Ask any TV viewer in China what is the hottest reality show last year, and he’ll point you straight to Where Are We Going, Dad? broadcast on Hunan TV. Based on the original South Korean reality show Dad! Where Are We Going? produced by MBC, the TV series has become a massive ratings hit, attracting 75 million viewers per episode.
Since its debut in late 2013, Where Are We Going, Dad? have released two seasons, both featuring five celebrity fathers travelling with their child. In the show, dads are assigned various tasks such as cooking, doing up their daughter’s hair and bathing their children, which are usually a mother’s responsibilities.
The Korean Wave is now prevalent. Another popular TV series Dad is Back, which is adapted from another Korean TV show Superman is Back, airs on Zhejiang Television. Though focusing on a similar theme with that of Where Are We Going, Dad?, Zhejiang TV directly converts the celebrities’ houses into studios instead of shooting outdoors, creating a more natural environment for a direct presentation of parent-child relationships.
Like Korea, the patriarchal tradition has reigned over China for thousands of years. Even nowadays, mothers are expected to take up the responsibilities to manage households, which lays a foundation for dramatic scenes in the above-mentioned two programmes.
Back to 2005, Hunan TV started a “Super Girl” fever, which quickly swept across the whole China and yielded hundreds of millions. From then on, Chinese viewers have suffered from aesthetic fatigue for almost a decade, during which hundreds of talent shows were lining up to appear on the television screen--Happy Boy, My Show, I Am A Singer, The Voice of China, just to name a few.
The situation was broken in 2014, finally, when Where Are We Going, Dad? became a roaring success. Talent shows fraught with cruel competition gave way to natural recordings of parent-child interactions, bringing out the sweetest feelings within the viewers.
“Variety shows have aimed their cameras at celebrities for long, but the recent ones have plunged into revealing the details of their lives,” according to Hangying Yu, director of Running man, another reality show originating from Korea.
Though Korean Wave set foot in China’s TV industry over a decade ago, it only reached the peak by virtue of the introduction of Where Are We Going, Dad?. It is not surprising that the Korean mode wins China’s market, since its means of emotional expressions apparently matches Asians’ mentality.
Dikui Xie, Producer of Where Are We Going, Dad?, says, “we want to show the audience that celebrities are no different than common people when they cast away their aura and play a parent’s role.”