In the past, when most people thought of Asian entertainment, they mostly remembered anime. Anime was the most popular form of entertainment from Asia. But things have changed a lot in recent years. Now, a new kind of entertainment has caught the world’s attention – Asian dramas. Among these, the Korean dramas have been particularly popular and have attracted a huge following.
Before this surge in popularity for Korean dramas, known as the Hallyu wave, most people outside of Asia were not familiar with the heartfelt stories of love, family, and drama from the Land of Morning Calm. But these stories quickly captured the hearts of many and became a global sensation. Similarly, Japanese series, with their unique storytelling and fascinating characters, took audiences by surprise and gathered their own loyal fan base.
Asian cinema had its own special allure. It might not have been as globally recognized, but it had a charm that was different and intriguing. And now, with the world opening up more and more to different forms of entertainment from Asia, another contender is emerging – Chinese dramas. These dramas, with their rich history, captivating plots, and engaging characters, are now finding their place in the world’s entertainment landscape, establishing their own dedicated fan base.
Netflix and the Rise of Chinese Dramas
In recent times, the landscape of drama has seen a magnificent influx from various Asian countries onto global streaming platforms. While Netflix has been extensively spending on Korean content, their focus on Chinese dramas hasn’t dimmed. Originating from Taiwan and Mainland China, these series might run longer than their Korean or Japanese counterparts, but they captivate with their intricate romance, historical depth, and impressive production values.
Are you on the lookout for some underrated yet must-watch Chinese dramas? Look no further. Here’s a curated list of 12 dramas you shouldn’t miss on Netflix.
Epic Tales of Love and Loss
1. The Untamed
Based on the acclaimed novel by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, this television series delves deep into the poignant narrative of two young teenagers who come to the startling realization that they are destined soulmates. In their journey of love and companionship, their lives take a tumultuous turn when one of them, driven by curiosity and perhaps a hint of rebellion, delves into the forbidden realm of the dark arts.
This dangerous experimentation leads to a series of tragic events, ultimately culminating in his premature death. Yet, the bounds of their connection prove stronger than death itself, leading to an unexpected resurrection. Featuring the stellar acting talents of Xiao Zhen and Wang Yibo, this 50-episode masterpiece quickly rose to immense popularity, captivating viewers and making it an instant sensation throughout China.
2. Eternal Love
Set in the rich tapestry of Chinese mythology, the talented Yang Mi brings to life the character of Bai Qian. Once an ordinary being, Bai Qian undergoes a transformative journey and emerges as the formidable God of War after a succession of dramatic events. Her path intertwines with that of a noble prince, leading to a deep and captivating romance that becomes the heart of the story. Their love, however, isn’t a simple tale.
Set against the grandeur of battles, wars, and political intrigue, their relationship faces numerous challenges and trials. Furthermore, the narrative’s expansive scope, spanning an impressive 90,000 years, provides the audience with a majestic and timeless epic, chronicling the highs and lows of an unforgettable love story.
Romances That Blossomed Against the Odds
3. Put Your Head on My Shoulder
Set in the picturesque backdrop of a prominent Chinese university, the captivating series weaves the tale of Si Tu Mo, a diligent accounting student with dreams of making it big in the corporate world. As she navigates the challenges and pressures of her academic life, Si Tu Mo’s path unexpectedly crosses with that of Gu Wei Yi, a brilliant yet somewhat introverted physics student. While the two of them come from contrasting disciplines, their shared experiences in university life draw them close, sparking a romance that neither of them saw coming.
This beautifully narrated story doesn’t just focus on the blossoming affection between Si Tu Mo and Gu Wei Yi; it delves deep into their individual aspirations, dreams, and the hurdles they encounter. As they stand on the brink of adulthood, both are faced with tough decisions and uncertainties about the future, making this tale not just a romance but a reflection on the journey of youth.
