Fei Cheng Wu Rao: what’s the appeal?

Fei Cheng Wu Rao Logo

OK, I admit it. This Chinese TV show called 非诚勿扰 (English name: If You Are the One) has ensnared me. It’s just silly dating game television, but I find it interesting for a bunch of reasons. Here is the basic premise of the show, explained by Hello Nanjing:

The basic concept of the show is that 24 girls will stand in a line, each atop a podium with a light hanging over their head. Facing them is one boy, who will at first secretly choose one of the girls to be his date. Then, he reveals some basic information about himself, after which each of the girls will decide whether he is ‘date-worthy’ or not.

If a girl doesn’t like him, she will turn the light above her head off. If all 24 lights go off, the boy loses. If some lights remain on after the boy’s introduction, the boy may choose two or three of the girls for ‘future communication’. He also has the option in this case to choose a girl who turned her light off.

Finally, with three girls left, the boy will ask another round of questions, after which he will make his final choice. If the girl accepts, they may walk towards each other, join hands, and head off into the sunset for a future date and possible romance.

The name of the show, 非诚勿扰 (as well as the English name), is the same as a rather boring movie by Feng Xiaogang (the article quoted above mistakenly included a shot of the cast of that movie). It’s taken from a line used in personal ads, which literally means, “if you’re not sincere, don’t disturb me” but would be translated more along the lines of “serious inquiries only please” in English language personals.

Fei Cheng Wu Rao

OK, so what’s so good about this show? It’s hard to say, but here are my guesses:

  • It’s interesting to see which guys get shot down immediately by the 24 female candidates, and which can make it to the very end. (I evidently still have a lot to learn about the psyche of Chinese women.)

  • The background music, which is always the same and used in every show, is hilariously cheesy, and yet so appropriate.

  • The concept is so simple that it’s easy to follow the show, but there is enough interesting language used that I feel like I still learn useful words and phrases.

  • The host, 孟非, and his “psychological analyst,” 乐嘉 make for an entertaining, bald-headed duo. They don’t feel like typical moron TV show hosts.

Le Jia on Fei Cheng Wu Rao

乐嘉 (Le Jia)

  • 乐嘉 in particular is entertaining. He invented a personality analysis system based on colors which my wife had to use for her job (and I’ve been hearing about for years). At first you think, “who is this smiley, smug little bald man?” but then you really start to like him. And he totally casts a spell over all the female contestants, many of whom thank him specifically, all teary-eyed, when they finally leave the show. This guy is interesting!

  • Although the show is filmed in Nanjing, participants come from all over China, which means you get to hear a wide variety of accents.

  • The show has attracted the attention of the media censors for its reflection of shameless materialism, and even had some kind of pornography scandal.

  • There’s no dancing, cross-talk, acrobatics, or skits, and very little singing.

  • It could be staged, or at least quite fake, but the show has captivated China’s younger generation; in some small way, this is modern China. And it wants to be noticed.

Anyway, if you’ve never heard of the show or never bothered to watch, I recommend you give it a chance.

27 Comments to “Fei Cheng Wu Rao: what’s the appeal?

  1. Micah S says:

    I have been ensnared too (weekend nights), plus watching its milder counterpart on Hunan TV 《我们约会吧》(weekday nights).

    A small disclaimer, though: since the clampdown by government regulators the show has gotten “softer”, so definitely follow John’s link to Tudou, especially the earlier episodes with 马诺、马伊咪、etc, where some of the classic lines that have now entered popular culture came from.

    Also Hello Nanjing is off on some of the rules, but they put a picture of 何炅, the Hunan TV host, on his post so I excuse them :)

  2. Jackson says:

    Man, I actually like 我们约会吧 much better! I am not exactly sure why, but I actually really like 何老师, and really can’t stand 乐嘉 (although, that being said, sometimes I do enjoy watching the show with my girlfriend anyhow, just so I can badmouth him for a little while). You just put it perfectly: I sit there thinking “Who the hell /is/ this smug little bald man??”

