To all Korean drama fans, I come bearing gifts – Chinese dramas. For a while now, Korean dramas have not been interesting to me again so I turned to other Asian dramas like Thai, Japanese and Chinese dramas and found myself liking Chinese dramas. At first it was hard to listen to the language, but if we somehow got used to Korean language then Mandarin shouldn’t be a hassle.
Here are some Chinese dramas that I highly recommend.
1. A Love so Beautiful
Synopsis: Chen Xiaoxi has been in love with her neighbour and classmate Jiang Chen for a long time and always expresses her love towards him in various ways, however he is cold and outrightly rejects her. The story sees them overcome personal and family trials to adulthood. Available to watch on Netflix and YouTube with subtitles
A Love so Beautiful is to Chinese dramas what Boys over Flowers was for Korean dramas- my introduction to Chinese dramas. I really enjoyed the chemistry of the lead characters and also enjoyed the story of the side characters. The series was such a success that there is a Korean version currently airing on Netflix with the same title.
2. Perfect and Casual
Zhang Si Nian is a mathematics professor with a cold demeanour while Yun Shu on the other hand is a final year student in college. They meet by chance and also get married to grant his dying father’s last wish. Available to watch on YouTube with English subtitles; 24 episodes.
We all know how marriage contract dramas go- cold guy looking for a lady to marry without attachments for a reason and naive struggling girl who enters his trap, usually for home security or money. But Perfect and Casual changes the male character- he is actually a cold, but very caring person who does everything to make the female lead comfortable and that’s why I absolutely enjoyed this drama.
3. The Romance of Tiger and Rose
Chen Xiao Qian is a script writer working tirelessly day and night to meet deadlines while changing the script to the whims of the lead actor. One night after falling asleep while writing she wakes up in the world of her script as a side character who is going to die in the third episode. She tries her best, knowing what’s going to happen next to save her life. Available on WeTV app with subtitles- no subscription needed.
This is the first time travel drama I have watched and I was pleasantly surprised. I am also not a fan of historical dramas so I had a lot of reservations when I started watching it. The rapport between the main characters was beautifully acted with the female lead trying to play match maker between the male lead and a side character. The drama was filled with silliness and comic relief which eased my watch.
4. Salute to my Youth
Synopsis: Su Can Can has a crush on Lin Jia Ze and hates his best friend Lan Tian Ye- the cold, talented and smart handsome boy. Su Can Can and Lan Tian Ye end up being seat partners, and thus their clashes and disagreements begins and eventually blossoms into something more. Available to watch on Netflix and YouTube with subtitles.
This is quite similar to A Love so Beautiful, but I enjoyed watching their relationship change from fighting to being desk mates, leaning on each other and eventually falling in love. Definitely felt a bit of second lead syndrome here, because Lin Jia Ze was just a late comer in discovering his feelings. The different friendships formed, and the realistic portrayal of struggles faced as students and adults also added flavour to the drama.
5. Love me if you dare
Synopsis: Bo Jin Yan is brilliant criminal psychologist who solves difficult cases by getting into the mind of the criminals with help of his newly hired assistant, Jian Yao. Available to watch on YouTube with subtitles.
This is the only Chinese thriller that I have watched. I remember waiting every week for more episodes to air in 2015. I honestly cannot remember the crimes they solved, but I do know it was interesting. There’s the emotionally detached intelligent crime analyst and an eager to work hard assistant. Will definitely add it to my list to watch again.
6. Something Just Like This
Synopsis: The son of a retail tycoon and an e-commerce live-streamer join hands on a road to realising their entrepreneurial dreams. Duan Ran and Qian Xi Xi grew up together in the same house and coincidentally start working in the same startup business where they are pitted against each other to lead team. Following this is competition with a rival company who is willing to use any means to bring them down. Available to watch on YouTube and IQIYI app with subtitles- no subscription needed.
I don’t know how to put it in words, but there is something calm about this drama. The female lead isn’t one to shout and jump into conclusions, and the male lead is so soft spoken- I actually watch clips on YouTube just to hear him speaking. Other filler couples in the drama also have interesting story lines which you don’t have to fast forward. Definitely a must watch.
7. Princess Agents
Synopsis: During the chaotic times of Northern Wei innocent citizens are often kidnapped and turned into slaves. Slave girl, Chu Qiao is thrown into a forest along with other slaves and becomes the next hunting target for the rich lords. She is saved by the Prince of Northern Yan, Yan Xun and Yuwen Yue after which she is trained to be a spy. Available to watch on YouTube with subtitles.
I am not a fan of historical dramas, especially Chinese ones as they seem to be flying and doing some sort of dance (fighting), about 80% of the drama, but this drama has a special place in my heart. The female lead’s acting is top notch, her fierce attitude, fighting and no nonsense bad ass approach made the drama worth watching.
8. Meteor Garden
Synopsis: Dong Shancai is determined to excel at University and she encounters the rich, dreamy and handsome F4- Daoming Si, Huaze Lei, Ximen Yan, Feng Meizuo. Daoming Si is determined to maker her his after a couple of clashes. Available to watch on Netflix and YouTube with subtitles.
Boys Over Flowers fans get in here- I present to you the Chinese version of the beloved Boys over flowers. If you didn’t know, the drama is an adaptation of a Japanese manga. Before the Korean version we have the Japanese and Taiwanese remake. So really all you have to do is pick which country suits you.
The major differences between the Korean and Chinese remake were: no emphasis on second make lead- if you’ve watched the Korean version you know what I’m talking about; Shancai is an only child- there was a younger brother in the Korean remake; and the setting of the Chinese remake is University as opposed to high school in the Korean version. The Chinese remake was definitely longer than the others and this was a major turn off for me, but the drama was popular internationally and sealed the popularity of all the main characters.
9. Boss and Me
Synopsis: Feng Teng is a rich conglomerate whose younger sister of a rare blood group needs blood transfusion. Comes in Shan Shan, a lady recruited to work in the company due to having the same blood type as his sister to become a blood donor when needed. Being indebted to Shan Shan, a cordial relationship blooms between her and the family, and Feng Teng slowly falls in love with her due to her love of food and quirky habits. Available to watch on YouTube with subtitles
This is your typical cliche rich boss falls in love with poor low level staff, but there’s just something different. The story doesn’t seem to drag with 33 episodes, and we see the growth of Shan Shan from a naive to a somewhat independent lady.
10. Go Go Squid
Synopsis: Its love at first sight for Tong Nian when Han Shang Yan walks into the internet cafe she is working. Tong Nian is a a talented computer science major and popular online singer, while Han Shang Yan is a cyber security professional who leads a team in international competition. Tong Nian is shy but quite straight forward about liking Han Shang Yan who sees her as a child but eventually with her support and presence he slowly falls for her. Available to watch on Netflix with subtitles.
This is an e-sports romance drama so expect a lot of game talks- I forwarded them. At first I wasn’t a fan of the ever frowning and sweet licking Han Shang Yan, but he gradually grew on me and I understood his reservations about a girl who looks young falling for him. I liked how the female lead although shy still spoke her mind on what she liked or didn’t like. All in all, with skipping the game talk parts, it was a good watch.
- Put Your Head on My Shoulder
- Dating in the Kitchen
- Love 020
- Well Intended Love
- Oh My Emperor
This list is a drop in the ocean of great and diverse Chinese dramas to watch. Share your thoughts and recommendations in the comments section below.