What Happened: Mango TV’s seven-episode series Go for Happiness (快乐再出发) has topped the charts as China’s highest-rated reality show of all time. Since its release in July, the program has scored an impressive 9.6 stars on Douban, a Chinese version of IMDb. The show features six once-famous singers as they’re given tasks like puzzle-solving and escaping a rural island under a tight budget, all while learning to work together. To date, the accompanying Weibo hashtag for the show has garnered over 1.5 billion views, clearly becoming a massive hit with audiences.
The Jing Take: Go for Happiness’ six experienced stars — Chen Chusheng, Allen Su, Wang Yuexin, Zhang Yuan, Wang Zhengliang, and Lu Hu — reached peak popularity in 2007 after making the final 13 of Hunan Satellite Television’s singing contest Super Boy. Though meeting some initial success as the “0713 Super Boys,” most members have since faded back into anonymity. That is, until their guest appearance on the reality show Welcome to the Mushroom House (欢迎来到蘑菇屋) in April went viral for their on-screen chemistry and self-deprecating humor.
Though other successful reality TV shows featuring the comebacks of once-famous stars like Sisters Who Make Waves attract audiences through nostalgia marketing, Go for Happiness’ six contestants are, well, just not famous enough from their initial singing careers for this to be the case. Rather, netizens are drawn to their authenticity — in this case, a down-to-earth charisma matched with a can-do attitude (plus, of course, the jokes and camaraderie that come from a decade-long friendship).
For fans of the show, this formula provides reality TV that actually comes across as relatable. Aligned with Beijing’s recent crackdown on celebrities, fan culture, and “excessively entertaining” content, the no-frills approach of the program is refreshing — including its lack of sponsored placement, limited time, and distinct lack of budget resources for the competitors. The latter in particular has resulted in some memorable TV, like the time when the contestants ended up as extras in the web drama Be With You.
Coming out of strict pandemic lockdowns, Go for Happiness has clear appeal: comfort, relatability, and self-deprecating humor which makes viewers feel like they’re in on the joke. Perhaps the nostalgia is to be found not in the stars themselves, but through the memory of simpler times that they bring to the screen.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.