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For single people, they’re a platform for seeking potential spouses; for fans, they’re the subject of gossip and dissection; for the cultural elites, they’re a topic for derision; and for the government, they’re a target for surveillance.
Compared with western cultures, China has traditionally had a vastly different value system toward marriages and family.
It was essentially a singles ad broadcast before audience members, who, if interested, could contact the candidate for a date.
Other pointed retorts include “I won’t consider you if your monthly salary is under RMB 200,000” (,333) and “If you come from the countryside, you can forget about it.”Traditionalists have argued that the shows reflect the pervasive materialism, narcissism, and discrimination against the poor among China’s younger generations.
Not that arranged marriages could be thought of as pure love.
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.
There have been some consequences to this shift: As TV became more commercialized, so, too, did love and marriage.