Hong Kong TVB cooking show under fire for basically saying women belong in the kitchen

Image via YouTube/Big Big Channel – 大台網
Image via YouTube/Big Big Channel – 大台網

Netizens are lashing out at Hong Kong broadcaster TVB after it debuted a new cooking show that many say is brimming with sexist undertones.

The Cantonese series, called “女人必學100道菜,” translates literally as “100 dishes women should learn.” Its official English name is “Lady Cook.”

The show’s tagline is “cook well [so you can] marry into a good relationship.”

The hour-long episodes air every weeknight, each featuring demonstrations of four local-style recipes. The season consists of 25 episodes, according to the show’s website.

Since the series premiered on Monday, some netizens have called the show out for perpetuating problematic stereotypes that push domestic duties like cooking and cleaning to women, while not enforcing any such expectation on men.

The bulk of the criticism on Facebook were responses to a post sharing a Stand News reader-submitted opinion piece titled “100 dishes women should learn. Seriously, TVB?”

One comment read: “My jaw dropped when I saw the show’s advertisement on TV. A cooking show only targeting a female audience—am I living in the 1920s?”

“This simply belittles the standing of women in our current day society and is completely patriarchal in thinking,” another user said. “This show is just insulting to women.”

On TVB’s Facebook pages, however, posts about the series did not attract any negative comments, or many comments at all—possibly explained by the fact that the broadcaster’s audience are overwhelmingly older and likely to be more conservative.

Elena Kong, one of the celebrities featured in the show, shared a trailer for the series on Facebook. All but one of the 18 comments were positive—the sole user who offered critique said it would be “better if the show was called “100 dishes everyone should learn.”

On Twitter, users called it “humiliating” and “totally unnecessary sexist crap.”

Coconuts HK has reached out to TVB, Kong, and Kitty Siu—a celebrity chef on the show—for comment.

Amid a cultural reckoning that is seeing many companies around the world undo branding that latches on to stereotypes that are sexist, racist or otherwise inappropriate, TVB’s new series is being condemned as wildly out of touch.

And it’s not the first time TVB has come under controversy for airing sexist TV shows.

Read more: VIDEO: TVB reality show criticized for being really, really mean to unfortunate women

In 2014, the broadcaster’s reality TV show, “Nowhere Girls,” was the subject of dozens of complaints filed to the Communications Authority. The series was centered around “helping” women portrayed as society’s “have-nots”—including a recent mainland Chinese immigrant—and was heavily criticized for being discriminatory and downright distasteful.

TVB has also been condemned as homophobic, with critics observing that many of the gay characters in its programs are disproportionately portrayed as criminals and social outcasts.

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