“Love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage.” The opening line of the Married, with Children theme song is the earliest lesson about love that I committed to memory. Neither I nor my parents knew what “carriage” was, but we didn’t understand the show much anyway. The flaboyant, deafening laugh track helped us make sense, telling us how to feel when age (mine) and culture (my dad’s) prevented our understanding. My favorite character was the daughter Kelly, who I thought was Barbie.
I know a little more about love now than I did at five. I mean, I know what a carriage is. And I learn a lot more about how kids in China date through these game shows on Chinese television. Most of them have the same premise, but the one most popular shows 20 girls on stage, all very eligible and with distinctive personas/styles that the producers play up. Each game starts with a single guy who comes out and chooses his favorite girl. Then he introduces himself via answering questions, performing talents and video montages of his life and friends. As they get to know him more, the girls who lose interest turn off their lights until he’s gone through his whole bio.
Next, he narrows those left down to two girls to go into the final round. If the girl he chose earlier as his favorite is not one of those two, she also moves onto the finals. Finally, he asks two more questions, and extends his hand out to the girl he selects. If she accepts, they go off to canoodle. If not, he goes home alone and she returns to her spot on the stage to see the next guy.
Things I learned from this show:
– Guys have to own a car and apartment before they can think about looking for a girlfriend. Marrying without those prerequisites is called “naked marriage”
– Having work or educational experience abroad is a huge benefit, and those people usually prefer each other
– People play the game with the hopes of finding a husband or wife, so they’ll ask super practical questions about housekeeping, cooking, relatives, etc
– There are way more eligible women than men, which is representative of the country. As they say, the weakest men and strongest women become the leftovers
– Since China opened its doors to foreigners in the 90s, there are a ton more immigrants, from Korea, Africa, Europe and beyond. Race relations are still hugely confusing and frustrating
– if a girl weighs more than 100 pounds, people will make quips about her weight, and she’ll take them very graciously