No Beta 02: Divas, Barbies, Wives
Week of 22nd of January
Hi there. Welcome to the second issue of No Beta this month for a breakdown of today’s Weibo hot searches.
Fanquan is talking about…
Divas Hit the Road season 5 finales will air for three days straight
Now this. This is a legendary franchise in Chinese entertainment for various reasons. Premiered in 2014, Divas Hit the Road is a travel reality show that borrowed its concept from the South Korean original “Friends over Flowers”. It was a part of the first and last influx of media content that was legally adapted from famous South Korean reality IPs, alongside classics like 爸爸去哪儿 (Where Are We Going, Dad?) that was also originally Korean. It was a key player in kickstarting a new era of TV shows and bringing about a huge boom in the entertainment industry. These imported IPs enjoyed such success that elevated its host and copyright owner, Hunan TV, from a provincial TV channel to CCTV-rivalling heights.
What gave the series its lasting reputation was how much drama went down during the trips, especially in the second season where the cast notoriously hated each other. With rumours of every new season, people dust off the most watched clips from that specific year to relive the toe-curling passive-aggressive comments, awkward silences, full-blown arguments between screaming and crying divas for a trip down memory lane. A lot of the tension was staged and scripted by the producing team as clickbaits, for sure. But so much of the emotional turmoil the cast went through was real: that show gave Zheng Shuang the “hysterical” image that was about to stay with her for the rest of her acting career (until she became a 208, a supporter of surrogacy and got cancelled, that is).
This new season of Divas was semi-applauded, as many commented that the producing team gave up on “manufacturing tea” for views. The cast had great chemistry and camaraderie. The scenery was beautiful. But here’s the catch: this is entitled the Silk Road Season. The cast visited, and I quote, “key collaborative projects and Chinese overseas enterprises that were part of the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’” to learn about “Chinese wisdom, Chinese solutions and Chinese power (中国智慧、中国方案、中国力量) that transformed the relevant countries along the journey”.
No wonder no one fought anymore, because that’s no longer the point of the show.