Makers of Popular Short Video Drama Face Backlash for Overworking Staff

Fans have turned on “Reincarnated as a Maid of a Rich CEO” for perpetuating the same exploitive practices it critiques

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2:08 PM HKT, Tue June 11, 2024 1 mins read

Huangyewenhua (荒野文化), the Wuhan-based company behind the trending short video series Reincarnated as a Maid of a Rich CEO (重生之我在霸总短剧里当保姆, Chóngshēng zhī wǒ zài bàzǒng duǎnjù lǐ dāng bǎomǔ), has recently received a tremendous backlash from viewers after being accused of underpaying and overworking its employees, including extras and interns on its production and social media teams. The series was released earlier this year in March, and it quickly rose to popularity, garnering tens of millions of views on Bilibili, Douyin, and other streaming platforms.

The story follows the life of “Maid Wang” (王妈, Wang Ma) who works for a young, wealthy CEO. With low pay and too many chores, “Maid Wang” complains about her working conditions in an oftentimes comedic manner. The show has resonated with young audiences, partly because of its farce-like plot, and partly because viewers identify with “Maid Wang,” seeing themselves as similarly exploited by large corporations, personified by the CEO.

Reborn Maid CEO

Image via The Paper.

So it is darkly ironic that the makers of the series have themselves engaged in the same practices they criticize on screen. The dismay of the show’s former fans was only heightened when it was revealed that the influencer who plays “Maid Wang,” Wang Zhixing, is actually a millionaire in real life.

The case of Huangyewenhua raises deeper questions about unfair workplace treatment, and how related issues may be presented in the media in a manner that leads to positive change. Reincarnated as a Maid of a Rich CEO” stings in particular because it milks public sympathy for exploited workers to garner views, all while engaging in the same labor practices.

Banner image via QikeXingxing.

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