50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

Chinese Dramas continue to grow in popularity, with great acting, visuals and energy. Here are 50 C-dramas for Desi viewers to curl up with.

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans - F

"it's colourful, fun and the heroine is so likeable"

Television aired Chinese dramas known as C-dramas, are growing in popularity worldwide, making China a global entertainment powerhouse.

Chinese dramas cover an array of genres and often have wonderful cinematography and exquisite costumes.

Moreover, Chinese dramas normally address social problems that resonate with viewers and be a source of wonderful escapism.

Professor Shi Chuan, a film and TV expert from Shanghai Theatre Academy, said Chinese culture is increasingly influential worldwide.

For Chuan, this is because many historical dramas infuse Confucian culture into the storyline and character relationships.

The outbreak of Covid-19 in China saw the number of Chinese dramas balloon. According to TechNode, iQiyi reported a user growth rate of 21.4% during February 2020.

Plus Youku announced that its daily active user count set historical records.

China produces more TV dramas than any other country. Richard Cooper, Ampere Analysis’ research director, said:

“China’s commissioning habits have had a huge impact on the global TV slate. A preference for drama pushes the genre from second-most commissioned worldwide to No. 1.”

Overall, Chinese dramas can come in bite sizes of sixteen or twenty-four episodes, with epics comprising fifty-plus episodes.

Streaming sites like iQiyi and Tencent/WeTV from China enable Desi viewers worldwide to enjoy a rich array of Chinese dramas. The same goes for platforms such as Netflix and Viki.

DESIblitz lists 50 Chinese dramas that are great for Desi beginners and fans.         

Shanghai Beach (1980)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans - Shanghai Beach

Shanghai Beach, also known as The Bund, is one of the best historical/period Chinese dramas with 25 episodes. It originally came on Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) and then was made available on YouTube.

The series is set in 1920s China. Hui Man-Keung (Chow Yun-Fat) is a Yenching University graduate who is making a fresh start in Shanghai.

In Shanghai, Man-Keung meets and befriends Ting Lik (Ray Lui), a fruit vendor. After seizing a significant position in a small-time gang, he invites Ting to be his partner.

Knee-deep in the world of gangs and falling in love, Man-Keung finds himself consumed by fear, pain and a thirst for revenge.

Man-Keung’s actions and circumstances profoundly impact his relationship with Fung Ching-Ching (Angie Chiu). She is the woman he loves.

The series was a phenomenal success throughout Asia and skyrocketed the popularity of actor Chow Yun-Fat. It was dubbed the Chinese version of the classic Godfather series.

A 2018 review by The Straits Times stresses the importance of the drama:

“Due to its popularity and influence, the classic series is regarded as the “Greatest TVB series of all-time” in the hearts of many Chinese people.”

Plus the drama’s theme song, performed by Francis Yip, is considered a Cantopop classic and a karaoke favourite.

The Legend of the Condor Heroes (1983)

The Legend of the Condor Heroes is a Hong Kong wuxia television series adapted from Louis Cha’s novel (1957) of the same title.

The fifty-nine episodes series first aired on TVB Jade and also made its way on YouTube. In addition, the series had a DVD version.

The drama tells the tale of Guo Jing (Felix Wong), born in medieval China. Northern invaders defeat the Chinese Empire, killing Guo’s father.

Consequently, his mother flees to the north, where Guo grows up with Genghis Khan’s Mongols and learns martial arts from several masters. Thus, he gains the skills to avenge his father’s death.

Overall, the series is a lovely mixture of fantasy, history, and martial arts. Moreover, the series provided actress Barbara Yung with her breakthrough role as Huang Rong.

There are numerous adaptations of The Legend of the Condor Heroes. From 1983 to 2017, the story has been remade more than ten times.

Nevertheless, despite the remakes, many critics and fans deem the 1983 version as the classic and most iconic.

A strong script, great acting and energy make this drama a must-watch. It was followed by a sequel, The Return of the Condor Heros (1995).

Journey to the West (1986)

Journey to the West is a fantasy series adapted from the classic 16th-century novel of the same name.

The series went first on-air via China Central Television (CCTV). Viewers can watch the full twenty-five episode series on YouTube.

The drama tells the story of Tang Sanzang, the monk master (Xu Shao Hua), and his three disciples.

His followers include Sun Wukong, the Monkey King (Liu Xiao Ling Tong). The other two are, Zhu Bajie, the Pig (Ma Dehua), and Sha Wujing, a river demon (Yan Huaili).

Together the four go on a long and challenging journey to the West for Buddhist sacred scriptures.

While the special effects are dated, the drama holds a special place in Chinese popular culture and within the hearts of audiences’.

A 2019 blog review maintained that the significance of the series remained unrivalled:

“From today’s perspective, the special effects are obsolete and bizarre. And the story evolves much slower and more long-winded than Netflix addicts are used to nowadays.

“The striking thing though: China and its film industry have developed so much since then, but they never quite managed to top the 1986-series!”

Journey to the West (1983) received acclaim from audiences and is widely considered the best adaptation of the original work.

A second season consisting of sixteen parts was produced, bringing the total number of episodes to fourty-one.

The Return of the Condor Heroes (1995)

The Return of the Condor Heroes, also known as Condor Heroes 95 was first televised on TVB Jade. Audiences can enjoy the thirty-two episode martial arts and adventure drama on YouTube.

This drama is the second in the Condor Trilogy. It was preceded by The Legend of the Condor Heroes and followed by Heavenly Sword and Dragon Slaying Sabre (2019).

Many of the cast from the first series in the trilogy reprised their roles, such as Lau Dan (Hung Chi), Wayne Lai

(Zhou Botong) and Jason Pai (Kwok Ching).

The sequel follows the life of Yang Guo (Louis Koo). Losing his parents at a young age, Guo is sent to Quanzhen Sect to learn martial arts.

As a result of being bullied, he seeks some rest in the mountains, where he meets Siu Lung Nui (Carman Lee). The meeting is the start of their love story.

Themes of prejudice and conforming to social norms are explored in this C-drama. Also, there is some well-paced and amusing banter to engage the audience. Overall, this is a lighthearted sequel.

Princess Pearl (1998)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans - Princess Pearl

Princess Pearl is one of the top Chinese dramas. The twenty-four episodes comedy series was transmitted first via the Hunan Broadcasting System network and can be viewed on the streaming app Viki.

The drama follows poor street smart Xiao Yan Zi (Zhao Wei). In a big mixup, Xiao Yan Zi ends up as a Princess (officially titled Huan Zhu Ge Ge) instead of her sworn sister Xia Ziwei (Ruby Lin).

The mixup brings about several adventures and escapades, as Xiao Yan Zi tries to adjust to palace life.

