24 of The Best Chinese Dramas to Learn Chinese (in 2021)
Trying to find good Chinese dramas to help you learn Chinese can be pretty tough, there are just so many of them!
That’s why we’ve done the work for you, so that you can spend less time trying to find the right Chinese drama for you and more time practising your Chinese.
Follow the guide, click on the links to read our complete reviews, let us know in the comments 👇 the best Chinese dramas you ever watched, and enjoy!
Chinese Dramas – Modern
Chinese Dramas – Romantic
Chinese Dramas – Historical and Fantasy
Chinese Dramas – Crime and Political
Chinese Dramas – Taiwanese
Key: 💻 = Available to watch on Netflix
All is Well
The Chinese drama All is Well (都挺好 dōu tǐng hǎo) centres on a Chinese family.
It is a great show to learn about Chinese family traditions and values.
The drama shows the struggles faced by the Su (苏 sū) family as three adult siblings are faced with having to care for their elderly father after their mother dies.
Read our full review of All is Well
Meteor Garden 💻
Meteor Garden (流星花园 liú xīng huā yuán) is a Chinese drama that was really successful internationally, and is available to watch on Netflix.
The show tells the story of Dong Shancai (董杉菜) a student from a modest family who gets accepted at the top university in the country.
But, at university she encounters the F4, the four most popular guys at school who are all rich and spoiled.
Be prepared for an emotional roller coaster if you watch this drama, it is full of ups and downs which are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Read our full review of Meteor Garden
Ode to Joy
Hailed as the Chinese version of Sex and the City, Ode to Joy (欢乐颂 huānlè sòng) was huge hit in China when it first aired in 2016.
The show centres on five women in their 20s and early 30s.
They all live on the same floor of an apartment complex in Shanghai.
The women are all from varying economic backgrounds, making it a really good drama to learn about the different obstacles faced by women in modern China.
Ode to Joy is one of the best Chinese dramas for learning about dating in modern China, as well as Chinese attitudes to love and relationships.
Read our full review of Ode to Joy
Ode to Joy Chinese Drama – A Review for Chinese Learners
Discover Chinese TV – Ode to Joy Chinese Drama The Chinese drama Ode to Joy (欢乐颂 huānlè sòng) is a great series to watch for those Chinese learners out there! The modern language and depiction of modern life in China…
The First Half of My Life
The First Half of My Life (我的前半生 wǒ de qián bànshēng) is a great drama to learn about guanxi (关系 guānxì) and the Chinese workplace.
The main protagonist in this drama is Luo Zijun (罗子君 Luō zijūn).
A 33 year old housewife who’s husband decides to leave her for another woman after eight years of marriage.
This forces Luo Zijin out into the workplace so that she can support herself and her son. A love triangle is also thrown into the mix, so expect plenty of drama to ensue.
Read our full review of The First Half of My Life
Shi Cha Hai
Anyone familiar with Beijing will recognise the name of the drama Shi Cha Hai (什刹海 shíchàhǎi) as it is also a famous scenic spot in Beijing.
If you want to experience Beijing daily life from the comfort of your sofa, then this is the series for you!
The show focuses on three generations of the Zhuang family who live in a Shicha Hai Hutong in central Beijing.
The patriarch of the family is Mr Zhuang who was previously a famous chef. However, his peaceful life is disturbed as Shicha Hai starts to become a lively attraction.
Read our full review of Shi Cha Hai
Get Married or Not
Get Married or Not is one of the best Chinese dramas to learn about modern day marriage concepts in China.
The Chinese name of the show is 谁说我结不了婚 shuíshuō wǒ jiébùliǎo hūn, literally: “who said I can’t get married” in English.
At the centre of this drama a three independent, successful career women in their 30s. However, they are viewed as failing in life because they are unmarried.
The main protagonist Cheng Lu (程璐 chéng lù) has always said that she isn’t married because she doesn’t want to be, not because she can’t.
But, will all this change when she meets psychologist professor Wei Shu (魏书 wèi shū)?
Read our full review of Get Married or Not
Get Married or Not 💒 Get to Know the Popular Concepts of Marriage in China
Get Married or Not drama is a Chinese TV show released in 2020. The Chinese name is called 谁说我结不了婚 shuíshuō wǒ jiébùliǎo hūn – find out more about it here.
Nothing But Thirty
Nothing But Thirty (三十而已 sānshí éryǐ) has been one of the hit Chinese dramas of 2020.
This TV series tells the story of three women who have reached their 30s and the pressure they now face.
