The Age Factor in Variety Shows

Chinese companies have been acquiring a lot of remake rights of South Korean variety shows in the recent years.  What I’ve found interesting is how the age factor does play a role in setting the dynamic and interaction amongst the variety show hosts.  In general, age matters a lot in the South Korean culture (this country is, after all, the most “Confucian” country in the world — source from classroom lecture), and inevitably this factor is often translated onto the screen.  Even a year difference between two individuals would incur the expectation that the older has the obligation of taking care of the younger, while the younger should listen and respect the older.  Meanwhile for the Chinese culture these days, assuming the group of people is within the same generation (maybe within 5-7 years difference), then age doesn’t seem to play too much of a role.  Sometimes, this is a positive thing.  However, not so much for other times.

When the age plays a positive role in the dynamic of a variety team:

The original, South Korean version of Running Man.

The original, South Korean version of Running Man.

When Running Man (a South Korean game/competition variety show) first started, it was quite noticeable that some of the team members were still figuring out their role and dynamic in the show.  So inevitably, there were some awkwardness.  However, they were at least able to establish some sort of “hierarchy” based on age.  This result of this was funniness ensured from the oldest “bossing” the youngest around while the youngest attempting to rebel against it in a clumsy way.

Run! Brother! - the Chinese franchise of Running Man.

Run! Brother! – the Chinese franchise of Running Man.  Unlike the original version, the majority of the hosts comes from an acting background.

Now, when the Chinese version of Run! Brother! first started, there was awkwardness as well.  However, unlike its predecessor, it took almost an entire season for the hosts to find their roles and establish a comfortable dynamic within the team.  Since the hosts were not as “mindful” about the age of each other, they more or less treated each other as an equal (with a lot of politeness that got in the way of what supposed to be a fierce competition — if it was in South Korea, then the older ones might not necessarily need to mind their manners too much around the younger ones, so at least not both sides need to be overly polite).  Thank goodness, the awkwardness finally disappeared in Season 2!

When the age plays a negative role in the dynamic of a variety team:

The original, South Korean version of Grandpa Over Flowers

The original, South Korean version of Grandpas Over Flowers.

It is undeniable that Grandpas Over Flowers (a celebrity travel show under a budget) is funny and heart-warming to watch.  However, I can’t help but feel that its Chinese counterpart has executed the show slightly better.  Due to the age factor, it seemed some members of the show (the younger grandpas) weren’t as comfortable about opening up themselves and voicing their true opinions to the rest of the team for fear that they might offend the older grandpas.

The Chinese version of Grandpa Over Flowers.

The Chinese version of Grandpas Over Flowers.

Personally, I find the Chinese version is funnier because all the elderly grandpas were not afraid state their differing opinions right off the bat.  It just feels more comfortable to watch because they would have their childish-like bantering without any reservation.  I would think it’s rather a pity that the grandpas would still have to keep to themselves so much even though they’re already at such a wise-elderly age…keeping too much to oneself is never really that healthy for the mind.



6 thoughts on “The Age Factor in Variety Shows

  1. Thanks for the fabulous comparison! I actually found Youths Over Flowers and Noonas Over Flowers far easier to watch because the casts were so much more open to each other. But it’s certainly great that the grandpas got to visit so many places while they still had the stamina.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw…thanks! =] Yea, I actually enjoyed Youths Over Flowers a lot better as well (haven’t watched Noonas Over Flowers yet). I think it might be due to generational gap — the newer generation might not buy into the Confucian idea as much (at least on screen) as the older generation. As for Noonas Over Flowers….perhaps it’s due to gender (ie. society expects female to be more expressive as the male continue to act macho). lol but now, I’m being too vague and even superficial here. Honestly, I think I’ve chosen the two most convenient original/remake examples just to talk about age & its effect on the dynamic of human relationships in general. XD

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s a very plausible explanation! That reminds me of how Na PD kept making comparisons between the NOF team and the GOF team and asking the grandpas in one episode, “You’re sure you guys didn’t fight???” 😀

        The dynamics between the age and the work hierarchy are also interesting. Na PD knelt down at the entrances of the bedrooms when he spoke to the grandpas but he had no compunction about tricking cast members up to six years older than him on the screen. 😛

        I didn’t watch the Chinese version but was the relationship between the director and the cast revealed in any way?

        Apologies about the late reply. I was so exhausted and groggy-eyed throughout the week that I probably made hordes of enemies through my seemingly sarcasm-laced comments on other sites. >.<

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, in the Chinese version, the grandpas fought a lot (albeit, most are just about petty & childish things). However, when it comes to the relationship between the director/working crew and the cast, it seems the grandpas really show understanding towards the director’s work and try to be as accommodating as possible (of course, the director was respective when talking to the grandpas…she only ever gave hard time to the designated tour guide, Liu Ye). I would say the director of the Chinese version might have a much easier time than NA PD.

        Hey, no need for apologies! But hope you’re feeling okay now! lol it’s hard to imagine how you could make hordes of enemies (even if your comments seem sarcasm-laced). XD

        Liked by 1 person

      • Strange….the reply didn’t show up on my WordPress alert list. I only saw it after I came here to correct the age gap between Na PD and Yoon Sang: * eight years! -_-;;

        Thanks so much for describing the Chinese GOF! If only there are more screencaps of Chinese variety shows around…. *Googling, googling, googling …. *

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh dear, typos again…I meant *respectful”, not “respective” XD
        Hahaha…I think you would have an easier getting the screencaps yourself off YouTube than hunting on google image. XD
        It seems a lot of Chinese variety shows are being uploaded legally by the official Chinese TV channels nowadays for overseas Chinese to watch.

        Liked by 1 person

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