TV dramas. With the popularity of TV dramas, these three locations have also become popular. Netizens jokingly claim that "the flow of people from Wukang Road has now gone to Huanghe Road", and Jinxian Road has become one of the first choices for young people's city walks, and the Peace Hotel has even launched a "Fanhua set for two".


Some old Shanghai cuisine, such as Miss Wang and Mr. Bao's fresh pork ribs rice cake in the play, have also re-entered the perspective of young people with the popularity of "Fanhua". 

The popularity of "Fanhua" is not only a success of a TV drama, but also a revival of Shanghai people's retro culture. Shanghainese was very common once, but later, due to the popularization of Mandarin, the younger generation of Shanghainese gradually stopped speaking Shanghainese, making Wu dialect one of the least popular dialects. The broadcast of Fanhua undoubtedly brought a wave of promotion to Shanghai dialect and even the entire Wu language family.


From the perspectives of old Shanghainese, Huanghe Road used to be the busiest and most bustling restaurant street. Some people recall that during the peak of Huanghe Road, Chinese New Year fireworks and paper scraps could be piled up to the height of their calves. But later on, due to the impact of modern restaurants, Huanghe Road gradually lost its former scenery, leaving only the Mille-feuilles from Park Hotel to make people queue up. But after the broadcast of "Fanhua", many netizens came to Huanghe Road to see Taisheng Garden, the real "Zhizhen Garden" - making this already depressed street lively again. And now, Taisheng has been reserved until after the New Year's Eve dinner.


Tonight, the finale of "Fanhua" is about to air, and the enthusiasm of netizens is gradually increasing. There are also more and more discussions about "Fanhua" on the Internet. This free marketing is not something that every IP can achieve. But if we only measure "Fanhua" by its market success, it may be narrow, and this drama is more of a tribute and nostalgia for culture.