Simultaneously, she also falls in love with the fifth prince Yong Qi (Alec Su) and makes enemies with the Empress (Chunrong Dai). This is while trying to give Ziwei back her rightful title of Princess.

Colourful and energetic, this entertainment will have the audience curling up on a sofa. A 31-year-old London based Pakistani, Iram Jabeen, an avid watcher of Chinese dramas was surprised by Princess Pearl:

“I didn’t think I’d like it, but it’s ace.”

“Rewatched loads, it’s colourful, fun and the heroine is so likeable – although I wish she were less forgiving.”

The drama was a surprising hit, with stars in it becoming household names. Hence, this drama was naturally followed by a second season titled, Princess Pearl II (1999).

Romance of the Three Kingdoms (2010)

Romance of the Three Kingdoms is one of the most epic historical period Chinese dramas with ninety-five episodes.

The plot is adapted from the 14th-century historical novel of the same title and other stories about the Three Kingdoms period.

The drama was originally watchable via various networks – Jiangsu TV, Anhui TV, Chongqing TV, and Tianjin TV. Viewers can view it on Netflix and Viki.

This is one C-drama that focuses on the late Eastern Han Dynasty and the Three Kingdoms period (starting in AD 168).

The story begins with a focus on the ambitions and military rise of Cao Cao (Chen Jian Bin). It then tells the other side of the tale by focusing on two factions.

The other two factions are the honour-bound Sun family and the idealistic Liu Bei (Yu He Wei) and his followers.

A swashbuckling adventure with blood, villains and battles, this drama will have Desi and other viewers riveted.

Rivalry, intrigues, deception and wars are rampant in the unfolding tale. Therefore, it’s no surprise that this was a commercial success in China and internationally.

Battle of Changsha (2014)

The historical period drama, Battle of Changsha consists of thirty-two episodes and premiered on China Central Television (CCTV-8) network. The drama can also be enjoyed via the website Daily Motion.

The story takes place against the backdrop of the Battle of Changsha in 1939 during World War II. Moreover, the C-drama retells the turbulent events of the second Sino-Japanese War.

It does this from the perspective of the Hu family. In particular through the eyes of  Hu Xiang Xiang (Yang Zi) and her twin brother Hu Xiang Jiang (Niu Jun Feng).

When feisty Xiang Xiang meets Gu Qing Ming (Wallace Huo), a strict Intelligence Officer, in the Nationalist Army, sparks fly.

While the two start on the wrong foot, things change as they get to know each other and face challenges as well as danger.

The rich plot and character depth make this a must-watch and rewatch for many. Zara Begum, a 25-year-old Bangladeshi undergraduate student in Birmingham, adores the drama:

“It’s one of the best historical chinese dramas I’ve seen. Some scenes had me crying, laughing and everything in between.

“And it was interesting to see the impact of war and struggle through the eyes of the younger members of the Hu family. Xiang Xiang is brilliant.”

Overall, Battle of Changsha has a stellar cast that will hold audiences’ attention and have them connect with the main characters.

Whirlwind Girl (2015)

Whirlwind Girl is one of the best sports Chinese dramas with a dash of romance and plenty of action. The thirty-two episode drama was first shared on Hunan TV and then became available on the streaming site, Viki.

The series known also as Tornado Girl and Tae Kwon Do Girl is based on Ming Xiao Xi’s novel.

The focus of the C-drama is Qi Bai Cao (Hu Bing Qing). She loves taekwondo from a young age. Qu Xiang Nan (Vincent Chaio), a world champion martial artist, houses the orphan, Bao Cao

Little by little, Bai Cao learns to become a top taekwondo fighter and gains confidence in herself and who she is. She embodies honesty, integrity and determination to succeed.

Along the way, she also meets the generous and kind Ruo Bai (Yang Yang), the playful Fang Ting Hao (Chen Xiang) and the charmingly mysterious Yu Chu Yuan (Bai Jing Ting).

Whirlwind Girl was one of the highest-rated Chinese dramas of 2015. The series is a good watch for a Desi family due to its angst, romance, action, and good acting.

In turn, the popularity of this C-drama led to a second season titled The Whirlwind Girl 2 (2016).

Nirvana in Fire (2015)

Nirvana in Fire is a historical drama based on Hai Yan’s book Lang Ya Bang. It has 54 episodes and was first televised on Beijing TV and Dragon TV. Then it became watchable on Viki and Amazon Prime.

During the 4th century, the feudal Northern Wei dynasty and Southern Liang dynasties were at war. Resulting in Liang’s General Lin Xie (Zheng Sheng Li) taking his son, 19-year-old Lin Shu (Hu Ge), to battle.

In a shocking event, Lin Xie is framed by a political rival, leading to the deaths of many Chiyan army soldiers.

By the skin of his teeth, Lin Shu escapes with his life. Determined to seek justice, he establishes the Jiangzuo Alliance, with the help of Langya Hall.

Twelve years later, Lin Shu, under the alias of Su Zhe, returns to the capital of Liang to obtain justice.

Additionally, he assists his friend Prince Xiao Jingyan (Wang Kai) to gain the throne.

Political intrigue, action, great visuals and aesthetics make this a treat for Desi and other audiences. Asia Times reviewer Geroge Koo shares similar views, writing:

“With impressive cinematography of the imperial court and countryside, beautiful costumes, dazzling sword fights and superb acting, the story unfold bit by delicious bit, meticulously paced but never dragged.”

This Chinese drama’s enormous commercial and critical success led to a sequel, Nirvana in Fire II: The Wind Blows in Chang Lin (2017).

Love 020 (2016)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

Love 020 is one of the most romantic Chinese dramas with thirty entertaining episodes. It is based on the novel of the same name by Gu Man.

It aired on Jiangsu Television, Dragon Television, Youku, and Tudou and can be seen also via Netflix and Viki.

Bei Weiwei (Zheng Shuang) is a computer science university student who hopes to be an online game developer. She is a prominent player by the name of Luwei Weiwei in the role-playing game, A Chinese Ghost Story.

Dumped by her online husband, Zhenshui Wuxiang (Ryan Zhang), she is approached by the number one player Yixiao Naihe.

Yixiao Naihe happens to be the popular and brilliant college senior Xiao Nai (Yang Yang).

Xiao Nai proposes that they get married to participate in the couple’s in-game competitions. Weiwei agrees, much to the annoyance of other gamers.

An online connection develops, and when they meet in person, Weiwei is surprised at the identity of her digital gaming husband.

A hit drama with a strong cast, this is a lovely bit of escapism.  For Desi and other audiences wanting a light, sweet and enjoyable romance, this drama is certainly one to watch.

Addicted (2016)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

Addicted, also known as Heroin is one of the most groundbreakingly successful Chinese dramas with fifteen episodes. It falls under the genre of Boy’s Love (BL) and is based on the novel Are You Addicted?  by Chai Jidan.

