The Teenage Psychic Tells Taiwan’s story

By Chan Meng-hin(陳明憲), Chen Ching-wen(陳靖文)

The Teenage Psychic(通靈少女) took Taiwan, and even Asia, by storm after being broadcasted by PTS (Public Television Service) and HBO Asia (Home Box Office Asia) on April 2. Alex Hsieh(謝孟儒), the executive producer of Fun Planet(靠北星球), said the main reason for The Teenage Psychic’s success is its wonderful interpretation of Taiwan’s culture.

The Teenage Psychic presents many facets of Taiwanese culture and one of them is siu-kiann(收驚). Photo/Chan Meng-hin (陳明憲)

Hsieh believed The Teenage Psychic acts as a reminder of other Taiwanese producers. He said, “We don’t need to produce specific works to meet one’s flavor. Instead, we should focus on Taiwanese culture, to tell our own stories in the best way we can. As such, other investors will invest capital and resources to your masterpieces eventually.” The Teenage Psychic is supported with capital and resources by a Singapore company, HBO Asia. This also enables the drama series to be broadcasted in 23 countries in Asia, and become a blockbuster.

Other than culture, Hsieh brought up two more reasons for the success of The Teenage Psychic. The first is the coordination of the cast and characters. The cast interpreted the characteristics, thoughts, behaviors so naturally that they pulled in the audience to feel in their shoes. The next one is the selection of venues. The crew has certainly made a thorough analysis on the choice of venues, which adds credits to the drama as certain plots are presented in real-life venues.

It’s common for people to worship their gods which comfort and soothe their souls. Photo/Chan Meng-hin (陳明憲)

Lei Tat-weng(李達榮), a junior in National Taiwan University of Physical Education and Sport, said that once he started watching the drama, he can’t stop and finished watching the entire drama of six episodes in one day. He said that the drama reminded him of his high-school days, the dilemma of having to make decisions and choices, and many familiar aspects of Taiwanese culture. The main character, Hsieh Ya-chen(謝雅真)has a supernatural ability which is a “destiny” for her to serve in the temple. In the drama, there are lots of plots of Hsieh making decisions, to choose between her high school life and her “destiny.” Lei believed that a 16-year-old student should have her own life, to go through her school life before serving as a Xian-gu(仙姑)– a medium between humans and other realms of beings. However, Lei is still satisfied with the tragic ending as regrets will stay longer in his mind and enable him to make a thorough self-reflection.

People are queuing for siu-kiann(收驚)which is a traditional therapy in Taiwan. Photo/Chan Meng-hin (陳明憲)

Hsieh also pointed out two common genres of drama that audiences love the most. The first one is non-fiction, through which the audience will identify themselves with the character and view things from his / her perspective. The other is innovative topics, which have never been discussed before, such as the supernatural and psychic ability. The Teenage Psychic comprises both, consequently making a splash in Asia.

The Taoist priest is offering siu-kiann(收驚) to a lady to comfort her soul. Photo/Chan Meng-hin (陳明憲)

It is impossible to satisfy one’s desire as it is unlimited. Therefore, instead of wasting time in producing works to meet others’ demands, it is necessary to focus on the strengths of Taiwan, its culture as well as nature, and to make films that represent Taiwan.