12 Must-Watch Chinese TV Shows to Learn Mandarin in 2024

Watching Chinese TV shows is an excellent method to enhance your Chinese listening skills and expand your vocabulary. I’ve observed numerous students diligently updating their daily vocabulary with words gleaned from these shows. It is truly fascinating.

However, choosing the right TV shows requires caution. If the storyline fails to captivate, maintaining interest becomes challenging. If the accents are too localized, practicality diminishes. In light of this, I’ll guide you through a curated list of beloved, well-pronounced, and practically useful hit TV shows, conveniently categorized for your exploration.

Moreover, consider joining our “Learn Chinese through TV Programs” initiative, where professional Chinese teachers provide guidance. This program immerses you in a diverse range of classic and contemporary Chinese TV shows, aiming to deepen your understanding of the language and culture. Through our teachers’ support, you’ll develop the skills to comprehend intricate storylines and cultural references presented in these programs, gaining a profound and comprehensive understanding of Chinese culture.

Know more about eChineseLearning

Comedy for Mandarin Learning

1. “My Own Swordsman” -《Wǔlín wàizhuàn 武林外传》

The story of “My Own Swordsman” is set in a fictional town during the Ming Dynasty called Seven Heroes Town. Six individuals with diverse personalities and backgrounds cross paths at the same inn named “Tongfu Inn,” forming close friendships amidst laughter and joy. The show adopts a modernized language style, featuring heartwarming plots and imbued with unique Chinese-style humor in its dialogues, while subtly satirizing contemporary social phenomena. If you have a penchant for martial arts dramas, wish to experience the charm of the Chinese version of “Friends,” or simply want to enjoy its amusing dialogues, then “My Own Swordsman” is definitely worth a try.

2. “Home with Kids” -《Jiā yǒu érnǚ 家有儿女》

“Home with Kids” is a heartwarming situational comedy centered around family life, showcasing the humorous tales that unfold when two divorced families in Beijing come together, along with their three children. Throughout the series, viewers can immerse themselves in the rich “Beijing accent,” modern dialogue, and the endearing interactions between parents and children. Dubbed as the “Chinese version of Growing Pains,” this show is perfect for enjoying with the whole family.

3. “A Love for Separation” -《Xiǎo biélí 小别离》

Set in the financial hub of China, Shanghai, “A Love for Separation” zooms in on the stories of three different families, delicately portraying parental emotional fluctuations, teenage struggles during their growth, and the pains of separation brought about by studying abroad. As a light-hearted comedy, it vividly presents popular topics such as parent-child relationships, academic pressures, and overseas education, garnering significant attention from audiences. If you’re eager to grasp a more authentic portrayal of the challenges faced by Chinese teenagers during adolescence and the bonds they share with their families, then this television series is an absolute must-watch.

Romance for Chinese Language Learning

4. “Scarlet Heart” -《Bù bù jīng xīn 步步惊心》

“Scarlet Heart” embarks on a journey through time, where a modern-day white-collar protagonist finds herself thrust back into the Qing Dynasty, transformed into a palace maid. Unfolding is a tale intricately woven with the power struggles and emotional entanglements among the princes. The dialogue of the series adopts a modern style, yet it meticulously introduces the etiquette and cultural appellations of ancient courts. Through the lens of the modern protagonist’s commentary on ancient Chinese customs, the series offers an intriguing perspective. Moreover, the theme song of the drama has also captured the hearts of the audience.

5. “Love between Fairy and Devil” -《Cāng lán jué 苍兰决》

This drama tells the story of a romance between a fairy and a demon. The female protagonist becomes an ordinary fairy to save the world, while the male protagonist encounters her after accidentally escaping from his seal. Initially adversaries, their feelings gradually develop as they spend time together. Filled with twists and turns, this TV show masterfully weaves together elements of romance, comedy, drama, and action. Furthermore, the series has an original novel that offers further insight into the story.

6. “Love O2O” -《Wēiwēi yīxiào hěn qīngchéng 微微一笑很倾城》

Adapted from the novel of the same name, “Love O2O” depicts a college campus love story set against the backdrop of online gaming. With its youthful plot and tender romance, it has captured the hearts of numerous audiences. The dialogue style is modern, and through character settings, you can learn some Chinese vocabulary and cultural aspects related to esports and college life. Of course, if you’re interested, delving into the original work is also an option.

