The Bachelor NZ is back, and with it countless group dates and one-on-ones and helicopter rides. But there’s a much simpler way to find true love on TV. Expat Kiwi Julia Hollingsworth explains what our next Bachelor can learn from China’s most popular dating show.
A cryogenic tank slides down a chamber onto a garishly lit stage. Out strides a bald man in an ornate shirt who’s speaking in extremely fast Mandarin. “Let’s bring out the girls” he says, and out of a tunnel emerge 24 women, holding hands and marching to Jessie J’s “Bang Bang”. The camera pans back to the cryogenic tank, and this time a 25-year-old man in a pinstripe waistcoat and glowing skin steps out, his eyes unusually sparkly for someone who appears to have been frozen for decades.
Is it a dream sequence? No, it’s just China’s most popular dating-cum-game show, Feichang Wurao.
The show, whose title translates to “If not sincere then don’t disturb”, is simple. There are no one-on-ones, no group dates, and no tense Rose Ceremonies. Instead, 24 woman stand at podiums, their hands hovering over buzzers, a small movement away from rejecting or accepting a guy. If 22 out of the 24 girls like the guy after the first round, he wins a fun holiday. If there’s one girl still interested after a series of tense questions and informative videos, he’s got himself a bloody girlfriend.
If only The Bachelor could be that efficient, right?
It’s clear Feichang Wurao has a lot to teach us Kiwis about the art of dating on TV. Using my basic Chinese language skills, this is what I’ve gleaned so far:
Hot tip #1: Feature re-enactments of your early life
Our first contestant is a 25-year-old from Sichuan, China’s home of spicy food, and a solid 22 out of 24 girls want a piece of that hot stuff. One girl bows out early (“sorry, but you look too old fashioned”).
A video re-enactment of his life plays, and it would definitely be in the Tragedy section of Video Ezy if video rental shops still existed. His parents divorced, he never had a birthday cake, and there’s one post-break up scene in which he’s surrounded by bottles. The sadness doesn’t soften the women’s resolve. One girl can’t get past his passion for martial arts, and asks him a bizarre question that never would have made it onto TV3: “Do you think martial arts is domestic violence?”
Eventually, our suited man from Sichuan is rejected by all the girls. “Zaijian” (“goodbye”), he says chirpily.
Hot tip #2: Definitely talk about alcohol a lot
The next guy to slide onto stage in the high-tech chamber is a 30-year-old from Shanghai, decked out in camouflage cargo pants and white basketball shoes. Our host hands him an iPad and asks him to pick his favourite girl. Bachelor number two scrolls through disinterestedly, as if he’s ordering his next takeout dinner. Something about his boy-band-from-the-90s-look is working for him – 24 out of 24 press their buzzers, extremely keen to lock him down.
Bachelor number two is a bartender, and an estimated 95 per cent of his video clip is about alcohol. But the girls are loving it – he’s still sitting on 24/24. He hands out bright purple bottles to the girls – RTDs? – and the girls take occasional sips, looking as self conscious as teenagers at their first house party.
Then the questions start. A blonde girl asks him whether he’s angry when he’s drunk, and whether his girlfriend would be in danger. Everyone acts like this isn’t a super intense question, and our man says he’d be considerate.
Number 12 tells him she also loves alcohol, but wonders if he’s keen to hit the hard stuff every day. “I’m indifferent”, he says.
Woman number 6 is a blonde with a braid. She says she might look like a big drinker (an unusual and inaccurate admission) but never touches a drop of alcohol. “No problem,” says our heart throb.
Hot tip #3: If you ever need help whittling down your options, let your friends get involved
It seems our favourite bartender can do no wrong – until his friends open their mouths. As they natter away in yet another video segment which I can’t understand, the girls drop off at lightning speed. I text my buddy to ask what’s going on. “Their friends always ask them to think twice”, she says. Finally he’s left with one – a girl who hasn’t even been on camera yet.
The couple seem happy enough with the swift series of events that led to their new relationship status. They sit on the love couch and bang soft toys together.
Hot tip #4: Definitely sing, definitely get a dog, definitely don’t talk about your past relationships
Bachelor number three is my favourite. He’s 27, tall, and looks a bit like Ash from Pokemon if he grew up and became a real boy. He’s asked what the optimum amount of time to spend with his girlfriend is, and he responds that he wants to be around her every day. All the girls swoon and press their buzzers.
In the video re-enactment of his life, he talks about how he was introverted and sensitive as a kid. An Eminem backing track plays over a series of shots of him playing sports. He likes baking and has a very cute dog. I’m 90 per cent sure he says: “If my dog could talk, he could attest to my personality.”
My number one crush justifiably scores 24 out of 24.
He launches into song, and it’s very bad – the sort of thing you’d hear from outside a karaoke bar at 3am. “I had some liquor,” he admits shyly, and everyone is very supportive.
Then it gets heavy. “Why didn’t you marry your last girlfriend?” whines a woman in red, who looks like she’s grumpy from waking up from a nap. “I want to get married at 30,” he replies sensibly, but it’s turning the women off. He’s now down to 20.
The video of his friends play. “He’s really funny”, “he’s so sincere”, “his temper’s very good”, “he’s had a lot of girlfriends but he didn’t have real feelings”. I’m still all in, but interest is waning – he’s down to 3, 2, 1 … 0 women.
But wait, number 8 is making a last-ditch bid for his heart. He’s happy, she’s crying. They walk off into the cavernous tunnel holding hands. Ah, true love.
Hot tip #5: Be an Oxford student who’s “a little fat”
The final contestant I watch from a separate episode is a 22-year-old British man who studied at Oxford and speaks very good Chinese. Number 4, who’s wearing a basketball jersey, tells him she likes good-looking guys who are a little bit fat. Our bachelor seems very flattered.
His video is basically just a clip from Downton Abbey. There are shots of him playing croquet, swilling wine, and hanging out in the library at Oxford. He ends his video with an adorable “hehe” that needs no translation.
The girls are all very enamoured with him, and even the friend video (“He works really hard”, “He gives great massages”) doesn’t ruin his chances. He’s forced to take the unusual step of wandering around the women, turning off the glowing light on their podiums if he decides he’s not interested. “I didn’t prepare for this situation so I did it badly,” he admits self deprecatingly.
The final four stand in front of him on the stage. Number 11 says she’s feeling a bit dizzy because she drank some wine earlier. Number 4 says she believes in love at first sight and starts crying. Our bald host is no Mike Puru – he’s busy questioning whether her tears are fake or not.
Our hero walks towards the crying girl as if he’s going to pick her and she begins to sob harder. She’s the clear favourite. But quickly he moves away towards another girl, a former Oxford student. They walk off holding hands, and make a heart shape in front of a car advertisement. They seem very happy.
The new lovers may not have swum with dolphins or created their own signature whisky, but they’ve dealt with the hard questions, like When do you want to get married? and Are you aggressive when you’re drunk?. And they did it within the space of 20 minutes, without having to fly to Fiji or admit they were falling in love only to be rejected on national television.
Jordan Mauger, you’re welcome.
Ready to fall into the manly arms of The Bachelor again this season? Make sure you click here and subscribe to our excellent Bachelor NZ podcast too – with Jane Yee, Alex Casey and Duncan Greive talkin’ Bach every week.
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