All three women come from different backgrounds with different personalities. The women also show the three states of: unmarried and childless, married and childless, and married and childbearing.
There is strong willed Gu Jia ( 顾佳 gùjiā) who is both a wife and a businesswomen. Independent and single Wang Manni 王漫妮 wáng mànnī who works as a senior salesperson in a luxury designer store called Mishil.
And finally there is Zhong Xiaoqin 钟晓芹 zhōngxiǎoqín who’s ordinary life is turned upside down when she is offered a publishing deal.
Read our full review of Nothing But Thirty
Go Go Squid
Go Go Squid (亲爱的，热爱的 qīn’ài de, rè’ài de) is a popular Chinese romantic drama.
At the heart of this romantic show is the computer science genius Tong Nian (佟年 tóng nián), who has a really high IQ, oh and she’s also a popular internet singer, talk about talented!
Tong Nian falls for e-sport champion Han Shangyan (韩商言 hánshāngyán), who happens to also be another computer genius.
This is a great show for learning some Chinese internet slang.
Read our full review of Go Go Squid
Hot Mom! (辣妈正传 là mā zhèng zhuàn) is a 2013 Chinese romantic comedy drama.
The show follows the story of Xia Bing (夏冰 xià bīng) a 26 year old woman who’s life motto is
“No marriage or kids until the age of 30.”
However, things take an unexpected turn when she accidentally gets pregnant and must now face the prospect of marrying her boyfriend and raising a child while also juggling her career and social life.
Love O2O 💻
Love O2O (微微一笑很倾城 wēiwēi yīxiào hěn qīngchéng) is one of the most watched Chinese modern dramas, with a staggering 25 billion views online!
The star of this drama is Bei Weiwei (贝微微 bèi wéiwéi) a computer science major who is amazing at playing the online role-playing game A Chinese Ghost Story.
However, she is dumped by her in-game husband.
Things take a turn though… she is soon approached by the top player Xiao Nai (肖奈 xiào nài) who wants them to enter competitions together.
What happens? Tune in to find out!
Read our full review of Love O2O
Well Intended Love 💻
Well-Intended Love (奈何老板要娶我 nàihé lǎobǎn yào qǔ wǒ) is a romantic comedy drama series which was released in 2019.
The premise of the show is that Xia Lin (夏林 xià lín), a struggling actress, is diagnosed with leukaemia. She needs a bone marrow transplant but the only donor match is Ling Yizhou (凌异洲 líng yìzhōu), a rich arrogant man who doesn’t want to help her.
However, Ling is under pressure from his family to marry, so a deal between the two is made.
Unsurprisingly things do not go as smoothly as planned. You can expect LOTS of plot twists and unexpected revelations so be prepared to be shocked!
Read our full review of Well Intended Love
Well-Intended Love Review (2019) – Learning Chinese With Dramas
Well-Intended Love (2019) – Review for Chinese Learners Who got bored doing exercises from a school book? Writing lines of characters in a notebook over and over again? Well… I have. I love learning new languages but I get bored…
Historical and Fantasy
Empresses in the Palace 💻
As you may have guessed by the name, Empresses in the Palace (后宫甄嬛传 hòugōng zhēnhuán zhuàn) is a Chinese period drama set during the Qing Dynasty.
The main protagonist is concubine Zhen Huan (甄嬛 zhēnhuán) who becomes a favourite of the emperor Yong Zheng (雍正 yōngzhèng).
However, this makes the Empress jealous so she plots for a way to get rid of Zhen Huan.
Read our full review of Empresses in the Palace
Learn about some real life Chinese empresses in our most famous women from Chinese history blog.
The Untamed 💻
The Untamed (陈情令 chén qíng lìng) is a Chinese fantasy drama. It was a huge hit, accumulating a total of 6.8 billion views on Tencent by the end of 2019!
This drama is based in an Ancient Chinese martial arts world, where the land is ruled by five sects.
Our two heroes are Wei Wuxian (魏无羡 wèi wúxiàn) and Lan Wangji (蓝忘机 lán wàngjī).
Despite being from different sects the two soon become close friends. They travel around together solving mysteries and trying to make the world a better place.
This is another one of the Chinese dramas on our list that is available to watch on Netflix, which is great for any of those out there with a subscription.
Read our full review of The Untamed
Yanxi Palace: Princess Adventures 💻
Yanxi Palace: Princess Adventures (金枝玉叶 jīnzhīyùyè) is another Chinese period drama set during the Qing Dynasty.
