During my first stay in China, as a student in 1994, there was a very popular television series titled Foreign Babes in Beijing. It was the story of two American women who come to Beijing to study only to end up becoming evolved with a couple of Chinese men and their family. It was social commentary thinly disguised as light entertainment. The characters were painted with broad strokes: stereotypes were plentiful. One of the women was all that was good about America and the West, the other just the opposite. The “bad girl” (Jiexi) was by far the more interesting character and when I watched the show it was for her storyline. A couple of years after the show ended I met the actress who played Jiexi, Rachel DeWoskin; she had a small role in a film I worked on, Restless.
Rachel has written a book about her time in China, titled Foreign Babes in Beijing: Behind the Scenes of a New China. Book came out last year and I finally got around to reading it a few weeks ago. The book paints an appealing portrait of expatriate life in Beijing during the 1990’s. I found her experiences very similar to my own, even though I didn’t star in a television series. I suspect things are very different these days; the pace of change is one the things I like most about Beijing. For more info on the book check out these links: