iPartment or 爱情公寓 ÀiQíng GōngYù (lit. “love apartment”) is an extremely popular Chinese sit-com inspired by the American series “Friends” , and it’s the thing right now in China.
WhenI say inspired, I mean it: like Friends, it follows a group of young professionals who are also neighbors, living and working in a busy metropolitan city (based on Shanghai). The plot follows the romantic stories between three couples, as well as touching upon the Chinese lifestyle and social trends (for example, the obsession with KFC fried chicken and online shopping).
There have been rumors about lawsuits and copyright breaches (the series is famous for borrowing – translating – jokes from not just Friends, but also other popular sit-coms such as “Joey”, “Big Bang Theory” and “How I Met Your Mother”. This inspired the Chinese citizens to crown it as the “Chinese Version of Friends” (as well as being described as “Decent knock-off” and “Nicely dubbed”). The producers of the shows gradually admitted to some borrowing, although defending themselves by stating: “only by basing on an established model, is one able to surpass it”.
Despite all the allegations that surround the series, this extremely popular series just finished their fourth (and final) season, leaving their fans (or 粉丝 FěnSī in Chinese) heartbroken and wanting for more. Although it’s difficult to vouch for its originality this series is refreshingly new and funny – with a constant play of words, double meanings, historical allusions and inclusion of some internet lingo and memes.
Another source of criticism stems from the “stupid Japanese guy” gag, which, needless to say, goes under-appreciated in some circles.
Still, if you do manage to understand it (kudos to you), you’ll definitely get a laugh, for iPartment is as good as it gets.
Friends: 老友记 LǎoYǒu Jì – lit. the old Friends’ diary
Joey: 乔伊 QiáoYī (Chinese pronunciation of the name Joey)
How I Met Your Mother 老爸老妈的浪漫史 LǎoBà LǎoMā De LàngMànShǐ lit – lit. the romantic history of my mother and father.
Big Bang Theory 生活大爆炸 ShēngHuó Dà BàoZhà lit. the big explosion of life