Becoming a Good Chinese Father: Reality TV in China and its Reception

Arjen Nauta, Jeroen de Kloet*, Qiong Xu, Yiu Fai Chow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In 2013, Hunan Television, one of China’s most successful provincial satellite television stations, debuted a reality TV series featuring celebrity fathers and their children. A localized version of a Korean-developed format, Where Are We Going, Dad (baba quna’er) brought dads and kids together to different locations in the countryside, usually very remote and exotic, to complete certain assignments. This inquiry takes Where Are We Going, Dad as its focus; it seeks to understand how and how far notions of fatherhood are being constructed and circulated in contemporary China. It does so by way of audiences. While the show was evidently configuring and promoting their versions of fatherhood, we wanted to find out what viewers thought of the show, and of fatherhood. Located in the juncture of fatherhood and reality show studies, this exploratory inquiry identifies three themes from the conversations of four families in urban China. First, they articulate the difficulty of being a good father in a rapidly changing China and the concomitant longing to a return of traditional Chinese fatherhood. A second recurring theme concerns the ways in which they accept this tension between tradition and modernity. Finally, they demonstrate savviness in their viewing of the show. We build on the three themes to argue that such reality shows do impact on Chinese families’ understanding of fatherhood, but their savvy viewership points to the limit of such media impact.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385–399
Number of pages15
JournalGlobal Media and China
Issue number4
Early online date3 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

User-Defined Keywords

  • audience study
  • China
  • daddy where are you going?
  • fatherhood
  • reality television


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