A television producer is hoping his reality show can break stereotypes about wealthy Chinese-Canadians living in Vancouver.
The show Hot Bitch in Charge TV, or HBIC TV for short, will follow the lives of four to five young wealthy Chinese women in Vancouver, according to producer Kevin Li. “They’re living the lifestyle of the rich and famous without being famous,” he explained.
HBIC TV will hold auditions for the show on June 26, and Li hopes to upload the first episode to HBIC TV’s YouTube channel in early July. The show’s call for “ultra rich Asian girls” has already garnered close to 250,000 views on YouTube.
Li says that he isn’t ruling out casting other nationalities for the show, but he’s “mostly looking at Chinese girls, because this is the category where a lot of the wealth comes from.”
Twenty-four-year old Chelsea Jiang is one of the girls in HBIC TV’s promo video. She was initially excited about the prospect of being featured on the show but is now hesitant. Jiang says she wasn’t accurately portrayed in the promo.
“Reality TV isn’t real reality. It’s scripted as well. So I want people to know that it’s a TV personality,” she said. “The house is mine, the car is mine. All the material stuff is real. But the drama is not real.”
HBIC TV’s promo videos have received substantial attention from viewers, but some are critical of the show. Comments vary from racist remarks to warnings that the show will promote greed and unattainable material standards for young girls.
Li is not bothered by the backlash. “You know what, there was nothing in the comments I did not expect,” said Li. “And that’s more of a problem in society today, where people are judged by their class, race and sexual orientation.”
The prejudice comes from ignorance, according to Li. “I feel there is a lack of Chinese representation in mainstream media. Hopefully if I can subtitle these episodes, it’ll give a more accessible program for audiences everywhere,” he said.
Jiang also hopes that audience members can relate to her. She emphasized that her parents worked hard to earn their money in Canada.
“They pay 45 per cent tax, they contribute a lot to the country,” said Jiang, who was born and raised in Ottawa, but moved to Vancouver for university and fell in love with the city. Last month Jiang graduated with honours from UBC with a degree in a math. She plans to stay in Vancouver and start her own fashion company.
These are the details that Li wants people to see in the show.
“Let’s use this reality and let’s see how they really live their life,” he said. “People will be surprised to see that they have a different dimension.”
Li has been in the broadcast industry for 16 years, and has produced several television programs in the past featuring Asian-Canadians. In 2012, Omni aired his documentary about the lives and Vancouver’s early Chinese immigrants and their families.
That same year, Li produced a show for City TV called Azn Lifestyles TV that showcased Asian-North American pop culture.
These programs did not receive as much attention as Li would have liked. He uploaded his 2008 documentary Brotherhoods, Clans and Secret Societies of Vancouver’s Chinatown online and it attracted 2,000 views.
The HBIC TV promo got 40,000 views after one day, according to Li.
He understood the message loud and clear. “I’ve done those shows, nobody wants to watch those shows,” he said. “This is the show that people want to see.”
Although HBIC TV has the flash and glamour to attract viewers, Li is quick to point out that he hasn’t forgotten the history behind it all.
“The Chinese in China have been poor for a long time and China has only started making money the past 20 years. The fact that some people are rich now, isn’t that a success story?”
This story has been corrected since it was posted.