If You Are the One 🥰 – The Chinese Dating Game Show

Learn Chinese with the Popular Chinese Dating Game Show: If You Are the One

Anyone who is familiar with Chinese TV shows will definitely have heard of If You Are the One ( 非诚勿扰 fēichéngwùrǎo).

Potentially the most popular dating game show in China, the show has been running for a staggering 10 years!

If You Are the One – Introduction

If You Are the One – How it Works

If You Are the One – Why it’s Great For Chinese Learners

If You Are the One – Controversy

If You Are the One – Must Know Vocab

If You Are the One – Where to Watch

Check out this hilarious insight into how NOT to chat someone up in Chinese!

If You Are the One – Introduction

Many foreigners will be familiar with the basic concepts of If You Are the One as it is based on the Australian dating show Taken Out or Take Me Out as it’s known in the UK and the US.

If-You-Are-the-One

The Chinese title of If You are the One is 非诚勿扰 (fēichéngwùrǎo) which translates to “serious enquiries only”.

The show first began airing in 2010 and is now in its 11th season.

It was an instant hit, the first season had around 50 million people watching per episode!

Just to put that into perspective that is more than the ENTIRE POPULATION OF SPAIN (46.7 million) watching each episode.

The show was not only a success in China, quickly becoming popular internationally as well.

In 2013 the show began to be broadcast in Australia with English subtitles.

Another reason for If You Are the One’s popularity was a controversy which caught media attention, which I’ll go into more detail about later.

The savage remarks and put downs have also garnered a lot of online interest, you can have a look at this Buzzfeed article for some of the best ones.

If You Are the One – How it Works

First Round

If You Are the One is hosted by Meng Fei (孟非 mèng fēi) who rose to fame from hosting the program. He is also normally joined by either one or two guests who will weigh in and ask candidates questions etc.

If-You-Are-the-One-Host

There is a stage surrounded by an arc of 24 women who are the female contestants on the show.

Each woman is stood behind a numbered podium with a light on it, the light is always on at the start and the women have the power to turn it off.

One at a time, single men are welcomed onto the stage, there are normally 5 single men per episode.

The single man chooses a “heartbeat girl” (心动女生 xīndòng nǚshēng) before talking to any of the girls so this is decided on sight only. The number of the girl is shown to the host and audience, but the women don’t find out the identity of the “heartbeat girl” until later.

The man will give a short introduction of himself, after which the women are asked to choose whether or not they will keep their light on.

Second Round

Next the single man shows two or three prerecorded videos to tell the contestants more about his occupation, interests, opinions from friends etc.

As the videos are shown the women decide whether they are still interested in the man by either leaving their light on or switching it off.

If all the lights go off then the man has to leave alone 😬

If more than two girls remain with their lights on, after all the videos have been played the man then goes around switching off the women’s lights until only his two chosen girls remain.

"If You Are The One"

Final Round

These are the two finalists and are invited up to the stage.

The identity of the “heartbeat girl” is then revealed and she is also invited up to the stage if she isn’t already up there.

If a “burst light” has been activated, then that woman is also welcomed onto the stage as another finalist.

If-You-Are-the-One2

“Burst light” (爆灯 bào dēng), this new feature was introduced to the show in 2012. A woman activates her “burst light” if she is especially interested in the man which then activates a sound cue and the number of the woman is displayed. Only one “burst light” can be played per man, so contestants need to get in quick if they think he’s the one for them.

The man then asks the finalists a question about their background from a selected list of categories such as hobbies, education background past relationships.

He then also has the opportunity to ask one question of his own creation.

If there is a “burst light” then that girl will have the opportunity to explain why she is interested in the man and why he should pick her.

The man then selects which girl he wants to leave with and if the girl had her light switched on they depart together.

However, if the man selects his “heartbeat girl” and she had turned her light off, he now has to try and win her over. She can then accept him and they leave together or reject him and return to her podium.

Sometimes the man will choose none of the women and will instead choose to leave on his own.

2017 Reformat

In 2017 If You Are the One was reformatted and this new version ran until 2020. The new version has the single man split the 24 girls into two groups of 12: one group is “favourites” and one group is “observers”.

The “favourites” participate like normal by turning their lights off or leaving them on and the “observers” have a “thermometer” to display how interested they are.

There are then similar video and question rounds during which girls are selected as finalists and take their place on “the golden podium”.

Personally I think the reformat is unnecessarily complicated and would recommend watching the series in its original format.

2020 Return to Original Format

In January 2020 the show returned to it’s original format in celebration of its 10 year anniversary.

The 2020 version introduces one new feature which is the “recommended girl” (智推女生 zhì tuī nǚshēng). This uses data and AI to determine which of the women is the best match on paper to the single man. The identity of this woman is revealed at the end of the show and if she hasn’t already been selected is invited on stage as another finalist.

You also might notice that part way through this series, due to the Covid 19 outbreak, there is no longer a studio audience and instead some select audience members join by video call.

