Survival shows are competitions that bring individuals together to participate in challenges that require them to showcase their skills and adaptability for their survival in the said competition. This is later broadcast over television nationwide where the audience chooses their favorite contestant and votes for them, which ensures their survival in the competition; however, these shows are not limited to that. As the name suggests, contestants fight for their survival to gain fame and develop a fan base that guarantees their stay in the competition. These shows primarily work on audience choice; whoever gains their favor and votes secures a stable position. Further, through a series of challenges and eliminations, only the most favored ones are left and chosen as victors. Below are some Chinese survival shows known for their popularity.
1. Idol Producer
Idol Producer is one of the first survival shows in China based on audience votes; it was initially inspired by a South Korean hit show, Produce 101. It took 100 trainees from various entertainment agencies worldwide and gave them a stage to present their talent to the nation. The goal of the survival show was to polish the contestants and select the top 9 audience favorite contestants to form a boy group. The show premiered on January 19, 2018. It was presented by famous Chinese celebrities such as Lay Zhang, Li Ronghao, Jackson Wang, MC Jin, Cheng Xiao and Zhou Jieqiong serving as mentors for the contestants. From this show emerged the boy group Nine Percent, the nine most voted-for trainees, debuted together and were set to promote for 18 months. It had drama, suspense, and much anticipation from the audience. The show proved to be a huge success. It aired 12 episodes, the final being a live stream finalizing the lineup for the group.
2. Youth With You (Season 1)
Youth With You is a rebranded version of Idol Producer, and it gathered much attention from the previous hit show. It presented the previously acknowledged mentors from Idol Producers, such as Lay Zhang, Li Ronghao, and MC Jin. It introduced new mentors, such as Joslin Tsai and Xu Minghao (The8 from SEVENTEEN). Like the previous show, it brought together 100 trainees from different agencies and even individuals who weren't signed under any agency mashed together to compete in a series of demanding challenges designed to test their skills for survival. This show is full of suspense and emotion, encouraging the youth to overcome their boundaries to push towards their full potential. It is also a male survival show that would form another 9-member boy group, UNINE. It premiered on January 21, 2019. It also has 12 episodes, the final one being a live stream.
3. Produce 101 China
It is one of the first female survival shows in China to produce a girl group. It followed the same premise and name as the South Korean hit show. The show was a massive success in China, bringing reality and drama into the limelight and showing the determined girls working hard to achieve their goals. It got 101 girls from all around the world to compete in a series of challenges and face eliminations to debut as an 11-member girl group set to promote for a term of 24 months, after which they all went back to their previous agencies. It premiered on April 21, 2018, and presented famous Chinese celebrities such as Tao, Tiger Hu, Jason Zhang, Ella Chen, Show Luo, and Wang Yibo as producers and instructors. This show has ten episodes, and the final episode reveals the newly formed girl group Rocket Girls 101.
4. Produce Camp (2019)
It is a male survival show that premiered on April 6, 2019 and is focused on the second season of Produce 101 China, but as a male counterpart. The audience was eager to produce a new boy group, and thus, this show had a lot of attention from the get-go. It invoked tension, excitement, and anxiety, making it a hit show. Similarly, It also brought 101 trainees from different agencies to endure, survive, and eventually debut as an 11-member boy group, famously known as R1SE; they were promoted for 24 months before dissolving and returning to their agencies. It was presented by famous Chinese stars such as Dilraba Dilmurat, Tiger Hu, Aaron Kwak, Alec Su, and Stanley Huang. It has ten episodes, the final episode was aired live.
5. Youth With You ( Season 2)
Youth With You Season 2 is a Chinese Girl Group survival show that premiered on 12 March 2020, presenting Cai Xukun, Lisa Manobal (from BLACKPINK), Jony J, and Ella Chen serving as mentors. This show had exceptionally high international ratings, and with a series of new and challenging missions, it was highly entertaining to watch. This show introduced 109 female trainees from different agencies and even individuals who weren’t signed under any agency to compete and debut as a 9-member girl group. This show birthed the famous group THE9, which launched a new generation of Cpop. Unlike other survival shows with fewer episodes, this show has 24 episodes, and the final episode was broadcast live.
6. Chuang 2020
It is a girl group survival show that premiered on May 2, 2020, presenting celebrities such as Huang Zitao, Luhan, Victoria Song, and Mao Buyi serving as mentors. This show served as season 3 for the previously known Produce 101 China. This series was a huge success, and it involved the mentors and audience appropriately in the competition, encouraging fairness and entertaining challenges aiming to create an energetic and capable group. It had 101 female trainees from around the world fighting for the spotlight and a chance to debut as a 7-member girl group, and from there emerged BonBon Girls 303, which was set to promote for two years. This show has ten episodes, and the final one was aired live announcing the final lineup.
7. We Are Young
It is also a male survival show that premiered on June 26, 2020, presented by well-known Chinese celebrities such as Lay Zhang, Tiger Hu, Cheng Xiao, Ryu Han, and Guo Jingming, serving as mentors. It brought 84 male trainees from different agencies worldwide to compete for a 7-member boy group, which debuted as S.K.Y. and was promoted for a term of 2 years. It has ten episodes, with the final one being a live stream revealing the new international standard boy group to the world, aiming to become the era’s icon.
8. All For One
It is a male survival show that brought 100 contestants and divided them into classes. This show introduced a new twist, debuting two groups at once: first, the eight winning contestants that won the competition, New Storm. Second, the eight most popular contestants in the show, Black ACE. In total, 16 contestants debuted, and both the project groups were promoted under different agencies. The show was presented by famous Chinese personnel such as Selina, Tia Ray, Fei Wong, and Jawn Ha, who served as instructors and judges. The show premiered on January 19, 2019, and ended on March 21, 2019.
9. Stage Boom
This show has a different concept from previous survival shows; it brought ten already debuted musical artists as contestants who lacked a chance on stage. Celebrities such as Lexie Liu, Shan Yichuan, Song Yuqi, An Qi, Lu Keran, Vava, Wu Xuanyi, Yamy, Chen Zhaouxuan, and Zhou Jieqiong participated in the match to promote themselves and win the competition to be acknowledged by the nation for their skills and talent. The Boom girls compete in different battles, and in the end, the ‘Boom Icon’ is declared the ultimate winner and top resource in the industry. This show is led by Han Hong and was premiered on August 5, 2021. This show had much attention from the beginning; having already well-known artists, it shed light on their hardships, profession, and struggle to make a name for themselves, making it a successful show.
10. Great Dance Crew
Unlike the previous survival shows, which focused on producing boy and girl groups for the music industry, showcasing challenges involving both singing and dancing, this show’s primary focus was on dance. It brought 59 idols, professional dancers, and trainees together to compete for the final dance crew in a series of creative and challenging battles. It has exciting and artistic performances throughout the show, making it entertaining and pleasurable for the viewers. It was presented by Alec Su, Ten, Feifei, Cheng Xiao, and SANTA(INTO1) as mentors. The show premiered on April 16, 2022, and has ten episodes.