Saturday, April 18, 2015

Slow and Steady Wins the Girl: Kmuse's Guide to Chinese Dramas

So don't tell kdramas, but I have been cheating on them with other dramas... SHHHHH...  Don't get me wrong, I still love and watch a ton of kdramas, but with the recent increase of subbed Chinese dramas becoming available, i have branched out a little. 

Now when I say C-dramas I am not talking about the Taiwanese dramas.  For the most part, I have broken up with them and their @#$)#$@ makjang 2nd halves ("Fall In Love With Me" was my breaking point when it came to Tdramas).   Instead I have gone to the mainland where a whole bevy of new stories and new men await to sweep me away.
Many of you might be asking: "Kmuse, what is so different about Chinese dramas compared to T & Kdramas?"  I would say that the largest difference is in the plot pacing as well as the style of the heroines.  C-dramas are often longer (although shorter per episode) and have a slower pacing when it comes to the romance.  It is more about telling the story of all the characters and how they relate to the OTP (One True Pairing) than just wham, bam, throw the OTP together, and done.  It will be rare to see the main couples get together until closer to the 20 episode range.  A lot more of the story is based on how they become friends and then move to a deeper level of companionship.  The Heroines tend to be very strong willed and pragmatic. When love does not work out, they tend to move on with their lives.  No wasting away for these ladies, and they are also not afraid to admit that security and money make a difference.  This is different from kdramas which focus more on Candy style females who are usually poor and have to be forced to fall for the rich hero.  Also C-drama's almost always have alpha leading men who fall head over heals for their leading ladies at first glance.  They then have to work tirelessly to prove they are worthy for the girls love.
It might be a little daunting starting a new style of drama so I am here to help and ready to go through the newest releases that I personally am enjoying.  Hopefully this will help you decide what to watch when you dip your toes into the C-drama pool.

Romance of the Condor Heroes
This is perfect for the person who enjoys action mixed with a bit (OK a lot) of fantasy.  Based on the famous novel by Jin Yong's, this drama is the most recent adaptation.
Yang Guo falls in love with his teacher Xiao Long Nü.  They must overcome the disapproval of the martial arts world because of their taboo love.
Why You Should Watch:
I loved how intricate this drama was.  Tons of great characters and action scenes combined with a sincere romance. It reminded me of shows like Xena or Hercules where you go through a series of adventures with different characters while creating the overall love story arc. If you like Scifi/fantasy style of literature or film then I am guessing you would love this drama.
Divorce Lawyers
 This is perfect for the drama viewer who is looking for a more mature and realistic drama.
 Luo Li and Shi Haidong are successful divorce lawyers who meet when Luo Li . Through endless rounds of bickering and fighting, Luo Li and Haidong grow to respect each other’s talents and fall in love.

Why You Should Watch:
The OTP has a witty banter that is reminiscent of Grant & Hepburn or Fred Astaire & Rogers, reminding me of classic films from the 30's and 40's.  It is interesting to see how two very dominate personalities can not only fall in love, but make things work.  Something which is hard to do when surrounded by the worst examples of marriages.  
There is a lot of characters who are cheaters and who, at times, make me want to slap them over the heads with a heavy brick.   However, the OTP is good enough to make me overlook the scumbags who deserve to be alone with not even a cat for company.
Sound of the Desert
Adapted from the novel "Ballad of the Desert", this drama is perfect for anyone who has a love for Sageuks and is interested in seeing the Chinese equivalent.
Jin Yu lives in the desert among the wolves and encounters two dynamic men who convince her to rejoin society. She meets first the calm and kind Mo Xun, and later the handsome, cold, general Wei Wu Ji.  This is the story of Jin Yu's romance with both men.
Why You Should Watch:
It is a wonderful change from what we are used to when watching a historical drama.  The heroine is self sufficient and does not require a man to define her.  Also this is one of those rare dramas where you are not sure who is going to win the ladies heart in the long run.  Rather than the traditional A and B lead, you have two equal romantic possibilities and are left hoping your bias is the one she chooses.

Singles Villa
Romantic hijinks mixed with an unexpected dose of mystery makes this a crack drama that is hard not to dramathon.
7 successful singles move into a wealthy apartment compound which has the rule that the residents can not date for a year or they will be kicked out and fined.  Joe and Xu Lu fall in love despite the restrictions and must keep their romantic relationship a secret.

