China’s “Saturday Night Live” Abruptly Removed From Streaming Platform Youku

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6:43 AM HKT, Tue July 17, 2018 1 mins read

Less than a month after it launched, China’s version of Saturday Night Live has been removed from its host platform, video streaming giant Youku. Zhenxiang Ba! Huahua Wanwu, a celebrity interview show, has also had all of its previous episodes deleted from the site.

There has been no official explanation for why the series were taken down, though Sina quoted (link in Chinese) an anonymous insider as saying that “parts of the programs’ content were under review”.

As late as Friday night, SNL was still posting teasers for that weekend’s episode on its official Weibo account. But on Saturday night, the pre-recorded show’s microblog account and Youku page went dark. Instead, at lunchtime on Sunday a post appeared on Weibo (link in Chinese) stating the show was “working really hard to be better, to meet your expectations.”


The removals came in the wake of the government’s pledge that “excessive entertainment and advocating wrong inclinations — such as money worship, hedonism, quick success, and instant benefits — will be firmly prohibited to build a healthy and clean entertainment environment of summer vocation,” an announcement we reported on in more detail here:

SNL has broadcast just three episodes since launching with a light and fluffy show featuring the pop star Zhang Jie — a debut that raked in more than 100 million views. The second episode of the series was a little more risqué (well, relatively that is) with host Zhang Yuqi touching lightly on feminist issues and women’s place in Chinese society, but generally it’s tough to pinpoint exactly what might have triggered the censors (as is often the case in these matters).

Zhenxiang Ba! Huahua Wanwu meanwhile makes China’s SNL look like a politically-charged tour de force by comparison, though it may well have been the talkshow’s apparent glorifying of celebrity — “money worship” in the government’s words — that has been its undoing.

Zhenxiang Ba’s somewhat empty Youku page

Less celebs, more socialist core values seems to be the mantra from the powers that be this school holiday. It could be a long hot summer for China’s youth — and the TV platforms looking to keep them entertained.

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