    Plus, somehow I feel like 我们约会吧 is more… real? Less hype, anyway. Either way, I totally support all of these points with respect to why it is interesting to watch these shows that, were I back in the states, I would never even look twice at.

    • I actually haven’t seen 我们约会吧 yet. Maybe I’ll check it out… but I doubt it. :) I only ended up watching 非诚勿扰 because my wife was watching it right next to me so many times, and the content sounded interesting.

      乐嘉 was annoying to me at first. It took about 5 episodes before I warmed up to him. He’s the main source of any new vocabulary or phrases I learn from that show.

  3. Dan says:

    Yeah, I also prefer 我们约会吧! But I enjoy watching both shows.

    One thing though: how you could say the movie 非诚勿扰 was boring! That is one of my favourite movies.

    • Ha ha, sorry… Another friend of mine called me on that too.

      I normally like Feng Xiaogang’s movies, and I really like Ge You. I have nothing against Shu Qi. But that movie put me to sleep (literally). Maybe I was tired?

  4. guri says:

    i am out,have i been old ? i really don’t like this TV program! I would rather download some old foreign movies which have Chinese subtitles to watch.

  5. Cathy says:

    I like 我们约好吧 .

  6. Cathy says:

    我们约会吧

  7. Chad says:

    What is the color-based personality test? Is this like the Myers-Briggs test? Is it something most Chinese are familiar with?

  8. dodo says:

    Interesting, even here in the USA, my father got me into the show but I thought they discontinued?

  9. dodo says:

    btw john, the links in your “wp great box” at the top of your individual entry:

    Hey there! If you are new here, you might want to subscribe to the RSS feed for future updates, or get updates by email.

    are still linking to localhost therefore they do not work. just thought to let you know.

  10. dodo says:

    oops i meant “greet box”

  11. qwerrewq says:

    anyone know the title soundtrack they use for show is?

    • ShikiKira says:

      The first two songs are Girlfriend by Avril Lavigne and Gee by Girls Generation/SNSD. The song that’s played if the guys does get one of the girls is by Jay Chou, but I don’t know which one it is.

  12. CrownOfShat says:

    It may have an interesting premise, but watching a couple shows later kinda have me feeling a little different about the program.

    I kinda agree with Sino that it could be staged, or i would like to say, fabricated. I think the contestants could be models because I have never seen one that looks ugly. Also, there’s alot of jokes for a game show like this and the way they delivered it sound scripted.

    • ShikiKira says:

      Actually on later shows there are some girls, who aren’t very pretty or pretty at all. Some of them are even sort of fat even by American standards.

  13. Chopper Man says:

    I find it’s really appealing to be honest, imagine yourself being on the shown, having a great opportunity to meet 24 hot chicks at one go, and they are all looking for a man, or so called Mr Right, to take them away. Would you have such a chance in real life, I dont think so.

    Plus the host and the psychological analyst,乐嘉, are just so so funny. I wanna be on the shown so bad. LOL

  14. Robin says:

    This is a popular show at our house, too. We watch it religiously. Meng Fei is a great host and hubby material (99% of the male contestants fall flat when compared to him), Le Jia is entertaining and scarily accurate, and Huang Han tries to play nice and be the voice of reason.

    • Lisa says:

      I am a Chinese girl, I agree with you, Robin.The host Meng Feng is great! He is wise and attractive. All Chinese people love to watch the show. You got to see different belief and different life styles in the show. It is not only an entertainment show, it includes everything in China now. Compare to Fei cheng wu rao我们约会吧 fall flat.

  15. David Ye says:

    I am a 50 year old not living in China yet I love watching this show. It’s fun!

  16. Soph says:

    Hi just wondering if anyone can help me find the song they play when the guys walk out on stage? It goes along the lines of “can you feel it” and I don’t know the rest Help please Thank you

  17. asd says:

    the can u feel it is “better than yesterday” by MC sniper

  18. cynthia says:

    just want to say the show is ok and that meng fei u r my favorite because i love ur martial art movies. you are so cool and smooth in them. so good luck and tc

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