The reason why I like Taiwanese dramas is because they bring me happiness, inspiration, hope and comfort. When I feel upset, watching a Taiwanese drama or rewatching parts of a drama is like a cure. Some spoilers ahead.
1. My Lucky Star (2007)
Shortly after Ah Xing is released from jail, the jewelry ex-con artist finds herself in a situation where she is handcuffed to Tianqi. Tianqi is running away from suspicious men in suits because he stole a valuable jewel from E-shine, a famous jewelry company. They spend time with each other, and Ah Xing believes that Tianqi is a poor thief. Little does she know, he is actually E-shine’s young master!
I love this drama because Ah Xing is an ex-con artist who went to jail. It shows me that it is possible for a person to change and become a better person. Second chances are possible. It takes away the guilt and negative feelings I have about myself from minor problems and also gives me hope. The actress who plays Ah Xing is Korean. It’s one of the earlier Taiwanese dramas with a Korean actress and Mandarin voice over.
Jimmy Lin is a singer, actor and race car driver. In this drama, he plays all three! He also sings the ending theme which is nice. I really like it when the actors or actresses sing songs for the drama because it feels so much more meaningful. A lot of the dramas in this post have that music element. Jimmy Lin plays the main male lead, Tianqi.
If a main male lead has unconditional love for the female, I feel very touched. It’s something I look for in a drama. Jimmy Lin does it so well. Often times I feel so bad for him because of the sad events that happen to him, but he still loves Ah Xing very much.
One of the songs in particular, “Our Memories” by Shivia Lee, makes me cry. It’s a powerful song and it is so effective. I cry often and easily when it comes to sad shows. If you’re like me, expect to cry in this one.
2. Fated to Love You (2008)
Xin Yi is often called “sticky note girl” at her workplace because she is too kind for her own good. She lets people take advantage of her, even paying everything for her boyfriend. Cun Xi is the opposite – he is the heir to a company and is outspoken and rude. Due to a misunderstanding on a boat cruise (Xin Yi lost her glasses and walked in the wrong room), the two have sex and Xin Yi becomes pregnant!
A theme I love is when the couple separate under unfortunate circumstances. They meet some years later and it gives me hope that people can reconcile after a fall out. Of course, it’s not going to happen all the time but if it is “fate” as the title implies, it will happen. This also happens in My Lucky Star which makes me very happy.
“Wo De Kuai Le” is a powerful song which has made me cry several times whenever it played in the series. This drama made me cry a lot, but also made me laugh a countless number of times.
There is a Korean remake of the drama and I still prefer this one. The Korean version is nice because the main male lead is an effective and likeable character. However, the Taiwanese version is still the best because of their chemistry and the feel in general.
3. Love Keeps Going (2011)
Mei Le is a hardworking, young woman and is about to marry her fiancé, Yi Feng. Yi Feng’s younger brother Yi Lie is rude, loud and outspoken. Mei Le tries to get on Yi Lie’s good side since they are about to become one family. Yi Lie finds himself falling in love with Mei Le, but she is his brother’s fianćee.
Mike He plays Yi Lie, who was definitely my favourite character in this drama because of how much he loves the female lead. He loves and cares for her so much… It really screams out ‘boyfriend goals.’ He even sings a song for her, which is rare for Mike He. Cyndi Wang sings a few songs on the soundtrack. Mike He’s character is Yi Lie and Cyndi Wang’s character is Mei Le.
When I feel down by a failure with love, I am instantly comforted after watching the same clip from this series. It’s a scene when he comforts Mei Le. Not only are his words motivational, but you realize how much better of a person you deserve. You realize that the last guy was a jerk and that it was better that it did not work out.
The ending is a little disappointing. However, it does not take away the experience of the rest of the series. It is not a sad ending, if that’s what you’re wondering. I absolutely detest sad endings because I feel like I wasted my time watching those kinds of dramas. With that being said, it is fair to assume that these dramas have happy endings – and that makes the watching experience more satisfying.
4. Smiling Pasta (2006)
Xiao Shi is your ordinary girl who is unsuccessful at love. She has had nearly 20 boyfriends but none of her previous relationships have made it past 3 months. He Qun is a famous pop star. While running away from the paparazzi, he bumps into Xiao Shi and they kiss by accident on the street. Their accidental kiss gets caught on camera and now Xiao Shi has to pretend to be He Qun’s fianćee.
Smiling Pasta is very funny, but also makes you cry in the same episode. It’s not too serious and I enjoyed this series thoroughly. As with 1-3 on this list, I would not mind rewatching this one. Nicholas Teo plays a famous pop singer and idol in the series. It’s great because he sings the songs himself and he is a singer in real life. Cyndi Wang also sings some of the songs in the series, including the opening song. She’s the same actress from Love Keeps Going.
5. Hanazakarino Kimitachihe (2006)
Lu Rui Xi watches high jump athlete, Zuo Yi Quan, on television and he becomes her idol. She decides to leave her school in America and flies to Taiwan to enrol in Zuo Yi Quan’s school. The drawback? It’s an all-boys school! No worries, she cuts her hair short and pretends to be a boy. He also happens to be her roommate. When she meets him, he is not very friendly!?
Here we have a lot of famous lead characters. There’s Ella Chen from S.H.E, and Wu Chun and Jiro Wang from Fahrenheit. JJ Lin also makes a guest appearance as Ella’s brother. S.H.E. and Fahrenheit are popular music groups and JJ Lin is a popular singer. Ironically my favourite character was neither one of the two male leads, but Danson Tang, the actor who played a minor character. S.H.E sings the opening theme song.
This series was based on a manga. There is a Japanese version of the drama and I enjoyed that a lot as well. Both have a different feeling to it and it’s a different watching experience. I think that I liked the Japanese one slightly more, but this one is still worth watching.
I’ve heard criticism that the acting in Taiwanese dramas is not that good. I do agree to some extent but the acting has gotten a lot better throughout the years. I want to point out that sometimes the acting is exaggerated – and this is done deliberately to create a comical effect. This is not a sad drama. It’s a funny watch to pass the time.
6. It Started with a Kiss (2005)
Yuan Xiang Qin (very clumsy and not very smart) confesses her love to Jiang Zhi Shu, the smartest and most handsome guy at school. He rejects her in a humiliating manner. Just when things couldn’t get worse, an earthquake tears down her house. Yuan Xiang Qin and her father move in with her father’s friend… who happens to be Jiang Zhi Shu’s father. So now the two of them are living together under the same roof.
I was going to make this a ‘Top 5’ post, but I couldn’t leave this one out. This was my first Taiwanese drama and I watched it when I was about grade five. Jiro Wang was the second male lead in this one and Hana Kimi (see above), but I’m glad he finally got the girl in newer dramas.
There are Japanese and Korean drama versions, and an anime – but none of the other dramas capture the same chemistry as this one. Compared to the first three dramas on the list, this is not that sad. It’s a light-hearted watch to pass the time. There’s a new Taiwanese remake of this drama staring Dino Lee but I have yet to watch it.
Other dramas that did not make the list but are very good include Hi My Sweetheart and Peach Girl. If you’re interested, definitely check those out as well.