The series was first available on the streaming app iQiyi, followed by Viki.

The series is about two sixteen-year-old teenagers, Gu Hai (Huang Jingyu) and Bai Luo Yin ((Xu Weizhou). Despite their social differences and personal history, the two forge a close friendship.

A friendship that then turns into romance. The two face challenges, including Luo Yin struggling to accept his feelings.

The drama has many themes that Desi viewers can relate to. These include conflict with parents, struggling with sexuality and socio-cultural taboos about homosexuality.

Adam Singh, a 29-year-old Indian Punjabi postgraduate student in Birmingham felt moved by the drama:

“The struggle the male lead goes through is relatable, it hit close to home.”

Adam continues about the ban, relating it to his background:

“And then it being banned, that’s exactly what I think would happen in India, in the Asian community. So many of my relatives and older community members would be seriously uncomfortable watching it.”

Addicted has developed a cult following and remains quite polarising. In 2016, all episodes of this C-drama were abruptly removed from all Chinese video streaming websites, and it was banned.

Ode to Joy (2016)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

Ode to Joy is a drama with fourty-two episodes. It was the first broadcast on Dragon Television and Zhejiang Television. It then later became available on Viki.

The drama focuses on five women living on the 22nd floor of an apartment complex in Shanghai. Each woman has a distinct personality, lifestyle and different background.

There is Andy (Tao Liu), a highly successful and reclusive businesswoman. Next is Qu Xiaoxiao (Ziwen Wang), a slightly spoiled 25-year-old woman from a wealthy family just starting her career.

Then there is Fang Shengmei (Xin Jiang), a stylish HR executive, trying to shed her poor upbringing and make it big. There is also small-town Qiu Yingying (Zi Yang), who is learning how life in the city works.

Last but not least, there is Guan Ju’er (Xin Qiao). She is a studious young woman who just graduated from college and has an internship at a multinational corporation.

The drama touches on how the women navigate the modern world – their careers, family and relationships.

The depiction of the women growing and their friendship development is pleasing. Moreover, it is a C-drama that beautifully shows some of the issues modern Chinese women face.

The success of Ode to Joy and positive reviews from critics led to a second season, which aired in 2017.

The King’s Woman (2017)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

The King’s Woman is a reverting historical romance comprising fourty-eight episodes. Released initially on Zhejiang TV, it is viewable also on Viki.

Gongsun Li (Dilraba Dilmurat) is a warrior. When young, she meets and rescues Ying Zheng (Chang Liu), and the two fall in love.

When the Qin troops come under attack, Gongsun Li’s love and protector – Jing Ke, is hurt. She agrees to marry Ying Zheng (Vin Zhang), who becomes the First Emperor of China.

Dealing with scheming concubines, heartache, and Ying Zheng’s mercurial nature, Gongsun Li uses her wits and intelligence to do good.

As Soompi highlights, the drama was trendy:

“”The King’s Woman” was one of the most popular dramas during its run, topping the charts in viewer ratings.”

The character of Gongsun Li, in particular, is strong and not to be missed. Impressive action, costumes and engaging main characters will entertain Desi fans and newbies to Chinese dramas.

Eternal Love (2017)

External Love, also known as Three Lives, Three Worlds, Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, is a fantasy epic of fifty-eight episodes.

The series was broadcast on Zhejiang TV and Dragon TV. It can also be viewed on Viki and Netflix. The drama is about the love story of two deities, Ye Hua (Mark Chao) and Bai Qian (Mi Yang).

Spanning thousands of years, they face adventures, trials, enemies and a bond that refuses to be broken.

Bai Qian initially meets Ye Hua when she becomes a mortal woman. However, both are unaware of her true identity.

Bai Qian marries Ye Hua and takes her to his home. He does this despite the arranged marriage his parents wish for him, unknowingly placing her in danger.

External Love is an exceedingly popular Chinese drama. It is one that broke records due to several gorgeous scenes, poetic dialogues, and popular stars.

In addition, the large fanbase of the novel the drama is based on heightened the series’ success.

Overall this is a C-drama that shows the brilliance of Chinese costume design, martial arts and cinematography.

The Eternal Love (2017)

The Eternal Love is a time-travel historical romance drama with twenty-four episodes. The show was streamed initially via Tencent Video and then came on Viki and WeTv.

It is the story of Xiao Tan (Liang Jie), a modern-day real-estate woman who travels almost 2000 years into the past in the Dongyue Kingdom.

She finds herself inhabiting the body of Qu Tan’er (the daughter of the Prime Minister) and facing many challenges.

Tan’er is to marry the 8th Prince Mo Lian Cheng (Xing Zhaolin), by royal command, despite loving someone else.

Although the body of Tan’er has the same outer appearance as Tan’s, their souls are distinct and personalities drastically different.

Overall this is one fun and enjoyably fanciful C-drama – pure escapism.

The humour laced throughout and the chemistry between the main characters will draw audiences in. The first season was followed by two more, with stars Liang Jie and Xing Zhaolin reprising their roles.

The Story of Yanxi Palace (2018)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

The Story of Yanxi Palace is a fast-paced seventy-episode period drama that first aired on iQiyi and Zhejiang TV. Audiences can watch it on Viki and YouTube.

The story focuses on the struggles of maid Wei Yingluo (Jinyan Wu). She strives in the court of the Qianlong Emperor Aisin Gioro Hongli (Yuan Nie).

She enters the palace to investigate her sister’s mysterious death covertly.

At first, she believes the imperial guard, Fuca Fuheng  (Xu Kai) is the prime suspect. Yingluo schemes to approach his sister, the Empress Fuca Rongyin (Qin Lan).

Yingluo gets transferred to the Empress’s Changchun Palace as her maid. Learning that Fuheng is innocent, the two fall in love. However, a happy ending is not on the cards.

Yingluo eventually catches the attention of the Emperor, which forever changes her fate.

A rich script and powerful acting will have the audience unable to tear their eyes away. Miriam Khan, a 31-year-old Pakistani teacher in Leeds loved the series:

“The drama is one hell of a rollercoaster ride. I couldn’t stop watching. There are scenes I rewatch even today.”

One of the hottest 2018 Chinese dramas, The Story of Yanxi Palace is a feast for the eyes.

The drama is filled with palace intrigue, backstabbing, deception, and humour, making it a fun ride for Desi viewers.

Meteor Garden (2018)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

Meteor Garden is a teen romance drama with fourty-nine episodes. It originally was transmitted on Hunan Television in China, with fifty episodes. It is internationally viewable on Netflix.

The C-drama is based on the Japanese sh?jo manga series Boys Over Flowers. There is also a Korean version.

The story focuses on an ordinary girl, Dong Shan Cai (Shen Yue). After a heroic act, she is accepted into the nation’s most prestigious school.

