Let’s talk Chinese dating shows
When you hear Chinese dating shows, are you imagining a totally different dynamic from the shows you see at home? You might need to reconsider your expectations. Popular dating shows in China follow an extremely similar format to the style of shows we see at home and further gain large followings both inside and out of China!
Today we’re going to introduce you to 3 of our favorite Chinese dating shows and some super useful vocabulary to help you get over the first hurdle of understanding the basics.
1. Key Chinese Dating Shows Vocabulary
2. Popular Chinese Dating Show #1: 非诚勿扰 (Fēi Chéng Wù Rǎo)
3. Popular Chinese Dating Show #2: 中国式相亲 (Zhōngguó Shì Xiāngqīn)
4. Popular Chinese Dating Show #3: 新相亲大会 (Xīn Xiāng Qīn Dàhuì)
Key Vocabulary for Dating Reality Shows
dating TV show
Zhōngguó xiāngqīn jiémù yǒu nǎ xiē?
What are some of the popular Chinese dating shows?
Tā shì zhè gè jiémù de zhǔchírén.
She is this show’s host.
Xiàmiàn huānyíng wǒmen de nǚ jiābīn rù chǎng.
And now let’s welcome our female guest.
Zhè wèi nán jiābīn fēicháng yōuxiù.
This male guest is a great guy.
bèi fā hǎorénkǎ
to be friend-zoned; to be rejected
(literally, to label someone a ’nice guy’)
Nán jiābīn bèi fā le hǎorénkǎ.
The male guest got friend-zoned.
Wǒ hěn xǐhuan tā, wǒmen zěnme túpò yǒuyìqū?
I like her, how can I get out of the friend zone?
to turn off the light / (fig.) to get rejected
Nán jiābīn bèi quánbù miè dēng.
The male guest got rejected by everyone.
(= Everyone turned their light off on him.)
to hold hands / (fig.) to start going out
Nán jiābīn hé nǚ jiābīn qiānshǒu chénggōng.
The male & female guests successfully found each other (and started going out) on the show.
Popular Chinese Dating Show #1:
非诚勿扰 | Fēi Chéng Wù Rǎo (If You Are the One)
If You Are the One is probably one of the most popular dating shows in China. First aired in 2010, the show ceased to film any new episodes after 2014, however remains extremely popular to date. Most episodes are available online both on Chinese streaming APPs and on YouTube!
Part of this popularity abroad might come from the similar layout to the British show “Take Me Out”. The host, popular personality Meng Fei (孟非 Mèng Fēi) would bring a single man down to be judged by a panel of 24 singles. The contestant would choose a “心动女生” (xīndòng nǚshēng) – their first choice based on first impressions and reveal this only to Meng Fei. Then, three rounds ensued. The contestant would reveal their personality, their friends and have the opportunity to share banter with the singles. Success at the end was judged by the contestant securing a date before all 24 singles turned off their lights.
A fun side point – many of the contestants in the later series were not Chinese! As long as applicants held a high enough proficiency to hold a conversation, they were allowed to partake! Feeling brave and hoping to brush up your language skills before applying for any up and coming dating shows? Why not book onto one of our totally free trial classes! If you’re not in China to learn, online classes could help you brush up and practise your Chinese pick-up lines.
Popular Chinese Dating Show #2:
中国式相亲 (Zhōngguó Shì Xiāngqīn) | Chinese Dating with the Parents
Translated literally to “Chinese style blind date”, the show first came out in 2016, but only went on to produce 24 episodes over 2 seasons. The show was first aired on Christmas eve, hosted by beloved transgender popular figure Jin Xing (金星 Jīn Xīng). You can check out their official Weibo page here, which is still active.
Unlike ‘If You Are the One’, single contestants must win over the parents through a difficult grilling process. Whilst the single candidates watch the interaction through a screen and can ‘call in’ to express a preference if parents don’t approve… no pairing will happen.
In every episode, 5 candidates with their parents show up. Single contestants are firstly questioned by the parents (who equally must impress them!) The parents compete for 3 spots and if any spaces are left over, the children are called to ask if they’d like their parents to join. All 3 spots must be taken before a date can be won.
Questions towards females can feel outdated or condescending, such as “are you a natural beauty” or “can you do the housework”. When these are the most pressing issues aimed at university graduates, many viewers were vocal in their frustrations, but the show has received largely positive reviews.
Popular Chinese Dating Show #3:
新相亲大会 (Xīn Xiāng Qīn Dàhuì) | New Chinese Dating Event / Dating with the Parents
The most recent – New Chinese Dating Event – is a great combination and successor to the previous shows and first aired in 2018. Don’t mistake it for the other two shows, despite the clear similarities in style.
To date, there have been 72 episodes spanning over 7 seasons. The focus of this show is to match couples who are looking to get married, instead of casual dating. Think of modern-day marriage markets – on Chinese reality TV! The show combines traditional Chinese values such as filial piety with modern-day dating – where the children have much more say.
The participant introduces themselves and through two rounds of introductions tries to impress the parents (and stop them turning their lights off!) The children, in another room, can save a participant and stop their parents turning off their light. Candidates must have at least three families with a light on at the end to choose from – otherwise, no date. Then, their parents in the other room will eliminate one family and of the remaining two… the single candidate decides!
Sound confusing? It’s actually pretty simple. The repetition of the style seen on each episode will help you pick up the structure quickly, whilst the interactions from the audience will help you follow the viewers’ thoughts.
Where to Watch These Shows?
Fortunately, due to the immense popularity of these shows (that isn’t dying down any time soon), it’s pretty easy to get your hands on the episodes!
- Youtube is great for viewing outside of China with English or Chinese subtitles (search for the Chinese name of the dating show you’d like to see, for example here’s If You’re the One)
- 优酷 (Yōukù), or Youku is great if you’re based in China and want to binge-watch entire seasons. (Subscribe to avoid adverts though).
- 爱奇艺 (Ài Qíyì), or iQiyi works both inside and outside of China
Alternatively, if you prefer to follow discussions, check out Weibo or even official accounts on WeChat for articles and interactive discussions about episodes and controversy.
Would you participate in Chinese dating shows?
Chinese reality TV is far from over when it comes to dating shows. It’s likely new shows will continue to pop up and more opportunities will pass in the future for non-native speakers to take part. Apart from being a great way to launch a public platform in China and build a following, it’s also a great way to practise immersing into the language and culture. You can also pick up a lot of new Chinese slang phrases in action!
Let us know in the comments or on our social media what your favourite Chinese dating show is and why! Bonus points if you tell us in Chinese 😉