Earlier than Squid Sport rocketed to No. 1 in 94 international locations, with 142 million viewers and over 3 billion minutes watched, Story of Yanxi Palace was in 70 countries with 700 million viewers in a single day, reaching greater than 15 billion views and changing into Google’s most searched show in 2018, despite the fact that Google isn’t out there in China.

But most People have by no means heard of it.

Propelled by Netflix’s push for world dominance, People are discovering a style for worldwide content material. A whopping 97 percent of US Netflix subscribers watched non-English content material final yr. Curiosity in Korean dramas has doubled in the past two years, whereas anime elevated 50 percent from 2019 to 2020.  With Asia accounting for more than half of Netflix’s new subscriber base, count on extra hits from South Korea and Japan.

However what in regards to the second-largest entertainment creator from a market the place Netflix doesn’t function?

Can Chinese language Leisure Take Off?

Kuek Yu-Chuang, VP of Worldwide Enterprise at iQiyi, China’s largest streaming platform, believes so. “World demand indicators turned clear in 2018 with Yanxi, and sampling continues to develop.” Within the final two years, greater than half of US respondents tried Chinese language reveals per iQiyi’s latest survey. Month-to-month energetic customers, viewing time, and Chinese language content material video views doubled in North America this yr, in keeping with statistics that iQiyi shared with WIRED.

“Chinese language reveals haven’t gotten the attention or advice from Netflix’s 214 million members globally, which is why we haven’t seen the identical breakout as with Korean or Japanese content material,” says Julia Alexander, senior technique analyst at Parrot Analytics.

Larry Namer, founding father of E! Leisure TV Networks and president of Metan World Leisure, expects China to have extra world hits. “In some methods, there’s extra room to take dangers in China than within the US, regardless of the federal government. You’re restricted in some reveals, however it’s vast open in others.”

How We Made This Listing

For this record, WIRED drew from US and Chinese language opinions and enter from Chinese language tv creators and entrepreneurs: Ting Chen, screenwriter; Zijin Chen, writer and screenwriter; Frank Jiang, CEO of Shanghai Yingyuan Tradition & Know-how; Jun Ni, screenwriter and affiliate professor of Movie and Tv, The Central Academy of Drama; Rui Ma, CMO of New Studios Media Co; and Dai Ying, SVP and GM of Unique Drama Division at iQiyi.

Suggestions are cut up: 60 p.c fashionable, 15 p.c interval (1900-1990), and 25 p.c historic dramas, based mostly on the 2020 breakdown of 415 scripted net and TV C-dramas [LT3]. Our suggestions cowl every style and embody particular person, household, and societal tales, and we targeted on reveals which might be out there to audiences in the US and Europe.

With out additional ado, here’s a C-drama Watch Listing of essentially the most advisable reveals from the previous 9 years.

Searching for Epic, Excessive-Stakes Viewing?

Nirvana in Fire 琅琊榜

It is a must-see. Subversive wuxia (historical martial arts story) with a bodily frail lead who has misplaced his martial arts means. It is set in sixth-century China, and Mei Chang Su, a superb strategist, secretly helps Prince Jing, the unlikeliest son, battle for the throne to clear his household’s identify. That is based mostly on a novel by Hai Yan—one among China’s hottest authors—that isn’t broadly out there in English, like most of the supply novels on this record. “The quintessential C-drama about honor, braveness, and sacrifice,” says iQiyi’s Dai Ying, “that continues to be the second-highest-rated C-drama.” “Visually stunning. Epic but private story about how we dwell, how we die, and what’s essential,” says Liv Fowler, a author and fan of the sequence.


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