Although polls show that an increasing number of Hong Kong residents hold pessimistic views about the territory’s future and Hong Kong-mainland relations, in Inbound Troubles the two cousins gradually acclimate to each other, with the one from the mainland adapting to local ways.
Viewers say they appreciate the show’s realistic depictions of the shifting social dynamics of Hong Kong and the growing impact of mainland China and its visitors on the territory.
“I have a few bad experiences with mainlanders — most of them have to do with them jumping queues or being rude,” said Tai Wing-yi, a student at Hong Kong Baptist University. “But not all are like that. Some of my classmates are from the mainland, and they are nice to be around, and they work hard. In fact, they are the ones who contribute more than the locals in group projects.”
“The show highlighted the tension between mainland Chinese and locals in a funny way, and got the message across in a light-hearted manner,” she said.
Chen Min, a mainland journalist who has visited Hong Kong many times, said that his social circle in the territory included many more-educated and better-off local residents, who were usually polite, but that not all encounters were so smooth.
“Occasionally you run into problems that you didn’t encounter before,” he said. “Like a taxi driver who refuses to take you because you speak Mandarin, although you’re holding a map and address in Chinese.”
On another occasion, he was lugging a heavy suitcase to a taxi, and “the driver joked, ‘Carrying cash to buy an apartment?’” Chen said.
The popularity of the show — there is already talk of a movie — suggests that it could pave the way for treatments with similar themes, much as, in the US, All in the Family started a subgenre of politically tinged situation comedies during the turbulence of the Vietnam War.
In an opinion piece in China’s Global Times, Wendy Wang, a freelance writer from Shanghai, said that mainlanders have long been derided on Hong Kong television, with men often portrayed as mobsters and women as flirty or worse.
After the 1997 return of Hong Kong to Chinese rule, “mainlanders’ characters grew wealthier, but not wiser,” she wrote.