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Its emphasis on finding partners for men was a testament to China’s unbalanced sex ratio, caused by a combination of China’s One Child Policy and advances in ultrasound technology in the 1980s that allowed pregnant women to abort millions of baby girls. Male candidates introduced themselves and their family’s background, listed their criteria for a spouse and answered a few questions from the host.

It was essentially a singles ad broadcast before audience members, who, if interested, could contact the candidate for a date.

But if you, like me, hate reality TV and would like to see the gritty, honest (as honest as they can for TV) side of film making and how people behave behind the scenes to wreak drama and tension for ratings, or the shots that viewers think are "real" and not heavily edited or manipulated, then this show is for you.

If you, like Chris Harrison, is offended by Un REAL, you probably got your "competing to find true love and monetary rewards with a stranger that's being filmed" bubble burst.

For single people, they’re a platform for seeking potential spouses; for fans, they’re the subject of gossip and dissection; for the cultural elites, they’re a topic for derision; and for the government, they’re a target for surveillance.

Compared with Western cultures, China has traditionally had a vastly different value system towards marriages and family.

(In China, divorced women are often considered damaged goods.) Some critics called the show a revival of outdated arranged marriages (link in Chinese).

Many say it reflects the “Giant Infant” culture described by psychologist Wu Zhihong in her acclaimed book to be somewhat progressive.

But on Christmas Eve when I texted my aunt “Merry Christmas,” her first response was, “Do you need help finding a boyfriend?