Chinese entertainment world had been producing a heavy quantity of good dramas during the past years. However, before quantity is always quality. The dramas I am listing here are masterpiece because they appeal to a large audience and were all huge hits as soon as they got released. In these dramas, before the theme of love and adventure, it is the real struggle of life that is put up front: family, money, friendship, loyalty, nationalism. Now, I am listing five dramas of this category in chronological order.
ps; I wanted to say these are the best masterpiece dramas of cdramaland, but ikitten forced me to change the title to “my top 5”. Peuf, I dunno why! 😉
- Cast: Wang Baoqiang
- Year: 2006
- Chinese Name: 士兵突击
Meet the most hard working male lead in Cdramaland history. Everyone knows the name of Private Xu San Duo. Not physically strong or especially handsome, Xu San Duo is a simple village boy who dreams to become a soldier. He has a hard army life since day one, but NEVER gives up. He is the best example of perseverance out there and, in my opinion, the best living depiction of Chinese nationalism and spirit. This character inspired many people including Alibaba’s Jack Ma. I am sure a lot of your parents and grandparents watched it (if they can understand Chinese of course). Read Wikipedia page here. I didn’t find a trailer, so here is one of the best clip from the drama.
- Cast: Chen Jiabin, Yu Hewei and Lu Yi
- Year: 2010
- Chinese name: 三国
There is probably no need for me to explain the amazing epic that is The Three Kingdoms. This super high-budget drama (for its year) was a major hit. Through a total of 95 episodes (!), it covers the fight for territory between CaoCao, Liu Bei and Sun Quan. As one of the four classic novels of Ancient China, this story is strongly rooted in Chinese culture. Through this beautiful adaptation, every little detail was covered, every strategy acted out to perfection. With an amazing ensemble, is still to this date the best war drama out there and a representative drama of China’s Art of Game Theory/Strategy. Read more about it on its official wikipedia page.
A Story of LaLa’s Promotion
- Cast: Wang Luodan, Li Guang Jie
- Year: 2010
- Chinese Name: 杜拉拉升职记
This is THE drama to watch if you want a good career drama for woman. Going from entry-level position to higher-management position, Du Lala is a strong, persevering and positive woman who inspired a strong wave of career women in 2010. The drama, which is adapted from an online novel, shows hardships in the workforce. Everyone can identify with Du Lala and that is why the drama was such a hit. We all have to start somewhere. In recent years, there had been a new drama adaptation with Qi Wei and a movie adaptation with Ariel Lin. However, nobody can beat Wang Luodan’s portrayal of the iconic character.
Zhen Huan Zhuan
- Cast: Sun Li, Ada Choi, Jiang Xin, Chen Jiabin
- Year: 2012
- Chinese name: 后宫甄嬛传
Came out in 2012 to break every palace dramas’ records is Zhen Huan Zhuan. There had been many palace dramas throughout the years, but Zhen Huan Zhuan is different. Instead of focusing on harem, romance and beautiful palace, we have here a group of ladies fighting for… survival. Plotting is a center element in this drama as the girls used any strategies in the book to attract the attention of the emperor, destroy the competition or take revenge. Many viewers were surprised how a period drama can so accurately describe the real life struggle we 21st Century people are living in. Everyone watching it will learn something new. Furthermore, this drama had amazing and detailed costumes.
Nirvana in Fire
- Cast: Hu Ge, Liu Tao, Jin Dong and Wang Kai
- Year: 2015
- Chinese name: 琅琊榜
Although starring Hu Ge, this drama is far from your idol drama. Actually, this is Hu Ge’s groundbreaking role that confirmed his transfer from an idol actor to a serious one. Plotting to win a war that takes place inside the palace, the backstory of the male lead and the complexities of the relations (how twisted they are between everyone) is what makes this drama the success it became. Bromance and romance flew around because the characters truly cared for each other, but they still didn’t let those feelings get in the way of their success. Furthermore, the scenery of this drama is today known as one of the best in cdramaland.