In her new school, Shan Cai finds herself immediately clashing with a member of the elite clique F4. The rich and arrogant F4 leader, Dao Ming Si (Dylan Wang), and Shancai are like oil and water.

Gradually, Daoming Si falls for Shan Cai, but the path to love isn’t easy. He must contend with her disdain, jealous girls and a mother who looks down on Shan Cai’s poor background.

The drama highlights friendship bonds through the relationships of the F4 members.

It also shines a light on the reality of money. Whilst needed, it does not bring happiness.

Overall this is a C-drama filled with angst, bullying, spectacles and romance. Tropes galore make this one entertaining watch.

Bloody Romance (2018)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

Bloody Romance is a fantasy adventure and romance drama consisting of thirty-six episodes. It was first transmitted on Youku and is also viewable on Viki.

The well-written plot follows a young woman Su Qi Xue (Li Yitong), who was severely exploited when her father sold her to a brothel.

She later becomes a fiercely skilful assassin, which one cannot help but admire. The setting is the chaotic period before the end of the Tang Dynasty.

As an assassin, Qi Xue is given the name Wan Mei. Tasked with dangerous missions, she finds herself constantly in danger.

In turn, she gains protection from the mysterious Chang An (Chu Xiao Qu). However, trouble is assured when the two are embroiled in a conspiracy involving the very powerful.

The drama continues to entertain Desi and wider audiences internationally. Aliya Ali, a 24-year-old Pakistani Asda worker in Birmingham, feels this is a C-drama that will stand the test of time:

“The drama is so cool. I’ve watched it a zillion times, and it’s not become dull. I think I’ll be watching it even in ten years.”

Bloody Romance has a tight plot, fab graphics, and a strong female lead. All this makes it a C-drama that will have the audience leaning forward in anticipation of what happens next.

Legend of Fuyao (2018)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

Legend of Fuyao is an action-adventure and fantasy drama comprising sixty-six episodes. Based on the novel Empress Fuyao by Tianxia Guiyuan, it was first televised on Zhejiang TV.

Watchable on Fresh Drama and Viki, the story revolves around Meng Fuyao (Yang Mi).

Fuyao, at the age of sixteen, mastered an epic fighting technique that made her a threat to those thirsting for power.

She embarks on a journey to collect magical artefacts from the Five Kingdoms. Thus, having several adventures.

During these adventures, she also crosses paths with Crown Prince Zhangsun Wuji (Ethan Juan). Together Guyao and the prince fight number of adversaries determined to stop Fuyao.

The two have to unravel the dangerous conspiracy if the land is to see peace.

Another C-drama with terrific visuals and fight scenes, Legend of Fuyao, gives the audience an energetic and fun viewing experience.

Overall this is a lovely bit of escapism for all kinds of viewers.

Ever Night (2018)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

Ever Night is a historical drama and fantasy epic. The sixty part series was first viewable on the network, Tencent Video. It later became available on Viki.

When a great general unjustly massacres his family, Ning Que (Chen Feiyu) escapes. Additionally, he rescues an abandoned baby girl – Sang Sang (Ireine Song).

Together the duo have many adventures and forge a bond of steel. However, when Sang’s origins are revealed the two find themselves in danger.

Due to a strong narrative and great acting, viewers’ emotions will be ensnared. Moreover, the multifaceted relationship between the main characters will have you rooting for them.

Ever Night was nominated for and received six awards. For example, it won the 26th Huading Awards in 2019.

The supporting cast also adds to the power of the drama, as one review states:

““Ever Night” boasts an impressive supporting cast, most notably with their insane roster of A-list veteran actors.”

The popularity of this C-drama led to the release of a second season in 2020.

The Longest Day in Chang’an (2019)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners Desi Fans

The Longest Day in Chang’an is a critically acclaimed historical suspense drama with fourty-eight episodes. It is based on the novel of the same name by Ma Boyong.

The drama gained international recognition and was first aired on Youku. Audiences can appreciate the C-drama on Viki.

In the 8th century AD, Chang’an was the thriving imperial capital of China’s prosperous Tang Dynasty. The show takes place on the day of the Lantern Festival, the 15th day after the Chinese New Year.

The focus is on preventing ruination after a group of Turks infiltrate the city and plan to wreak havoc.

Consequently, a former constable and a death row prisoner, Zhang Xiao Jing (Lei Jia Yin) is free.

Freed by the head of Chang’an’s anti-terror department, Li Bi (TF Boys’ Jackson Yee), he is tasked with a special mission to save the city’s people.

This C-drama beautifully captures the details of the Tang Dynasty in its costumes and attention to detail.

Also, the drama focuses on being as historically accurate as possible. Hence, making it a feast for the eyes and also educational for Desi viewers.

Go Go Squid (2019)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

Go Go Squid is an esports romance drama first transmitted on Dragon TV and Zhejiang. The hit fourty-one-part series is available to watch on the streaming app Viki.

Tong Nian (Yang Zi), an intelligent prodigy, singer and postgraduate, experiences love at first sight. She finds herself entranced by Han Shangyan (Li Xian).

The reserved gamer Shangyan is an idol for those who play and follow esports. He is emotionally reserved and finds himself opening up slowly after meeting Tong Nian.

Misunderstandings lead to the two entering into a fake relationship. When the relationship becomes real, there are many hurdles to navigate before they get their happy ever after.

There are some good dashes of humour and secondary characters that add to the story unfolding. Ava Kapoor, a 19-year-old college student in Dudley has viewed the drama on several occasions:

” There are loads of moments that still make me laugh, I’ve watched it tons of times. How the young gamers act when it comes to Shangyan is funny.”

Overall this is an excellent C-drama for fans of exports and romance. Plus, it gives insight into the competitive world of esports.

A Little Reunion (2019)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

A Little Reunion is a family drama of fourty-nine absorbing episodes. It was initially broadcast on Dragon Television and iQiyi where it can still be watched.

This is a Chinese drama that sparked a storm of discussion on contemporary social issues since its premiere.

The drama tells the story of three Beijing high schoolers as they and their families prepare for the gaokao.

The gaokao is China’s notoriously difficult and hugely important college entrance exam. Moreover, it’s often a family affair.

The drama shows that parents can go to great and sometimes absurd lengths to ensure their children’s success.

The three young people and their families focused on are; Fang Yifan (Qi Zhou), Ji Yangyang (Zifan Guo), and Qiao Yingzi (Gengxi Li).

Together the teens face many different struggles during the final year of school.

The drama touches on Pandora’s box of topics, which many Desi viewers will be able tot relate to.

The series also addresses parenting, education, mental healthstay-at-home dads, ageing, and much more.

How the show deals with each of these themes, has triggered a deluge of conversations, articles, and trending hashtags.

