Hundreds of Chinese dramas are released every year both online and through television broadcasting. 2019’s crop of web series and televised dramas came out fairly strong! Here is a list of just some of the popular, highly rated, or talked about dramas for either Chinese or international fans.
“A Little Reunion”
“A Little Reunion” was one of the most talked-about dramas of the year and came out a winner in terms of ratings in its time slot! The drama deals with the common event that students in China must face: the gaokao, a rigorous exam that determines students’ admissions into the different tiered universities in the country. The drama remains a thought-provoking series as it delves into the issues of the intensity of the exam, the pressure parents put on their children, and even the struggle the kids face in pursuing their dreams.
This show does such a wonderful job of showing these diverse families as they falter and butt heads with their kids over different mindsets on education, grades, and scores. There’s great character development too once the parents and children bridge their gap and choose to understand one another’s views. For a show with lots of heart and tear-jerking scenes, this one must not be missed!
“All is Well”
Similar to “A Little Reunion,” this drama was also widely talked about and is a home to a plethora of memes! The drama begins with the death of the Su Da Qiang’s wife. His children reunite to deal with the aftermath, but her death opens up past issues within the family and causes a strain on their own personal lives. This series really takes one for a ride. It’s a family drama at its core, and it delivers the emotional punches through the dysfunctional dynamics and the bittersweet memories of growing up in the Su household. The characters all hold terrible flaws and cause great frustration because of their antics and behaviors, but the hecticness of their lives plays out in such a relatable way that it makes the storytelling shine and addicting to tune in to. This show will also bring in lots of tears and touch the hearts of viewers as each character picks up the pieces of their broken familial relationships and overcomes their past anguishes and regrets.
“Go Go Squid”
This show was able to have its total accumulated average from all episodes reach over 1 percent in ratings. (Note: Ratings of over 1 percent is a good sign for a TV drama in China). What makes “Go Go Squid’s” accomplishment standout, though, is it aired simultaneously on two different broadcasting stations and was able to still achieve this feat that only a handful of other dramas have been able to do. Han Shang Yan (Li Xian), formerly known for his expert skills as Gun God for Team Solo in the CTF world, now heads his own team with the goal of winning the championships, which he couldn’t personally achieve back then. He meets Tong Nian (Yang Zi), a graduate student in programming who falls for him immediately. Their romance starts from a misunderstanding but quickly advances to a sweet relationship as they work towards their individual goals and baggage. “Go Go Squid” is a movingly patriotic gaming and romance-heavy drama. It houses numerous adorable characters and contains an inspirational message about pursuing your dreams and overcoming the hardships that come along.
Enter the sweet romance of “Go Go Squid now:
“Goodbye My Princess”
Based on the popular novel “Eastern Palace,” this drama is well-known for its tragic storyline. The ill-fated tale begins as Princess Xiao Feng (Peng Xiao Ran) falls for Li Cheng Yin (Chen Xing Xu), the fifth prince of a rival kingdom. He betrays her in order to become the crown prince, which causes her to jump into the River of Forgetfulness. With their memories wiped, Cheng Yin and Xiao Feng fatefully meet again to start on a clean slate — that is until her memories resurface. “Goodbye My Princess” contains betrayal, angst, and buckets of tears. This heart-wrenching romance has great acting from our leads and a beautiful OST that heightens the sad trajectory of Xiao Feng and Cheng Yin’s love story. Do not forget that there is an epilogue that places the characters in modern-day!
Prepare tissues and start watching “Goodbye My Princess” now:
“Heavenly Sword and Dragon Slaying Saber (2019)”
This series takes its plot from Jin Yong’s famous novel and is the last in its trilogy. As a well-known wuxia novel, “The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber” has had multiple adaptations, and this drama is the most recent of remakes. Starring an up-and-coming cast of actors, the series depicts a legend of the heavenly sword and dragon-slaying saber, both of which have a secret martial arts manual that could make its wielder very powerful. This creates a backstory to this drama as multiple sects vie for the sword and saber. The show incorporates a lot of the awesome aspects of a wuxia drama. It has cool fight scenes, an intricate plot that focuses on multiple sects and characters, a romance between the main leads, and great character growth!
