British Television dramas such as Sherlock, Downton Abby and Fleabag have been receiving increasing popularity in China since 2010. They are reaching significantly larger audiences online through streaming services and fan communities, and in doing so are attracting an increasing amount of attention on various Chinese social media platforms. An interesting phenomenon worth noticing is that Chinese audiences have begun referring to Britain as “腐国 Fu Guo”, meaning gay or rotten country; and British TV dramas as “腐剧 Fu Ju”, meaning gay/rotten dramas, due to the numerous “bromance” scenes in the plots. The word “腐 Fu” is originally from the Japanese word Fujoshi, which means rotten girls. It has been made popular to describe female’s desires of romantic relationships between the male characters in manga and TV. Taking Sherlock as an example, Chinese fans not only gave the two main characters Sherlock (Curly Fu) and Watson (Hua Sheng) nicknames, but also obsessed with writing gay Sherlock Holmes fanfictions online. Curly Fu & Hua Sheng Baidu forum, a platform where fans share and read gay fanfictions of Sherlock and Watsons has attracted nearly one million discussions. Although the slashing about Sherlock and many other TV dramas is practiced by many fans around the globe, this surging popularity of slash discussions is challenging China’s policy towards homosexuality, where LGBTQ culture is still discriminated against and has been banned on the television productions (Ellis-Peterson 2016; Sohu, 2016).
As such, using data collected through over 30 in-depth interviews, this paper seeks to discuss the interpretation of the queerness in British TV dramas by Chinese fans online, and how they use it to challenge heterosexual narratives and dominant ideologies.