Marriage matchmaking has always been an important cultural practice in China.
For generations, marriage was arranged by parents who followed the principle of “matching doors and windows,” which meant that people needed to marry those of similar social and economic standing.
It was during this period that dating shows started to transform, depicting live, on-air matchmaking and dates between single males , a popular Taiwanese show that matched singles through three rounds of speed dating.
These new shows were ways for singles to get to know each other in a fun, flirty environment.
Strategies that dating shows adopted included hiring polished hosts, borrowing set designs and show formats from Western reality shows, and incorporating technology to better interact with audience members and TV viewers at home.And for those who had little dating experience, it was a model for courtship; soon, the viewing public was able to reconceptualize ideas of love, relationships, and marriage.At the same time, traditional courtship and marriage rituals were evaporating.Economic liberalization had loosened restrictions for what could appear on the airwaves, but there was now the added pressure of turning a profit.More than ever before, networks needed to produce entertaining shows that attracted audiences.She responded that she would “rather weep in a BMW” than laugh on a bike.Other pointed retorts include “I won’t consider you if your monthly salary is under RMB 200,000” (,333) and “If you come from the countryside, you can forget about it.” Traditionalists have argued that the shows reflect the pervasive materialism, narcissism, and discrimination against the poor among China’s younger generations.For example, in 1970, only 1.8% of couples lived together before marriage. Meanwhile, divorces in China rose from 170,449 couples in 1978 to 3.5 million in 2013, while marriages with foreigners increased from fewer than 8,500 couples in 1979 to more than 49,000 couples in 2010.There have been some consequences to this shift: As TV became more commercialized, so, too, did love and marriage.Not that arranged marriages could be thought of as pure love.But, to some viewers, if there were an ideal of pure love, this certainly wasn’t it.