It has been a tumultuous week for fans of iQIYI’s “Youth With You 3” (青春有你3), which was set to have their debut finale aired live on May 8. Fans and viewers of the show were devastated to learn Tony Yu Jingtian had withdrawn from the show citing “health reasons”. When Tony’s withdrawal was announced by his company, there was no hot search trending about his departure from the show, making netizens wonder why it was suppressed from trending. Aside from Tony’s untimely departure from the show, “Youth With You 3” was ordered to suspend all current recordings of the show by the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Radio and Television on May 4, which meant the finale night wouldn’t be held as scheduled.
In addition to that, iQIYI has been facing heavy criticism and scrutiny from the public and now the government for the “milk pouring incident”. This refers to a viral video clip circulating of a group of people pouring all the milk from the show’s official beverage sponsor, Zhen Guo Li. In order to accumulate votes for their trainees, fans would buy the milk product in bulk quantities primarily for the QR code to be scanned towards their trainee’s voting results. As for the milk, some fan clubs would resell it for a fraction of the price to recoup some of the money back, slowly drink it, or in some cases, have it discarded like the following.
Since then, the government’s state run news agencies, such as Xinhua News Agency, have called out this “milk pouring” behavior as wasteful and a bad influence to the youth. They condemned the behavior of bulk buying as squandering money and not even guaranteeing if their picks will debut or not. Xinhua News Agency has also called out the show and the sponsor are the biggest winners in in this outcome as they become known and gain major profits. They urged fans to chase after their stars rationally and not to follow the trend as they claim “the end result is misleading, erodes the three major viewpoints of young people and only leads them into a ditch like the milk being poured.” In fact, Xinhua News Agency also cited on April 29, the anti-food waste law was passed, which makes food waste and wasteful behavior illegal and punishable.
In response to all that’s happening, before midnight hit on May 6, iQIYI issued an apology in regards to the effects of the “milk pouring video”. iQIYI says they’ve heard the voices from their customers and the media about the incident and “feels extremely guilty and blame ourselves. We express our deepest apologies. At the same time, we reiterate that we firmly oppose all forms of food waste.”
iQIYI has said their management and program teams have deeply reflected on this matter and stated they have made the following corrections to the show in order to ensure the show is guiding people in the right direction:
- The debut night originally planned for May 8 will stop recording and no live broadcast. The show continues to seriously analyze and adjust the show’s rules.
- From this moment onwards, close all the “Youth With You 3” voting channels.
- As for the customers who have already bought the merchant’s products, but haven’t used it yet, the platform and the merchant will negotiate together to ensure a proper solution. The corresponding rules will be announced on “Youth With You 3’s” official Weibo.
The milk drink’s sponsor, Zhen Guo Li, also issued an apology on the morning of May 7 saying they actively support and will fully cooperate with iQIYI on the show’s corrective measures. They also said they strongly oppose to food waste and expressed their deepest apologies for the negative social impacts caused by this incident and will deeply reflect and reform to prevent this from happening again.
It’s unclear if and when the show will pick up from where it left off especially with the voting channels closed now. There were various rumors circulating such as the finale night being postponed to May 25. On May 6, there were rumors going viral that the top 19 trainees and the eliminated trainees that came back for the finale were going to be leaving Dachang in batches due to filming stopping. However, this hasn’t been proven. There were also fan accounts reporting batches of trainees were seen going to work again at 2 something in the morning of May 7.
While it’s devastating for the remaining top 19 trainees, many fans especially felt empathetic towards Lian Huaiwei (连淮伟), who finished 10th in “Youth With You” season 1. Lian Huaiwei had consistently ranked high in the top 9 each week and was likely debut in the finale group this season. The hashtag “Heartbroken for Lian Huaiwei” was trending on May 7 after iQIYI announced filming for the finale would stop and that voting was closed. With the fate of the show up in the air this season, it’s unclear what will happen to the group now.