“Le Coup de Foudre”
“Le Coup de Foudre” is based on a very popular work, so this garnered fans’ attention once the live adaptation was announced. This series chronicles Zhao Qiao Yi’s (Wu Qian) and Yan Mo’s (Zhang Yu Jian) lives from high school sweethearts to their stories as adults. It’s a cute slice-of-life drama, and best of all, it reveals the happy ending for this couple in its first episode! The drama starts off with their married life and flashes back to their pasts as it details their family issues, the bumps in the relationship, and the struggles in the workplace. “Le Coup de Foudre” packs in lots of heartwarming moments between family, enviable portrayals of friendship, and a romance that weathers through heaps of hurdles. This drama includes a special as well.
Experience the world of first loves in “Le Coup de Foudre now:
“Love and Destiny”
“Love and Destiny” takes place in the same universe as “Eternal Love: Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms” and has one of the highest-rated scores for dramas of 2019! Ling Xi (Ni Ni), a young and weak fairy, awakens Jiu Chen (Chang Chen) the God of War, who was recuperating and in a deep slumber after he sealed away the Demon Lord. He starts out suspecting her, as not anyone has the power to awaken him, and he decides to keep a close watch of her. Through their time together, Ling Xi and Jiu Chen fall in love. However, the Heavenly Palace faces its greatest calamity when the Demon Lord’s reawakening threatens the safety of everyone and causes the couple to tragically separate and face multiple hardships to reunite once again.
“Love and Destiny” does an exemplary job of creating such a beautiful romance between Jiu Chen and Ling Xi. Their character development is also a great addition to the wonderful storytelling. It has been a pleasure to see Ling Xi’s self-awareness and refusal to be a damsel in distress as it really highlights her inner strength and progressing maturity. Likewise, witnessing Jiu Chen’s coldness transform into warm actions and expressions as he puts his all into reuniting with Ling Xi absolutely captivates the heart.
Tune in to the epic romance of “Love and Destiny” now:
“Put Your Head On My Shoulder”
“Put Your Head On My Shoulder” also has high scores for a rom-com web drama and is based on a novel by the writer of “A Love So Beautiful.” Si Tu Mo (Fei Xing) begins job searching as her graduation nears. Her crush on her best friend Fu Pei (Tang Xiao Tian) does not work out, but Gu Wei Yi (Lin Yi), a Physics major, enters into her life just in time. They don’t start off with the best first impression of each other, but as they continue to live under the same apartment, their feelings blossom into something more.
This series is comfortable and easy to watch. The couple share numerous adorable and humorous instances without any frustrating moments. Their relationship is a bit more mature as they are in college, but it still packs on sweet episodes of the pairing. Also, this show has a special episode too that follows what happens in the future.
Discover the cute college romance of “Put Your Head On My Shoulder” now:
“The King’s Avatar”
The live adaptation of “The King’s Avatar” was a very popular topic among fans as its novel and animated series have garnered many positive reviews. Additionally, the show went on to be Tencent’s most profitable drama for the year! The series follows our protagonist Ye Xiu (Yang Yang), a professional e-sports player for the game Glory. When his company decides to drop him, he ends up announcing his retirement instead. Ye Xiu starts anew working at an internet cafe, where he works his way back into entering the professional scene again with a new team.
In some ways, this drama feels like a good counterpart to “Go Go Squid” because it is game-heavy with no romance while the latter drama does the opposite. The OSTs are amazing, the gameplay scenes are incredible to watch, and the beautiful narratives of friendship and grinding to get to the top are especially moving.
“The Legends” reunites Xu Kai and Bai Lu. It not only provided a popular pairing but also maintained top ratings during its run. Zhao Yao (Bai Lu) grows up secluded from the outside world. She ends up falling for Ming Xuan, a leader of a righteous sect that is out to kill the Demon King’s son, Li Chen Lan (Xu Kai). Zhao Yao eventually decides to go out into the world to find Ming Xuan, but she immediately encounters Li Chen Lan being attacked and saves him. This event causes him to fall for her and become her greatest ally and protector. After Ming Xuan betrays her, she forms her own evil sect and plans for revenge. The drama has a decent amount of humor and lots of romantic moments tucked in between the revenge-driven plot. The promising start and the ship-worthy pairing of the two leads supply reasons for viewers to tune in.
