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Best Taiwanese and Chinese Drama Series
And now, Chinese dramas. Chinese dramas are unique in that they can come from multiple cultures: Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Mainland China (but mostly Taiwan). They could conceivably be given their own top 10 list, but, unfortunately, the Chinese television industries are not yet as sophisticated as their Korean and Japanese cousins and they don’t have as many truly great television series. So for the purposes of simplification, I’ve grouped them all together.
In Chinese dramas, there’s more focus on the family. Korean and Japanese drama series focus more about the couple or the quest or the whatever, but Chinese dramas takes time out to tell you how the mother and the father and the brother and the sister are doing. Not true in all cases, but a more general trend towards fun for the whole family.
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At times, goofy. At times, unpolished. At times, a little too concerned with the pop-star idol/actors. Taiwanese and Chinese dramas do have their saving graces. Popular actor, Jiro Wang, is one of them. An almost unbearable sweetness and cuteness is another. Taiwanese and Chinese dramas are just a lot of silly fun. Don’t expect anything too deep or intellectual and you’ll have a great time. Without further ado, I give you:
The Top Ten Taiwanese, HK and MC Dramas
1) It Started with a Kiss (Taiwanese) – An adaptation from the Japanese Manga, “Itazura na Kiss.” A young girl confesses to a boy who rejects her utterly. Later on, an earthquake destroys her home and she goes to live with an old friend of her father’s—who happens to be the father of her rejected love. Romance ensues. The first Taiwanese drama I ever saw and still one of the best. Look to Jiro Wang to steal every scene he’s in.
2) Smiling Pasta (Taiwanese) - about a girl under a curse. Every relationship she has ends around 3 month mark. After her latest spectacular breakup in an intersection, she meets Taiwan's most famous and handsome male idol and bumps into him in a compromising manner. After his agent, to save face, announces her engagement to him, hijinx ensues. A sweet little drama with some surprisingly good acting.
3) Fated to love you (Taiwanese) – a recent one, came out in 2008 and smashed records. A cinderella story, but is oddly meta about it. Sort of like a cinderella story about a cinderella story. First one I’d seen that’s self-conscious about dramas being full of cinderella stories. Very good. I think it should be higher on the list, but I’m leary of giving new shows top spots. You’ve got to earn your first place with time.
4) Hana Kimi (Taiwanese) – An adaptation from a Japanese manga. A young girl falls in love with a track and field star from afar so she transfers into his school to be close to him. The catch is that the athlete attends an all-boys school. An almost shakespearan gender-switch show. Very good.5) Moonlight Resonance (Hong Kong drama) – A tale of affair and divorce. A hong kong baking family is split down the middle, with three children going with the father and three with the mother. It's a drama full of twists and turns, backhand business deals and broken promises. A soap opera harkening to the days of old.
6) Return of the Conder Heroes (Mainland Chinese Drama) – It’s wuxia in its purist form. If you can get past the bad acting, it makes Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon look like Beverly Hills ninja. It’s an epic tale full of loss, heroes, love and a whole lot of gravity-defying fighting. If you’re only going to watch one piece of the fledgling Beijing film industry, watch this.
7) Devil Beside You (Taiwanese)– A girl writes a love letter to a boy. The wrong boy (a delinquent) intercepts the letter and blackmails her with it. The wrong boy later turns out to be her future step-brother (and love interest). Conflict ensues. A cute, strange little show. I recommend it.
8) ) Frog prince (Taiwanese) - similar to Korean drama "save the last dance." But has its own charm. One of the most highly rated Taiwanese dramas of all time. It's about a wealthy heir who has an accident, loses his memory, falls in love with a girl, only to have another accident that makes him regain his previous memories and lose his amnesia. The tumultuous consequences of these accidents drives the story to amazing heights.
9) Mars (Taiwanese) – Another Japanese manga adaptation. This is the story of a shy, troubled young arts student and the flashy playboy who falls in love with her. Mars doesn’t have much going for it beyond romance and angst, but what it does have, it does extremely well. If you love angst, romance and tragedy, this is the best.
10) Meteor garden (Taiwanese) – Yet another adaptation of a Japanese manga. Based upon Hana Yori Dango. It’s the story of a poor girl in a rich, private school who falls in with the four richest boys in school. At first they hate her, but her defiance to them, (when no one defies them) eventually wins them over. A popular hit from yesterday, but is overshadowed by other newer, better, shows, I feel.