1. See Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), Corporate Introduction (TVB [USA]), http://jadeworldtv.com/index.asp?version=1&root=149&categoryid=191[return to page 1 of essay]
2. James Hay, “Invisible Cities/Visible Geographies: Toward a Cultural Geography of Italian Television in the 1990s,” in Television: The Critical View, ed. Horace Newcomb, 5th ed. (New York: Oxford UP, 1994), 605.
3. Ibid., 611.
4. See Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1996).
5. Ibid., 35.
6. Ibid., 33.
7. Ibid., 36.
8. Miriam Bratu Hansen, “The Mass Production of the Senses: Classical Cinema as Vernacular Modernism,” Modernism/Modernity 6.2 (1999): 68.
9. Ibid., 59.
11. Simon During, “Popular Culture on a Global Scale: A Challenge for Cultural Studies?” Critical Inquiry 23 (1997): 810.
12. See Yiu-Ming To and Tuen-yu Lau, “Global Export of Hong Kong Television: Television Broadcasts Limited,” Asian Journal of Communication 5.2 (1995): 112-115 for an account of TVB’s expansion into China, Taiwan, and overseas Chinese communities in Asia and the West. It is also important to note that the development of satellite television has made it possible to extend television markets beyond areas with high concentrations of Chinese viewers.
13. Aihwa Ong and Donald M. Nonini, eds., “Chinese Transnationalism as an Alternative Modernity,” in Ungrounded Empires: The Cultural Politics of Modern Chinese Transnationalism, (New York: Routledge, 1997), 11.
14. Mayfair Mei-Hui Yang, ed., “Introduction,” in Spaces of Their Own: Women’s Public Sphere in Transnational China,(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 27.
15. Eliza Lee, Gender and Change in Hong Kong: Globalization, Postcolonialism, and Chinese Patriarchy (Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong Press, 2003), 7.
16. For more information about family and kinship ties in Chinatown, see Min Zhou, Chinatown: the socioeconomic potential of an urban enclave (Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1992), 208-211.
17. Peter Kwong, The New Chinatown (New York: Hill and Wang, 1996), 5. The uptown Chinese also includes the highly-educated professionals immigrating to the United States post-1965, as a result of skills-based immigration policies (i.e. policies that offer preferential treatment for applicants with certain skills).
18. Gary Okihiro, The Columbia Guide to Asian American History (New York: Columbia UP, 2001), 135. For more on the impact of transnational and global processes on the development of Chinatown, see Michel Laguerre, The Global Ethnopolis: Chinatown, Japantown and Manilatown in American Society (New York: St. Martin’s Press, Inc., 2000); Jan Lin, Reconstructing Chinatown: Ethnic Enclave, Global Change (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998); and David Palumbo-Liu, Asia/America: Historical Crossings of the Racial Frontier (Stanford: Stanford UP, 1999), 255-279.
19. Asia Pacific Migration Research Network, “Migration Issues in the Asia Pacific: Issues Paper from Hong Kong,” United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, http://www.unesco.org/most/apmrnwp7.htm.
20. Ronald Skeldon, “China: From Exceptional Case to Global Participant,” Migration Information Source, http://www.migrationinformation.org/Profiles/display.cfm?ID=219.
21. Asia Pacific Migration Research Network, “Migration Issues in the Asia Pacific: Issues Paper from Hong Kong.”
22. Asian American Federation of New York, “Neighborhood Profile: Manhattan’s Chinatown,” Asian American Federation of New York, www.aafny.org/cic/briefs/Chinatownbrief.pdf.
23. Peter Kwong, “New York Is Not Hong Kong: The Little Hong Kong That Never Was,” in Reluctant Exiles?: Migration from Hong Kong and the New Overseas Chinese, ed. Ronald Skeldon (Hong Kong: Hong Kong UP, 1994), 263.
24. Robert Allen, ed., “Introduction,” in To Be Continued…Soap Operas Around the World (London: Routledge, 1995), 22. [return to page 2 of essay]
25. Ibid., 23.
27. Melodrama is a fairly conventional television genre in Hong Kong. However, I distinguish family melodramas from other forms of melodrama because of the grandness of their scale of production and distribution.
28. I am using Mandarin pinyin to Romanize the Chinese titles of the television serials I write about in this paper because it is the Romanization system that most readers with any knowledge of Chinese is likely to be familiar with, including myself.
