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Television adaptations overseas aren't entirely uncommon, although China definitely raised a few eyebrows in America when it was reported that the country was making its own version of Saturday Night Live. The country's comedy spinoff was set to air its fourth episode last week, but the installment was never released, and now the sketch show has had all of its prior episodes pulled from its streaming home Yonku. The move has many around the world saying "what's up with that?" with the removal coming during a period in the country where politics and mass media are at odds.
While there currently aren't any official reasons for why SNL China was pulled from the airwaves, there are a couple of stories floating around. Variety reports the show's official page on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Facebook, announced the creative team was working to better meet audience expectations, but offered no timetable for when the show would return. Complaints had surfaced not long after its premiere, with some reviewers stating the adaptation had little in common with the American Saturday Night Live. As an example of the differences, each episode of SNL China features two comedians as the show's regular hosts, as opposed to a celebrity lead. Plus, the weekly program doesn't even fit the "Live" mold, as episodes are pre-recorded.
SNL China might be able to fix those aspects to better serve those disappointed in the project thus far, although that's not the only big element critics have complained about. As many in the States know, Saturday Night Live hinges a lot of its comedy on political parody and social commentary, and while some of our government's influential figures may not like how they're portrayed, they don't have much influence over what NBC allows. The Chinese government isn't so understanding, however, so its comedy writers have had to find other avenues that avoid ridiculing the current regime, as well as other certain elements of Chinese culture. As one might expect, that can make the creative pool slightly shallow, which might be why ratings for the program were less than stellar.
The government's stance on parody with politics and culture has led some to speculate those issues were behind SNL China's removal, even though it doesn't appear as though the show crossed any major lines. Another show on the Yonku service, the popular talk show Zhenxiang Ba! Huahua Wanwu, was also removed around the same time, which further promotes the theory that these removals are more for quality control. The radio and TV administration within the Chinese government have guidelines regarding televised creations, and they encourage educational programs that don't corrupt the developing minds of the youth. It's possible Chinese officials found these shows a bit too risqué for Communist values, and chose to yank it from television before it had a chance to sway anyone too heavily.
Saturday Night Live in China may be gone for awhile, or forever, but Americans can stream our own version of the series on Hulu. For a look at what else is coming to television in the near future, visit our summer premiere guide. For more on Saturday Night Live, check out this hilarious video of outtakes from the show's latest season.