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How TV dating shows helped change love, marriage in China
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Pan Wang does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. Compared with Western cultures, China has traditionally had a vastly different value system towards marriages and family. But over the past 30 years, these customs have been upended. In many ways, dating shows became a powerful way to facilitate these changes. By looking at the development of Chinese television dating shows, we can see how love and marriage changed from a ritualized system mired in the past to the liberated, Western-style version we see today. Marriage matchmaking has always been an important cultural practice in China.
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Chinese dating shows which feature groups of men or women competing, via shows of talent and war of words majorly, for potential lovers such as If You Are the One can be entertaining to watch, but what happens when parents get involved in the action? Well the answer seems to be that you become a new ratings success as New Chinese Dating Time , a TV dating competition that has parents choose potential spouses for their children, has topped the national TV ratings in China for the past three weeks in a row since it debuted on Jiangsu Satellite Television in late March. During the show, a potential candidate takes the stage and answers questions from six groups of parents whose children watch the proceedings on a screen in another detached room. While the children can call their parents by phone to talk about what they think of the current candidate, the choice of whether to arrange for a date is ultimately up to the parents. If a parent isn't satisfied with the current candidate, they can "opt out" of the round with a press of a button, leaving the other parents to continue to fight over him or her.
For a small but increasingly high-profile number of young women in modern-day China, true love is all about the numbers. A potential suitor may have a good sense of humor and reasonable good looks, but what they say really matters is if he owns an apartment and how many square feet it is. A sizable bank account is also a must, and, some say, so is a luxury car. At least, that's the way things look if you watch Chinese television these days. Though China was slow to pick up on the reality-programming trend, a host of dating shows and American Idol copycats have emerged in recent years, capturing millions of viewers but angering critics who say the programs promote negative, non-traditional values among urban Chinese youth.