Chinese Language Learning – The definitive tier list of recent Chinese TV shows*

Items within each tier are not ranked (i.e., ordering does not matter).

Many (all?) of these are also great study resources, and I’ve included an easily accessible spot to watch each one (most have bilingual subtitles).

S tier
* 漫长的季节 (The Long Season) [imdb](, [douban](, [youtube]( One of my favorite shows in any language. Captures aging, loss, grief, and a slice of life in different eras, while also being a mystery story. The high douban rating speaks for itself. The Chinese metal song in one episode was also a nice touch. Highly recommended!

A tier

* 三体 (Three-Body) [imdb](, [douban](, [youtube]( A cool sci-fi show, with occasional bonus goofy English dialogue, which helps me understand how Chinese speakers probably feel every time I (try to) speak their language. I look forward to future seasons!
* 我在他乡挺好的 (Remembrance of Things Past) [imdb](, [douban](, [youtube]( Captures the pressures of modern life, cross-generational misunderstandings, and other themes in an entertaining way, and left me wanting a season 2 to see what the main characters would do next.
* 开端 (Reset) [imdb](, [douban](, [youtube]( A gripping, binge-worthy tale that had me guessing what would happen next throughout. Especially good for learners, since it tends to repeat itself.

B tier

* 棋魂 (Hikaru no Go) [imdb](, [douban](, [youtube]( This show almost got me back into chess, but then I remembered I suck at it and my imaginary friend can’t guide me. Oh well. Fun show overall though.
* 隐秘的角落 (Bad Kids) [imdb](, [douban](, [youtube]( Do you like sadness? Darkness? Do you have a bleak outlook on this cold, cruel world? This show is for you! Don’t get me wrong, it’s great, but it’s dark. Especially since I’m told the ending might be a figment of the main character’s imagination…

C tier
* 爱很美味 (Delicious Romance) [imdb](, [douban](, [youtube]( A solid pandemic-era show that captures parts of that time in an irreverant and sometimes funny way. Especially when a character wants to get divorced and re-married on a single trip to city hall, just to save a second trip. The movie, on the other hand…less good.
* 大江大河 (Like a Flowing River) [imdb](, [douban](, [youtube]( Follows a few characters during the reforms of the 80s. Some good characters, also not the best-produced show, I guess? I enjoyed it overall, it just wasn’t as gripping as those above.

F tier

English titles intentionally not capitalized, for shaming.

* 流星花园 (meteor garden) [imdb](, [douban](, [netflix]( I heard one of the co-stars said the starring actress is meant to be a stand-in for ugly girls, to let them have a love story they can see themselves in. He got it wrong, though: he himself is meant to be a stand-in to let terrible actors have a TV show they can see themselves in, and dream that maybe someday, they, too, can act poorly in an awful show.
* 奈何BOSS要娶我 (well-intended love) [imdb](, [douban](, [netflix]( …he tricked her into thinking she has leukemia, so that she’d marry him, or something?
* 苍兰诀 (love between fairy and devil) [imdb](, [douban](, [netflix]( I made it through, like, half an episode. I’m not the target audience, though.

*Among the small number of shows I have watched. I am not a critic.

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