Nothing is trending more often on Chinese social media than TV drama. What is the best drama, who is the hottest star, how will that nerve-wracking cliffhanger end? It is all part of the daily discussions on Sina Weibo.
The Chinese TV drama industry is booming and among the most vibrant in the world, with no signs of slowing down.
We have compiled this Top 10 of 2017 Chinese TV dramas by checking the February 2017 top ranking TV drama’s on Sina Weibo and Baidu, and netizen blogs. We have also taken into consideration a Weibo poll of the ‘most-anticipated TV dramas of 2017’ that had over 10,000 votes.
Chinese TV dramas are becoming more popular across the world, with thousands of people volunteering to do subtitles for them in their own language. A great website to watch Chinese dramas is Viki.com, but most are also available on YouTube and of course on their native sites such as iQiyi or LeTV.
Depending on where you live, these sites might have geo restrictions. You can circumvent this with a VPN to change your IP geo-location. We recommend NordVPN for this, as it is known for its fast streaming of online video content online. We did a giveaway with NordVPN this year, and have been using their services both from within the PRC as outside since (they now have a special deal for a 2-Year VPN plan) – streaming content either in Europe, US, or in China is always a hassle-free and smooth experience.
Keep in mind that many of China’s big TV drama productions are launched in the period around Chinese New Year – a time when TV drama fans are looking forward to seeing their favorite shows. It’s around this time to spot the TV dramas you can binge on later in the year.
What is remarkable about the 2017 year’s list (check out our lists of 2016, 2015, and 2013) is that it does not include any historical genre television dramas themed around the history of the War of Resistance against Japan.
China’s war dramas previously always made it to the top ranking TV dramas. In 2015, China’s official censorship bureau spoke out against war-themed TV dramas that are “overly entertaining.” One popular war drama this year is Brothers in the Fire of War (战火中的兄弟), but it did not make it to this list.
What is also noteworthy is that this year’s top 10 tv drama’s are all made in mainland China. Last year, the number one TV series was a South-Korean tv drama.
There are no series in this year’s list that revolve around any ‘risque’ topics. Last year, the gay-themed TV show Addicted was pulled offline by censors when TV dramas that ‘exaggerate dark side of society’ were banned from TV. Off-limit topics included homosexuality and adultery.
Here is our top 10 of China’s most popular TV dramas of this moment:
Genre: Fantasy, martial arts
Other title: Three Lives Three Worlds, Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms
Directed by Lin Yufen (林玉芬), 58 episodes
Within a week after its first episode on January 30, this TV drama already attracted over 29 million comments on Sina Weibo, and ranked number 1 drama in both the Weibo and Baidu ‘most popular’ lists. It is also one of most-anticipated dramas of 2017.
From gods and demons, from reincarnation to never-ending love affairs – nothing is impossible in Chinese fantasy drama. This drama evolves around the High Goddess and the Crown Prince played by Yang Mi and Mark Chao, who were once lovers in another world and another lifetime. According to Dramafever, this fantasy story shows that love goes beyond worlds and lifetimes.
The success of this TV drama is partly linked to its timing; like many dramas in this list, the first episode was aired in the middle of the Spring Festival.
Starring: Yang Mi, Mark Chao, Zhang Zhiyao, Dili Reba (also known as Dilraba Dilmurat), and Gao Weiguang (杨幂, 赵又廷, 张智尧, 迪丽热巴 高伟光). The show is broadcasted every day on Dongfang and Zhejiang TV, as well as on Youku, Tencent, iQiyi, LeTV, Sohu and PPTV.
Genre: Romance, Youth
Directed by Chen Mingzhuang (陳銘章), 40 episodes
Rush to the Dead Summer (夏至未至) is a TV drama based on the novel by Guo Jingming (郭敬明) that follows a group friends as they go from their highschool life and each start their own life in society. The main actors are Zheng Shuang, Chen Xuedong (Cheney Chen), and Bai Jingting.
Many fans have been waiting for this TV drama to come out, as its airing was already announced in the summer of 2016. By now, its official Weibo account has well over a million followers.
