The Politics of Reality Television: Struggling Over the Chinese Nation

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Reality television has in recent formed the staple diet of most entertainment channels on Chinese television. While discussions around reality television in the English-language academia is becoming richer and more varied, there remains to be a dearth of academic research and writing on Chinese reality Programming. This essay responds to this scarcity by examining the politics of Chinese reality television. By performing textual analysis on Fei Cheng Wu Rao (If You Are the One 2011), Zhong Guo Hao Wu Dao (China’s Best Dance, 2014), Baba Qu Na Er 2 (Where are We Going, Dad? 2) – three most popular reality television shows in China – this essay argues that Chinese reality television is a critical and complex cultural site where a vision of Chinese identity is articulated and made visible, as well as a place where the tensions and struggles of China’s understanding of itself and market imperatives are contested and battled over.
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