Watching TV shows is an amazing way to improve your Chinese reading and listening skills. It is especially great for learning new vocabulary and experiencing the language in a very authentic way.
Nearly all Chinese TV shows and films are subtitled in Chinese characters. This is great because you can familiarize yourself with the characters and their corresponding sounds. Here are worth-watching Chinese TV shows to learn the Chinese language fast!
1) 后宫·甄嬛传 | Empresses in the Palace
Period dramas have gained immense popularity in China in recent years. Empresses in the Palace is praised as one of the best historical dramas broadcast in mainland China.
This series is great because it provides you with insight into the Qing dynasty (1636–1912) and the Imperial Chinese harem system (which consisted of eight classes of concubines). You can even see some of China’s best actresses fight it out on screen.
There is a shortened version available on Netflix if you can’t watch all 76 episodes!
2) 你的孩子不是你的孩子 | On Children
This show has won many awards in Taiwan and rightly so! It is sort of a Taiwanese version of Black Mirror, though it mainly focuses on consequences of social pressure and parental oppression, such as mental health breakdowns and suicide.
3) 夜空中最闪亮的星 | The Brightest Star in the Sky
Perhaps a little corny for the older audience, this love story highlights the current issues facing “idols” in the Chinese music industry. It explores China’s entertainment business and taboo subjects such as dating within the music industry (something which is typically not allowed).
The Brightest Star in the Sky stars Huang Zitao, a befitting actor for this series since he is an ex-member of the infamous K-pop group EXO who left the group to become a solo artist and actor in mainland China.
4) 琅琊榜 | Nirvana in Fire
Nirvana in Fire is a quintessential 武侠 (wǔxiá; martial arts) drama and, depending on your current location in the world, is currently available on YouTube with English subtitles.
This show was extremely successful, receiving a total number of 3.3 billion views as of this writing! The series is also translated to and dubbed in many different languages.
5) 欢乐颂 | Ode to Joy
Ode to Joy tells this story of five modern women who live on the same floor of an apartment complex called “Ode to Joy” in Shanghai. It is fun and easy to follow and provides typical portrayals of the various types of modern Chinese women.
The series also explores different sensitive subjects such as financial issues, being raised an orphan in Chinese society, and being a “leftover woman” or 剩女 (shèngnǚ).
6) 如果蜗牛有爱情 | When a Snail Falls in Love
With over 1 billion views online, When a Snail Falls in Love was widely considered one of the best dramas of 2016. A mixture of crime and romance, it is quite short for a Chinese drama with only 21 episodes.