4. Use For My Talent
Adapted from a widely-read and beloved Korean webtoon, the 2021 television series delves deep into the enthralling and unconventional love story of two contrasting individuals: a meticulous CEO with an extreme aversion to germs and a free-spirited woman who doesn’t concern herself with tidiness. At the outset, their stark differences lead to inevitable clashes and misunderstandings, giving the impression that they come from two completely different worlds.
However, as the narrative unfolds, these very disparities that once drove them apart become the catalyst for their growing affection. Instead of pushing them away from each other, their unique quirks and traits start weaving a bond of understanding and mutual respect. Their journey from discord to harmony captivates viewers, showcasing that sometimes love can be found in the most unexpected juxtapositions.
5. Unrequited Love
A heartfelt and evocative tale that unfolds over a span of 15 years, this narrative beautifully chronicles the ebbs and flows of a relationship that was destined to be more than just friendship. From the innocent days of childhood, where the protagonists were inseparable playmates, laughing under sunlit skies and sharing dreams beneath starry nights, their paths began to diverge as the complexities of life took them on different journeys. Years passed and they transitioned into distant acquaintances, their shared memories becoming faded pictures of a time gone by.
Yet, fate had its own plans. As they crossed each other’s paths again, they found themselves reminiscing about the past, reliving those cherished moments, and rediscovering the bond they once shared. Amidst life’s challenges and changing circumstances, their souls found solace in each other, leading them to a profound realization – that their journey, intertwined with memories, laughter, and tears, had blossomed into a deep-rooted love.
Gaming, E-Sports, and Unexpected Alliances
6. Falling Into Your Smile
In the captivating world of competitive gaming, this drama dives deep into the heart of e-sports. The narrative is set into motion when a renowned all-boys e-sports team faces an unexpected dilemma: one of their key players suffers an injury, leaving them one member short. With the stakes high and a tournament approaching, the team is pressed for time. In a world dominated by male gamers, their decision to think outside the box brings them to a revelation. They discover Tong Yao, a prodigious female gamer, known in the gaming circles for her unparalleled skills and quick reflexes.
Despite initial skepticism from both the community and her fellow teammates, Tong Yao’s determination, skill, and spirit prove she’s more than capable of holding her own. As the team navigates the pressures of competition, interpersonal dynamics shift. Amongst the thrilling games and heated practice sessions, a subtle romance starts to blossom between Tong Yao and the team’s charismatic leader. The evolving relationship adds another layer of complexity to the narrative, making for a riveting watch from start to finish.
7. Love O2O
Dive deep into the mesmerizing realm of the virtual universe alongside Weiwei, a dedicated and passionate computer science student. Immersed in the digital realm, she discovers an alluring connection that resonates both in the virtual space and in the tangible world around her. As she navigates the challenges and thrills of her academic life, she unexpectedly stumbles upon love – a love that transcends the boundaries of pixels and reality.
As the lines between the digital and physical world become increasingly blurred, Weiwei is thrust into a whirlwind of emotions and unexpected situations. These intriguing encounters challenge her perceptions, push her boundaries, and ultimately redefine what it means to connect in the modern age.
Mysteries, Ghosts, and the Supernatural
8. The Ghost Bride
Set against the vibrant and historically rich backdrop of 1890s Malacca, The Ghost Bride is a gripping drama that is the result of a unique collaboration between Taiwanese and Malaysian filmmakers. The series plunges viewers deep into the fascinating and eerie tradition of ghost brides, an ancient practice where a deceased person is married to another deceased individual, often as a means to ensure that neither would be lonely in the afterlife. Amidst the rich tapestry of tradition and superstition, the story follows Li Hua, a young and determined woman.
Following her sudden and unexplained death, she finds herself thrust into the unseen realm of the afterlife. Here, she becomes entangled in a web of deceit, unraveling a murder mystery where both the living and the dead are suspects. As she treads carefully in this spectral world, encountering various spirits with their own tales of woe or mischief, Li Hua is driven by an unyielding desire to uncover the truth, seeking justice for herself and the souls intertwined with her fate.
