Young Chinese are getting married without the traditional wedding rituals and preparations of days past. Picture: Newlyweds hold up their marriage certificates. (File Photo/CFP)
The popularity of a recent Chinese TV drama reflects the reality of the generation born in the 1980s in China, which is entering the institution of marriage with a touch of uncertainty and insecurity.
Naked Marriage Age, a 30-episode TV series which depicts a young couple with a struggling marriage trying to make ends meet, has resonated with the post-1980s generation in China.
The term, naked marriage, means that a couple that has no home, car or wedding ring, and makes their way to the registrar's office for a wedding license rather than holding an accompanying ceremony.
Though older generations do not view the lack of financial stability of newlyweds as unusual, the newer generation feels differently, fearing it may lose everything in the absence of the welfare protection enjoyed by their predecessors.
This generation, which grew up in the thick of China's rapid economic growth, has been the subject of attention and criticism. Mostly made up of thirty-somethings, they have been viewed as anti-social and lacking a sense of responsibility, perhaps related to discussions about "little king" culture under the government's birth-control policy.
Zhou Yong, screenwriter for the drama and professor at Communication University of China, told China News Service (CNS) that the naked marriage phenomenon shows how young people seek stability in times when miracles no longer exist, despite material desires.
Also interviewed by CNS were three women involved in naked marriages, who accentuated the challenges facing young couples today.
Liu Jing said she followed her heart and stayed with her current husband, rejecting her parents' efforts to find a man with better economic prospects.
Liu said she could tolerate life in a rented house for now, even though the couple has already moved three times, as she prefers to put off the difficult question of buying a home.
Meanwhile, Xie Mingming, whose name has been changed in the interest of anonymity, married to gain the right to buy the discounted home that her company offers to couples.
Xie said that although she was touched by her husband's sudden proposal a few months after they were registered to be married, the romantic moment was cut short when her husband quickly turned up the dimmed light and suggested that it was time for dinner.
As for Xu Xiaojia, also speaking anonymously, her unsupportive parents they eventually helped fund the couple's plan to buy a home once her husband, who was often unemployed, found a stable job.
CNS concluded that it is the best of times and the worst of times. While people can dream big and lead a better material life, there is the harsh reality of soaring costs and the challenge of realizing those dreams.
Naked Marriage Age 裸婚時代
Zhou Yong 周湧