All is Well (2019)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

All is Well is an interesting fourty-one episode family drama. An adaptation of Ah Nai’s novel of the same name, it premiered on Zhejiang Television and Jiangsu Television. Audiences can also see the C-drama on YouTube.

The drama depicts the struggles and conflicts of white-collar worker, Su Mingyu (Yao Chen), and her family.

The Su family crumbles with the sudden death of their matriarch as tensions rise.

A critical point surrounds how Mingyu and her brothers should care for their demanding father,  Su Daqiang (Ni Dahong). Daqiang disrupts the peaceful life of his children and their families.

A well-paced plot and relatable characters make this a must-watch. In addition, Desi viewers will find many themes that reflect and resonate with South Asian culture.

The focus on dysfunctional family relations and a patriarchal mindset favouring the sons over the daughter will grip the audience.

This was true for Maya Ahmed, a 26-year-old Bangladeshi mother of one in Birmingham:

” The way Su Mingyu is forgotten and treated compared to her brothers hit home for me. Not all Asian families are like that, but mine is. it’s going to be different for my babies.”

Overall, this drama paints an unflinching portrait of middle-class family life and the sexism that still emerges.

Three Lives, Three Worlds: The Pillow Book (2019)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

Three Lives, Three Worlds: The Pillow Book is a fantasy and romance epic of fifty-six episodes. It is the sequel to Eternal Love (2017) and watchable on Viki.

This Chinese drama is based on the novel, The Pillow Book written by Tang Qi Gong Zi.

The drama tells the love story between two deities. The nine-tailed fox queen of Qing Qiu, Bai Feng Jiu (Dilraba Dilmurat) and the first ruler of Heaven, Dong Hua Di Jun (Vengo Gao).

The tale spans three lives in three worlds across thousands of years as the main characters grow and learn.

Adventures, trickery, humour, misunderstandings and danger ripple through the story.

Fantastic visuals and action sequences, as well as two strong main characters, make this an engaging fantasy watch.

For Desi audiences, this is an excellent introduction to the Chinese fascination with immortality and mythical nine-tailed foxes.

Overall, this is a fun watch that will entertain the entire family. Desi viewers, young and old, will find something to enjoy.

Arsenal Military Academy (2019)

Arsenal Military Academy is a stylish historical period drama with fourty-eight episodes. The series premiered on iQIYI and can still be watched there and on Viki.

The drama tells the story of Xie Xiang (Bai Lu), who disguises herself as a male student to join the Arsenal military academy. She does this to complete the wish of her adored dead brother.

Finding herself rooming with the hot-headed and playful Gu Yanzheng (Xu Kai), the two constantly quarrel. At the academy, strong bonds are formed as the students find themselves fighting for their country.

The chemistry and banter between the dynamic main characters will have audiences smiling.

Sonia Bibi, a 32-year-old Kashmiri postgraduate student in Edinburgh, feels the drama illustrates the best of  Chinese dramas:

“Arsenal Military Academy is on my rewatch list. Seen it four times already. I love Bai Lu and Xu Kai together.”

“The drama is one of the strongest Chinese dramas I’ve seen, it’s as good as any hit K-drama.”

Praised for its costume design, script, and energy, Desi viewers this is a must-watch. Desi viewers will find it to be a very entertaining ride.

The Legends (2019)

The Legends is a fantasy and romance drama comprising fifty-five entertaining parts. Transmitted initially on Hunan TV, it is also watchable on Viki.

The drama is based on a novel of the same name, by Jiu Lu Fei Xiang. The story revolves around Lu Zhaoyao (Bai Lu) and Li Chen Lan (Xu Kai).

Zhaoyao and her grandfather are bound by duty to guard the seal that has kept the Demon King’s son (Chen Lan) in chains.

Zhaoyao’s translated name means “ostentatious”. True to her name, she does everything extravagantly.

When an intruder barges in, the son of the Demon King escapes.

Five years later, Zhaoyao manages to establish a connection with Chen Lan. However, once Zhaoyao realises who he is, a decision relating to trust comes about.

Overall, this is another C-drama where stars Bai Lu and Xu Kai compliment one another. The chemistry and emotion between their characters sizzle and ripple through the scenes.

A strong female character, unique love story and humour will have Desi audiences smiling in pleasure.

All I want from Love is You (2019)

All I want from Love is You is a cute romance and coming of age drama consisting of thirty-two episodes. The tale is available on YouTube and Viki.

The story revolves around the kickass Gu Xiao Man (Lu Zhao). She has been secretly in love with the intelligent and kind Zuo An (Liu Yuhan).

At the same high school, the two forge a friendship. Next, they move to the same college. Will one of them dare to take a step forward and reveal their feelings?

Xiao Man is seriously a pint-sized bottle of awesomeness. Watching her fight scenes will certainly have audiences entertained.

For Reva Singh, a 22-year-old American Indian in London, the drama is a favourite comfort watch:

“Whenever it’s been an insanely long month, I relax with this on the weekend.”

Ruby then compares it to some of the Indian films she has watched:

“It reminds me of the old cute Bollywood dramas with no angst.”

Anyone needing a light, fluffy and cute watch will be more than happy with All I want from Love is You.

Le Coup de Fourdre (2019)

Le Coup de Fourdre is a romance drama of thirty-four lovely episodes. The series first aired on Tencent and Youku. It can also be enjoyed on Viki.

The series accumulated 100 million views within thirteen hours of its premiere and remains popular ever since. The drama is the love story between opposites Zhao Qiao Yi (Qian Wu) and Yan Mo (Yujian Zhang).

With no over the top drama, this takes a realistic approach to show their developing relationship.

A friendship is forged in high school, and the two promise to study abroad together.

However, when the promise is broken, the two go their separate ways, meeting once again in adulthood.

Misunderstandings will need to be cleared up and feelings acknowledged.

For Desi and wider audiences who want a sweet watch with a good dash of humour this will not disappoint.

Joy of Life (2019)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

Joy of Life, also known as Thankful for the Remaining Years, is a historical romance and political drama of fourty-six episodes.

The C-drama gained high viewership and primarily positive reviews on its release.

Initially, the drama was transmitted on Tencent Video and iQiyi and then became available on Viki. The series is based on the novel Qing Yunian by Mao Ni.

The story follows Fan Xian (Zhang Rouyun), who is trying to survive political machinations and be a loyal subject.

Simultaneously, he is forced to navigate through socio-cultural and moral issues with plenty of flare.

Added to the mix is a romance between him and Lin Wan’er (Li Qin). Once secrets are unearthed, Fan Xian finds his life’s goals drastically changing.

This is a drama that will surprise Desi and wider audiences. One reviewer on IMDb was amazed at this drama, stating :

“What can I say about Joy of Life (aka Qing Yu Nian)? After seeing the dramatic trailer, I fully expected this to be a dark historic saga. I just never imagined I would be laughing so much.”

