Value dating practices
Its emphasis on finding partners for men was a testament to China’s unbalanced sex ratio, caused by a combination of China’s one-child policy and advances in ultrasound technology in the 1980s that allowed pregnant women to abort millions of baby girls. Male candidates introduced themselves and their family background, listed their criteria for a spouse, and answered a few questions from the host.It was essentially a singles ad broadcast before audience members, who, if interested, could contact the candidate for a date.
Economic liberalization had loosened restrictions for what could appear on the airwaves, but there was now the added pressure of turning a profit.There have been some consequences to this shift: As TV became more commercialized, so, too, did love and marriage.By the late 2000s, dating shows needed to continue to evolve in order to compete with other programs.Many sponsors sell products we associate with romance and dating, such as cosmetics, clothing, diet drinks, and dating website memberships.Moments from some shows have gone viral, with many emphasizing materialistic values.These new shows were ways for singles to get to know each other in a fun, flirty environment.
And for those who had little dating experience, it was a model for courtship; soon, the viewing public was able to reconceptualize ideas of love, relationships, and marriage.
But, to some viewers, if there were an ideal of pure love, this certainly wasn’t it.
And it was a far cry from a dating show that purported to “serve the people.”Not surprisingly, widespread outcry only augmented the fame of the shows and their contestants, and SARFT—China’s State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television—eventually took action.
Other pointed retorts include “I won’t consider you if your monthly salary is under RMB 200,000” ($33,333) 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.
Marriage was viewed as a contract between two households, and it was for the purpose of procreation, not love.