For generations, marriage was arranged by parents who followed the principle of “matching doors and windows,” which meant that people needed to marry those of similar social and economic standing.Marriage was viewed as a contract between two households, and it was for the purpose of procreation, not love.Economic liberalization had loosened restrictions for what could appear on the airwaves, but there was now the added pressure of turning a profit.More than ever before, networks needed to produce entertaining shows that attracted audiences.Compared with Western cultures, China has traditionally had a vastly different value system towards marriages and family.
These new shows were ways for singles to get to know each other in a fun, flirty environment.
It took decisions about love and marriage from the private home to the very public domain of broadcast TV.
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.
By looking at the development of Chinese television dating shows, we can see how love and marriage changed from a ritualized system mired in the past to the liberated, Western-style version we see today.
Marriage matchmaking has always been an important cultural practice in China.