go for happiness

Forgotten Celebrities Make Comeback in Hit TV Show ‘Go for Happiness’

Chinese youth adore the down-to-earth personalities and self-deprecating sense of humor of the stars of ‘Go for Happiness’

3 0
5:24 PM HKT, Thu July 28, 2022 2 mins read

Mango TV’s seven-episode program Go for Happiness has become China’s highest-rated reality TV show of all time. While only four episodes of the program, which began airing on July 5, have been released, the TV series has scored a whopping 9.5/10 and has been upvoted 56,393 times on the IMDb-like platform Douban.

Unlike TV programs that revolve around young pop idols, Go for Happiness features six ‘seasoned’ male singers: Chen Chusheng, Allen Su, Wang Yuexin, Zhang Yuan, Wang Zhengliang, and Lu Hu.

The musicians reached the peak of their popularity after competing in Hunan Satellite Television’s 2007 singing contest Super Boy (also known as Happy Boy to some). Calling themselves the 0713 Super Boys, the six individuals mentioned above each placed among the show’s top 13 contestants but maintained low profiles after the competition.

Partly inspired by the British talent show Pop Idol, Super Boy is a male-centric spin-off of the Chinese singing contest Super Girl (also referred to as Super Voice Girls). Mango TV recorded and released four seasons of Super Boy, one each in 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2017.

The first season was an absolute success. Albums sold like hot cakes, and fans began using songs from the top candidates as their ringback tones.

That being said, only a handful of stars from the early seasons of the variety TV show, such as Zhang Jie and Wei Chen, have managed to cling to stardom.

go for happiness

One of the highlights of Go for Happiness is when Allen Su and Wang Yuexin wore Peking opera facekinis. Screengrab via YouTube

Now in their 30s and 40s, most of the 0713 Super Boys have gone unnoticed for years. But they regained popularity in 2022, and it all started because of a reality program called Welcome to the Mushroom House.

Back in April, the forgotten stars made guest appearances on the show, a spin-off of Back to Field, a popular reality TV series revolving around countryside life.

Although Chen, Su, Lu, Zhang, and the two Wangs only starred in three of the six episodes, their down-to-earth personalities and self-deprecating sense of humor captured the hearts of Chinese youth. Having known each other for more than a decade, the friends were comfortable enough to openly make fun of one another and tell inside jokes.

go for happiness

Zhang Yuan humorously acknowledged on Mushroom House that some of his songs are not popular enough to be recognized. Screengrab via YouTube

For instance, in one episode, the stars were tasked to do musical charades with song lyrics. However, they failed even to recognize each other’s works. Instead of feeling ashamed or awkward, they laughed it out.

“It feels like a group of best mates at college giving one another shit,” commented an entertainment critic in reaction to the show.

The six musicians even wrote a song about their life experiences while filming Welcome to the Mushroom House, which eventually became the program’s theme song. (Check out the music video for the song below.)

After the gang went viral for their appearance on Mushroom House, netizens began pressuring Mango TV to produce a stand-alone TV show for them — cue Go for Happiness.

With only one sponsor (an instant noodle brand) and limited time and resources, Go for Happiness has neither a big budget nor extensive promotional campaigns. The program primarily relies on the chemistry and can-do attitude of its six stars.

In the first episode, the celebs were tasked with collecting clues, solving a puzzle, and escaping from a rural island. By the time they had hunkered down in a budget hotel, they had run out of money and were in debt to the production team.

To fund themselves over the next few days, they starred as extras in Be With You, a web drama starring Xie Xingyang of idol contest Produce Camp 2021 fame.

go for happiness extra

Acting (and eating) is all in a day’s work for these stars. Screenshot via YouTube

The stars’ sudden popularity has led to a surge of searches for their past performances, and many netizens have voiced amazement over their talent.

“You can question their mental prowess, but not their professional skills,” reads the top-voted comment on Douban, alluding to how the lighthearted bunch always seems up to any task on Go for Happiness.

“[Featuring these guys] is better than investing lots of money to feature pop stars,” opined another viewer.

One reason the TV show is so well-liked is because of audiences’ propensity for nostalgia — a phenomenon that has also fed the success of WeChat’s farm function, Canto-pop show Infinity and Beyond, and Jay Chou’s new album. It seems that the ‘good old days’ can do no wrong.

Click here to watch the first episode of ‘Go for Happiness’ with English subtitles.

Cover image via Weibo

Join the Conversation
Write comment

Use this time to reassess your life choices