'Burning Youth' puts China's Generation Z in the spotlight
New variety show tells 'dare to dream' stories
Published: May 04, 2023 10:44 PM
Photo: Courtesy of Tencent Video

Photo: Courtesy of Tencent Video

Young panda breeders whose daily job is to prepare three meals a day for these cute creatures, conservationists who dive under the waters of the South ­China Sea to tie coral to the seedbed and soldiers who guard the border in Southwest ­China's Xizang Autonomous Region… They are some of the millions of China's Generation Z who are daring to dream and take action.

Burning Youth, a new variety show focusing on these stories, debuted on streaming platform Tencent Video on Thursday, China's Youth Day. 

"They are just ordinary people living among us," show producer Zhang Wei told the Global Times. 

According to its director Wang Ning, each episode focuses on different themes, such as "Dreams," "The path toward dreams" and "Our choices," presenting two to three stories that expand on these themes. 

"Each youth story aims to grab the public's attention. A story 'finder' will 'walk through' the story and introduce it to audiences. With this approach we are striving to find a means of presentation that young people love to see and that can present the depth and breadth of each story," Wang said. 

Stories will focus on people like Yang Cen, the youngest female large-diameter shield machine driver in China, and Deng Manqi, daughter of Chinese taikonaut Deng Qingming and an assistant engineer at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center.

The "Our choices" theme will introduce the stories of Dou Xiaoxuan, a national first-class actor from the Mei Lanfang Peking Opera Troupe at the Beijing Peking Opera Company; Wang Xiuzhen, who built the largest passion fruit sorting and sales center in her county; and the Saihanba forest rangers, who turned a wasteland into a forest in North China's Hebei Province. 

The show aims to be an exploration variety show that observes and records the inspirational stories of young people. Through the unique youth perspective of young people, it extracts the youth stories of "dare to think and to do and doing it well," and presents all walks of life to work hard for the motherland. 

According to Yin Hong, a professor at the School of Journalism and Communication of Tsinghua University and vice chairman of the China Literature and Art Critics Association, a variety show should convey positive energy and mainstream values while combining entertainment and education. 

"The show uses relatively unfamiliar themes to arouse empathy in viewers as they watch ordinary young people use their lives and youth to write valuable stories," he said. 

"That is a very good basis for high quality content, which requires creators to discover truth, goodness and beauty in life and turn to themes that lead people upward, toward goodness and to chase beauty. These three are the most valuable things in life."