The Key to a Hit Chinese Dating Show: Casting People in Their 30s

“The relationships of people in their 30s are more genuine, realistic, and natural”

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12:55 AM HKT, Tue March 1, 2022 1 mins read

The Chinese reality TV dating show Love Actually has captivated Chinese audiences — going viral online and generating discussions about dating in China.

The 10-episode series has received positive feedback on Weibo, where its hashtag has accumulated more than 4.8 billion views.

The dating show features eight unattached people in their 30s living together in an apartment, with the singles going on dates and learning about each other as the show progresses. In the end, they will choose to couple up or stay single.

Many like the show for casting singles in their 30s, an age that for many women has traditionally been associated with the epithet “leftover women” in Chinese society. The term refers to unwed young women in their late 20s or 30s, many of whom have achieved high professional, educational or personal achievements.

The notion of leftover women was popularized recently in the West by the eponymous PBS documentary released in 2020, which shows the dilemma three protagonists face as they struggle with their careers and rejection from a patriarchal society.

Unlike the sentimental feelings and anxiety delivered by the documentary, Love Actually challenges this ageist and sexist social concept by highlighting the mundane lives of single women and their quest for true love in their 30s.

“The relationships of people in their 30s are more genuine, realistic, and natural. There’s no drama, and they look comfortable with each other,” a viewer posted.

“The story in Love Actually is very precious,” another opined, “As a viewer, I was very touched by the show. We are always learning and growing no matter how old we are.”

Moreover, for some viewers, the dating show has triggered fond memories of the iconic sitcom Friends, which was recently involved in a censorship scandal in China.

One netizen wrote, “Love Actually reminded me of Friends. The participants look like friends who have known each other for a long time.”

After the success of reality shows Sisters Who Make Waves and Call Me by Fire, Love Actually is the latest hit show to feature participants all over the age of 30. The popularity of the three series highlights Chinese audiences’ growing interest in seeing more representation of people in this age group. (Perhaps, one might posit, due to the country’s rising average age of marriage.)

Released by Tencent Video on December 28 last year, Love Actually is also available on YouTube and has scored a 7.6 out of 10 on user-review site Douban, with more than 19,000 votes.

Cover image via Weibo

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