Vietnam Television seemed to hit the jackpot when it launched an original non-fiction program nine months ago.
In a sea of reality shows adapted from international formats, Dieu uoc thu 7 (The Saturday Wish) immediately stood out as it promised to only tell "real stories of real people."
The episodic hit program felt scripted and cloying at times, but viewers really loved its earnest approach in helping characters fulfill their dreams at the end of each episode.
An unusually strong backlash following a contentious episode has forced Vietnam Television, often known as VTV, to review the program's fact-checking process.
It discovered the hard truth that one of its most beloved characters -- a poor musician who wished to perform on live television with his blind partner -- had been lying the whole time.
The love story
Nguyen Nhat Thanh, 26, was introduced in an episode more than two weeks ago as a graduate from the Vietnam National Academy of Music, who chose to spend the rest of his life with Nguyen Nhu Dao, a 22-year-old blind woman, despite opposition from his family.
Local media reported that the story moved many viewers to tears as they watched the pair slowly walk along Da Nang streets, singing love songs and selling small bags of toothpick to raise their daughter, born in February last year.
But only a few days after the broadcast on January 10, a woman contacted the program, claiming to be Thanh's legitimate wife Nguyen Thi Ha.
She also said they had two children and they were living in the central province of Thanh Hoa.
Local press joined in to verify her story.
They concluded that Thanh was legally married to Ha. He also never studied at the Academy, formerly Hanoi Conservatory of Music, they reported.
These revelations angered many fans of the program, who said they felt cheated.
The strong reaction prompted VTV to issue an apology and suspend both the program and its director, who admitted that he and his crew were carried away by Thanh's emotional story.
The Ministry of Information and Communications on Monday imposed a fine of VND40 million on the broadcaster for “wrong information that has negative impacts on the public."
Some fans are still not happy.
"I want my tears back," said Chi Nguyen from Ho Chi Minh City.