For Chinese romance, this was its own “great leap forward.” By the early 1990s, Chinese TV networks found themselves in fierce competition with one another.Economic liberalization had loosened restrictions for what could appear on the airwaves, but there was now the added pressure of turning a profit.There have been some consequences to this shift: as TV became more commercialized, so, too, did love and marriage.
For example, Human Satellite TV’s “Red Rose Date” featured 12 single males and females who interacted with one another by performing, playing games, and having roundtable chats.
Audiences could also tune into shows imported from overseas, such as “Love Game,” a popular Taiwanese show that matched singles through three rounds of speed dating.
Despite all the limitations, the show was a groundbreaking depiction of courtship.
It took decisions about love and marriage from the private home to the very public domain of broadcast TV.
Others partnered with corporations to boost advertising revenues.
Today, it’s not uncommon to see commercial products and brands being hawked on various dating programs or hear hosts casually mention sponsors during an episode.
But over the past 30 years, these customs have been upended.
I’ve studied how traditional Chinese marriage rituals have evolved in response to globalization.
At the same time, traditional courtship and marriage rituals were evaporating.
For example, in 1970, only 1.8 percent of couples lived together before marriage.
Marriage was viewed as a contract between two households, and it was for the purpose of procreation, not love.