Love is all you need: A content analysis of romantic scenes in Chinese entertainment television

Jane D. Brown, Xinshu ZHAO, Mena Ning Wang, Quan Liu, Amy Shirong Lu, Lucille Jing Li, Rebecca R. Ortiz, Shengqing Liao, Guoliang Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


A large sample of entertainment television programs that were aired on 28 channels in China in 2004 was analyzed for romantic and sexual content. Romantic scenes, typically portraying men and women already in committed relationships, appeared in 80% of the 196 programs analyzed. The analysis suggested that, according to Chinese television in the early part of the twenty-first century, emotional love was more important than physical sexual interaction in romantic relationships. More than half of the 1112 romantic scenes analyzed depicted love between the partners without any discussion or display of physical sexual behavior. Only 8% of scenes included discussion or depiction of sexual behavior (e.g., touching, kissing, and intercourse) without some sense that the partners were in a loving, committed relationship. Sexual intercourse was implied or depicted in fewer than 2% of the romantic scenes. Findings are discussed in light of the Chinese government's periodic regulation of sexually suggestive media content and attempts to filter Internet content. The extent to which such content may affect young viewers' perceptions of romantic relationships and sexual behavior is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-247
Number of pages19
JournalAsian Journal of Communication
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Communication
  • Education

User-Defined Keywords

  • China
  • content analysis
  • romantic and sexual behavior
  • television


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