600 million weekly viewers can’t be wrong…
Jeremy Cassar

22 Jul 2016 - 1:45 PM  UPDATED 22 Jul 2016 - 1:50 PM

As it turns out, father doesn’t always know best.

At least, that’s the perspective of Where Are We Going, Dad? a new Chinese reality show on SBS 2 that forces a number of city-dwelling celebrity dads to take 72-hour skill-building trips to remote areas of the country with nothing but the company of their child.

Here’s why you need to watch it:


It’s helped to change attitudes towards parenting in China

Education experts in China claim that in order to usher in children to the modern world, parenting styles from 20 years ago no longer apply. “I remember my friend telling me that growing up, her mother would tie her to her bed and go to work,” says Zhou Lingling, co-founder of pro-modern parenting media magazine Daxiaoaiwan.

Where Are We Going Dad? shows fathers using more, well, current parenting techniques.


It permitted the Chinese to laugh at the elite

China’s obsession with celebrity puts the Western world’s to shame, yet while our reality TV and online media has removed a layer of the ‘untouchable’ sheen that separates celebrity from layman, their media has kept the famous at multiple arm-lengths.

Allowing the 600 million weekly viewers to catch a glimpse of a celebrity messing up dinner or battling the elements was a liberating experience. The permission to poke fun at the ‘men rule outside, women rule inside’ societal structure was made that much more hilarious by the social status of the contestants.


It was a hotbed of controversy

The most notable incident came in season 3, when a Canadian anchor from Taiwanese TV (Chris Downs) quit the show. While the explanation was ‘health issues’, others have put down the event to the treatment of his daughter.

Turns out the son of another contestant had peeped in on his daughter while she showered — a scene that sparked new debate on the sexual education of children.

The topic ended up the most-trended hashtag at the time, and while viewers wondered why the boy wasn’t better reared, his mother claimed the whole thing was a misunderstanding.


It lead to its own micro-economy

So successful has the show been that the studio/creators have reaped millions not just from advertising revenue, but from wide-scale merchandising. Shirts, jeans, jackets, bags, and accessories became hot-sellers, and fans would travel to featured locations for the chance to slip into one of the beds slept in by the show’s stars.


And a pair of feature films


In 2014 and 2015, two spin-off feature films were released – the aptly titled Where Are We Going, Dad? and Where Are We Going, Dad? 2. The first film set a record for a 2-D Chinese film, taking in more than 40.8 million in its first three days.


The kids are ridiculously cute


To see what all the fuss is about, watch the premiere of Where Are We Going, Dad? on Sunday 24 July at 5:50pm on SBS 2. After they air, episodes will be available on SBS On Demand.