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If You Are the One – Why it’s Great For Chinese Learners

Firstly, If You Are the One is great for Chinese learners just because of the sheer amount of content. With 11 seasons, some with over 100 episodes this is an almost endless supply of online Chinese learning material.

Another big plus is that unlike a drama you don’t need to watch the episodes in order and can just pick and choose them at random.

This is perfect for people who don’t want to commit to watching a whole series or who just occasionally want to watch some Chinese TV.

The contestants on the show are from all over China, so this is also a really useful program for practising your listening and getting familiar with different accents.

There are even foreigners who appear on the show, so perhaps that will inspire you to get your Chinese up to as high a level as theirs.

A lot of everyday and modern vocab is used in If You Are the One. It’s especially useful for anyone who’s thinking of dating in China.

The show can teach you a lot about modern attitudes to love in China, dating, marriage etc.

If You Are the One – Controversy

One of the things If You Are the One is most famous for is a controversy surrounding a 20 year old female contestant named Ma Nuo.

If You Are The One - Chinese TV Show

An unemployed suitor on the show asked Ma if she would “ride on the back of his bicycle” on a date and she replied

“I would rather cry in a BMW than smile on a bicycle” (宁在宝马车里哭,也不在自行车上笑 níng zài bǎomǎ chē lǐ kū, yě bùzài zìxíngchē shàng xiào).

This sparked a lot of outrage in the media and online, with lots of people accusing Ma of being a gold digger.

It also triggered a lot of discussion around the rise of materialism in China.

However, many people came to Ma’s defence saying that this was just the reality in China and that the economic background of a future partner is important.

In the end this, along with some other similar controversies, lead to the show being regulated by the Chinese authorities.

The show was told it had to put less emphasis on financial wealth and promote more “traditional Chinese values”.

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If You Are the One – Must Know Vocab

Specific to the Show

Vocab which has been created for the show, or has a specific meaning in the show that differs to normal:

  • 心动女生 xīndòng nǚshēng – “Heartbeat girl”
  • 爆灯 bào dēng – “Burst light”
  • 智推女生 – zhì tuī nǚshēng – “Recommended girl”
  • 男嘉宾 nán jiābīn – Male guest – used to refer to the male contestants
  • 女嘉宾 nǚ jiābīn – Female guest – used to refer to the female contestants

Useful for the Show

Some other vocab that is relevant to the show:

  • 选择 xuǎnzé – Choose
  • 灯亮 dēngliàng – Light
  • miè – Turn off
  • 举手 jǔ shǒu – Raise one’s hand
  • 接受 jiēshòu – Accept
  • 放弃 fàngqì – Give up
  • 屏幕 píngmù – Screen

Dating Related

As If You Are the One is a dating show, it should be no surprise that this and things relating to it are a hot topic in the show:

  • 求婚 qiúhūn – Propose (marriage)
  • 浪漫 làngmàn – Romantic
  • 单身 dānshēn – Single
  • 约会 yuēhuì – Date
  • zhuī – Pursue, course or woo someone
  • 谈恋爱 tán liàn’ài – Dating, seeing someone

Personality Related

Along with dating, this show is about the contestants getting to know each other so they’ll often ask and be asked questions about their personality and opinions on things:

  • 主义 zhǔyì – Ideology
  • 态度 tàidù – Attitude
  • 性格 xìnggé – Character, nature
  • 相互 xiānghù – Mutual

Want to learn some more date-related vocabulary? Check out our Cheesy Chinese Chat Up Lines.

If You Are the One – Where to Watch

You can watch all 11 seasons for free on YouTube!

You simply need to search 非诚勿扰 followed by which year of the series you’re interested in watching. For instance the most recent would be 非诚勿扰 2020 and then you will see a whole list of episodes. However, these episodes are only available with Chinese subtitles.

There are also episodes available on YouTube with English subtitles, which are the series that aired in Australia.

These only have English subtitles and no Chinese ones, which can be a little annoying for Chinese learners.

Tell us what you think of If You Are the One in the comments below! 👇

If You Are the One – FAQ’s

How do you say If You Are the One in Chinese?

The Chinese title of If You Are the One is 非诚勿扰 (fēichéngwùrǎo) which actually means “serious enquiries only”.

Where can I watch If You Are the One with English subtitles?

You can watch If You Are the One with English subtitles on YouTube.

How many seasons of If You Are the One are there?

There are currently 11 seasons of If You Are the One.

When did If You Are the One first air?

If You Are the One first began airing in 2010, it has now been on Chinese TV for a total of 10 years.

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6 comments

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  1. Craig
    Reply

    Fun show!

    1. Max Hobbs
      Reply

      We agree!

  2. Valerie
    Reply

    Watched it, hard to understand but I am a beginner

    1. Max Hobbs
      Reply

      It would be hard as a beginner yes. Go with English subtitles and just practice listening and enjoy it rather than formally study it

  3. Besides "If You Are the One", there are other good Chinese variety shows.

    For example: Heart Signal, Dating with the Parents, etc.

    1. Max Hobbs
      Reply

      Thanks for the suggestions Ethan 🙂