“Hidden Love” Featured for Its Sweet Romance on CCTV News, Shrugging Off Underage Controversy Early in the Series

HIdden Love
(Left): Zhao Lusi and (Right): Chen Zheyuan with child actress Zhang Xiwei (张熙唯) as young Sang Zhi (Zhao Lusi’s character)

It appears Zhao Lusi and Chen Zheyuan’s currently airing series Hidden Love has just gotten a rousing stamp of approval from the unlikeliest of sources. I mean, what better way for a C-drama to grab everyone’s attention than to get a mention on China’s state network? CCTV-6 reported Hidden Love’s recent meet-and-greet on the news where they described the youth romance as a sweet love story. That’s quite a feat considering how the entertainment industry churns out dramas by a handful.

HIdden Love got a shoutout by State TV CCTV6
Hidden Love featured on CCTV6

Despite the show’s success, there had been some objections against the idea of a 14-year-old crushing on a 19-year-old (the age gap is 7 years in the novel) as some viewers throw accusations that it may seem to condone, however indirectly, pedophilia. Especially when the onscreen translation puts together an 11-year-old actress cast to play the younger version of Zhao Lusi’s character to Chen Zhenyuan who’s already in his 20s. Some viewers say any moments the two had together were uncomfortable and a bit cringey to watch.

Debate Over the Relationship Between the Leads

This view seems to be echoed by screenwriter Zhu Ming 祝明 who blasted the show on social media. The Kiss, Love Taste screenwriter had a lot of beef about the age difference between the two protagonist saying a junior high student is simply too young to be flirting with a university aged boy who flirted back. She also asked parents to not let their children watch the show and for her industry colleagues to have a better sense of social responsibility and pull it off air.

Meanwhile, fans defend the show as they feel that the complaints are completely unfounded. They say the relationship at the start is that of brother and sister and the romance begins many episodes into the series when the heroine is in college.

The show previously won praise from The Beijing News, which is a state-run media, for its portrayal of the heroine in different stages of her life. With such strong opinions for and against it, some wondered what it would mean for the show given the stringent censorship for C-dramas. And it looks like the brief coverage on CCTV-6 already answers the question as the hashtag “Sixth Princess comments on Hidden Love” even trended on the Weibo hot search today.

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