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Arranged marriage emerges again|
Data shows there are more than 200 million unmarried men and women in 2015 in China, which led to the creation of hit TV shows to facilitate blind dates.
Launched on last year's Christmas Eve by Shanghai-based Dragon Television, Chinese Dating is different from similar programs created by other TV stations in audience response. Rather than praise, it has received taunt and growl.
The controversial program, hosted by transgender Chinese celebrity Jin Xing, flaunts Chinese marriage characteristics and brings members of the men's family to the "date."
On the stage, family members will meet and talk with the female guests in turn while the men stay backstage.
Though the men are provided opportunities to express their own thoughts, most of the time is devoted to judgmental comments from their family members on the female guests.
Parents also request that the women have the ability to do housework, look after family members and have proper manners. One mother even asked for a daughter-in-law with warm hands since she believes it affects the ability to bear children.
After nearly a century, the shadows of arranged marriages have reappeared in the form of TV shows in China. Audiences, especially the female community, feel indignant. Critics say that what the program advocates is against the modern ideas of family and the freedom of marriage.
However, the program itself is also a reflection of reality. Parents in Beijing and Shanghai have been setting their children on blind dates for years. For a long time, "my parents believe we are not suitable for each other" is one of the major reasons for relationship breakup.
Why are there still so many adults conceding to their parents' involvement in their marriage?
It is the belief that most single women living in big cities have two fundamental requirements for their partners - car and real estate.
Men in their 20s would find it hard to earn enough money to satisfy both. Hence, some parents would provide economic aids and even good job opportunities.
For parents, marriage is a big investment project. Thus, parents think it is fair for them, the investors, to "intervene" in the marriage while their children prefer to live by themselves and stay away from interference from their parents.
More influence than entertainment
Chinese Dating got high ratings by satisfying audiences from the older generations and reflecting the real relationship between Chinese parents and their children. The show also generated lively discussions on social networks.
When asked to comment on the show, a majority of eight unmarried women dislike it. They consider marriage their own business and parents should not intervene. The dating shows or dating activities held in big cities display the parents' anxiety about their children's marriage. The anxiety comes from several different factors.
First, parents are worried if their children can choose the right spouse. They are afraid that their children have little interest in getting married or they may choose the wrong person to marry. Parents always consider that their children lack experience and need their advice.
Besides, there is no boundary between parents and children in a Chinese family. Parents see their children's marriage as their own business and often force them to get married.
In fact, parents are also under pressure. They are looking forward to having grandchildren like their friends do. They also refuse to draw a clear distinction between themselves and their children, whom they think are less independent. Chinese families also attach importance to the sense of belonging. Parents need children to look after them as they age, so they want to hold tight to the interdependence on their children.
Chinese psychologist Wu Zhihong has raised the idea in his book that 99 percent of Chinese adults are giant babies because parents refuse to let children grow up independently. Parents like to "being needed" and their personal value is realized when they devote themselves to raising children.
From the children's perspective, they resent their parents' arranged dates and feel forced by their parents into such things. In most Chinese families, parents behave like "master" and children are "servants." Young men, who are obedient toward their mothers, have no capacity to select the appropriate spouse.
All in all, the controversial dating show has brought more influence than entertainment to the middle-aged audience.