Political intrigue and action make this an enjoyable watch.

The Untamed (2019)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

The Untamed is a highly successful historical drama with fifty episodes. This spine-tingling drama was broadcast on  Tencent Video and is also available on Netflix and Viki.

The C-drama was adapted from the xianxia novel, Mo Dao Zu Shi, by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu

This historical drama should have had explicit BL themes. However, China’s censorship and a ban on explicit depictions of homosexual relationships impacted the drama.

Rather than a visible romance between the two men, the drama has homoerotic subtexts. The tale is about Wei Wu Xian  (Zhan Xiao) and Lan Wang Ji (Yibo Wang).

The two talented disciples of respected clans meet during cultivation training. After meeting, they accidentally discover a secret carefully hidden for years.

Taking on the legacy of their ancestors, they decide to rid the world of the danger they have identified.

For fans of Chinese dramas and newbies, this is a must-watch.

With a visual spectacle featuring two strong main characters who have excellent chemistry, Desi viewers will not regret watching this drama.

Put Your Head On My Shoulder (2019)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

Put Your Head On My Shoulder is a hit romance and coming of age drama with twenty-four episodes. It is based on a novel of the same name by Zhao Qianqian.

The series first aired on Tencent Video and is now watchable on Viki and Netflix. As the graduation of Si Tu Mo (Xing Fei) nears, she has an unsure feeling.

Tu Mo has a crush on Fu Pei (Tang Xiaotian), her childhood friend, but is constantly disappointed by his unreliability.

When she becomes roommates with the handsome physics student, Gu Wei Yi (Lin Y), their lives are shaken up. Romance blooms as the two learn what they truly want from life.

The drama is simple but heartwarming. It has an engaging plot, with the main characters working well together.

Aliyah Khan, a 21-year-old Pakistani Londoner thinks it’s a great romantic comedy:

“It’s a seriously sweet rom-com that makes me smile each time I see it.”

A Thai remake of the series was produced under the same name in 2021. The main characters from the original C-drama made a guest appearance in that.

The King’s Avatar (2019)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

The King’s Avatar is an esports drama based on the web novel of the same name by Hu Dielan. With fourty episodes, it premiered on Tencent Video and can also be watched via Netflix.

The drama chronicles the fall and rise of Ye Xiu (Yang Yang), a top-tier player of the game Glory.

Ye Xiu is forced out of his professional team and leaves the pro gaming scene. He ends up working at an Internet Café, where he begins to revive his pro-gamer career.

The fresh storyline around esports and great visuals made this a hit with young audiences.

The continued growth of the professional esports world makes this C-drama interesting to watch.

Furthermore, really good acting and an engaging plot will have Desi viewers entertained. Star actor Yang Yang oozes charisma and ensures the audience will be invested in seeing his character succeed.

The Bad Kids (2020)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

The Bad Kids is a crime and suspense drama that premiered on iQiyi. The C-drama has twelve captivating episodes and is adapted from the novel, Bad Kid (2014) by Zi Jinchen.

The story is about three children who unintentionally film a murder scene. The three children are Zhu Chaoyang (Zishan Rong), Yan Liang (Pengyuan Shi), and Yue Pu (Wang Sheng Di).

The three kids become involved with the suspect, whom they know. Moreover, as the story unfolds it is clear that the case is more complicated than it first seemed.

The drama received rave reviews and had critics delighted. Indeed, it’s hailed as a key milestone in Chinese TV.

In 2020 Patrick Frater for Variety emphasised the drama’s popularity:

“On Chinese entertainment review site Douban, it attracted some 800,000 reviews, with an average score of 9.2 out of ten.”

The drama’s cinematography, dark soundtrack and performances are a must-watch for Desi viewers, young and old.

On the whole, the tone of this drama and a strong script make it a nail-biting watch.

Professional Single (2020)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

Professional Single is a romantic drama with twenty fun and enthralling episodes. The drama was first transmitted on Mango TV and is available to watch via Viki and the YoYo English channel.

The story is about Yuan Qian (Ireine Song) and Qin Shen (Aaron Deng), who are at university to study art.

Qin has a sharp tongue and a fair share of the campus’s female population after him. When he falls for Yuan, he has to deal with rivals and her nervousness about them going public.

One of the highlights of this Chinese drama is the character of Yuan. She will have the audience laughing and amused on more than one occasion.

This is a great watch to enjoy with family, friends and a big bowl of popcorn.

The pacing of this story is strong, and the secondary characters add to the tale that progresses.

The script and representation of the romance will have many Desi audiences thinking of the similarities to South Asian dramas.

The Romance of Tiger & Rose (2020)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

The Romance of Tiger & Rose is a historical romance drama and comedy with twenty-four episodes. Broadcast first on Tencent Video, it is available on Viki and WeTv.

This popular drama is about aspiring screenwriter Chen Xiao Qian (Zhao Lusi), who successfully sells her screenplay.

When the actor meant to take on the male lead role in her story is uncooperative, she starts rewriting. Chen falls asleep and is transported into her screenplay.

She becomes the spoilt Third Princess Chen Qian Qian, a side character.

She finds herself at risk of being killed by Prince Han Shuo (Ding Yu Xi), the male lead. The Prince holds an uncanny resemblance to the lead actor for her screenplay.

Determined to return home, she does everything to finish the story and live.

Zhao Lusi shines in this C-drama and truly entertains. This is true for Natalie Kapoor, a 29-year-old Canadian Indian teacher. She also became aware of Chinese dramas through this series:

“The Romance of Tiger & Rose is what introduced me to Chinese dramas and fall in love with them and actress Zhao.”

The chemistry between the two main characters sizzles There are plenty of laughs to be had when watching The Romance of Tiger & Rose.

General’s Lady (2020)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

General’s Lady is a historical romance with thirty episodes. It is based on the novel with the same title by Yanbo Jiangnan and was first aired on Youku. It later became available on Viki.

The story focuses on Chu Xiu Ming (Wu Xi Ze aka Caesar Wu) and Shen Jin (Tang Min), especially the development of their romance and the adventures they have.

The male lead Chu is a notorious general on the frontline. The heroine Shen is the intelligent illegitimate daughter of an aristocrat (via a concubine, having one or more is positioned as the norm).

The two find themselves bound together in an arranged marriage, one the general does not want.

This is another C-drama with a strong and resilient female lead, which one cannot help but root for.

Once Chu is done trying to push his wife away, the way he treats her will have the audience smiling.

Overall this is an entertaining watch for Desi and wider audiences who need a fun and light little morsel after a long day or week.

Go Ahead (2020)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

Go Ahead is an emotional and heartwarming family drama of fourty-six episodes. The hit series was first shown on Hunan TV and is also watchable on Viki.

