Chinese New Year Gala Targets a Familiar Group: Unmarried Millennials

China’s annual TV extravaganza won plaudits for its tribute to the people of Wuhan, but also provoked pushback with tired gags about young singles.

China’s biggest TV event of the year, the Spring Festival Gala, drew a massive audience of 1.14 billion viewers on Thursday, according to preliminary estimates. But the over four-hour-long show divided opinion once again, with a mix of performances that offered few surprises.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV has been airing the Gala, also known as the chunwan, each Lunar New Year’s Eve since 1983. This year’s edition featured the familiar combination of singing, dancing, opera, martial arts, and comedy skits in front of a live studio audience. In a nod to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, however, each spectator was wearing a face mask decorated with an ox design in red or blue.

The flagship variety show is known for acting as a showcase for the Chinese government’s latest policies, campaigns, and achievements, and the 2021 version was no exception. The broadcast touched on China’s battle against the coronavirus, the poverty-eradication drive, the country’s fast-developing space program, and the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party, among other topics.

Like last year, the segment that received the most praise from viewers was the one dealing with the pandemic. The skit, titled “Balcony,” was set in the central city of Wuhan during the height of China’s epidemic, culminating in the lifting of the city’s 76-day lockdown last April.

Netizens flocked to the Twitter-like Weibo to share how the song performed at the end of the sketch, “Tomorrow Will Be Better,” had moved them to tears. Many said “Balcony” had reminded them of the sacrifices made by frontline medical staff during the pandemic, as well as the solidarity of local communities who helped each other get through the crisis.

The show also provoked pushback, however, for an opening act featuring Chinese dancers dressed as a range of different ethnicities. Another sketch called “Urged to Get Married Every Festival,” meanwhile, drew criticism from viewers for its tired jokes at the expense of young singles. Continue to read the full article here

– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.