Mystery for Chinese Language Acquisition

7. “Day and Night” -《Báiyè zhuī xiōng 白夜追凶》

Set in the modern field of criminal investigation, “Day and Night” tells the story of a top detective who suffers from nyctophobia. In order to clear his younger brother of suspicion in a murder case, he tracks clues during the day while having his brother impersonate him at night to carry out operations. Together, they unravel multiple cases. What captivates audiences is that the two brothers are portrayed by the same actor, yet their performances vividly portray two distinct personalities. The author of the original novel, had a career in the legal field for a remarkable 11 years. This background has endowed the story with intricate knowledge of China’s criminal investigation, interrogation, forensic science, prosecution, and defense procedures. Consequently, it presents a script rich in authentic details, making it definitely worth a watch.

8. “The Long Season” -《Màncháng de jìjié 漫长的季节》

Set against the backdrop of Northeast China, this series takes us on a journey back in time to a specific era. It tells the story of a taxi driver and his brother-in-law teaming up to investigate a case of counterfeit taxis, which resurfaces an 18-year-old murder mystery. Determined to unveil the truth and seek justice, they enlist the help of a retired police officer who was once involved in the initial investigation. Thus, the three old friends embark on a journey to change their fate. While it’s a crime story at its core, it delves much deeper into various aspects of society and human nature. From the cinematography to the intricacies of each character and scene, every detail showcases the exceptional craftsmanship of the production team.

9. “Ripe Town” -《Fán chéng zhī xià 繁城之下》

This drama is set in a small town in Jiangnan during the Ming Dynasty. It tells the story of a constable and his companions investigating a series of murders. During their investigation, they unexpectedly uncover the truth behind a twenty-year-old unsolved case. Each crime scene is marked with a quote from the “Analects of Confucius,” serving as both the killer’s retaliation against the victims and a condemnation of their actions. While most of the dialogue in the play is modern, there are also instances of classical language, which might leave you puzzled.

Costume Dramas for Learning Mandarin

10. “Nirvana in Fire” -《Lángyá bǎng 琅琊榜》

“Nirvana in Fire” is a series delving into ancient political struggles. It follows the story of the talented Méi cháng sū (梅长苏), who returns from wrongful accusations to outwit the powerful, rectify injustices, and support a new ruler. Additionally, it captures the tumultuous dynamics of martial arts and court intrigue, intertwining themes of love, friendship, and loyalty. If you enjoy cunning protagonists or wish to explore martial arts and courtly culture, this series is a solid pick.

11. “Empresses in the Palace” -《Zhēnhuán zhuàn 甄嬛传》

“Empresses in the Palace” is a captivating TV drama set in the Qing Dynasty court. It follows a young woman’s journey into the palace and her struggles against the Empress, concubines, and others vying for power. From innocence to political prowess, her transformation is the heart of the story. Regarded as one of China’s best historical dramas, it keeps viewers hooked with its gripping plot and focus on palace intrigue. The stunning scenes, costumes, and props are crafted with care, immersing audiences in the grandeur of the era. However, the use of old-fashioned titles and language in the dialogue might be a bit tricky for some viewers to understand.

12. “Joy of Life” -《Qìng yúnián 庆余年》

Set in the Ming Dynasty, this series follows a young man with memories from the 21st century as he embarks on a journey from a coastal town to the capital. Along the way, he encounters tests from various families, the martial arts world, and the royal family, uncovering the mysterious story of his legendary mother. His growth is shaped by a blind martial arts mentor, a skilled poison maker, a powerful official overseeing ancient surveillance agencies, and a highly skilled partner. The show offers light-hearted plots, captivating martial arts scenes, court conspiracies, and a romantic storyline between the male and female leads. While the dialogue carries contemporary nuances due to the protagonist’s modern mindset, the portrayal of ancient culture remains pervasive throughout the series. For those interested in poetry, martial arts, and political intrigue, this is an entertaining and engaging choice.

If you want to delve deeper into understanding those expressions commonly used in TV dramas or unique cultural idioms, click here for a free trial lesson! Our professional Chinese teachers will tailor exclusive teaching content to your level, so you can learn vocabulary, pronunciation, cultural insights, and practical expressions while watching TV together!

Sign up for a free trial lesson!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top