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:
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.
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:
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.
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.