Slow and Steady Wins the Girl: Kmuse’s Guide to Chinese Dramas

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So don’t tell kdramas, but I have been cheating on them with other dramas… SHHHHH…  Don’t get me wrong, I still love and watch a ton of kdramas, but with the recent increase of subbed Chinese dramas becoming available, I have branched out a little.

Disclaimer:  This is a post I wrote way back in my Crazy Ahjummas days.  Back then, Chinese dramas were just barely being subbed in fan channels and not as common as now.  I thought it would be a good idea to share the post again since I am constantly getting asked for Cdramas that are worth watching. 

I hope this helps,

Kmuse

Now when I say C-dramas I am not talking about the Taiwanese dramas.  For the most part, I have broken up with them and their @#$)#$@ makjang 2nd halves (“Fall In Love With Me” was my breaking point when it came to Tdramas).   Instead, I have gone to the mainland where a whole bevy of new stories and new men await to sweep me away.

Many of you might be asking: “Kmuse, what is so different about Chinese dramas compared to T & Kdramas?”  I would say that the largest difference is in the plot pacing as well as the style of the heroines.  C-dramas are often longer (although shorter per episode) and have a slower pacing when it comes to the romance.  It is more about telling the story of all the characters and how they relate to the OTP (One True Pairing) than just wham, bam, throw the OTP together, and done.  It will be rare to see the main couples get together until closer to the 20 episode range.  A lot more of the story is based on how they become friends and then move to a deeper level of companionship.  The Heroines tend to be very strong-willed and pragmatic. When love does not work out, they tend to move on with their lives.  No wasting away for these ladies, and they are also not afraid to admit that security and money make a difference.  This is different from kdramas which focus more on Candy style females who are usually poor and have to be forced to fall for the rich hero.  Also, C-drama’s almost always have alpha leading men who fall head over heals for their leading ladies at first glance.  They then have to work tirelessly to prove they are worthy of the girl’s love.

It might be a little daunting starting a new style of drama so I am here to help and ready to go through the newest releases that I personally am enjoying.  Hopefully, this will help you decide what to watch when you dip your toes into the C-drama pool.

Romance of the Condor Heroes

This is perfect for the person who enjoys action mixed with a bit (OK a lot) of fantasy.  Based on the famous novel by Jin Yong’s, this drama is the most recent adaptation.

Synopsis:

Yang Guo falls in love with his teacher Xiao Long Nü.  They must overcome the disapproval of the martial arts world because of their taboo love.

Why You Should Watch:

I loved how intricate this drama was.  Tons of great characters and action scenes combined with a sincere romance. It reminded me of shows like Xena or Hercules where you go through a series of adventures with different characters while creating the overall love story arc. If you like Scifi/fantasy style of literature or film then I am guessing you would love this drama.

Divorce Lawyers

This is perfect for the drama viewer who is looking for a more mature and realistic romance.

Synopsis

Luo Li and Shi Haidong are successful divorce lawyers who meet when Luo Li . Through endless rounds of bickering and fighting, Luo Li and Haidong grow to respect each other’s talents and fall in love.


Why You Should Watch:

The OTP has a witty banter that is reminiscent of Grant & Hepburn or Fred Astaire & Rogers, reminding me of classic films from the 30’s and 40’s.  It is interesting to see how two very dominate personalities can not only fall in love but make things work.  Something which is hard to do when surrounded by the worst examples of marriages.

Negatives:

There is a lot of characters that show the worst cheating characteristics and who, at times, make me want to slap them over the heads with a heavy brick.   However, the OTP is good enough to make me overlook the scumbags who deserve to be alone with not even a cat for company.

Sound of the Desert

Adapted from the novel “Ballad of the Desert”, this drama is perfect for anyone who has a love for Sageuks and is interested in seeing the Chinese equivalent.

Synopsis

Jin Yu lives in the desert among the wolves and encounters two dynamic men who convince her to rejoin society. She meets first the calm and kind Mo Xun, and later the handsome, cold, general Wei Wu Ji.  This is the story of Jin Yu’s romance with both men.

Why You Should Watch:

It is a wonderful change from what we are used to when watching a historical drama.  The heroine is self-sufficient and does not require a man to define her.  Also, this is one of those rare dramas where you are not sure who is going to win the ladies heart in the long run.  Rather than the traditional A and B lead, you have two equal romantic possibilities and are left hoping your bias is the one she chooses.

Singles Villa

Romantic hijinks mixed with an unexpected dose of mystery makes this a crack drama that is hard not to dramathon.

Synopsis: 

7 successful singles move into a wealthy apartment compound which has the rule that the residents can not date for a year or they will be kicked out and fined.  Joe and Xu Lu fall in love despite the restrictions and must keep their romantic relationship a secret.


Why You Should Watch:

This is one of those dramas that you can’t help but get addicted to.  The cast is quirky and the surprise additions of a serial killer, crazy helicopter aunts who are obsessed with marrying off their nephew, and a plethora of stalkers, make this drama one crazy ride.

