C-Dramas 101 – A Guide to Chinese Drama for Mandarin enthusiasts!

C-dramas suddenly became the talk of the town? Much around the time COVID had brought us out in cold sweat. That’s exactly when I started binge-watching Chinese dramas.

Quite ironic, isn’t it? While the world was at loggerheads with China, I was busy perfecting my Nǐ hǎo.

And, consequently, from these dramas itself, sprouted my interest in Mandarin and Chinese culture, and thus began the saga of my undying love for the language.

Without further ado, let’s dive into 5 such beginner recommended, binge-worthy dramas that paved the path for my obsession with all things Chinese (Dòubànjiàng, Sìchuān peppercorns and Hóngbāo’s included).

And so, my fellow Mandarin enthusiasts, brace yourselves and grab onto your belts!


A Love So Beautiful (2017)

Native Title: 致我们单纯的小美好 (Zhì wǒmen dānchún de xiǎo měihǎo) literally translating to “To Our Simple Little Beauty”.

This short-and-sweet drama revolves around Chen Xiaoxi and Jiang Chen, two classmates, and neighbors. Xiaoxi, a cheerful girl who doesn’t study much, is expressive about her admiration towards Jiang Chen, the aloof school sweetheart with a knack for math. Together with their friends—Lu Yang, the comic relief, Lin Jingxiao, the sports jock, and Wu Bosong,—we get to watch them as they weave through high school, university and adulthood.

It is the perfect kick-start for anyone wanting to watch C-dramas, but not knowing where exactly to start. Consisting of only 24 episodes, this well-paced drama is sure to keep you hooked with its unexpected twists and quick-wit humor.


Love O2O (2016)

Native Title: 微微一笑很倾城 (Wéiwéi yīxiào hěn qīngchéng) meaning “The Slightest Smile is also Charming”.

This is the story of Xiao Nai, the gaming whizz and campus heartthrob, and Bei Weiwei, an extremely talented computer science major. However initially, it’s not her personality that he falls for, it’s her incredible mastery at commanding her guild and maintaining her own that he finds impossible to forget. And thus, he sets off to capture the adorable but dorky Bei Weiwei’s heart, with his skills both in real life and through the game.

This cute drama, despite a few gaming terms here and there, is without doubt one of the easiest dramas to keep up with. Courtesy of the supporting casts (Xiao Nai and WeiWei’s friend groups), and their spot-on comic timing, it also ranks as one of the funniest series I’ve watched. A must-watch for all of you looking for something feel-good, lighthearted and pleasant.


Put Your Head On My Shoulder (2019)


Native Title: 致我们暖暖的小时光 (Zhì wǒmen nuǎn nuǎn de xiǎoshí guāng) which means “To Our Warm Little Times”.

This lively series follows Situ Mo, a graduating accounting major. As someone who got used to having her whole life planned out for her, she is at a loss about her future and can’t find the courage to make a decision for herself. When the school districts have merged, Gu Weiyi barges into her life. With initial clashes aiding the drama and breaking the ice, all hell breaks loose when our Mr Finicky realizes he has to live with our little Miss Breezy!

This 20-something episode drama is an enjoyable recommendation for everyone of all ages. With Gu Weiyi’s social clumsiness and Situ Mo’s radical extraversion steering through the series, it makes for some hilarious moments throughout the show and makes it a worth it watch!


Love is Sweet (2020)


Native Title: 半是蜜糖半是伤 (Bàn shì mì táng bàn shì shāng) means “Half is Sweet, Half is Hurt”.

Jiang Jun, a economics and psychology major, suffers from a rare disorder, and aspires to work at the best investment company, MH. And, alas, there she meets her childhood friend, Yuan Shuai. However, her childhood protector is no longer the same gentle guy. He has grown up to become a ruthless and unforgiving investment analyst, now better known as MH’s “Invincible God of War”. While they fall into a pattern of being at odds constantly, old, happy memories slowly creep up on them as the plot unfolds.

Honestly speaking, the continuous back-and-forth banter between the two leads, all through the series, is what I enjoyed and loved most thoroughly. The highs and lows are perfectly placed, and this series does not let you get bored throughout its course. It’s a little longer than the others recommended here, but I assure you, this one’s definitely a must watch.


Hidden Love (2023)


Native Title: 偷偷藏不住 (Tōutōu cáng bù zhù) literally translates to one of the cutest titles I’ve ever come across: “Can’t Hide Secretly”.

Young Sang Zhi falls in love with Duan Jiaxu, the boy who often comes over to their house with her brother. Slowly, as Sang Zhi enters her teenage years, she starts developing a liking toward her brother’s gentle and sweet best friend. Although over the years they lose contact and get estranged, destiny has something else in store for them. They meet again when she joins a University in the city he lives in!

This drama is the sensation of 2023, and rightfully so. It is one of the most gratifying and wholesome dramas I’ve ever watched. Very elegant and natural in the way it progresses. If you’re looking for a drama that helps you unwind completely, put your feet up and just relish the story, ‘Hidden Love’ is the one for you!


A blog by : Ms. Riya Wagle – a student at The Oriental Dialogue and a C-Drama fan 🙂