Dating Shows and TV Spinoffs—The Movie that Started It All

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It’s appropriate that Feng Xiaogang’s protagonist in “If You Are the One” (《非诚勿扰》), one of China’s top-grossing hesuipian (贺岁片) movies to date, is something of a peacemaker. Hesuipian, or “New Year films,” are China’s answer to the feel-good comedies that flood theaters whenever families have to spend time together.

The protagonist Qin Fen (秦奋), a middle-aged bachelor, is the inventor of the “conflict resolution terminal,” a decidedly low-tech device that, as Qin tells a gullible “angel investor,” could in one fell swoop end war in the Middle East and save Americans the trouble of all that “election” nonsense.

A handshake later and Qin has made a small fortune. He wastes no time in moving on to getting his neglected love life going. Sitting in a café, Qin begins to compose an online “marriage personal” ad. For a self-made, newly-wealthy entrepreneur, he is disarmingly humble. He declares at the start that he’s not a shuaige (帅哥, handsome man) and describes his ideal woman as someone who is modern on the outside, traditional on the inside, and can fold laundry well.

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This article was published in The World of Chinese magazine in March 2011.