Favourite TV Shows to learn Chinese

Couple I want to share. TV is a great way to learn Chinese casually and keep Mandarin stuck in your head.

Home with Kids - super relaxed and quite funny TV show that follows a divorced couples family adventures. Good for most levels.

Nothing but Thirty - This resonated with me turning 30 and knowing Chinese culture. 3 women share their story of turning 30, each have very different day to day lives and problems. Intermediate and above.

Any that you guys want to share?


Good topic idea @Max !

My suggestion is: Where Are We Going, Dad? / 爸爸去哪儿? This is a series where fathers take their young children to visit somewhere. As the conversations are between a father and his young child, the sentences are short and uncomplicated. It’s also usually possible to watch it on YouTube with subtitles (in Chinese or English). I also think that it’s a nice little insight into everyday China.


I have heard of that one but never saw it. It’s great if it comes with short sentences. I always liked simple TV series where it’s always about the same topics (he loves her, she loves someone else, he finds out, her brother gets mad etc.) because in the end the story is so simple you can understand it well even if you don’t get many of the words.

We have a good list of Chinese TV shows on Chinese TV Shows (2021) - 14 Great Shows for Practicing Chinese if anyone is looking for inspiration.

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Firstly, I use the “Language Learning with Netflix” add on for Netflix. That’s my #1 recommendation - I also use it when watching English shows as a way of passively improving my reading ability… Not sure how effective it is but better than nothing :slightly_smiling_face:. They also have one for Youtube.

Recommended Netflix series I’m watching now:

  1. Nothing but Thirty (三十而已) - Series that follows the lives of 3 women in Shanghai. I’m in the middle of this series now and really like it - similarly to what Max said I’m also turning 30 next year and find it really interesting to watch their lives. Title is a play on the chengyu 三十而立

  2. Love 020 - Rom-com type series about a girl who plays online gaming and dating guys from there, some easy watching https://www.netflix.com/watch/81005094

  3. Love is not Blind - Rom-com type series about a girl getting dumped by her boyfriend. Easy watching https://www.netflix.com/watch/81027768

  4. Well Intended Love - another rom-com type (can you see my preferred genre yet…) where a girl with leukemia agrees to marry a rich business tycoon in order to get him to donate his bone marrow. Very strange concept but entertaining enough to watch - https://www.netflix.com/watch/81092199

Haven’t watched yet but on my list::

  1. 火神的眼淚 - Drama about firefighters, lots of colleagues have recommended this but I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet - https://www.netflix.com/watch/81453783

  2. Longest day in Chang’an - I used to watch this sometimes when my boyfriend was watching it, it’s interesting from a historical perspective but they sometimes use more “olden-day” Chinese so I’d often looking up stuff on Pleco and finding out it was basically never used. I still want to go back to this drama though. https://www.netflix.com/watch/81305145

I’m very keen to hear of any similar shows to Nothing but Thirty (and ideally something on Netflix so it’s easily accessible and has the LLN add-on!). I’ll update my post here once I’ve continued watching the series or add some more if I find them


Good choices Chloe.

May I also recommend Ode to Joy. I think you’ll find if you like Nothing but 30 you may well enjoy this one too. My colleague Katie watched the series and raved about it. Hopefully this review helps give you an idea if you will like it or not.

Katie also mentioned one called The Bad Kids which I’m yet to watch but really need to. Add that to your list as well!


thanks so much, that is super helpful. We have a blog category reviewing Chinese TV shows Chinese TV Archives - Flexi Classes where you might find some interesting further options.
Do you maybe want to review any Chinese TV shows you watched and put it on there?

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Wow, that’s a bunch of great TV shows and I especially like ‘Keep running’, sometimes I have to watch it without english subtitle which could really improve my listening skill. How about this one 王牌对王牌 I don’t really like it tho cuz I’m still learning basic chinese so that game show is difficult for me to understand.


yes, definitely watch without English subtitles. It makes it harder to follow of course, but that way you learn. With English subtitles you will just read the English and learn very little.
Try out some of the shows we reviewed and leave a comment on there - the authors love it when someone actually comments on there blogs :slight_smile:

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Just finished watching this - the series is great, really recommend. It covers a team of firefighters working in Taipei but touches on a lot of interesting topics about how the fire department are (under)funded, attitudes in the media but also covers cultural aspects like family relationships, attitudes to dealing with trauma, etc. Really great show. I am really interested to discuss this with my Taiwanese friends, given that in Taiwan there has been several high-profile fires in KTV/entertainment facilities in the last 10 years - I wonder how much of the topics covered are a true reflection of life. Anyway - watch it!