At the centre of this series is Princess Zhaohua (昭华公主 zhāo huá gōngzhǔ).
The strong willed seventh daughter of Emperor Qianlong.
Princess Zhaohua must face many obstacles in her life in the palace. Including a vendetta against her family, romantic affairs and wedding alliances just to name a through.
This Chinese drama is a spin-off from The Story of Yanxi Palace (延禧攻略 yánxǐ gōnglüè). But, isn’t essential to have watched the original series. The show is only available to watch on Netflix.
Read our full review of Yanxi Palace: Princess Adventures
Wu Zetian (1995)
The only female empress of China, Wu Zetian (武则天 wǔzétiān) has been the subject of many books, films and TV shows.
This TV drama is the one released in 1995, starring Liu Xiaoqing (刘晓庆 liú xiǎoqìng) as Wu Zetian.
Not to be confused with the drama The Empress of China (武媚娘传奇 wǔ mèiniáng chuánqí) which stars famous Chinese actress Fan Bingbing as Wu.
The 1995 TV series follows Wu Zetian’s rise to power, beginning with when she entered Emperor Taizong’s harem when she was 13. What follows is lots of palace intrigue, plots, betrayals and much more.
Read our full review of Wu Zetian
Da Zhai Men
This drama is for anyone who has an interest in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Da Zhai Men (大宅门 dàzháimén) is based on the real life of Le Jingyu (乐镜宇 lè jìng yǔ) renamed Bai jingqi (白景琦báijǐngqí) in the show. He owns the pharmacy Tongrentang (同仁堂 tóngréntáng), renamed “Pharmacy Herbs Hall” (百草厅 bǎi cǎo tīng) in the series.
The show follows the life of the family and their business running their pharmacy starting near the end of the Qing dynasty and going throughout the tumultuous 20th century.
The director and the screenwriter of the drama is Guo baochang (郭宝昌guōbǎochāng) who is Le Jingyu’s adopted son. It took him 40 years to finish the script!
Read our full review of Da Zhai Men
New Legend of Madame White Snake
New Legend of Madame White Snake (新白娘子传奇 xīn bái niángzǐ chuánqí) tells the story of the famed Chinese legend: The Legend of the White Snake.
There have been numerous TV series and films about this legend.
This TV series production is the 1992 version, although there is also a 2019 version called The Legend of White Snake (新白娘子传奇 xīn bái niángzǐ chuánqí) available on Netflix.
The legend is about Bai Suzhen 白素贞 báisùzhēn who was a white snake but manages to transform herself into a human. She is searching for her true love and has been told to go to West Lake in Hangzhou to meet him.
There on the Broken Bridge she meets Xu Xian (许仙 xǔxiān) and it is love at first sight. But what will happen when he learns that she was transformed form a snake?
Read our full review of New Legend of Madame White Snake
Crime and Political
The Bad Kids
The Bad Kids (隐秘的角落 yǐnmì de jiǎoluò) made some seriously big waves in the land of Chinese TV when it landed in June 2020.
It has received rave reviews from both China and abroad with many critics saying that it takes Chinese dramas to a whole new level.
Sometimes The Bad Kids is also referred to as Hidden Corners which is the English translation of the Chinese name.
The series follows the story of three children who inadvertently film a murder scene. The kids become involved with the murder suspect and what follows is a dark and complicated story about life and morality in modern China.
This is definitely one of the best Chinese TV series to come out of 2020. It is the perfect show for anyone who is looking for an alternative to your usual upbeat, romantic Chinese drama.
Read our full review of The Bad Kids
Another one of iQIYI’s hit 2020 web series, Kidnapping Game (十日游戏 shí rì yóuxì) is adapted from Keigo Higashino’s detective thriller The Name of the Game is a Kidnapping.
Kidnapping Game takes place over the series of just 10 days. As you might guess from the name at the centre of this TV show is a kidnapping. But with a 4 million ransom paid and the victim then turning up dead what is the heart to this mystery?
As the series unfolds it seems that there is much more to this kidnapping than it seems with an even greater danger looming in the background.
In the Name of the People
In the Name of the People (人民的名义 rénmín de míngyì) is a 2017 Chinese political drama about China’s anti-corruption (反腐败 fǎn fǔbài) campaign in a modern day fictional Chinese town.
Many people have called the show the Chinese version of House of Cards.
It was hugely popular when released in China reaching 59 billion views on iQiYi.
The program’s main protagonist is handsome detective Hou Lianping (侯亮平 hóu liàngpíng).
