If you like dating shows, you might already have heard of 非诚勿扰, a Chinese dating show that’s grown immensely in popularity over the past year. Looking to learn more?
In 2008, the movie “If you are the one” got popular because of its famous director (Feng Xiaogang) and the fact that it addressed a hot social topic—”3-S” girls and boys (Single, Seventies, Stuck) or “left-behind” girls and boys. Two years later, in January 2010, a TV dating show with the same name as the film appeared on Jiangsu Satellite TV Channel every Saturday and Sunday, at 21:20. Its Chinese name is “非诚勿扰”(Fēi Chéng Wù Rǎo), literally meaning “do not contact me if you’re not serious.”
On the show, 24 single girls are given the chance to meet five or six single guys, one at a time. At the very beginning of the show, the boy chooses the girl that “moves him” (his 心动女生 xīndòng nǚ shēng). Then, during the first two sections of the program, “the first impression” and “the second judgment”, girls indicate their interest (or not) in a guy by keeping a light on their podium on (or turning it off). If a girl turns off her light, it means she’s not interested in dating the guy anymore.
Throughout the program, the single boys introduce their jobs, hobbies, dating experience and dream girls via video and answering questions from the hosts. Girls make their choice to keep their light on or not based on his looks and his answers to the questions. If he says something unpopular, it’s not uncommon to hear the show’s signature “ping” sound go off a dozen times–each time the sound is played indicates a girl has turned her light off and is not longer interested in him.
After the first two sections, if there are still lights on for the boy, he gets the right to make some choices. The boy can choose two of the girls who keep lights for him and the girl that “moves him” and bring them to the stage to learn more about them. After all the interactions, the boy can take the hand of one girls who kept her light on and successfully be done with the match-making. However, the boy can choose to take a chance and ask his 心动女生 xīndòng nǚshēng to date him, even if she has turned her light off. Of course, if she refuses, he must walk away empty-handed
Apart from the beautiful boys and girls on the stage, the host Meng Fei and the two guest host, experts in emotion, Le Jia and Huang Han highlight the whole program. In traditional Chinese culture, match-makers (红娘 hóng niáng) are all females and are also usually middle-aged. But, in “非诚勿扰”, Meng Fei, a male, in his late 30s, applies his news-anchor style to the dating show format. He speaks in a serious way, but his sentences are often sprinkled with a dry wit. The hosts make jokes and also discuss marriage, standards for choosing spouses, and related topics during their interaction with the single boys and girls.
The show has been so popular in large part because of its contestants and hosts are a vivid reflection of Chinese youth (post-80s and post-90s) culture. Accordingly, it’s often brutally blunt and funny. Here are some famously ear-catching remarks from the show:
Female contestant to male contestant: Your clothes seem to be from the thirtieth century, why don’t you just wait till then to fine a wife.
Nǐ de yīfú hǎo xiàng láizì sānshí shìjì, nǐ háshì děngdào sānshíshìjìzàilái zhǎo xífí ba.
Meng Fei: Can’t you say anything on your own, that isn’t a famous expression or quotation already?
Nǐ bù shūo míngrénmíngyán jiù méifǎ shūohuà le mā?
To find a man with potential is much more practical than to lean on a money bag [a rich man], and it will give you a sense of accomplishment.
Qù fāxiàn yígè yǒu qiánlì de nánrén,wǎngwǎng bǐ qù bàngdàkuǎn gèng qièhé shíjì, érqiě nǐ huì gèngyǒu chéngjìugǎn.
Female contestant: I’d rather cry in a BMW than laugh on a bicycle.
Wǒ nìngyuàn zài bǎomǎ chē lǐ kū yě bùzài zìxíngchē shàng xiào.
That last quotation come very early in the show’s run, and attracted a lot of attention. Many Chinese condemned the quote and the materialist attitude behind it. Since then, the show has made an effort to play down materialism and emphasize the importance of emotion in relationships.
How about you. Would you rather cry in a BMW or laugh on a bicycle? Do you think that quote is a good representation of the post-80s and post-90s dating attitudes? Let us know in the comments.
Oh god no! China’s Got Talent is a real thing.