If You Are The Fan

The prepositions are capitalised. Even the title annoys me.

Now, I hate to be one of those people who say “I’m as open minded as the next person…”, but I’m as open minded as the next person, and I can’t for the life of me see the appeal of this show. 非诚勿扰? More like 非常无脑, right? Of course, the ‘each to their own’ (with the extension ‘and bogans watch crap’) argument would usually end the discussion here. But If You Are The One has gone beyond having mere fans ‘liking’ the show. More and more, I’m actually seeing perfectly intelligent people who are proud of watching it. Something’s going on here.

Its popularity is staggering. And it's the same freakin' show every time. image taken from sbs.com.au

Its popularity is staggering. And it’s the same freakin’ show every time.
image taken from sbs.com.au

For the uninitiated, If You Are The One is a Chinese dating show with what appears to be a much bigger Western following than I realised. As a sidenote, Australia is at least partly responsible for this perplexity; our very own SBS was the first major network to broadcast it to an English audience. The basic premise of the show is that a guy walks onto a podium and talks about how he doesn’t value intelligence or aspirations in his future partner (this is only a slight exaggeration of the truth) to 20-something women, then the women ask him if he’s got personality, then after a few rounds of talking, if one of the women still like him, they go to Hawaii.

... image taken from If You Are The One season 5 episode 52

image taken from If You Are The One season 5 episode 52

Or something. See, I wasn’t paying attention that one time I watched it, because, as my synopsis suggests, I thought it was stupid. And you should too. It’s a dating show. It exhibits and even promotes everything wrong with gender roles by handpicking conservatives as contestants. Hell, the show logo’s male silhouette wears a suit whilst the female silhouette is naked! And yet the countless terrible things about If You Are The One are ignored by its Western fanbase. “Oh lighten up”, they tell me. Some of them actually rush home to watch the next episode on time. I mean, good for the SBS, at least they’re getting viewers for once, but … what?

Of course, we should note that dating shows tend to attract large audiences. The Farmer Wants a Wife comes to mind. Maybe If You Are The One is simply capturing the A Current Affair demographic (which is my polite way of describing bogans). But, no, this isn’t the case. Most fans I’ve met are university students. And though, of course, that’s no qualifier for intelligence, most university students at least keep up pretenses. Have you met any self-respecting student who’ve rushed home to watch The Farmer Wants a Wife? No, because if anyone found out, they’d be laughed out of the coffee club. And I certainly haven’t heard anyone say ‘lighten up’ when someone mentions the stupidity of that show.

So what’s going on? Why are there people who not only like If You Are The One, but proudly proclaim that they need to get home before it goes on? Well, as always, I’ve developed a theory. And you might not like it, but god damn it, these ‘fans’ make me angry.

Are we any better than Homer watching Bumblebee Man? image taken from holylandofhoops.com

Are we any better than Homer watching Bumblebee Man?
image taken from holylandofhoops.com

Think carefully. What are you thinking when you flick to The Farmer Wants a Wife (but before you change the channel)? You think it’s stupid and not worth your time, and wonder why anyone would watch it. Now, and this is the important bit, imagine if a hypothetical friend from China is watching with you (assuming they aren’t bogan-esque). Imagine what they’re thinking. Maybe I’m stretching a bit here, but I’d imagine something along the lines of ‘lol, this is so stupid, you guys actually watch it?’ They might even enjoy watching it, and tell themselves that laughing at dumb Australians makes them more culturally aware, when it’s incredibly obvious to us that there’s so much more to Australian society than The Farmer Wants a Wife, especially when we know they go out of their way to cast weirdos.

Starting to get the picture?


One thought on “If You Are The Fan

  1. I think part of the appeal of the show is it’s cultural uniqueness, in that the contestants and candidates have different expectations of a relationship/marriage compared to a western culture. That said, it’s a window into part of the culture of the chinese. In a way, it’s primarily entertainment purposes as well, and the contestants are probably more selected for their entertainment factor as opposed to a true reflection of a normal chinese male in China – hence the sometimes weird candidates.


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