However, even in the wake of political change and globalization, many families still held the traditional Chinese belief that women, unlike men, belonged in the home, and that their parents had the final say over whom they could marry.
So when a TV show like “Television Red Bride” (), came from a 1944 speech by Mao Zedong.
But China’s 1978 “Open Door Policy,” which transitioned the country from a rigid, centrally planned economy to a global, market-based economy, exposed the Chinese people to an array of outside cultural influences.
Meanwhile, the country’s 1980 marriage law codified, for the first time, freedom to marry and gender equality.
Strategies dating shows adopted included hiring polished hosts, borrowing set designs and show formats from Western reality shows, and incorporating technology to better interact with audience members and TV viewers at home.
Some shows started collaborating with online dating websites like and to attract participants and viewers.
Despite all the limitations, the show was a groundbreaking depiction of courtship.
It took decisions about love and marriage from the private home to the very public domain of broadcast TV.
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.
Others partnered with corporations to boost advertising revenues.
Today, it’s not uncommon to see commercial products and brands being hawked on various dating programs or hear hosts casually mention sponsors during an episode.
At the same time, traditional courtship and marriage rituals were evaporating.
For example, in 1970, only 1.8 percent of couples lived together before marriage.