Running out of shows to binge during your self-imposed quarantine? With Netflix stock soaring and TV streaming consumption up more than 60% in the US because of Covid-19, there has never been a more appropriate time to hunker down and explore Netflix’s library of top-rated Chinese dramas.
Here are some of the most buzzed-about Chinese dramas available on Netflix. Happy binging!
It would be impossible to compile a best-of Chinese dramas list without including The Untamed, the little fresh meat (小鲜肉) masterpiece with an army of frenzied fans across the globe.
The show is based on the xianxia (a genre of Chinese ancient fantasy adventure) novel Modao Zushi by Moxiangtongxiu. It stars idols Wang Yibo and Xiao Zhan as “soulmates” who traverse the world exorcising people of their demons and solving murder mysteries together. And while the source material features the men as an explicitly romantic item, The Untamed instead hints at their relationship in more subtle ways, most likely due to fears of censorship.
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A quick scroll through Twitter, Tumblr, or Archive of Our Own will tell you that the show has a massive following of mostly female fans. It originally aired on Tencent Video in the summer of 2019, but Netflix acquired all the episodes and released them in October. WeTV English has even released a special version for international fans that is available for free on YouTube. So now you have no excuse.
Watch The Untamed on Netflix here.
Rise of Phoenixes incorporates the best of heart-racing period drama with a compelling female lead. It stars Ni Ni as Feng Zhiwei, a woman who is falsely accused of a crime, then disguises herself as a man in order to infiltrate the emperor’s rank of advisors. She becomes an elite scholar, and later takes revenge against all her enemies. It also features Chen Kun as a rebellious prince and Zhiwei’s love interest.
Before it was released on Netflix to an international audience, the show was panned by Chinese viewers who followed its initial release on Hunan TV — so much so that they cut the number of episodes from 70 to 56. But now, it has a glowing 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, and the full-length Netflix version seems to have international fans intrigued.
Watch The Rise of the Phoenixes on Netflix here.
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The computer gaming drama seems to be a specialty of modern Chinese TV. If you’re interested in technology, romance, or both, Love 020 is impossible to miss.
In the show, Zheng Shuang plays a computer science major who is also an avid RPG gamer — after she is dumped by her e-boyfriend, she is approached by another top player who she doesn’t know is also her crush in real life. As you can imagine, all kinds of adorable shenanigans ensue.
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Love 020 is one of the most popular Chinese dramas around, with over 25 billion online views. It even spawned a movie version starring Angelababy in 2016. It’s definitely the forerunner of the e-sports drama craze that’s currently taking over the Chinese internet right now. The lead actor Yang Yang is currently starring in wildly popular e-sports drama The King’s Avatar, which, lucky us, is also streaming on Netflix.
Watch Love 020 on Netflix here.
More binge-worthy watches:
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5 Chinese Films to Binge on Netflix This Winter Break
5 Chinese Films to Watch on Netflix This Summer
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