The show displays the internal power struggle of the Chinese Communist Party in the fictional city of Jingzhou.
This is definitely one of the most serious Chinese dramas on our list.
When a Snail Falls in Love
When a Snail Falls in Love (如果蜗牛有爱情 rú guǒ wō niú yǒu ài qíng) is a Chinese crime drama.
When it was released in 2016 it was so popular that it got 200 million online hits in the first week!
The show is about Detective Ji Bai (季白 jì bái) who has to train a new recruit, the criminal profiler Xu Xu (许诩 xǔ xǔ).
The pair have to try and solve a series of crimes that seem to be mysteriously connected. Xu Xu proves to be talented at her job all in except one detail, she runs as slowly as a snail!
Iron Ladies 💻
Iron Ladies (姊的時代 jiě de shí dài) is a modern Taiwanese drama set in Taipei.
It focuses on three successful career woman who seem to have it all.
However, things are never that simple, with each woman having personal struggles that may not appear on the surface.
Added into this mix is the young and naive Su Can (蘇燦 sū càn), a young barista and artist who has recently moved to Taipei to try and find himself a career.
Read our full review of Iron Ladies
Devil Beside You
Devil Beside You (惡魔在身邊 èmó zài shēnbiān) is a classic college Taiwanese drama. Released in 2005 it is still a firm fan favourite and very popular.
At the centre of this drama is the sweet and innocent Qi Yue (齐悦 qí yuè). She has a crush on the basketball team captain Shang Yuan Yi (尚源伊 shàng yuányī) and decides to tell him with a letter.
However, the letter actually ends up in the hands of the college troublemaker Jiang Meng (江猛 jiāng měng).
Soon a love triangle develops and there is plenty of drama and plot twists that will keep you hooked.
Read our full review of Devil Beside You
Life Plan A and B 💻
The Taiwanese drama mini series Life Plan A and B (荼蘼 tú mí) has an unusual twist: it follows two parallel story lines.
This series is all about the “What ifs…” in life, everyone has probably wondered what might have happened if they made a different decision in their life.
Well Life Plan A and B does exactly that, showing the two possible lives of Zheng Ruwei (郑汝为 zhèng rǔwèi).
In the Plan A story line Zheng Ruwei moves to Shanghai to pursue her career, leaving behind her boyfriend Tang Youyan (汤有彦 tāng yǒuyàn).
In Plan B Zheng Ruwei decides to stay in Taiwan and help Tang Youyan instead.
Read our full review of Life Plan A and B
Not sure you’re ready to commit to watching a whole series? Check out our list of best Chinese movies to learn Chinese instead.
Best Chinese Movies to Learn Chinese – LTL’s Top 15 🏆
There are so many options out there, it is completely normal to feel lost when looking for the best Chinese movies to learn Chinese nowadays.
Chinese Dramas – FAQ’s
What is the best Chinese drama?
Some of the best Chinese dramas are Ode to Joy, Meteor Garden, Empresses in the Palace, The Untamed, look at our full list to find out more.
What is the most popular Chinese drama now?
The most popular Chinese drama in 2020 was The Untamed, other popular Chinese dramas are Love O2O, Ode to Joy and Go Go Squid.
What is the most romantic Chinese drama?
Some of the most romantic Chinese dramas are Go Go Squid, Well Intended Love, Love O2O.
What Chinese dramas are available on Netflix?
Love 020, Iron Ladies, Yanxi Palace: Princess Adventures are just a few of the Chinese dramas available on Netflix. Check out the titles with a 💻 next to them to see all the ones available on Netflix.
What do you call a Chinese drama?
In Chinese a Chinese drama is called 中国电视连续剧 zhōngguó diànshì liánxùjù, or sometimes more specifically for a Mainland Chinese drama 中国大陆电视剧 zhōngguó dàlù diànshìjù.
What is the best modern Chinese drama?
There are loads of great modern Chinese dramas a few examples are Go Go Squid, Ode to Joy, In the Name of the People.
Why do Chinese dramas have so many episodes?
Chinese dramas often have around 40 episodes because most dramas only have one season. Rather than being split into multiple seasons the dramas are just released as one so they have a lot of episodes.
What are some good Chinese historical dramas?
Two of our favourite Chinese historical dramas are Yanxi Palace: Princess Adventures and Empresses in the Palace.
What is a good Taiwanese drama?
Some good Taiwanese dramas are Iron Ladies, Devil Beside You, Life Plan A and B, have a look at our blog for the full list.
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