Arts

Australians begin auditions for 'If You Are The One' dating show

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It is more a cultural phenomenon than a dating show. Now, the TV series 'If You Are The One' has touched down on Australian shores.

Chinese Australian Feng is searching for love. It's a mission that could take her to back to her ancestral homeland.

"In China, there's this saying, 'Sheng nu', which just means if you're 27 and you're successful and have a career but not married then you're left on the shelf, it's too late for you. Your life is over. My mum's is now pushing the point and I'm like, 'Oh my god, I'd better get on this show," she says.

The show Feng speaks of is 'If You Are The One'.

The TV dating series airs weekly in China and in Australia on SBS 2 and attracts around 50 million viewers per episode.

Male contestants are trolleyed out to appear before a panel of female judges - and judged they are. The show is known for its brutal honesty in which men are regularly cut down to size while trying to woo their lady.

Feng is one of hundreds of young Australians auditioning for a chance appearance on 'If You Are The One'. Ten men and 18 women will be selected to travel to Nanjing for the filming of two Australian specials to air in February.

All audition entrants must live in Australia and speak fluent Mandarin. And they must also be prepared to bare all, from break-up stories and dating criteria to income expectations and even their favourite body part.

Such public self-disclosure has not acted as an impediment to the show's growth. But rather - according to its host, Meng Fei - as the secret to its success.

"First of all, it doesn't matter what country, people are generally interested in the topic of the relationship. It is the nature of the human being," he says.

'If You Are The One' also offers a glimpse behind the veil at Chinese society and social attitudes.

The cultural, social and linguistic impact is perhaps best witnessed in Australia, where it has become the most-watched non-English language TV series.

The series was the subject of a special forum in Sydney this month examining its foreign footprint.

Ien Ang, professor of cultural studies at Western Sydney University, was among the panellists.

She told the forum the fact 'If You Are The One' is broadcast with English subtitles and includes the original Mandarin helps it break down cultural barriers.

"This shows you how significant subtitling is to bridge cultural differences and to communicate across cultural differences and linguistic differences by showing ‘If You Are The One’ on prime time television with English subtitles; and with the original Chinese language there as well, SBS delivers pleasure to a very diverse, multicultural, Australian audience."

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