Genre: Urban drama, Romance
Other title: Perfume Woman
Directed by Wang Lianping (王连平), 60 episodes
Love, Just Come (爱来的刚好) first aired in late January. Its main cast includes actors Han Dong, Jiang Kaitong, Li Wei, Zhang Xiyuan, Wang Wei, Liang Aiqi (韩栋, 江铠同, 李威, 张熙媛, 王伟, 梁爱琪). The drama revolves around an orphan girl (Jiang Kaitong) with an absolute sense of smell, who dreams of becoming a successful perfume maker. The series follows the struggles she faces on the road to reaching her dreams, during which, of course, she finds love. The show can be viewed here.
Genre: Fantasy, Martial arts, costume/period drama
Directed by Zhong Shujia (钟澍佳)
This series ranked number one in the Weibo poll of most-anticipated TV dramas of 2017, as netizens have been talking about this series for months.
Fighter of the Destiny is based on a novel by the same name of author Mao Ni, and involves the timetravelling adventures of the young man Chen Changsheng (Luhan) who leaves his master (Eric Tsang) in search for a cure to his terminal illness.
Genre: Costume/period drama
Directed by Wang Jun (汪俊), 90 episodes.
Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace tells the story of the marriage of the Qianlong Emperor and Ulanara the Step Empress during the Qing dynasty. The drama, broadcasted by Dragon TV and Jiangsu TV, features major leading roles by Zhou Xun and Wallace Huo. Read more about this TV drama at the Cfensi blog.
Genre: Comical drama, Rural comedy
Directed by Han Zhao (韩兆).
This successful drama has famous leading actors Pan Changjiang, Ding Ziling, Xiao Guangyi, and Zhang Dajing. Especially Pan Changjiang (1957) is a famous as a skit actor and a recurring performer at the CCTV New Year’s Gala. This comical drama focuses on a big rural family and follows their ups and downs. The show is available on YouTube (no subtitles).
Directed by Li Jun, Mou Xiaojie (李骏, 牟晓杰), 44 episodes
This drama that stars Zhu Yawen and Michelle Chen revolves around the relationship between a Taiwanese woman who has arrived in Beijing to work and her temperamental boss. Despite their misunderstandings, their professional relationship eventually is bound to become personal.
Genre: Fantasy, Costume
Directed by Liu Guonan, Yin Tao (刘国楠、尹涛), 60 episodes
The series is about the ups and downs in the life of Shen Zhen Zhu (played by Jing Tian 景甜), a exceptional beauty living in the royal court during the most turbulent period of the Tang dynasty, that is challenged by rebellion, unrest and opposing forces.
Genre: Urban drama, Romance
Directed by Jian Chuanhe, Zhang Kaizhou, 52 episodes
This is one of the only shows in this list that has not been broadcasted yet – it is planned to air in May of this year. It is the sequal to Ode to Joy, a highly popular 2016 Chinese TV series produced by Dragon Television (here with subtitles). It is about five single, independent career women who live in the Ode to Joy apartment building together and try to find the balance between love and career, looking for their personal happiness.
For Liu Tao, a leading actress in this TV drama, Ode to Joy is not her first hit TV drama. In 2013, the series Good Wife (贤妻) was also a major success.
Genre: Romance, Fantasy
Directed by Wei Hantao and Deng Yancheng (卫翰韬 邓衍成)
This mainland drama that stars Feng Shaofeng, Bea Hayden, Wang Zixi, Huang Ming and Sunny Wang (冯绍峰, 郭碧婷, 王梓薇, 黄明, 王彦霖), premiered on February 6 2017 on Hunan TV. It is based on a book by the same name by the Chinese contemporary novelist Tong Hua (桐华), whose previous novels were also turned into television series.
The story revolves around girl-next-door Shen Luo who moves from the big city to a small island cottage, where she meets the mysterious Wu Julan – a man wirh mystical powers that help Shen yo overcome her obstacles. The show can be viewed on Viki, where fans graded the drama with a 9.7.
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