9. Love Between Fairy and Devil
In an enchanted realm hidden from mortal eyes, a delicate and ethereal fairy named Xiao Lanhua had always lived a peaceful life, dancing on the petals of blooming flowers and listening to the whispering winds. Her existence, serene and untroubled, took a dramatic turn one fateful day. While exploring a secluded part of the forest, she stumbled upon an ancient seal carved with cryptic symbols. Curiosity, a trait she had in abundance, led her to unknowingly unseal the binding spell, releasing the formidable Lord Devil who had been imprisoned for centuries.
As the Lord Devil stretched and took in his newfound freedom, the air around grew cold, and shadows danced menacingly. The balance of the realm had been irrevocably altered. This unintended act initiated a sequence of events where various destinies, previously parallel, began to intersect and weave into one another. The world now stood at the brink of chaos and harmony, light and dark, good and evil.
Among the unfolding chaos, an unexpected bond began to form between Xiao Lanhua and the Lord Devil. Drawn to each other by an inexplicable force, their paths continued to cross, and amidst the tumult, a forbidden love started to bloom. Their love story, while passionate and intense, was fraught with challenges, as the universe itself seemed to resist their union. But as the two beings from opposite ends of the spectrum came closer, the world watched, intrigued by the power of love that dared to defy all odds.
Royal Drama and Quests for Revenge
10. The Princess Weiyoung
Tiffany Tang delivers a captivating performance in the enthralling narrative centered around Feng Xin’er, a royal heir to a majestic throne. After witnessing the cruel obliteration of her family, she is driven by a burning passion for retribution. Consumed with a thirst for justice, Feng Xin’er meticulously crafts a new persona, shrouding herself in a veil of deception. This transformation is not just a means to conceal her true identity, but it also becomes her weapon of choice in the strategic game of vengeance she engages in.
As the plot unfolds, audiences are taken on an emotional rollercoaster, witnessing the depths of love, betrayal, and retribution, all brilliantly anchored by Tang’s impeccable portrayal of the protagonist. The tale delves deep into the intricacies of revenge, loyalty, and the strength of the human spirit when faced with unspeakable adversity.
Exploring Modern Relationships and Choices
11. Find Yourself
Victoria Song delivers a compelling performance as a company director, a woman of grace and authority who suddenly finds herself in the midst of an unexpected emotional whirlwind. A young, passionate intern at her firm begins to express deep affections towards her, his fervent admiration and youthfulness presenting a stark contrast to what she’s accustomed to. On the other hand, there’s a suitor closer to her age, someone who understands the nuances of her life and offers a more familiar, comfortable kind of love.
The story isn’t just a simple love triangle. Instead, it’s a riveting exploration of love in its multifaceted forms, the implications of age differences in relationships, and the challenging choices one has to make when confronted with unexpected twists in the heart’s journey. As Victoria’s character grapples with these conflicting emotions and decisions, audiences are left to ponder the complex nature of love, age, and the sacrifices we make for happiness.
12. A Love So Beautiful
In a bustling town, where dreams and ambitions interweave, there lies an evocative story of two classmates. Despite being from the same world, they are as different as day and night, opposites in temperament, aspirations, and even their very ways of life. One is an effervescent spirit, always looking to embrace the world with open arms, while the other is introspective and deliberate, weighing every step against a tapestry of thought. As they journey through the rigorous academic battleground known as the Gaokao exams, their lives intertwine in unexpected ways.
The immense pressure of the exam brings both competition and camaraderie, and amidst the high stakes, the fluttering emotions of young love begin to surface. These feelings add another layer of complexity to their already challenging academic endeavors. Their story is a vivid tapestry of contrasting colors, depicting their struggles and triumphs, heartbreaks and joys, as they both try to find their own path, all while being drawn irresistibly closer to one another.
With such a varied platter, Chinese dramas provide a refreshing experience for drama enthusiasts. They paint a vivid picture of Chinese culture, traditions, and their unique take on romance and drama. Dive into these tales, and let the charm of Chinese storytelling mesmerize you.