#TROP: Chinese hit show The Rise of Phoenixes is a global success, but here's why it failed in China

The Rise of Phoenixes, which was streamed by Netflix outside China has been one of the biggest hits of 2018, however, the show failed to impress Chinese audiences.


                            #TROP: Chinese hit show The Rise of Phoenixes is a global success, but here's why it failed in China

The Chinese drama 'Rise of Phoenixes' (TROP) starring Chen Kun and Ni Ni in lead roles is a Chinese period drama based on the book 'Huang Quan' by Tianxia Guiyan and was picked by Netflix and premiered on the streaming site in September 2018. Since then, it has been one of the most talked-about shows, especially the climax, which is a lot different than the one depicted in the book. Fans loved the series so much so, they have filed petitions for a second season.

This, of course, is unlikely because the show which gained popularity and fame among foreign audiences failed to impress fans in China. The show originally aired on Hunan Television and was commissioned for 70 episodes. However, the show went head-to-head with 'Ashes of Love', which premiered at the same time on Jiangsu TV.  Compared to 'The Rise of Phoenixes', 'Ashes of Love', which is a wuxia drama was a lot more fast-paced and featured a spectacular cast. TROP, which was slow paced initially received abysmal ratings resulting in the number of episodes being slashed. 

Hunan TV aired only 56 episodes, while the Netflix version is 70 episodes long. The show may be slow-paced, but in editing parts out, the channel had carved out the nuances that global audiences have come to love about the show. 

The makers also intentionally stayed away from replicating the plot of the book. In fact, the book concentrates more on Ni Ni's Feng Zhiwei than Chen Kun's Ning Yi. Not only that, the show's climax is very different from the book and hence the show alienated itself from fans of the book. 

(Spoilers ahead)

The climax in the series, which shows Feng Zhiwei giving up on everything after going through so much doesn't clarify whether she really is dead. In the book, she fakes her death and is revealed to be alive when Ning Yi fakes his death to bring her out of hiding. The two then lead happy lives as normal people away from royal influences. Feng Zhiwei is also stronger and a lot smarter in the book while the series portrays her as merely book smart with a lot of flaws. While the flaws give the character some depth, her naivete towards the end of the show contradicts the intelligence that she allegedly possesses. 

Some fans in China have also discussed on Reddit and other forums such as Soompi that the language used was too old school for them. The classical mandarin was not helpful in combination with the slow pace of the series.