China is escalating its war on variety shows, including Saturday Night Live

Society & Culture

The Chinese version of Saturday Night Live (周六夜现场 zhōu liù yè xiànchǎng) and 真相吧!花花万物 (zhēnxiàng ba! huāhuā wànwù — roughly, “Tell me the truth! Spending money on everything”), two variety shows exclusively on the video streaming platform Youku, have recently been taken down for no apparent reason.

真相吧!花花万物, a talk show hosted by Taiwanese celebrities Kevin Tsai 蔡康永 and Dee Hsu 徐熙娣, was found unavailable on July 13. The Beijing News reports (in Chinese) that Chinese SNL disappeared the next day. A Youku spokesperson did not respond to the paper’s request for comment.

Citing an insider, Sina reports (in Chinese) that the two shows were taken off because parts of their material needed “adjustments.”

The comeback of 真相吧!花花万物 might be imminent, as its official Weibo account replied to an internet user concerned about the show’s future by saying, “Don’t worry. We are working on it.”

The prospects for Chinese SNL — which launched on June 23 and aired a total of three episodes — are less certain. “We are striving to improve ourselves to live up to your expectations. Remember to laugh when we meet again!” the show said on Weibo, without specifying a return date.

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In addition, the latest episode of Chinese Restaurant 2 (中餐厅2 zhōngcāntīng), a star-studded reality show produced by Hunan TV, didn’t air on its scheduled date of July 13. The television station later announced that the show was postponed to next week due to “some adjustments in the program’s arrangement and production.”

chinese restaurant

This wave of cancellations, whether temporary or permanent, comes just as State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), China’s top media regulator, is launching a campaign to crack down on TV shows “that do harm to teenagers’ health.” On July 10, the media watchdog issued a notice ordering online video platforms to cut down their production of reality talent shows, especially those that require public participation through paying to vote. But it now seems that the clampdown is affecting a broader scope of television shows.

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