Trapped in the Chinese reality TV show, this Russian man named Vladislav Ivanov had been sabotaging himself for months in hopes of getting the boot. Yet he made it to the final round!
The 27-year-old model-hopeful was drafted to compete in ‘Produce Camp 2021’, a bootcamp-style Chinese TV show. Similar to its Korean counterpart, the programme sees young performers vying for a spot in an 11 member boyband. Through rigorous training and multiple competition rounds, the members are chosen by public voting. For three months – 10 full episodes to be exact – Ivanov performed half-heartedly before finally being “set free”.
And the icing on the cake? He never even formally auditioned to join the show! Ivanov was initially employed as an on-set translator to help two Japanese contestants, but he ‘struck gold’ when the producers noticed him and asked him to sign on after staff mistook him for a competitor.
“The director saw that I am fluent in Mandarin and they thought I’m good-looking, so they asked if I’d like to have a try and experience a new lifestyle,” he said in an interview. “Dancing and singing every day, I’m really exhausted and now starting to regret my decision.”
In an early clip, Ivanov said:
“F means freedom. You’re free to go home,” where ‘Class F’ indicated a demotion and that their performances were not well-received.
However, Chinese fans seemed to be enamoured by Ivanov and continued to vote for him.
“According to the rules of the show, I won today. But to me, I’ve lost again,” he said during the show’s second round of ranking. “I don’t want to be in the group. My dreams are to make designs, enjoy my freedom and be a model.”
To increase his chances of getting sent home, Ivanov even gave a lacklustre and off-key performance of a Russian rap song called ‘Jackpot’. And the fans STILL LAPPED IT UP.
Ivanov’s suffering was finally brought to an end when he was eliminated on April 24. In a live stream before the show’s finals, he said,
“Once the program ends I will smile more. Now that I’m here I have no mood to smile.”
After being eliminated, he left a message for fans on his Weibo account.
“Thank y’all for your support. I am finally clocking out.”
On the Chinese microblogging site, a hashtag related to his departure gained traction with over 180 million views and almost 60,000 reposts. The Russian embassy in China also used the hashtag, sharing it with the caption: “Congrats, have a good rest.”
What a strange experience it must have been for Ivanov, and we hope he’s finally able to live his life again according to his own terms!
*Cover image via Tencent Video