My favourite Chinese tv shows

Have you ever watched a Chinese tv channel? Chinese television is not exactly famous for its high quality. If you turn the tv on and start zapping, this is probably what you will see: singing contests, dramas (normally historical dramas, with stories set in either some dynasty or the Anti Japanese war) and reality shows where famous people do stupid things. Rinse and repeat ad aeternum.

My reaction when I see any of these is:

  • Singing contests: Really? Does anyone still watch these? Signing contests started being popular like 15 years ago, right?
  • Historical dramas: Where do they get these actors? They are always so bad! They think acting consists of opening their eyes a lot and looking like their stomach is killing them!
  • Reality shows with famous people: Who are these people? Are they supposed to be famous? Why are they running all the time?

Luckily, internet tv has come to the rescue with some shows that not only help me improve my Chinese (slang, in particular), but that also keep me from falling asleep while watching! These are my favourite 3 (and all of them happen to fall into the comedy category):

屌丝男士

The English official name is Diors Man, but I think a better translation would be Losers. There are currently 4 seasons. Each episode lasts about 15 minutes and contains several short sketches that happen during a date with a girl, in a massage parlour, in the hospital… There are many puns and stupid situations. One of my favourite sketches is this one, in which two friends literally fight to pay the bill in a restaurant (starts at 1:08 and has several parts during the episode):

There is also a sketch that happens in the massage parlour and is a very recurrent theme. There is always this chubby guy, with a mischievous look, who wants to have some “special services” delivered by female masseuses, but he always ends up getting something weird!

The creator of this show is that guy with glasses that always appears. His name is Da Peng and last year he even released a movie, Jian Bing Man, which I mentioned in my post about the Chinese movies I watched last year.

 

万万没想到

I’m not sure this one has an official English name. It can be translated as “unexpected”. All the episodes start with the sentence 我叫王大锤 (my name is Wang Dachui, dachui also means hammer) and the protagonist is always the same actor, but the stories are different. Sometimes he is a normal guy in the present time, sometimes he is a student of martial arts and the story is set in the past, sometimes he is part of the story from Journey to the West, other times the story is about how the production crew could not come up with an episode! This show sometimes includes many references to Chinese legends and stories, which are often lost on me, and they usually speak super fast and I miss some bits, but I laugh at the bad jokes that I can understand.

I found an episode with subtitles in English for those of you who don’t understand Chinese! It’s not my favourite episode but you get an idea.

 

暴走大事件

English name: Big news event. This show is different from the other two. It reviews the latest news in a funny way, and also shows stupid clips from the internet and makes fake interviews. One of the most famous fake interviews was with a woman who used a face mask and her face started glowing in the dark; there are also a series of fake interviews with a quality control worker from Foxconn called 张全蛋 who is famous for his English and for his laugh (he appears in the video below at 10:35). They also have a section where they telephone scams pretending to be a dumb customer who is going to fall for their tricks (there are so many scams in China that they have enough material to do this many, many times). The host of the show is unknown, he always wears a big white head that looks like a steamed bun and goes by the name 王尼玛 (Wang Nima; Nima sounds like “your mother”, which is used as an interjection in Chinese).

 

If you have a good level of Chinese you can watch these shows to improve your listening, your bad words, and learn the latest internet-created slang! If these are too advanced for you, try watching cartoons! When I had just arrived to Beijing, my favourite tv show was Sponge Bob (the Chinese dubbing was quite good!). There are also cartoons made in China, like 喜洋洋 and 熊出没, that are more appropriate for beginners.

Do you think watching tv is a good way to reinforce your foreign language learning? What are your favourite tv shows?

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