Complete Zhao Yao’s journey of revenge in “The Legends” now:
“The Longest Day in Chang’an”
“The Longest Day in Chang’an” had a quiet premiere, but it ended on a high note with a great score rating and received praise for its cinematography and amazing acting. Placed during the Tang Dynasty, Li Bi (Jackson Yee) and Zhang Xiao Jing (Lei Jia Yin) team up to investigate a terrorist plot that is set to happen in the city of Chang’an. The series delves deeply into the political climate, various conspiracies, and power struggles to deliver a show that is intelligent, intricate in plot, and thrilling in every sense of the word. It greatly benefits from its slow pace as it allows viewers to digest all the political machinations and complex relationships that occur in such a short span of time. For an action-packed drama that provides thrills, twists, and jaw-droppingly gorgeous scenes, this is one to watch!
Escape into the beautiful universe of “The Longest Day in Chang’an” now:
“The Story of Ming Lan”
“The Story of Ming Lan” proved to be a popular hit in China and internationally. It aired at the end of 2018 but finished the majority of its run in 2019. This drama production chronicles the life of Ming Lan (Zhao Li Ying), a daughter of a scholar father and a concubine mother. Because of her mother’s low rank, she suffers an unpleasant childhood. However, she is a gifted child who has many talents in dealing with situations and people. “The Story of Ming Lan” is a comprehensive drama that covers her childhood to adulthood as she faces loss, failed relationships, and schemes. It does an amazing job of portraying an intelligent woman who builds herself up and shines even in adversity. The romance remains sweet and lovely in an understated manner and concludes with a satisfying ending.
Follow the adventures in “The Story of Ming Lan” now:
“The Untamed” is one of the biggest web drama hits of the year. Its popularity is well-known among a younger demographic and is an adaptation of a novel as well. On paper, Wei Wu Xian (Xiao Zhan) and Lan Wang Ji (Wang Yibo) seem to be the least likely to strike a friendship. Wei Wu Xian is a demonic cultivator whose easygoing personality contrasts greatly with Lan Wang Ji’s righteousness and impassive countenance. What makes this drama impressive lies in the great unraveling of its central question about the line between good and evil. These two leads explore this conundrum throughout the series, and the drama contains wonderful development for the cast. Who they start out as in the beginning is not necessarily who they end up being at the end. The narrative also details gripping scenes of friendship, romance, and more. Its addicting and inquisitive plot sticks closely in the mind of viewers!
Begin the magnificent tale of Wei Wu Xian and Lan Wang Ji in “The Untamed” now:
“Well-Intended Love” gained lots of attention for its surprises and plot twists. Its success also garnered a second season for the show. In the drama, Xia Lin (Simona Wang) has been having a terrible day as her work life and love life both fall to pieces, and to top it all off, she finds out she has leukemia. She runs into Ling Yi Zhou (Xu Kai Cheng), a rich CEO who happens to be a match for her bone marrow transplant. In order to obtain the bone marrow, she enters into a contract marriage and begins living with him.
This drama kind of falls into the territory of “so bad it’s good” in the sense that it throws in all the overused cliches and tropes into its plot. Its ridiculousness draws viewers in as a show that one can watch without taking it seriously. In addition, the surprises and twists in the show supply much heated discussions on their romance as they bring into question the morality of their relationship.
“Young Blood” may be a bit under the radar for international fans, but it definitely grew a sizable fandom in China. It’s an underrated series that drew in viewers through word of mouth and is rated highly as well. The story starts off with a cast of six young spies formed in response to outsiders seeking to disrupt the peace of the Northern Song Dynasty.
This drama is a fun watch with doses of humor and incredibly lovable personalities and friendships. The characters may all come from different backgrounds and have vastly contrasting temperaments, but they come together and form heart-warming bonds through the trials they experience. The episodes are consistently solid, and the actors convincingly embody their characters that it makes sense that viewers are aching for a second season with this wonderful casting ensemble!
The great showing of diverse works of 2019 Chinese drama releases will suit the different tastes and preferences of viewers. There are plenty of costume dramas and modern works to choose from—with adaptations of popular novels making a big splash this year too. Overall, it has been an eventful year with a bountiful number of releases that will put you to tears, make you laugh and out of breath, and warm your heart!
Hey Kpopers, which 2019 C-dramas did you watch this year? What would you recommend for other C-drama fans to check out? Leave your answers in the comments below!
isms is a long-time drama and variety show fan. Please feel free to drop any show recommendations to watch.
Currently watching: “Psychopath Diary” and “Cheat”
Looking forward to: “Three Lives, Three Worlds, The Pillow Book,” “A Murderous Affair in Horizon Tower,” and “Ordinary Glory“
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