I’ve never really been a viewer of foreign television. So when I found myself watching “If You Are the One” late one night I was surprised by my own intrigue. I have been watching this Chinese dating show on and off for a while when I come across it on TV and I must say it has become a favourite of mine. SBS is the gateway for me to watch If You Are the One, either live on TV or on demand. Watching live has the added bonus of reading through the live tweets of others watching the episode with you somewhere across Australia, commentating the very thoughts you are also having.
If You Are the One (or it’s literal translation of “Not Sincere, Don’t Disturb”) is a Chinese dating game show that began in 2010 and has highly successful on both a local and international scale. Here’s a quick rundown of the the premise of the show
- 24 women stand at podiums while a single man attempts to “win” a girl through a series of videos about themselves.
- The women turn their light off if they are uninterested otherwise they leave it on in hopes he will pick her to take.
- If multiple girls are interested he gets his pick
- The couple win a trip to a tropical location
So tonight I settled in to watch an hour long episode as per usual, but this time, really considering the cultural standpoint on dating and how it differs from my Western ideas of dating. 24 women and one man. You would think this would be a weird concept, but let’s be real, we have all seen The Bachelor, and so this really didn’t surprise me. Apparently we all like options.
Watching an episode of If You Are the One I found that the bluntness of both the women, men and hosts the most jarring. I had never experienced this form of dating that at times was quite objectifying of not only the women but the men as well. Despite watching multiple episodes it still surprises me when the conversations are blunt and kind of mean.
As part of their series of videos, most of the men have their friends comment on them as a last effort to convince the women to choose him. That’s all well and good but as I watched more and more contestants, and their friend’s comments, I couldn’t help but notice that many tend to focus on their negative attributes and shortcomings. One contestant was described as being naïve and gullible while another was said to be always late. It made me wonder if this was cultural and whether these were the kind of comments they wanted to hear. The girls are more often than not referred to by their number which coincides with the podium that they stand at. This aspect makes the show feel more like a trade deal rather than a dating show because of the lack of personal interaction.
Aside from the many facets of this show I find so different from everything I have known growing up in Australia it is clear that the core values of relationships seem to transcend culture. Trust, loyalty, friendship, love are the values driving the contestants and many seem to find it. I am curious to know what the success rate of these relationships are and whether we should all be getting on board with a more straightforward way of dating rather than sugar coating the things we dislike. The whole encounter was also quite focused on logistics as every contestant had a form of discussion about living in different cities and how these issues would be resolved before they decided to go together. While these are all obviously things dating couples discuss, the way that all of these conversations are condensed into a short amount of time to determine compatibility seems incredibly intense but highly logical.
When a male contestant comes out and introduces himself he is then asked to pick his favourite girl. In the first 10 seconds. What criteria is this based on? Has he seen them before? Does he go based on appearance? Consistently the insanely fast pace of the show is what baffles me. Being a very indecisive person myself I can hardly fathom choosing someone I want to be with in an environment like this.
I am looking forward to researching into the show beyond just the surface and understanding why this has become such a popular show and method of finding a partner. Is it purely cultural or is this something that occurs in other cultures too? There are so many questions and I can’t wait to find the answers.