Warning:

The leading lady is VERY annoying in the first episode.  Her voice and mannerisms will grate on your nerves to the point where you are forced to mute the sound on your TV (Think a Chinese Fran Dresure).  HOWEVER, Xu Lu does get better and once she dials down the whining and screeching, she becomes more likable. I suggest you power through til at least episode 3 and decide from there.

Cruel Romance 

I saved the best for last.  To say I like this drama would be an understatement.  I ADORE this drama.  It is the C-drama crack that sets the bar for all other C-dramas to reach.  The pretty visuals and the extremely sexy cast make this a must watch in my list.

Synopsis

Adapted from a Republican-era novel called “The Fate of Jinxiu”, Cruel Romance tells the story of Rong Jin Xiu, a country girl who travels to Shanghai in order to find her parent’s killers.  She meets triad leader Zuo Zhen who falls in love with her at first glance and goes about wooing her.


Why You Should Watch:

I could give you a long list of reasons to watch, from the action-packed plot, the wonderful cinematography, and the elaborate costumes.  But really when it comes down to it there is one singular reason that stands above all other reasons.

Zuo Zhen is uber, burn your knickers just from a glance, hot. 

We are not talking normal, run of the mill, hottie, hot.  Oh no, we are talking full blown alpha male, can impregnate a girl from a single smoldering glance, hot.

Zuo Zhen’s chiseled good looks and lingering lovelorn gazes will have you avidly watching this drama.  It also doesn’t hurt that he is clueless on how to woo the love of his life.  Zuo Zhen is often confused as to why the leading lady does not prostrate herself at his feet when he says “She is his person”.  Yup, we are all wondering the same thing?

But never fear, I am sure he will be able to win her over eventually.  Just look at him!  Even the dimmest girl will eventually understand that this is a once in a lifetime type of man.

And if Jin Xiu doesn’t snatch him up, I know there is a long line of fans in my discussion group that would love the chance.

And if you are still not sold, check the drama out for the smorgasbord of sexy attractive men that are in the supporting cast.  This is a drama that does not shy away from the eye candy and there is literally a guy for everyone’s individual tastes.

Cruel Romance is also a perfect example to demonstrate the pacing differences that are found in a Chinese Mainland Drama.  It is the slow and steady wooing (and gratuitous ab flashes) that wins the girl in this drama.

I hope that this list is helpful for those searching for a new drama experience.  If you have any questions on where to find these dramas, or you need further recommendations, feel free to leave a quick message in the comment section.  I will also be making similar posts with more current Chinese dramas since there seems to be an interest.

Til next time,

Kmuse


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17 thoughts on “Slow and Steady Wins the Girl: Kmuse’s Guide to Chinese Dramas

  1. Romance of the Condor Heroes might also be worth checking out because the OTP got married in real life 😛

    I think I might try Cruel Romance or Singles Villa, thanks for the recommendations!

    If the lead girl’s voice sounds annoying, it might also be because of dubbing? A lot of Cdramas are dubbed for some reason.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. humbledaisy1

    The Prince of Lan Ling is a lovely historical c-drama series as is Introduction of the Princess/Glamorous Imperial Concubine. Modern movies like My Lucky Star and Sophie’s Revenge are great, too. I have a soft spot in my heart for the Tiny Times drama series. It was directed by the same person who did In Time with You (a Taiwanese series that is very watchable) and have the wonderful Peter Ho.

    All of these shows have a slow building plot – one of the best parts of Chinese cinema.

    Like

  3. Amber. Thank you :D. I haven’t watched any of the suggested dramas. Needless to say, I shall get to them soon, as soon as I’m done with Love O2O )I have you to thank for that as well :). ), and Seisei Suruhodo, Aishiteru and a slew of Kdramas. Ahhhhh. This is a great time to be alive :). Quick question though, is there anywhere I can check out which Chinese dramas will soon be out, etc. Like I know where to source for my kdrama news but nothing for Chinese and Japanese dramas.

    Like

    1. I usually just keep up on casting buzz on tumblr. There isn’t a set time for most cdramas… More just general times. Sometimes you will hear about a drama being filmed and it can be one to three years before it actually airs.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. DramaLvr

    Women in mainland China are known to be strong and on equal footing as men. They don’t need to be saved or have their life turned around by meeting the right man. I understand a lot of women like fairytale stories and that is why kdramas are popular, but I personally prefer China’s more realistic portrayal of women. Their Wuxia dramas usually portray women as fighters that are just as good in combat as men. I also like modern day dramas such as Ode to Joy where the female characters are less one dimensional than the leading ladies in kdramas.

    There are so many wonderful cdramas out there, but they are less enthusiastic about spreading their entertainment to other parts of the world since they already have the biggest market in the world. Luckily there are fans out there that are willing to sub a few, but I still find that the majority of subbed cdramas either have a korean actor in the cast or are idol dramas. The really riveting and intelligent dramas either don’t have actors with really enthusiastic fans or are just too difficult to translate.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. drey

    I enjoyed Boss & Me as well as The Lady and the Liar. For something rather atypical of Kdrama types, try Sealed with a Kiss.

    Btw, just found your website and marathoned through the 30 Days Asian Drama post at 2am amongst others. Love your blog, keep posting! Xp

    Liked by 1 person

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