I am not yet sure how I started watching Chinese TV Shows. I never actively searched for any and yet my YouTube algorithm decided to recommend me clips from some shows. From there, I got hooked and watched show after show.
By the end of 2022, I realised how much time I spent in watching these shows and, more importantly, how much I am in love with these new kinds of shows.
Earlier I used to watch mostly Hindi shows and a lot of American shows. There would occasionally be few British or Australian shows, but they too would be in English. This is the first time I watched shows in a language I do not understand. Reading subtitles episode after episode was actually more fun than I initially anticipated. And I soon figured out that subtitles are just one small part of getting immersed in a story. The visuals often let us know what is happening, even when we don’t understand the words.
So, I decided to roundup my favourite Chinese Shows and share my excitement shamelessly. These are just a few of the shows I have watched. There were many shows I did not finish as I didn’t like them, while many others I finished but they did not make the cut for this list. Once you watch any show, you will anyway get too many recommendations to keep track of.
Few disclaimers – I will try to keep them as spoiler free as possible, but I make no promises. Even knowing the story will not take away from your experience of enjoying the show.
List of Shows
1. Love Like The Galaxy and The Long Ballad
I wanted to give a sort of ranking to all the shows, but I got stuck at the very first step itself. These are two shows I love so much that I honestly can not rank one higher than the other. Trust me, I tried.
So, I am doing the next best thing. Both these shows share the top rank from me (not that it matters).
Love Like The Galaxy is the story of Cheng Shao Shang and Ling Bui. This story has love and heartbreak and wars and mind blowing action sequence and surprisingly so much comedy.
Cheng Shao Shang was left behind with her grandmother and other relatives when her parents go away to fight in the war. She grows up being bullied by everyone, but that just brings out her bolder side. Cheng Shao is sharp witted and has a vengeful side. She never shies away from a conflict. Actress Zhao Lusi plays this role, and she shows captures the innocent and free spirit with such a grace.
Ling Bui is a fearsome army general who shows his gently side only with Cheng Shao. He saves her again and again without making her feel inferior. Rather, he brings a kind of love and acceptance into her life that she always craved. Actor Lei Wu is just too perfect. He makes the action sequences look so elegant and grand.
Love story of Cheng Shao and Ling Bui is not without its share of ups and downs. Lies and trust issues can break any relationship, no matter how strong. What I loved in this show is that it really shows how much effort is needed to repair a broken relationship.
The Long Ballad is an epic saga. This is the story of Li Changge and Ashile Sun.
Li Changge is a princess in the Tang Dynasty who has to flee when her parents were killed. She is a great warrior herself and she vows to build an army and come back to claim what rightfully belongs to her.
Ashile Sun is a general and leader of enemies of Tang Dynasty. He meets Li Changge and helps her escape.
Li Changge is played by beautiful Dilraba Dilmurat while Ashile Sun is played by my favourite Lei Wu. I can’t imagine anyone else for these roles.
Through out the story, Li Changge and Ashile Sun meet and helped each other despite being on opposite sides. Their love story develops but they face much serious challenges. After all, their motives are not just different, but are clashing. They even hurt each other at times.
The best part of this story was that they both understood each other and the differences that kept them apart. Neither asked the other to change. And yet they both trusted each other with their lives.
Li Changge is a great fighter herself and she is treated like one by Ashile Sun. He never treats her as anything less than himself or other warriors. He helps her and protects her and knows that she will help and protect him too. This was a relationship of equals.
2. Story of Yanxi Palace
This story takes place during the reign of emperor Qian Long. Wei Ying Luo starts her journey in the palace as a maidservant. Over time, she gets closer to the empress and after her death, through strange circumstance, she becomes a concubine of the emperor.
This is a historic political drama. I am not sure how accurate it is, but I can vouch that it is entertaining.
Actress Jinyan Wu plays the role of Wei Ying Luo, and she is my favourite in this show. She brings so much freshness in what appears to be such a stiff palace drama.
3. Three Lives Three Worlds, Ten Miles of Peach Blossom
This show is centered around the love story of Bai Qian and Ye Hua, although their love story is just one small part of the epic story shown in this show. It is based on the novel – To the Sky Kingdom and I have to admit that it stays true to the spirit of the book.
The story spans thousands of years and multiple worlds and captures the epic fantasy in such a grand way. I love the special effects and the entire atmosphere that is shown in the show.
4. Court Lady
Story of Cheng Chu Mo and Fu Ruo. For Cheng Chu Mo, it was love at first sight when he saw Fu Ruo. But it was not easy to convince her. She had high standards, and that made Cheng Chu get serious in his life and become a great strategist. Even when they both admitted their love for each other, there were external forces keeping them apart.
This is probably the most feel-good story on this list. There is romance and misunderstanding and even epic fights with pirates. What more does one need?
But what I loved the most is how love changed both of them. How they both became a better version of themselves for love. I truly believe that’s what love should do – Inspire us to become better.
5. The Blue Whisper
In its core essence, this is the love story of a fairy Ji Hun He and a mermaid Chang Yi. But it’s not as simple as that.
This show has the most beautiful visuals. There is magic, there is deception, there is love and hate (often with the same person) and there are several epic battles. Overall, a pretty complete package.
