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Universal appeal

By Li Yingxue | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-03-04 08:22

Stand-up comedian Zhan Xin (left) and actor Zhang Zhehua co-host the 12-episode TV series Our Parallel Universes. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Reality TV comedy duo continue their mirthful and meteoric rise in acclaimed new series, Li Yingxue reports.

Hit TV shows sometimes spark spin-off reality programs, fueled by the fans' love for the actors. Stand-up comedian Zhan Xin and actor Zhang Zhehua are a special case — their popular appearance on a variety show earned them a devoted following, paving the way for the success of their future projects.

In 2022, their respective roles as young master Liu Bo and butler Long Aotian in the comedy reality show Super Sketch Show won the hearts of viewers, later leading them to clinch the title of Audience Favorite for their series Master and I. Their on-screen chemistry and comedic timing generates plenty of buzz.

Just last month, their latest venture, the 12-episode drama, Our Parallel Universes, aired on streaming platform iQiyi. Zhan and Zhang took on multiple roles, as each episode told a different story of chance encounters.

Reminiscent of the animated short Yao-Chinese Folktales, the series packs a punch with its succinct, quirky narratives, and has earned a solid rating of 7.3 points out of 10 on Douban.

During the recent Spring Festival, Our Parallel Universes became a binge-worthy treat for many, attracting a fresh wave of viewers. The hashtag of "short show Our Parallel Universes" racked up a staggering 160 million views on Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo, while the show's debut on Douyin earned it a spot at the top of the trending charts.

Director Wang Li says that when they began planning this series, they thought about continuing the story from the duo's performances on previous reality shows. However, they decided to create 12 entirely separate stories for them instead.

"There was always a warm feeling to their reality show appearances, so we wanted to keep that," explains Wang. "Our main goal was to tell 12 good stories with a comedic touch."

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