Li Jianjian (Tan Songyun), Ling Xiao (Song Weilong), and He Ziqiu (Zhang Xincheng) are three children who are unrelated by blood but become a family.

Raised by two single fathers, they bond over their shared family troubles. Throughout the years, they support one another through the ups and downs of life.

The story follows them through childhood, high school, college, and adulthood. Even as the bond becomes strained due to outside forces, they always find a way back to one another.

Whilst romance comes up in the drama, it is subtly weaved in. The drama does have several stereotypical tropes but overall is a heartwarming watch.

Maria Ahmed, a 35-year-old Pakistani single mother reflects on the relationship and upbringing aspects:

“The way it shows that bonds of family aren’t just about blood is so good. I also love that the kids are raised brilliantly by two single dads.”

The series shows the complexities and tensions of family life, making it relatable to many Desi audiences.

The Best of You in my Mind (2020)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

 The Best of You in my Mind is a fun modern-day college with a good dash of humour. The twenty-four part series initially aired on Youku is streamable via Viki.

The series is based on the novel Cream-Flavored Unrequited Love by Zhu Yi.

Lin Xi Chi (Ireine Song) is a college student majoring in veterinary medicine. She is well-liked and known for being bright and cheerful.

Lin still misses her mother, who left the family for the city when the children were very young. She comes across her childhood friend, Xu Fang (Zhang Yao) at college.

Xu is an avid archer who has had a secret crush on Lin since they were both at school. However, he has never plucked up enough courage to let her know.

When family secrets are revealed, Lin finds herself bewildered and hurt. Luckily Xu is at hand to support her.

There is a good blend of humour, emotion and charm in this C-drama that will have the audience sinking into their sofas.

The Wolf (2020)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

The Wolf is a fantastic historical drama of fourty-nine episodes. The series was first televised on the network Tencent Video and can be enjoyed on iQiyi.

A young boy Zhu Youwen/Chu Youwen (Darren Wang) is brought up by wolves. Unaware of the politics of the human world, he falls in love with Lady Ma Zhai Xing (Li Qin).

The Yang ruler Chu Kui (Ding Yong Dai) learns of the Wolf Boy – and goes searching. Chu believes he can make use of the boy’s strengths and skills.

Chu eventually adopts him, renaming him and making him a prince (Prince Bo). Fiercely loyal to Chu, when Prince Bo again meets Lady Ma, danger, trickery and pain are rife.

This is another C-drama filled with great action and emotion. Taybah Ali, a 25-year-old Kashmiri, in Birmingham viewed the series with her sibling, with mixed emotions:

“Watched it with my brother and he really liked it. The action and intrigue had him hooked. He didn’t get why I sobbed at the end though.”

Anyone wanting a drama that contains a good degree of intensity will be entertained by The Wolf.

Love is Sweet (2020)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

Love is Sweet is a romantic drama of thirty-two episodes. It premiered on iQiya and also became viewable via Amazon Prime.

In turn, the drama is loosely adapted from the novel of the same name by Qiz. The story revolves around the independent and intelligent Jiang Jun (Bai Lu) and savvy businessman Yuan Shuai (Luo Yunxi)

Jiang and Yuan are childhood friends, separated for ten years due to an unfortunate incident.

Yuan tries to keep Jiang from entering MH. She is allergic to tears and has a very soft corner for people, something not desirable at MH.

Nonetheless, Jiang eventually manages to enter MH as an intern and begins to unearth secrets.

Despite including a rather silly allergy, this is a very amusing watch. There is a good blend of romance, tension and suspense.

The main characters have fabulous chemistry, and the banter is sharp.

On the whole, the drama will entertain Desi and other viewers and makes for some lovely escapism.

Jiu Ju Overlord (2020)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

Jiu Ju Overlord is a historical drama with a good dollop of romance. The thirty-six part drama was first shown on the network Tencent Video and then became viewable on Viki.

The story takes place at the end of the Tang Dynasty. On the one side, the focus is on the “mob” boss, Long Aoyi (Bai Lu). She represents the lower class, consisting of entertainers, maids, thieves and so forth.

On the other side, the focus is on silk tycoon, Li Qing Liu (Lai Yi), the calculating leader of the Upper Jiuliu and the social elites.

Li and Long are forced to push aside their prejudices as they fight for the city and work together. Lisa Jha, a 33-year-old Indian beautician in Birmingham loves Bai Lu’s role:

“Bai Lu’s character is awesome – she’s smart, kickass and assertive.”

The drama has a good level of energy and action. Plus, the back and forth between the main characters is a highlight.

Nothing but Thirty (2020)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

Nothing but Thirty is a fourty-three-episode drama that aired on networks, Dragon Television and Tencent Video. Audiences can also enjoy it on Viki.

The series follows the story of three vastly different urban women who have reached their thirties. Gu Jia (Tong Yao) is a strong-willed wife, mother and businesswoman.

Next, Wang Manni (Jiang Shuying) is confident in both her workplace and at home.

Last but not least there is Zhong  Xiaoqin (Mao Xiaotong). She is content with her marriage and average life, but things shift.

The series wonderfully portrays the challenges and pressure these three women face in their thirties. In addition, the drama displays how a person’s relationships and desires inevitably shift at different life stages.

Overall this is a great series that has themes, which the audience can relate to.

Unforgettable Love (2021)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

Unforgettable Love is a romantic comedy and family drama of twenty-four episodes. This wonderfully fun series was first aired on Mango TV and can be seen on YouTube.

The story is about three key people. First, there is a child psychological counsellor and doctor Qin Yi Yue (Yixuan Hu).

Next is He-Group CEO, the smart and reserved He Qiaoyan (Zheming Wei) and his absolutely adorable son He Wei Fei aka Xiao Bao (Lennon Sun).

Wei stops speaking after a car accident. So, his father requests the help of Qin, the only doctor his son has responded to.

An engagement of convenience and Wei’s determination to have the doctor as his mother lead to plenty of entertainment.

Sonia Bi, a 32-year-old Kashmiri postgraduate student in Leeds, watched the series with her mother and sisters.

She mentions that her mother in particular had a good laugh.

“OMG, the series was so frigging good. Ammi (mum) doesn’t usually do subtitles, and even though she couldn’t read them all, she laughed and laughed.”

Lennon Sun as Wei shines in each scene even when he utters no words. Plus, Qin and Qiaoyan are a perfect contrast to one another.

A must watch for the entire family; this is wholesome and belly-achingly humorous.

Octogenarian and the 90s (2021)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

Octogenarian and the 90s is a family C-drama and romance with fourty-three episodes. It premiered via the Hunan TV network and broadcast website Mango TV. It can be watched on Viki.

The story is based in the elderly care home “Sunshine Home, founded by Grandma Lin (Mian Wu) who suffers from the late stages of liver cancer.

