'The Big Bang Theory,' 'The Good Wife,' & More Banned as China Increases Online TV Censorship

Following an arguably positive ban on buying and eating endangered animals (adios, pangolin fetus soup), China has now issued another sure to be controversial prohibition: Media watchdog organization the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (SAPPRFT) followed up on warnings made earlier this month about increased censorship of foreign media and have officially banned The Big Bang Theory , The Good Wife , NCIS , and The Practice from the country's popular streaming sites, along with certain episodes of James Spader's NBC drama The Blacklist.

Though the Blacklist episodes were targeted specifically for criticizing the Chinese government, it remains unclear why the other four shows got SAPPRFT's boot — especially when more controversial-seeming fare like The Walking Dead, Masters of Sex, and especially House of Cards managed to eke through, even though, for example, the words "Mao's China is dead" are uttered verbatim by Frank Underwood. Still, it's possible that some significance may get lost in translation; as The Hollywood Reporter speculates, it may well be that House of Cards' "depiction of sleaze, debauchery, graft and general malfeasance in Washington chimed with an acceptable message on the dangers of democratic institutions." Also, the pros of eating copious amounts of ribs, which I'm sure is a message we can all get behind — especially when there's no more pangolin to be had.

Ultimately, the reason for this seemingly arbitrary crackdown remains a mystery, and a troubling one at that. Are shows about lawyers simply too provocative in and of themselves — an overly positive depiction of a Westernized idea of justice? Or are Alicia Florrick's pantsuits just too stylish? And what about The Big Bang Theory? Sure, it's criminally unfunny, but its morals and messages seem more than innocuous — and more importantly, of course, in the interest of advocating for free speech and press, it stands to reason that citizens should have access to the media they choose, no matter how stilted.

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After SAPPRFT first hinted at the bans in early April, protestors took to the press; here's hoping that these four shows' fandoms can come to their aid and help ensure that procedural dramas and geeky sitcoms are available to anyone who asks.

Image: CBS