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Found this useful list of TV shows to watch - you can sort by difficulty (number of words), country, watching platform, etc. Useful and simple!

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I’m currently watching “The Untamed” - it’s pretty good! Some advice, you just need to get past the first 3 episodes, after the first one we had to check if this was really the right show that had such amazing reviews since it was so so bad haha.

This tweet sums it up well…


Also found it interesting that you guys didn’t mention the LGBTQ theme in your review (from the first 5 minutes, my boyfriend was like, everyone in this show is gay). It’s really interesting to see how this show skirts around China’s strict censorship rules but still manages to subtly portray gay relationships.


Interesting comments and an even more interesting tweet there!

I’ll take a re-read of our review and speak with the writer, we’ll look at updating this with your feedback Chloe, thanks a lot for mentioning.

I proofed a review the other day about a Japanese TV show that went heavy on LGBT and it’s as relevant as it’s ever been so I’d like to update this as you suggested.


Wow, 9 months has passed since I last posted on this! I think this was one of my first posts!

Anyway, here are some new TV shows I recommend:

  1. Light the Night - set in the 1980s about some ladies that run a hostess bar in the Japanese area of Taipei, and a murder investigation that follows. Very gripping

  2. 2049 - set in the future about a couple with some marriage difficulties, the woman uses a mini robot headpiece to help her communicate better with her husband. Very funny/interesting so far!

  3. Use for my Talent - typical Chinese love drama about a germophobic CEO and a girl working as a cleaner at his company. It was entertaining to watch but it also really made me think about whether there has been any “Me too” movement in China. This guy is the girls boss and is super inappropriate / creepy sometimes but it’s seen as romantic…? Interesting point for another day… but hey, I will put that at the back of my mind to watch it

  4. The Rational Life - legal boss lady gets demoted at work and struggles to build her reputation up again. There is some sort of romance plot later on. Haven’t watched very far yet but seems to have a little more substance than a typical Chinese drama

Please add some recommendations! My schedule is really busy right now so watching TV at night is my main source of Chinese practice :smile_cat:


Also - I have only very recently (at HSK5) made the jump to watching without English subtitles. I applaud you guys for doing that earlier but I cannot fathom how you managed it and still understood the shows!

Just adding this as I felt quite demoralised when I tried at HSK2, 3, 4. I think it depends if you are counting watching TV as active or passive work. I only use it as passive relaxation time activity, same as watching English language netflix


Watching Reset on Netflix right now - very much recommend! It’s a series about two people getting stuck in a time loop trying to stop an explosion. I’d want to watch it even if not for Chinese learning :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:


Nice! It’s not available on Netflix outside of certain regions in Asia but I found it on YouTube 【ENG SUB】开端 01 | Reset 01爆炸公交上乘客惊遇梦中梦(白敬亭/赵今麦/刘涛/刘奕君/黄觉/刘丹) - YouTube.

I’ll check it out in a couple of years when I’m done with all 76 episodes of “Empresses in the palace” as recommended by LTL :joy:


Is there a Chinese equivalent to “Old Enough!”, the Japanese reality tv show where toddlers run errands for their parents? And if not, that’s a good show to recommend to those who are studying Japanese :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:


Vicki I watch this in Japanese too! A lot of fun isn’t it, glad to hear someone else finds it interesting.

The concept seems odd but in true Japanese style, it’s incredibly watchable!

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I know @Max. The cameramen must have hearts of stone not to help the little toddlers!

One of my teachers recommended 人世间 as a good tv drama. It has 5* ratings online too.

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I’ve been watching this show lately! Super super cute and would be interested in a Chinese version too!