Accordingly, she entrusts the nursing home to her granddaughter, Ye Xiao Mei (Janice Wu).

At this time, Guo San Shuang (Bai Jing Ting) arranges for his grandpa to enter the facility. Ye and Guo immediately take a dislike for each other.

As their relationship improves, their post-90s thinking breathes new vitality into the lives of the residents. However, it also results in numerous conflicts.

This is a sweet and light family watch. However, it raises some crucial questions encompassing age, caring and family bonds.

It shows the importance of relationships between different generations and the tensions that can arise. Thus, making it a relatable watch for many audiences, particularly those from South Asian communities.

The Sword and the Brocade (2021)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

The Sword and the Brocade is a historical romance drama of fourty-five entertaining episodes. Available on Viki, it was first viewable on the network, Tencent Video.

The story is about Shi Yi Niang (Tan Song Yun), born a concubine’s daughter. She believes that women should be free to pursue a life outside of the home.

Shi also hopes to use her embroidery skills someday so that she can secure her freedom.

However, destiny has something else in store for her. Shi is put forward for a marriage alliance with the Yongping Duke, Xu Ling Yi (Wallace Chung).

Now the wife of a man once married to her deceased sister, Shi, finds herself entering an unfriendly world. She must use her wits, kindness and intelligence to outsmart those who wish to see her fall.

The heroine in this C-drama will have audiences wishing her success. Shi is resilient, intelligent and resolute.

Zara Begum, a 24-year-old Bangladeshi office worker has placed this drama on her rewatch list in part due to the character of Shi:

“Yi Niang is a cool character. Her personality traits and determination rock.”

“I hate the concubine system, and how she deals with it is smart and kind.”

Overall this is a treat for the eyes and mind. It is a lovely form of escapism and entertainment.

Word of Honour (2021)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

Word of Honour is a hit and historical fantasy drama of thirty-six episodes. It originally aired on the Chinese streaming site Youku and can be watched via Netflix and Viki.

The leader of the assassin organisation, Zhou Zishu/Zhou Zi Su (Zhang Zhehan), quits his position in pursuit of freedom.

In his travels, he meets Wen Ke Xing (Gong Jun), the leader of Ghost Valley, who wants nothing but revenge. The two embark on many adventures.

Moreover, the two men are soulmates who become entangled in various schemes within the martial arts world.

Each man is key to the other’s redemption. The question is can the two gain an ending not marred in death or blood.

Spectacular visuals and costumes, and wonderfully atypical protagonists make this an engaging drama.

Amid the recent Boys’ Love (BL) drama phenomenon, Word of Honor has become iconic internationally. Thus, making it a must-watch for beginners and C-drama fans.

Falling into Your Smile (2021)

50 Top Chinese Dramas for Beginners & Desi Fans

Falling into Your Smile is a hit eSports romance drama with thirty-one lighthearted episodes. The series was first shown on LINE TV/Tencent Video and can be enjoyed on Viki and Netflix.

The story focuses on the romance between Tong Yao (Xiao Cheng) and Lu Si Cheng (Xu Kai).

Tong, aka Smiling, is new to professional gaming and the only female pro. Hence the eyes of fans are entirely on her.

Lu, aka Chessman, is the leader of a professional team. As she joins her side, sparks fly from the get-go.

Secondary characters in this series add to the scenes and will have audiences laughing more than once. In particular, the character of Xiao Pang (Sun Kai) ensures plenty of laughter.

This drama is an excellent source of entertainment and escapism. Nonetheless, it also showcases some of the nuanced issues that exist in the pro-gaming world.

Moreover, the romance is deliciously slow-burn and involves a rather grumpy but protective hero.

Zobia Faisal, a 26-year-old Pakistani web designer in Birmingham, watched the C-drama with her brothers:

“It’s one of the best Chinese dramas out there”

She goes on to say:

“It’s got a bit of everything. Both my brothers enjoyed it – they stayed off their phones. And they mentioned it to friends.”

Overall this is a great solo watch, for the whole family or with a group of friends. Desi viewers will be amused and entertained until the closing credits.

My Fated Boy (2021)

My Fated Boy is an age gap romance of twenty-nine engaging episodes. The C-drama was first transmitted on Youku and can also be seen on Viki.

Lin Yang (Li Xirui) as a young girl forms a close friendship with Lu Zheng An (He Yu Qian), who is seven years younger than her.

Eventually, life pulls them in different directions, only on the fringes of each other’s lives.

At thirty-one, Lin is working in the city and has almost given up on love after a few failed relationships. When a 24-year-old Lu comes to her, he is a rising musician.

Determined on rekindling their friendship and sparking a romance between them, Lu inserts himself back into her life. 

The clips of the two, as children that are integrated into the story highlight their bond and add sweetness to the story. Also, a lot of the flashbacks are amusing.

As a lovely romance, this will have Desi and other audiences leaning back and relaxing.

The Oath of Love (2022)

The Oath of Love is a thirty-two episode romance and family drama.

The World of C-Dramas

  • C-dramas are well known for their historical/costume and fantasy genres.
  • Wuxia is a genre of Chinese fiction involving martial artists and their adventures.
  • Xianxia is a Chinese fantasy genre that is based on mythology, martial arts and other elements.
  • Danmei genre and ‘BL’ are umbrella terms for ‘bromance’ or homosexual romance/erotica content.
  • C-drama episodes are all filmed before release, unlike Korean Dramas.

Adapted from the novel Entrust the Rest of My Life to You, it aired on Hunan TV and Tencent Video. It is also watchable on WeTv and Viki.

Lin Zhi Xiao (Yang Zi), a budding cellist and a junior in the music department at her university, is determined to achieve her dreams.

Lin’s world is shaken when her father is hospitalised and diagnosed with cancer. Gu Wei/Dr Gu (Xiao Zhan), a doctor at the hospital, enters her life most awkwardly and unexpectedly.

Gu agrees to treat her father, and as they get to know each other, they begin to form a bond.

The Oath of Love was a highly anticipated C-drama, and one can see why. There is a lovely combination of humour and emotion. The balance is just right.

A Tho Dia Media review raves about the series:

“The only way to describe it is to say that it is a light, beautiful, and touching romance drama with an impeccable view of love and marriage and values and life.”

Overall the drama is entertaining, and the ending involves some heartwarming moments.

On a worldwide level, the Chinese dramas cited above and much more can be seen on streaming sites and apps like Amazon, Viki iQiyi, Netflix and WeTV.

Desi viewers and newbies to Chinese dramas will find there is a drama to suit every mood. Factors like beautiful cinematography and fabulous acting mean Chinese dramas should not be missed.

Somia is completing her thesis exploring racialised beauty and shadeism. She enjoys exploring controversial topics. Her motto is: "It's better to regret what you have done than what you haven't."

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