What I Learned from Chinese Reality TV

27 Jul

On one of my frequent extended stints in China, I had a quiet evening to kick up my feet and to peruse the hundreds of channels Chinese television has to offer (for pure market research purposes of course). Admittedly, I have a short attention span already as-is, so you can imagine the flurry of remote clicking that occurred if the myriads of soap operas and variety shows did not catch my eye. Then, “it” hit me… “It” is like a bad automobile accident you see by the roadside – you know you shouldn’t turn your head to see, but out of pure curiosity for the wicked, you simply cannot help yourself. “It” is, at the rawest and most basic form, a great sociological study on everything that is wrong with fame, relationships, and greed… in other words, “it” is great TV.

I’m talking about the hit phenomenon program, “If You Are the One” that is taking water cooler chatter by storm in China. To give context to anyone who has not heard about this program, it’s a match-making reality show where singles meet singles in front of millions of people each show (talk about pressure). And the hook for the whole show? The often questionable money-driven (aka “Gold-Digging” antics) requirements that this now very relevant generation of singles are looking for in their soul mates.

The show has taken notice even of the Chinese government prompting them to immediately shut down production and exhibition of the show due to the often sexual innuendos and references to a very anti-traditional moral basis where money is the main driver for many of the singles. Watching this show, it’s not that difficult to understand why the government would be concerned with the way the program portrays this new up and coming generation of singles.

Girls’ Perspective

On the show, girls are depicted as ‘gold-digging’ animals – only attracted by the number of RMBs that are attached to the suitor’s name. Read More



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