Today is the Chinese Spring Festival – specifically, the year of the dragon. As I write, my Chinese girlfriend is sitting in the other room, singing Chinese songs in sync with the performers in an extremely popular “Chinese Gala.” I saw it last year and I don’t really see the appeal. It’s got a sort of ABC family special vibe to it, where everybody is wearing their best outfits, smiling ear-to-ear, and offering wholesome, family-friendly and government-approved entertainment to the masses.
Some of the performances are pretty impressive, though, including dancing, traditional music, and many other acts (It’s still a bit early for 2012′s gala to show up on Youtube, so check out some 2011 acts here.)
The reason why I’m bringing this up is that there is a lot of TV out there that the English-speaking world is pretty much completely unaware of. We’ve written a few pieces on foreign television, but in honor of the Chinese Spring Festival, I thought I’d do something a little bit different and cover some Chinese shows that are honestly interesting enough to make it on American television.
3. You’re the Best
The Premise: This show is basically a televised job interview. A person looking for work comes out in front of 10 or so headhunters from huge, growing companies that are looking to hire. At the prodding of the host, the guest explains his credentials and why he’d make a good employee.
In some cases, the guest has to fight for a chance to get hired, struggling to convince his would-be bosses that he’s good for the jobs. In other cases, the guest’s credentials are so stellar that the headhunters will argue with each other for the chance to hire, throwing out increasingly higher wages better benefits to lure the worker into their company.
If it Were American: To be honest, it’s really surprising that we don’t have a popular show like this over here in the States. With such high unemployment rates and the still-crumby economy, I think people would love to watch a game show where the prize is a solid job, rather than prize money. Everyone dreams of winning the lottery or the top prize in Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, but there are still droves of people who dream of landing a great job.
2. You’re the One
The Premise: Recently, dating shows have hooked up with reality TV and made a life-long commitment to be loving and faithful to each other. That’s kind of a shame, really, because now you can’t find a dating show that doesn’t involve a camera crew following couples around on dates. Whatever happened to shows like the Dating Game?
Well, Chinese television is still willing to experiment with a purer form of dating show. In this series, 24 lovely ladies stand behind podiums and await their suitors. A guy comes up and talks about himself. As the ladies learn more and more about him, they gradually hit the button and turn off the light, showing that they’re uninterested. After the guy spends his allotted time on stage, he gets to pick one of the remaining babes to go off on a swanky date.
One of the interesting twists is that the guy picks his favorite girl before even getting on stage. If they end up getting together, the pair gets to go on a full blown vacation together.
If it Were American: This show would have a good chance of standing out because it isn’t completely overrun by reality TV elements. When the alternatives are The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and Millionaire Matchmaker, I think a lot of viewers would love to see a dating show that’s all about the game show and dating aspects, and could care less about what goes on after the couple leaves the stage.
1. My Man Can
The Premise: How many layups can your husband make in 30 seconds? How long can your husband hang from a bar with only 1 hand before he falls? How many hotdogs can your husband eat in 60 seconds?
In case you’ve ever wondered the answer to ludicrous questions like these, perhaps you should check out My Man Can, a game show where wives make wagers on the capabilities of their hubbies. If their husband can pull off the number that the wife wagers, then they get points; if he can’t, then they lose points. The winning couple gets to go on a vacation anywhere on earth! Fabulous!
If it Were American: Technically, this show was originally German (“My Mann Kann”). Who here is surprised that the nation obsessed with the ubermensch would dream up this show concept? Anyways, they sold the show to China, where it has been flourishing. Considering that the show’s various iterations have been successful in both Germany and China, it’s quite likely that the show could take off in the States, as well. Replace the vacation with a $100,000 cash prize, give the obstacle designers a bigger budget, and you’ve got a show American couples would love to watch.