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Watch China’s comedy hit answer to Will & Grace

Watch China’s comedy hit answer to Will & Grace

China’s LGBTI community is enjoying its first big comedy hit with an online sitcom which is being favorably compared to the US breakout hit show Will & Grace that premiered 17 years ago.

‘Rainbow Family’ follows the adventures of a group of mostly gay friends who share an apartment in downtown Beijing and the first season of the show has already attracted 24 million viewers across all available platforms.

The show’s main character is Xie Kezan, a 24-year-old gay graduate student who’s parents don’t know he is gay yet.

Often having to pose as his girlfriend is Xie’s best friend Song Yi – a lifestyle magazine editor who’s past five boyfriends have all turned out to be gay which has resulted in her catch phrase, ‘Hey gorgeous, do you like women? I’m available to get married anytime!’

Song Yi and Xie share their flat with flamboyant fashionista Austin Erbao Huang who’s writer ex-boyfriend hangs around everyday despite having officially moved out – mostly to mooch free food from the flatmates.

The show’s first season mostly centers around the confusion and competition among the housemates when Xie’s hunky straight childhood best friend visits Beijing and needs to stay in the apartment with them.

Despite the show’s high production values it could not be aired on television in mainland China because the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television still lists homosexuality as an ‘unhealthy topic regarding sex’ that should not be included in broadcasts to protect minors and there is no classification system to provide for more mature content.

Despite that the show has been covered by Chinese state news agency Xinhua Online without making explicit reference to the show’s LGBTI theme.

Rainbow Family is produced by Ling Jueding, who is also the CEO of gay social app Zank, and he freely admits he was inspired by Will & Grace in designing the format of the show.

‘Most Chinese people aren’t hardcore homophobic, they just would rather remain ignorant about homosexuality unless it starts to affect them in some real way,’ Ling Jueding told Fusion.net in an interview earlier this week.

‘I hope this show can provide a real and positive portrayal of the lives of gay and lesbians, just like Will & Grace did for Americans.

Rainbow Family is also having an impact beyond China in the wider Asian region as subtitled versions of many episodes are available in languages including English, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese.

You can watch the first two episodes of Rainbow Family below subtitled in English