gentlemen-of-east-8th

Perverted Protagonist on New TV Show Might Be Reason for Low Ratings

Portrayed by Zhang Han, the lead character in the widely panned TV program ‘Gentlemen of East 8th’ has been described by viewers as ‘pig hands’

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Sep 20, 2022 1 mins read

The recently-released Chinese TV program Gentlemen of East 8th is almost universally hated, evidenced by its 2.1 out of 10 rating on the media review platform Douban.


Despite its almost unprecedentedly-low ratings, it is the most-discussed domestic TV show of the month on the Chinese internet. A hashtag for the program on the Chinese microblogging platform Weibo has generated more than 2.35 billion views.


gentlemen of east 8th

Zhang Han in Gentlemen of East 8th. Image via Weibo


Before its release, the show seemed to harbor some potential thanks to its renowned lead actor, Zhang Han. In addition to playing the conventionally attractive protagonist, Han is also the show’s screenwriter and producer and boasts a 40 million-strong following on Weibo.


The program’s plot is centered around four college friends as they navigate adult life, career difficulties, and burgeoning romances. The show has been branded as the male version of the 2020 hit drama Nothing But Thirty (三十而已), which portrays women’s struggles and empowerment.


Since the show was released on August 31, however, its nominal plot has been completely buried amidst a barrage of public criticism.


dirty joke zhang han gentlemen of east 8th

“I think mine is longer,” a controversial dirty joke in the show. Image via Weibo


Some have criticized its “bizarre storyline” and “exaggerated acting.” Even state-affiliated media People’s Daily Online called it “disgusting and offensive to women,” “out of touch with reality,” and “cliched.”


The most controversial elements of the show, though, are Zhang’s wandering hands. At one point in the TV series, he pulls his love interest (played by actress Wang Xiaochen) by her bra strap. He also ‘accidentally’ places his hand on her chest while trying to lift her by the waist.

bra strap grab zhang han gentlemen of east 8th

Zhang Han’s infamous bra strap grab in the show. Image via Weibo


His actions have been derisively called xian zhu shou, meaning ‘perverted gestures’ or ‘pig hands.’


One Weibo user believes that such controversial scenes are “scenarios that encourage workplace sexual harassment,” while others have called Zhang’s behavior “greasy” or “cringy.”


Cover image via Twitter

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