Why You Should Watch:
This is one of those dramas that you can't help but get addicted to.  The cast is quirky and the surprise additions of a serial killer, crazy helicopter aunts who are obsessed with marrying off their nephew, and a plethora of stalkers, make this drama one crazy ride.
The leading lady is VERY annoying in the first episode.  Her voice and mannerisms will grate on your nerves to the point where you are forced to mute the sound on your TV (Think a Chinese Fran Dresure).  HOWEVER, Xu Lu does get better and once she dials down the whining and screeching, she becomes more likable. I suggest you power through til at least episode 3 and your perseverance will be rewarded.

Cruel Romance 
 I saved the best for last.  To say I love this drama would be an understatement.  I ADORE this drama.  It is the C-drama crack that sets the bar for all other C-dramas to reach.  The pretty visuals and the extremely sexy cast make this a must watch in my list.
Adapted from a Republican-era novel called "The Fate of Jinxiu", Cruel Romance tells the story of Rong Jin Xiu, a country girl who travels to Shanghai in order to find her parent's killers.  She meets triad leader Zuo Zhen who falls in love with her at first glance and goes about wooing her.

Why You Should Watch:
I could give you a long list of reasons to watch, from the action packed plot, the wonderful cinematography, and the elaborate costumes.  But really when it comes down to it there is one singular reason that stands above all other reasons.
Zuo Zhen is uber, burn your knickers just from a glance, hot. 

We are not talking normal, run of the mill, hottie, hot.  Oh no, we are talking full blown alpha male, can impregnate a girl from a single smoldering glance, hot.
Zuo Zhen's chiseled good looks and lingering lovelorn gazes will have you avidly watching this drama.  It also doesn't hurt that he is clueless on how to woo the love of his life.  Zuo Zhen is often confused as to why the leading lady does not prostrate herself at his feet when he says "She is his person".  Yup, we are all wondering the same thing?
But never fear, I am sure he will be able to win her over eventually.  Just look at him!  Even the dimmest girl will eventually understand that this is a once in a lifetime type of man.
And if Jin Xiu doesn't snatch him up, I know there is a long line of fans in my discussion group that would love the chance.
And if you are still not sold, check this drama out for the smorgasbord of other sexy attractive men that are in the supporting cast.  This is a drama that does not shy away from the eye candy and there is literally a guy for everyone's individual tastes.
Cruel Romance is also a perfect example to demonstrate the pacing differences that are found in a Chinese Mainland Drama.  It is the slow and steady wooing (and gratuitous ab flashes) that wins the girl in this drama.
I hope that this list is helpful for those searching for a new drama experience.  If you have any questions on where to find these dramas, or you need further recommendations, feel free to leave a quick message in the comment section.  The Crazy Ahjummas love hearing from our readers.

Check out our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter (@Thecrazyahjummas or @amberkmuse) for info on all our newest recaps, posts, and to join in our kdrama discussions. 


  1. Is Singles Villa a CDrama? I thought it was Taiwanese (Jiro Wang/Joe Cheng). I am watching cause, Jiro....

  2. No, it is mainland China. Sometimes Tactors play in Cdramas.

  3. Thank you. I've been thinking about trying out some Cdramas.

  4. Loves your write up on Cruel Romance. This is a good romance drama. For those who loves romance story, should not give this show a miss. Like what Amber said, this show has quite a few handsome guys

  5. Quite handsome! Wait...all of the CDramas I'm watching are FULL of handsome!!

  6. I originally thought I'd like Liar & Lady (the other republican era cdrama now showing) better but Cruel Romance has a lot more of an action flick vibe. It doesn't have a ground breaking plot but all the side characters make it worth it!

    1. I plan on watching Liar and Lady soon but got sucked into Cruel Romance first

  7. Thanks for this list, I bookmarked it. I'm interested now in the Condor drama, (Sci-fi/fantasy type) Cruel Romance, (wow, that actor is really hawt! And i like the action.) and Singles villa, because i can't resist Joe Cheng AND Jiro Wang! Even though i've turned dramas off after minutes because the leading lady was annoying. TW actresses can especially be like that.

  8. Hola! me encanta Cruel Romance pero la pag donde lo vi solo tiene hasta el cap 9 con sub español y quiero seguir viendolo, sabes de alguna pagina para verlo o para descargarlo con sub español, muchas gracias me llamo Brenda


We love comments! Just please remember to keep it clean and keep it nice or you won't survive the moderation round.