Meteor Garden

TV review by
Mark Dolan, Common Sense Media
Meteor Garden TV Poster Image
Chinese soap sends wrong messages about gender, bullying.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 8 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Any female empowerment message that Shancai's initial defiance may have represented is undermined by her willingness to forgive the cruelty and violence of her early encounters with Si.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Shancai begins the story strong but soon falls under the sway of the popular F4 and forfeits any agency she might have had.

Violence

A character assaults someone with a box of take-out food; a character gets kicked in the face. Lots of psychological bullying.

Sex

Kissing; girls fall all over themselves to get noticed by the popular clique F4.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Meteor Garden is a Chinese young adult drama about a girl, Shancai, who starts attending a prestigious university and immediately runs afoul of a popular clique of boys who begin bullying her. Known as F4, the boys are aloof and cruel, and although Shancai stands up to them, the boys wield all the power. The show sends mixed messages and promotes dangerously antiquated gender roles.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bysarahzhengg January 1, 2020

I loved this show ♡

I’m not sure why the current rating of this show is so negative on this website, but I think Meteor Garden is an amazing series. The characters demonstrate what... Continue reading
Adult Written byTenchimuyo1 July 27, 2019

Meteor Garden

Fantastic Love Story
Teen, 17 years old Written bylumos14 February 27, 2020

Beautiful series | Great character development | Don't get the hate at all!

I don't get the hate Common Sense gave this series. It has many valuable lessons to learn and amazing character development for nearly all main characters.... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bysarahpaul August 8, 2019
its really fun to watch and it gets more excited each episode and i think that more people should watch this. I really like this its my favorite series until no... Continue reading

What's the story?

METEOR GARDEN follows smart, hardworking Shancai, who is excited to begin her studies at prestigious Mingde University in Shanghai. On the first day of class, she learns about F4, a clique of senior boys so popular they're constantly surrounded by girls begging for their attention. When F4's adoring masses push Shancai out of the way, causing her to drop her phone, it's stepped on by F4's leader, the aloof, hot-tempered Si. Unimpressed with their status and not willing to let this incident go unchallenged, Shancai confronts F4 asking for an apology and a new phone. Her defiance impresses F4 so much that they let her into their world, as friendship and a romance with Si develops.

Is it any good?

The current incarnation of this show is based on a Japanese manga that was adapted into a Taiwanese television series in 2009, so it's unclear where its problems originated, but problems it certainly has. Meteor Garden violates the fundamental dramatic principle of "show, don't tell." We're introduced to characters with voice-over narration that lists their personality traits instead of seeing those traits dramatically shown through behaviors or situations. It's all done with such precision (one character explains that the members of F4 are all 165 centimeters tall) that it would be funny if it didn't seem so amateurish. What's more infuriating is how the members of F4, arrogant bullies who answer to no one because the school values their unparalleled card game skills, are given so much power over Shancai. Dressed and photographed like fashion models, F4 and especially Si treat Shancai terribly. But because her willingness to stand up to them is deemed impressive, they welcome her into their midst -- and she goes.

What's the message here? The audience is also expected to forgive Si's bullying behavior when it's revealed that his father died when he was young and his workaholic mother neglected him. It's disturbing to see Shancai fall for this manipulative, volatile, but handsome, creep. Overall, Meteor Garden offers up some very regressive gender representations and dangerous messages about male/female power dynamics.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way bullies are depicted in Meteor Garden and in media. Does what we learn about the childhood of some of the F4 boys make their cruel actions excusable? 

  • What are some of the cultural differences between this Chinese show about teens and American shows about teens?

TV details

For kids who love school stories

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