The reality show of a Russian who joined a Chinese boy band show by accident – and qualified for the final despite fans urging fans to vote for it – has finally ended after almost three months.
Vladislav Ivanov, 27, from Vladivostok, was kicked out of Produce Camp 2021 on Saturday after viewers ignored his calls to leave and supported him until the final.
Ivanov, who is fluent in Mandarin, initially joined the show as a Chinese teacher.
But he said he was invited to register as a nominee after the directors noticed her beauty.
“They asked me if I would like to try a new life,” Ivanov said during the show.
He seemed to regret his decision almost immediately, but couldn’t leave without breaking his contract.
His lack of enthusiasm played out in half-hearted song, rap and dance alongside other more enthusiastic contestants.
Performing under the stage name Lelush, he urged audiences to vote for him, saying he did not want to be among the show’s 11 winners, who are contractually obligated to form a boy group.
“Don’t like me, you won’t get any results,” he said during one episode.
But viewers took his austere persona and kept him in the running for almost three months.
Idol-training shows, a television genre originating in Korea that subjects hundreds of budding young performers to rigorous training camps and public votes, have become massively popular in China.
In it, the contestants were locked in dormitories on a tropical island in China’s Hainan province and had their phones confiscated for most of the season.
Anyone who wanted to break their contract and leave mid-season, which started in mid-February, had to pay a hefty fine.
While critics have questioned the transparency of voting on idol shows, Ivanov seems to have struck a real chord as an anti-hero for Chinese audiences.
Fans, some serious and some ironic, have dubbed him “the most miserable salaried slave”, and celebrated him as an icon of “Sang culture”, a concept popular among Chinese millennials referring to an attitude defeatist towards everyday life.
“Don’t let him stop,” one viewer commented on a video of a dejected Ivanov performing a Russian rap.
“Sisters, vote for him! Leave him 996!” commented another fan, using Chinese slang for the grueling work schedule that plagues many young employees, especially in digital startups.
The unlikely star reached the show’s final episode on Saturday where he failed to earn enough votes to join the boy group.
“I’m finally retiring from work,” a relieved Ivanov said on his Weibo account on Sunday.
(This story was not edited by UK Time News on Social Platforms.)