(THE ORIGINAL) 5 Chinese Modern TV Series You Should Definitely Check Out

Having seen a fair share of Chinese Dramas, I’ve noticed that most people who follow asian dramas are not familiar with Chinese series that are set in the modern day China. Not many blogs/forums discuss much about this, rather, they focus on wuxia/historical dramas China is so famous for. Whether you are new to Chinese TV dramas or just want to see a couple outside of the historical genre, here’s an insider’s guide to a few that I love and would recommend.

Things to note about Chinese dramas:

  • episodes in the 30s-40s range are common, don’t be surprised at the length
  • often broadcasted on television like 3 episodes a day
  • actors are often from different Chinese provinces, hence regional accents so voices are sometimes dubbed over in official mandarin, and dubbing can sometimes put people off.
  • Out of the 5 I recommended, only “Waking Up Love”  and “Another Brilliant Life” have been dubbed. I wonder if because both are considered idol dramas, so China feels a need to dub out regional accents.

1 ) Who Controls My Youth: female edition of “Fen Dou”  

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This drama explores modern Chinese youth. Three cousins sort out their romances, their struggles with finding a job in the bustling capital of China, Beijing. It explores real problems post-80’s generation urbanites face in modern China while maintaining an fantastically upbeat outlook on life.(2009)

Wang Luo Dan at her best as the super-cheeky, elder-cajoling Xiao Yang. You’re going to love the witty bantering between the couples and even dialogue between the parents. A plus is that the romance between our leads feel genuine and the story is well-crafted. I like that the series didn’t just focus on the love lives of these youths, but also left room for the family members (in this case, the older generation of women) to materialize as fully-developed characters. Props to all the mothers and the grandma in the series, the grandma is smart and funny! For more on this, check out Cfensi‘s introduction of this series. They have the full summary & character descriptions. Compared to a lot of Taiwanese and Mainland idol series, Who Controls My Youth has substance and seems to skirt around the usual drama tropes that idol dramas use.

2) Beijing Youth: they ditch their future plans set by parents to go on a road trip to find themselves

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Beijing Youth, a television drama directed by Zhao Bao, is about four cousins born and raised in Beijing. He Dong (Li Chen), He Xi, He Nan, and He Bei (Du Chun) have different family backgrounds, personalities, and ambitions. These four Beijing youths work hard towards their respective goals and experience trials and tribulations in life and love.

Anticipate a lot of bromance. Noteworthy are Du Chun, Wang Li Kun, and Ma Su for their fantastic comedic chops. This series is like the male counterpart of Who Controls My Youth.

3) Another Brilliant Life: Modern Version of Prince vs Pauper Switcheroo

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Super naive, post-grad college boy meets popstar. Guan Yu is an unemployed recent grad who is trying to find a well-paying job in Shanghai City, but reality is cruel. Guan befriends a kind noodle shop owner, and he ends up working part-time at the noodle shop. Liu Da Ming is a famous pop singer who is being controlled by his corrupted manager. How will a traffic accident and a subsequent switch of fates affect their loves and their families? Another question that this show explores: Do we truly love based on appearances or the kinds of person we are inside? (2012)

This series made light with what could have been a terribly makjang story considering the plot that we are given with. The characters are endearing to the max… Look for Guan Yu (AFTER the switch) and Hani’s flirty scenes in the later half of the series. They are the cutest onscreen coupling I’ve seen in a long time.

4) Waking Love Up: Edward Cullen Meets Country Bella 

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Waking Love Up is basically a remake of Prince Turns into Frog. You have a cold-hearted CEO of a hotel, Tian Qi (Roy Qiu). His business nemesis plots to have him removed and hires thugs to do the job. Their plot goes awry and Tian Qi is thrown off a clif. He survives because a country girl, Xiao Bei (Tang Yan) rescues him. He has lost all his memories, so she takes care of him… and blah blah you know how the story goes. This stars my new favorite, Roy Qiu! For the record, Roy is one hot man. (2011)

It’s an addictive series that will satisfy any romcom lover. Now that it’s winter, we can totally look forward to the summer with this series right? Every song on the soundtrack was on par with the feel of the show. If you want to get your Roy fix and explosive chemistry between Tang Yan and Roy, don’t miss this drama.

