Why The Big Bang Theory Is Back In China

If you’re trying to break into the world of television and your moral code isn’t completely spotless, you might not want to travel to China to start down the path to success. The nation recently saw a huge chunk of foreign entertainment get completely removed from the airwaves, but it looks like things have started the slow process of getting back to normal under the new regulations. The first U.S. show to reappear in front of Chinese viewers? The Big Bang Theory.

China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film & Television cracked down on imported TV last year, and they slapped limitations on how many outsider series are allowed to be shown, as well as the kind of content they’re allowing audiences access to. So it appears that Season 8 of Big Bang Theory has passed the test as far as its censorable material goes, and it will reappear in its offensiveness-free form on tv.Sohu later this year.

It might seem like Big Bang Theory is a strange place to start, but its popularity definitely isn’t just limited to American audiences. Before the crackdown, episodes of the CBS sitcom had racked up around 1.3 billion cumulative views on Sohu, and you can bet people will flock back to it when it returns. This show in particular was decried for having content that hurt China’s honor and interests, not to mention a handful of other egregious claims. Maybe bazinga means something different there. In any case, it doesn’t look like earlier seasons of the show will be available to Chinese audiences, according to Variety, though that may change down the line.

So if Big Bang Theory is the first U.S. show to make it back to China, it’s easy to assume that others will follow, though maybe not everything that was there before. As popular as The Walking Dead is around the world, it’s hard to imagine all the edits that would have to happen in order for each episode to pass muster with the censors. No revolving door mayhem. No offering cookies in a threatening way to young kids, or telling them to look at the flowers. But I’m sure something like Frasier or The Goldbergs would get by without much hassle, and I expect that Bryan Fuller will try at least once to see if Sohu wants to pick up Hannibal Season 4.

Though it’ll be the first U.S. show returning to Sohu, Big Bang Theory isn’t the first import series that’ll be shown. That distinction goes to the South Korean series Hyde, Jekyll, Me, a romantic comedy spin on the titular characters that is based on the webtoon Dr. Jekyll is Mr. Hyde from Lee Choong-ho.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.