‘Grade One – Graduation’: Major Success for Hunan TV’s Reality Show

Reality show Grade One – Graduation (一年级-毕业季) is the is the latest Hunan TV hit show. The show’s latest airing became a trending topic on Chinese social media, atrracting over 15 million views within a night.

Hunan TV’s latest success show is Grade One – Graduation, a variety/reality show that follows Chinese young talents chasing their dreams through a talent show.

Grade One – Graduation (一年级-毕业季), airing since late October of 2016, is part of a larger Grade One series (also known as ‘Freshman’) that was first broadcasted by Hunan TV in 2014. The show is broadcasted every Saturday at 22.00 pm.

The show, a so-called ‘reality documentary’ produced in cooperation with Shanghai Theatre Academy (上海戏剧学院), divides a group of experienced performance students into two groups under different renowned teachers. One of these teachers is the famous Chinese actor Chen Jianbin (陈建斌).

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The two groups compete in performance, from acting to dancing. The show’s final winners will take part in a big media event – an opportunity to show off their skills to the big audience.

Although it is unclear to what extent this ‘reality show’ is scripted, the weekly program follows the tribes and tribulations of top students in the field of drama and dance during their strict training in a highly competitive environment. While the students have to work together for various assignments, they are also competitors, as they are tested and eliminated before their final performance at the end of the show.

But, as Chinese social media shows, taking part in the show itself already is a ticket to fame. On November 12, female participant Shuxin Yu (@虞书欣Esther) became one of the top trending topics on Sina Weibo for her dramatic personality, that has attracted both fans and haters.

Shuxin Yu, one of the show's most popular (and controversial) drama students.
Shuxin Yu, one of the show’s most popular (and controversial) drama students.

In one of the latest shows, Shuxin Yu threw a tantrum when another contestant was chosen first and she came in second, although she felt she was the best performer. With her mood swings, pouting lips, crocodile tears and ways of ‘acting cute’ (卖萌) like a spoilt child, Shuxin Yu was nicknamed ‘Miss Landslide’.

Show participant Shuxin Yu (left) and her main competitor Zhang Haoyue.
Show participant Shuxin Yu (left) and her main competitor Zhang Haoyue.

The ‘Miss Landslide’ hashtag (#泥石流小姐#) received over 10 million views directly after the show aired on November 22.

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The show also received media attention when the contestants were invited for the premiere of Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and met up with the famous director.

Hunan TV (湖南卫视) is one of China’s most popular TV stations that has broadcasted many TV hit drama and variety shows in the past, such as TV drama Good Wife or variety shows such as Happy Camp or Where Are We Going, Dad?

Besides broadcasting on Chinese video platforms, Hunan TV also has an official YouTube account where netizens can watch the show (no subtitles).

– By Manya Koetse
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About the author: Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, Sino-Japanese relations and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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