Fairy Ji Hun He lives in the flower valley which is probably the most beautiful places in this world but she is still trapped there. All she wants is to escape from her prison. Mermaid Chang Yi is brought to the flower valley as a prisoner. Naturally, Ji Hun empathises with him.
What follows is their escape and instead getting trapped again and again. They have to fight a lot of villains and occasionally each other too.
The love story and emotions are so raw and beautiful in this show.
6. The King’s Women
This is also loosely based on a historic event. I am not sure about the historical accuracy. The story is basically a love triangle between Gongsun Li, Ying Zheng and Jing Ke.
Gongsun Li and Jing Ke were childhood lovers. But before they could get married, emperor Ying Zheng forces Gongsun Li to become his concubine. Accepting her fate, Gongsun Li enters the palace and becomes the King’s Woman.
Ying Zheng is the main lead of this show but he is probably the worst character I have seen in any show. This is not a love story simply because Ying Zheng is not capable of loving anyone. Again and again, he hurts everyone around him. Being an emperor, one could do pretty much anything.
The ending is sad but justified. I can not imagine any other ending to this story. I mean, the ending of a hate story can not be a happy one.
7. Novoland: Pearl Eclipse
This is a magical story of Hai Shi and Fang Jianming. Hai Shi’s village was attacked when she was a young girl. She was rescued by Fang Jianming, who then accepted her as his student and trained her in martial arts.
Hai Shi dressed as a man and entered the army. Only Fang Jianming knows she is a woman. Hai Shi is in love with him for most of her life, but he has his own reason to stay away from her despite his deep love for her.
Most of the show kept me on edge as I kept waiting for these two to finally resolve all the external issues, keeping them apart and finally come together. I can’t express it in words when they finally kissed for the first time.
The side stories in this show are amazing as well. Overall, a great show.
8. The Legends
I don’t know how to explain this story. Basically, this story is about Lu Zhao Yao and Li Chen Lan (Mo Qing). It is a kind of love story, but it is more than that. Mostly it has such hilarious moments. Even some fight scenes will make you laugh so hard.
There is an absurd kind of magic. I mean, it won’t make sense most of the time. There are gods and demons and reincarnation and swords that have their own minds. Loss of memory also plays an important part in moving the plot.
Basically, Mo Qing was trapped, as it was predicted that he will bring a lot of evil into this world. Lu Zhao saves him saying that he has not hurt anyone, so why believe a random prediction? Mo Qing was instantly in love with Lu Zhao, who is pretty clueless and busy in enjoying her own life.
War happens, and she is trapped. Mo Qing keeps her sect growing, and when Lu Zhao comes back, all sorts of confusion takes place. Overall, it’s not just a love story and yet the love component is strangely comforting.
9. Shang Shi (Royal Feast)
Royal kitchen and food prepared there is the center of the story. I mean, the story is pretty straightforward and too similar to other shows.
Yao Zin Ji starts working in the royal kitchen, making food for the imperial family. Zhu Zhan Ji is the grandson of the emperor directly in the line of inheritance of the throne. They meet, fall in love, get married and lots of confusion happens. Typical palace drama stuff.
But what I loved in this show is all the food shown in each and every episode. I have never even seen any of the dishes shown, let alone know how they might taste. But still, they were shown in such a way that I was constantly craving the food.
10. The Wolf
This was the very first Chinese Show I ever watched. This show is responsible for me still stuck watching show after show. So naturally this show has a special place in my heart despite it being not such a great show. I am sure that if I had come across this after watching any of the shows listed above, I would not have felt anything for it.
I guess this is the power of first love. No matter what happens next, one can never forget their first love.
The story revolves around Ma Zhaixing and an orphan boy living in wild with wolves. They become close friends and fall in love. However, the wolf boy is chased when he tries to rescue a wolf pup and he falls from a cliff. He is then rescued by the emperor who adopts him and names him Prince of Bo.
Years pass by and Prince Bo and Ma Zhaixing meet again. They face more trials before they can finally get together.
The story might not be as epic as others, but I loved it. Particularly, I loved the song which plays whenever the main couple is shown together. I don’t understand the words, but I love when it starts rapping. It is so cool to hear rapping in a historical/fantasy setting.
All the above shows are either historical or fantasy dramas. Which means everyone is dressed in a different way from what we see today. I mostly watch such shows cos they are my favourite.
But I watched one show which is set in modern times and I absolutely loved it. I just have to mention it.
You Are My Glory
What can I say about this show? It is such a beautiful love story. There is no unnecessary misunderstanding keeping them away or any villain causing problems. It is just a wholesome story about two people in love.
Qian Jingjing is a beautiful and famous movie star and Yu Tu is an aerospace engineer. They belong to two very different worlds. But they studied in the same school growing up and then meet again after many years. This is when they fall in love with each other.
Despite them knowing each other since childhood, they take their time to fall in love. And the show doesn’t end there. Their story is shown through years when they both are very much in love with other and also keep working on what they love the most. One a big star and the other making satellites to reach the stars.
It is the perfect relationship as both love each other the way they are, without any expectations of each other to change. Rather, they do everything they can to fit into the other person’s life willingly.
A beautiful love story.