5) Unbeatable, Mei Nu Ru Yun: Women battle it out in workplace politics

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Female co-workers battle to the top in this office drama. Lu Xiao Xiao (Zhao Ke) is a college graduate who, seemingly by a stroke of fate, is offered the top position at a PR firm she applied to. There is someone behind Xiao Xiao’s every move, pulling the strings of fate. Together with Zhuo Yuan (Peter Ho) and her co-worker friends, Xiao Xiao tries to uncover who is behind it all. (2010)

This series is for anyone who likes workplace dramas with romance and a smidgen of mystery. Qi Wei, who plays our heroine’s sidekick/friend/co-worker, is kickass in this series. I love the slick camera work & the gorgeous Sanya beaches. This drama should win accolades for its above-par cinematography. Also this drama is on the best-of list because I like the whole bros-before-hoes concept (except think, female version)!

** If you check out one of these dramas, leave a comment below and tell me what you thought about it.

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About Bumbleberri

Founder and editor of Entertainment Blog, UnderratedGems. Hobbies that I do in my free time: trying to get more sleep and satisfying my TV addiction. Currently in the process of a grueling job hunt.

22 responses to “(THE ORIGINAL) 5 Chinese Modern TV Series You Should Definitely Check Out”

  1. heisui says :

    Hmm I might check out Another Brilliant Life. Thanks for the recommendations!

  2. Stephanie Danielle says :

    I caught ai qing chuang jin men. The one with victoria from fx. It can be boring and got frustrating towards the second half. But most taiwanese dramas are like that too. However, the characters were just written awesomely with carefully detailed and full of ideals. The friendship, sincerity and honesty of the youth characters are exactly what I see in gen y. Especially sincerity. Hopefully the writer is right about our generation. That at least for our close friends and hopefully the larger society, we are honest and frank. That blood is thicker than water but spirit is thicker than blood.

    • Bumbleberri says :

      Yes I agree, An Qing Chuang Jin Men wasn’t a very good production overall. I skimed a few episodes before dropping the series because of the bland acting. I hope you will try some of my recs like My Youth! It’s my favorite, and a genuinely well-crafted series.

      • Stephanie Danielle says :

        I did actually, watched Waking up love. It was frustrating in a few places. Mainly Tang being very annoying at first. But I finished it. I guess Roy was the main thing I liked. HA. watching 姐姐立正向前走 now, will catch youth later. LOL I realised I’m watching the c-dramas with taiwan actors first. Obviously hesitant to make the jump into china.

  3. rain says :

    I’m currently watching another brilliant life. It’s really really good, and it’s hilarious. The beginning was okay, like it took a while for the show to actually get into the main plot so I actually skipped some of it, but it was a huge mistake because later on in the end, they use a lot of the information from the beginning. The character Da Ming is played by a korean actor Park Hae Jin, and his lover, Yan Yu huan is also played by a korean actor, Shin Min Hee. There is a voice over for most of the main character which sometimes I find it really frustrating. However, I do understand that the Koreans need the voice over cause they don’t know how to speak Chinese. Overall, it’s probably the best Chinese movie I’ve ever scene. You can watch it on viki.com and there is English subs.

    • Bumbleberri says :

      Either it was the tolerable dub or Park Hae Jin is just an awesome actor who can cushion any bad dubbing. I’d personally go for the latter thought haha. Also the newbie Han Cheng Yu (other main guy) is so easy on the eyes, I’d like to see him in more dramas in the future!

  4. Metro says :

    Beijing Love Story (2012) will likely become a classic. Smart, intelligent script takes a hard existential look at life in modern Bejing. Music is not bad either.

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  6. xhiae says :

    i agree with u, many blog recommend wusha or something like that.
    can u recommend me the mainland drama same plot like rent a girlfriend for chinese new year.. i really like that drama..

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