Chinadaily-China is a country that produces some 30,000 episodes of TV drama every year – undoubtedly the largest number in the world. In recent years, an increasing number of Chinese TV dramas has been exported overseas and gained substantial popularity among foreign audiences.
Although a number of them were broadcast in China dozens of years ago, they remain firm fan favorites until this day. After all, watching a good old-fashioned TV drama might even revoke the fondest of memories.
The following are the top 10 most popular Chinese TV dramas overseas. (Listed in chronological order：按时间顺序排列
The Legend of Zhen Huan ——2011——甄嬛传
"The Legend of Zhen Huan," also known as "Hou Gong Zhen Huan Zhuan," is a Chinese television series based on an Internet novel of the same name. It first aired in China in 2011, and features a total of 76 episodes. The drama tells the story of Zhen Huan, who was chosen to be Emperor Yongzheng's concubine in ancient China's Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)。 She learned how to survive in a palace full of cunning plots and deceit, and in the end managed to defeat her enemies.
The drama was broadcast on South Korea's CHINGTV and BS Japan. It is expected to be re-edited into six TV movies and broadcast on American mainstream TV channels under the title "Empresses in the Palace."
Scarlet Heart ——2011——步步惊心
"The Scarlet Heart" is a Chinese television series based on the novel of the same name. In the drama, a young woman suffers a near-fatal accident that sends her back in time to the ancient Chinese Qing Dynasty under the Kangxi Emperor's reign. The drama tells the stories she experiences in the imperial palace. First aired in China on Hunan Broadcasting System (HBS) in 2011, the drama received extremely high ratings and later became popular in foreign countries such as Japan and the United States.
"Princess Pearl" is a Chinese television costume drama dating back to the 18th century. Written by creator Chiung Yao, the drama covered three seasons, with 24 episodes in Season 1, 48 episodes in Season 2 and 40 episodes in Season 3, airing in 1998, 1999 and 2003 respectively. This Cinderella-like story became the most watched show in China, and also gained a large fan base in other Asian countries such as Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It was also successfully exported to the United States.
"Meteor Garden" is a television drama produced by China's Taiwan, based on the Japanese "Shōjo" manga series ("Boys Over Flowers") written by Yoko Kamio. In the drama, a poor teenage girl named Shan Chai is forced by her parents to attend a university for rich people. She meets four rich and handsome, but arrogant, students collectively known as the "F4." The drama tells of the friendship and love between Shan Chai and "F4." The series was first aired in 2001, and soon after became popular among people of Chinese origin across Japan, South Korea, Southeast Asia and other parts of the world.
The large-scale and well-produced Chinese historical TV dramas are always welcomed by audiences in many Southeast Asian countries, including "Kangxi Dynasty," "Water Margin" and "Yongzheng Dynasty." "Kangxi Dynasty" is a Chinese television series based on the novel "Kangxi Da Di (The Great Kangxi Emperor)" by Eryue He. First shown in 2001, the series focuses on the major events which occurred during the reign of the Kangxi Emperor in the Qing Dynasty. It got high ratings from audiences both in Japan and South Korea.
New Legend of Madame White Snake——1992——新白娘子传奇
"The New Legend of Madame White Snake" is a musical TV series telling the fairytale love story between a goodhearted man and a snake demon who in fact transformed into a pretty girl after thousands of years of training. It was first broadcast in 1992 and achieved outstanding audience ratings. It was later exported to Japan, Vietnam and several other Asian countries, creating rating "miracles." The drama involves traditional Chinese culture and folk customs such as traditional Chinese music, Traditional Chinese Medicine, religion and poetry, proving the country's rich and long-lasting artistic vitality.
Journey to the West——1986——西游记
"The Journey to the West" is a Chinese television series based on the classic novel of the same title, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. First broadcast in 1986, the drama tells of the legend of the Tang Dynasty Buddhist monk Xuanzang, who traveled to the place later known as India to obtain sacred texts. Protected by his three disciples, he faced many trials and tribulations on his way there and back.
Once the series was broadcast, it received much approval from both Chinese and foreign audiences. It was on show in summer vacation in Vietnam and became a perfect way to keep the children at home.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms——1994——三国演义
"The Romance of the Three Kingdoms" is a Chinese television series based on the classical novel of the same title. First aired in 1994, the drama spanned a total of 84 episodes. As one of the most expensive television series produced at that time, it was completed over the course of four years, involved 400,000 in cast and crew and allegedly cost a pretty penny. The end result was one of great quality and gained a big number of fans in foreign countries, especially Japan. The drama was later rebroadcast on Japan's NHK repeatedly, and again on SUN in 2009 as well.
The Legend of the Condor Heroes——1983——射雕英雄传
"The Legend of the Condor Heroes" is a Hong Kong television series based on famous author Louis Cha's novel of the same title. It has multiple versions of TV dramas and films, but the best version is the one first broadcast in 1983. The 59-episode-long Kung Fu series is considered by many to be a classic television adaptation of the novel. It was later exported overseas and gripped the attention of a large foreign audience. It also won a few prizes at foreign TV drama festivals.
"The Bund" is a television drama produced by China's Hong Kong. First broadcast on TVB in 1980, it tells the story of the members of the Shanghai gangs. Portrayed by famous stars Chow Yun-fat and Angie Chiu, the drama was praised as the Godfather of the East and spawned several sequels, remakes and film adaptations.