Kung hei fat choy, folks!
Let’s set aside our favorite K-dramas for now and focus on the C-dramas, which are just as good. As the Year of the Rabbit hops in, take the time to binge on these noteworthy series and get lost in the rollercoaster of emotions—from kilig to dread to disbelief to euphoria. These 10 highly recommended Chinese dramas welcome you to another world and will get you hooked.
This magical drama mesmerizes you with its two handsome male leads played by Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo who are “soulmate cultivators” who go through a journey to solve mysteries of their past lives. Based on the web novel by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, the 2019 series was a critical and commercial hit with its strong plot, characters and elaborate costumes and styling. Originally, it was written as a danmei which is “a Chinese genre of literature and other fictional media that features romantic relationships between male characters.” However, the homoerotic undertones were removed from the series due to Chinese censorship. Even so, the drama sucks you into its world of beings with spiritual powers and gripping excitement as enigmas are slowly uncovered. It’s a wonderful spectacle you will love to get lost in.
Ashes of Love (Netflix)
A love story full of immortals, deities, demons, and a heavenly emperor, starring Yang Zi and Deng Lun. Innocent Jin Mi has lived all her life in the Flower Realm and wishes to experience life outside. Little does she know, centuries before, her mother foresaw that Jin Mi will experience a “fatal love.” So before her death, she let her daughter take an “unfeeling pill” so that she will never have romantic feelings towards anyone. Powerful beings also protected the child by keeping her within the boundaries of the Flower Realm. Jin Mi then meets the Heavenly Emperor’s two sons and a love triangle ensues.
Eternal Love (Netflix)
This Chinese fantasy drama is based on a xianxia novel by Tang Qi Gong Zi. Xianxia is a literary genre of fantasy that is “inspired” by Taoism and Buddhism. It includes influences of Chinese mythology, martial arts, traditional medicine, alchemy, among other things. Starring Yang Mi and Mark Chao, the 2017 drama has had over 50 billion views making Eternal Love one of the most watched globally. The plot is quite complicated and spans thousands of years. Let’s just say that it is an epic romance of two deities that spans three lifetimes.
Who doesn’t know Meteor Garden? The original Meteor Garden debuted in 2001 with the mega-popular quartet of cuties, namely Jerry Yan, Vic Chou, Ken Chu and Vanness Wu as the Flower 4 (F4), the arrogant rich kids; while Barbie Shu plays a poor teenage girl who studies in their elite school. The Taiwanese Drama was based on the Japanese Shojo Manga series Boys Over Flowers. In 2018, a remake of the popular drama premiered in mainland China starring Dylan Wang, Darren Chen, Caesar Wu, and Connor Leong as the F4 boys, and Shen Yue as the picked-on poor school mate.
A Love So Beautiful (Netfix and Viu)
This drama is about young love and friendship of high school friends and neighbors. The four friends are portrayed by Hu Yi Tian, Shen Yue, Gao Zhi Ting, and Wang Zi Wei. Based on the novel To Our Pure Little Beauty by Zhao Gang An, this 2017 web series depicts the journey to the realities of adulthood which can challenge innocent love and enduring friendships.
Love Between Fairy and Devil (iQIYI and Netflix)
Another epic Chinese fantasy series, this 2022 drama involves the immortal and mortal realms. Gods, fairies, and other spirits battle it out over centuries to determine the fate of the world. It is not always a battle, but there is a touch of romance and drama as well. The main stars in this saga are Yu Shu Xin, Dylan Wang, Zhang Ling He, and Xu Hai Qiao.
Put Your Head on My Shoulder (Netflix)
An accounting student and a physics student unexpectedly live with each other in an apartment as arranged by their mothers who were old classmates. They were setting up their children and thought the pair would make a good match. It didn’t end up that way though, in the beginning: accounting student Si Tu Mo and physics student Gu Wei Yi don’t get along at first and bicker constantly. However, slowly, they fall in love. Xing Fei and Lin Yi stars as the romantic couple, in this drama based on a novel of the same name.
Joy of Life
This historical fiction drama centers around Fan Xian, an illegitimate son of the Minister of Finance and his mother who was the founder of Royal Treasury and the country’s spy network. She was killed shortly after he was born. Fan Xian was brought up by his mother’s body guard who taught him the martial arts. He then seeks out information on his mysterious mother and why there have been attempts on his life. He falls in love amidst all this with the illegitimate daughter of the Princess Royal. He also gets involved with issues with the Emperor and his sons. Everything starts falling into place as he discovers his true identity and purpose in life. Zhang Ruo Yun stars as the main character.
Skate Into Love
A romance formed on ice is what Skate Into Love is about. A speed skater and ice hockey player fall in love, but only after a rocky past relationship. They glide into their successful sports careers but not without complications—relationships, past first love, competition, intrusive parents. Based on a novel of the same name by Jiu Xiaoqi, the 2020 C-drama stars Janice Wu and Zhang Xincheng.
I Hear You (Netflix)
From its title alone, you could pretty much guess that music is a theme in this drama. Bei Er Duo’s dream is to be a professional singer but she lacks the funds to study in Japan. She joins a reality dating show to earn some money and meets violinist Ye Shu Wei. The two characters fall in love despite many entanglements. Will they end up making beautiful music together? The drama stars Riley Wang and Zhao Lu Si as the musical lovebirds.