China’s Hottest TV Show Right Now is Striving to Provide Space for Mainstream Debate

“I Can I BB” is more than a debate competition — it’s a forum to organize discussion around topics that preoccupy its huge audience of Chinese millennials.

If you follow our reporting on iQIYI‘s hit rock show The Big Band over summer, you may remember seeing the name of the program’s co-producer, MeWe Media. Though it’s relatively new to the music space, MeWe has had years of experience making hit internet shows. Among its projects, the entertaining debate competition I Can I BB (奇葩说 Qipa Shuo literally, “weirdos talk”) is undoubtedly the most beloved.

The first season of I Can I BB (BB being internet slang akin to “talking crap”) aired in 2014 as an original iQIYI variety show hosted by Ma Dong, a famous former CCTV host, director of the CCTV Spring Festival Gala in 2011, and son of Ma Ji, a well-known master of xiangsheng (“cross-talk,” a traditional Chinese form stand-up comedy mixed with performance art). Ma Dong also happened to be the Chief Content Officer of iQIYI back then.

Alongside Ma, the show featured mentors no less qualified than the host to coach contestants in “the most eloquent Chinese,” including talk show host and bestselling Taiwanese writer Kevin Tsai; chairman of Alibaba Entertainment Strategic Committee (and another talk show host), Gao Xiaosong; one of the best Chinese dancers (and talk show hosts) famous for her harsh commentary, Jin Xing; former CCTV reporter and host Zhang Quanling; former CCTV producer and founder of popular online professional education platform iGet, Luo Zhenyu; and Li Dan, a popular stand-up comedian and founder of Tencent Video’s Rock&Roast, a stand-up talent show that received hundreds of millions of views.

These veteran public speakers and knowledgeable intellectuals always offer different perspectives on the program, put in beautiful forms of verbal expression. However, I Can I BB would never have reached its high level of success without interesting contestants, and highly relatable topics. Continue to read the full article here.


– This article originally appeared on RADII.