Anglia Ruskin University
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A Market Failure or Successful Social Experiment: Re-Examining the Chinese Adaptation of Dutch Reality TV Utopia

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-08-30, 19:37 authored by Lisa Lin
On June 23, 2015, 15 ordinary Chinese citizens from different classes and professions started a new life together on a remote barren plateau in Tonglu County (China) for one year with the aim of building a new (ideal) society from scratch using two cows, ten chickens and ¥50,000 (US$7,960). A ground-breaking social experiment, We15 is a 24-hour live streaming reality show on Tencent Video from June 2015 to June 2016. Whether to solve the agenda of the communal life via democracy, dictatorship or legislature is a valuable experience for both residents as well as audiences in a one-party state. The 24-hour live streaming of We15 created a sense of authenticity and companionship among online users, who lived concurrently with the residents ‘under the dome’ by switching on live camera feeds on their internet browsers anytime to observe the happenings on an isolated mountain. However valuable the social experiment was, this £23-million-budget series was cancelled after the first season. This article will examine how the Chinese adaptation of Utopia – though deemed as a market failure – serves as a valuable social experiment by aspiring Chinese producers who embrace the creative potential empowered by the commercially-run platform model and integrated internet services in the one-party state.



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University of Texas at Austin

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