Chinese Reality TV

How close to reality are Chinese reality shows really? If you’re not a fan of obviously scripted scenes, these might be more appealing to you. Reality TV is all about drama and surprisingly, they don’t sugar coat anything here. Harsh reactions, real issues and rejection. Here are some of the most popular shows and shows with an interesting twist.

  1. If you are the one – 非誠勿擾

Chinese TV

“If you are the one” is by far the most popular Chinese dating show. Each episode consists of one bachelor and 24 women who stand behind lit up booths. Every Chinese show has a twist. What’s this ones twist, you ask?

The women choose if they want to date the man through observing him and his talents through 3 videos. Throughout the show, they can switch the light of their booth off if they aren’t interested in dating him. I can see you putting the pieces together. That’s right – the man could end up alone at the end of the show. This lead to one man saying:

“Can you let down your dignity and self-esteem and accept me?”

Ah, true love.

Shock, horror. This is not The Bachelor where the guy is destined to end up with a girl, this is an in your face (well, in his face) dating show. If the man is lucky, there will still be at least 2 women left by the end which means that he gets to choose! What a wonderful world.

A few great quotes from the women:

“My ideal man has to be good looking. He doesn’t fall into that category.” “You look like a noodle. Sorry.”

Chinese reality TV
Chinese TV

2. Interviews before execution

Chinese TV

While this show isn’t aired anymore, it can still be found online. It was a very popular show which deviated from the Reality TV norm of crazy dating and adventure shows. The show regularly attracted 40 million viewers per episode and touched on a subject that confronted viewers with reality.

The female presenter of the show, Ding Yu, specifically visited those convicted for violent murders hours before their execution. The prisoners varied in age, gender, sexual orientation and motivation and the purpose of the show was to push reality right under the noses of the viewers and show them the consequences of such actions.

3. Chinese dating

Several singles line up to be chosen, the atmosphere is tense and the men and women these singles could have the chance to date are no where to be seen. Instead, they are faced with their parents. Traditional China comes face to face with the 21st century.

A dichotomy between Confucian traditions and modern appearances.

Chinese TV

The show is hosted by a transgender woman and is under fire for seemingly awakening arranged marriages as here, it’s the parents who are on the hunt for the most eligible suitor for their child.

Once the lucky singles are presented, the rapid fire commences. Finances, appearance and housework capabilities seem to be the most important factors for parents. Who knew?

Once the suitor has been chosen, they are presented to the parents child (though not a child anymore) and can begin dating as they are obviously the perfect match for each other. You know what they say, mother knows best.

4. I am a singer – 我是歌手

Chinese reality tv

“I am a singer” is the Chinese adaptation of the Korean TV show. Unlike other singing shows where anyone is free to audition, this show is specifically for veterend, famous singers. The show begins with 7 singers who perform in front of an audience who then vote for their favorite artist. You guessed it, the singer with the least votes at the end of the episode is eliminated.

As one singer is eliminated one week, a new one joins the next week. Each contestant has to try and survive each week. If they’ve survived 7 weeks, they have “won” and graduate from the show.

The show appears to go on for about 3 months as new singers join each week. The name in China has been changed to simply “Singer” as it bared to much of a resemblance to the Korean original.

5. Happy league

Chinese TV

So, this one is a bit mysterious. Search “Happy League China” on the internet and only one type of article will appear.

“Chinese dating show features murder suspect”

To any reality show producer, I can imagine finding this out is pure gold.

The premise of the show remains unclear since it has apparently vanished from the internet but it can be assumed that it is an average (or, as average as it can be in China) dating show where women are presented with a selection of men and choose the most suitable candidate to date.

Now, on one particular episode, the 39 year old Liu Hao won one of the women over with his angelic voice. Unfortunately for this man though, these shows attract quite an audience and one particular viewer recognized him as Wu Gang, a suspect of an old murder case. Liu was very certain of his new identity it seems. A bit too desperate for love, perhaps?

Have you heard of a crazy Chinese TV show that isn’t on this list? Let us know! These shows are a great way of improving your Chinese. Start learning at Hutong School and ask your teacher what their favourite shows are!