3 BODY PROBLEM Has China Issues

Netflix’s 3 Body Problem adaption is in hot water in China. The sci-fi series features an opening sequence set in 1966 during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The scene sees a physics professor being brutally beaten by the Communist Red Guard at Beijing University for his differing ideologies, while a crowd looks on.

According to a report on CNN, the Chinese have flooded social media with “nationalist anger” about the depictions of Chinese people, with the accusation that it is negative and damaging to the image of the country’s authorities.

The Chinese Communist Party has been criticized online and accused of attempting to remove the Cultural Revolution from the country’s history in popular TV shows and movies.


Perhaps in response, this new adaption has been questioned for relocating the story to London and including a “diverse” cast that deviates from its original Chinese source material. Last year, Chinese streaming and tech giant Tencent adapted 3 Body Problem into a 30-episode series in China which did not include these scenes.

Series creators, David Benioff, Dan Weiss, and Alexander Woo appear to have been leaning into this for a while. Back in 2022, Benioff explained that they were aware of the potential impact:

“We do tend to move in cycles in terms of human history, and we’re going through a certain period of the cycle right now. There are many very significant differences between the current time and the Cultural Revolution. But there are also some similarities. It was never something where we were like, ‘We should do this show because we want to make a commentary on that.’ But it is interesting that the parallels are there and are hard to ignore.”

In this adaption, Ye Wenjie is the daughter of the professor beaten to death during the Maoist struggle session. She is conscripted by the military because of her scientific background and is sent to a secret military base in a remote region. Her fateful decision at the base echoes across space and time to a group of scientists in the present day, forcing them to face humanity’s greatest threat.


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