29. For example, Files of Justice (yi hao huang ting).
30. For example, Virtues of Harmony II (jie da huan xi).
31. Anthony Fung, “Coping, Cloning and Copying: Hong Kong in the Global Television Format Business,” in Television Across Asia: Television Industries, Programme Formats, and Globalization, eds. Albert Moran and Michael Keane (London: Routledge Curzon, 2004), 74-87.
32. Kwai-Cheung Lo, “Transnationalization of the Local in Hong Kong Cinema of the 1990s,” in At Full Speed: Chinese Cinema in a Borderless World, ed. Esther Yau (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001), 263.
33. This was the case before satellite technology and internet pirating became more popular options for accessing these shows (prior to the late 90s).
34. See Casey Lum, “Chinese Cable Television: Social Activism, Community Service, and Nonprofit Media in New York’s Chinatown,” in The Huddled Masses: Communication and Immigration, eds. Gary Gumpert and Susan J. Drucker (New Jersey: Hampton, 1998), 121-144 for an overview of communications technology in New York City’s Chinatown.
35. See Aihwa Ong, Flexible Citizenship: The Cultural Logics of Transnationality (Durham:
36. Eliza Lee, 8.
37. Ong, 143.
38. See Amy Lee, “Hong Kong Television in Chinatown: Translocal Context(s) and Transnational Social Formations,” in Hong Kong Film, Hollywood and New Global Cinema: No Film is an Island, eds. Gina Marchetti and Tan See-Kam (London and NY: Routledge, 2007), 63-76 [return to page 3 of essay]
40. The narrative of Heart of Greed bears some resemblance to an earlier serial from 1987, The Seasons (jijie). The family in The Seasons own a chain of herbal shops. Their oldest son, like the oldest son in Heart of Greed, was thought to have been adopted as an infant but is later revealed to be the illegitimate child from his father’s illicit love affair. But in both cases, the fathers maintain that they were tricked into bed by the women they slept with.
41. Part II and III were aired 2000 and 2005, respectively.
42. Ong, 6.
43. Simon Malpas, ed., Postmodern Debates (New York: Palgrave, 2001), 8.
44. I have gleaned most of these postmodernist features from Fredric Jameson, “Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism,” New Left Review 146 (1984): 53-92. He describes schizophrenic writing as a breakdown in the signifying chain and pastiche as a “neutral form of mimicry” (65).
45. For an example of transnational television’s relation to banality from another context, see Asu Aksoy and Kevin Robins, “Banal Transnationalism: the Difference that Television Makes,” in The Media of Diaspora, ed. Karim H. Karim (London: Routledge, 2003), 89-104. They argue that transnational television’s emphasis on the banal subverts older forms of diaspora, which depend on a static image of the mythical homeland from the past: “what we regard as significant about transnational television is that, as a consequence of bringing the mundane, everyday reality of Turkey ‘closer’, is it undermining this false polarising logic. The ‘here and now’ reality of Turkish media culture disturbs the imagination of a ‘there and then’ Turkey” (95).
46. Virtues of Harmony II is the modern-day version of Virtues of Harmony I, which is a period piece.
47. Travel-in-dwelling is Clifford’s term. See James Clifford, Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1997).
48. Meaghan Morris, “Transnational Imagination in Action Cinema: Hong Kong and the Making of a Global Popular Culture,” Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 5 (2004): 197. One form of aesthetic contingency is the use of Asian American and Asian Canadian actors and actresses. While they do not play Asian Americans or Asian Canadian on these shows, they represent a certain type of globalized character (i.e. they sometimes speak English for no apparent reason). In this way, Asian Americanness and Asian Canadianness speak to a more generalized concept or disposition rather than any specific ethnic or racial identity. [return to page 5]
49. A similar scene occurs in Heart of Greed, where the patriarch (who is the same actor playing the role of the father in When Rules Turn Loose) tries to calm the tensions in his family by appealing to the logic of a Chinese character.
50. Lynne Joyrich, Re-Viewing Reception: Television, Gender, and Postmodern Culture (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1996), 7.
51. Ibid., 12.
52. See Amy Lee, “Hong Kong Television in Chinatown: Translocal Context(s) and Transnational Social Formations”; Amy Lee, “Hong Kong Television and the Making of New Diasporic Imaginaries,” in TV China, eds. Chris Berry and Ying Zhu (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2008), 183-200.
53. Chua Beng Huat, “Conceptualizing an East Asian popular culture,” Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 5 (2004): 204.
54. Raymond Williams, Television: Technology and Cultural Form, ed. Ederyn Williams (London and NY: Routledge, 1974), 91.