5 Best Chinese Talk Shows to Watch in 2024

Watching Chinese talk shows is a great way to learn conversational Mandarin and start sounding more fluent. Those unscripted, sometimes heated conversations will get you ready for discussions with native speakers in the real world.

Here are five of my favorite Chinese talk shows you can start watching today.


1. 鲁豫有约 (lǔ yù yǒu yuē) — “A Date With Lu Yu”

“A Date with Lu Yu” is widely considered the Chinese “Oprah Winfrey Show” and follows its inspiration’s style and format. With an estimated 140 million viewers per episode, it’s one of the most beloved talk shows in mainland China.

Conversational Mandarin in a somewhat formal tone is used throughout the show, often with several people speaking at once. Celebrity guests from all over China, Taiwan and Hong Kong are often on the show, so you can hear their unique dialects, slang and accents.

If you’re a beginner learner, this one may be a bit too difficult to follow even with English subtitles. However, intermediate and advanced learners can definitely benefit from watching this talk show for its diversity and conversational speed.

The Hong Kong-based TV network Phoenix TV hosts “A Date with Lu Yu,” and unfortunately it’s very difficult to get in the U.S. However, there are YouTube playlists with English subtitles of the show available for viewing.

2. 天天向上 (tiān tiān xiàng shàng) — “Day Day Up”

If you’re an advanced learner who really wants to get a grasp on modern Chinese culture, then “Day Day Up” is definitely for you.

“Day Day Up” is a very popular youth talk show that has an eclectic mix of content. Totally hilarious games between the hosts and guests, song and dance competitions and performances, interviews with celebrities, you name it. Each episode has its own “theme” as well.

This show may be hard to follow for beginners because it’s so informal. There are often several people speaking at once and the speech is usually fast. If you’re an advanced learner and want to improve your conversational speed, this show would be ideal for you.

“Day Day Up” is hosted on Hunan Television, which you can stream from Sling TV. This paid channel also features English subtitles, so beginners and intermediate learners can also benefit from purchasing it. Sling TV also offers a free trial if you want to try it before you buy.

Outside of paying for it, it’s somewhat difficult to find English-subbed episodes of this show, though a few are on YouTube. This YouTube playlist has tons of episodes with subtitles in 汉字 (hàn zì) — Chinese characters.

3. 金星秀 (jīn xīng xiù) — “The Jin Xing Show”

This is another beloved talk show in China with an audience of 150 million viewers. It’s the perfect talk show for beginners.

This variety/chat show has a ton of great content. Outside of occasional performances, the format of the show typically involves the host sitting down with one celebrity and interviewing them. The pace of speech is a bit slower than other talk shows, easy to follow and semi-formal.

The host, 金星 (Jīn Xīng) — Jin Xing is also an influential figure. She’s a famed dancer, choreographer, actress and one of the few transgender TV hosts not just in China, but also in the world.

4. 世界青年说 (shì jiè qīng nián shuō) — “A Bright World”

“A Bright World” is set up almost like a grand meeting of international leaders, except it’s in a talk show setting and way funnier than anything you’d hear at the U.N.

Are you seeing a pattern here? Chinese talk shows rarely involve just talking about things or interviewing people. “A Bright World” boasts sketch comedy, interviews, song and dance numbers and “Saturday Night Live”-style improv.

Tons of people are on camera at any given time, so it may be hard for beginners to keep track of the conversations. However, it’s a good show to watch to see how casual conversations take place in Mandarin.

English-subbed episodes can be found on YouTube.

Another similar show like “A Bright World” is 非正式会谈 (fēi zhèng shì huì tán) — “Informal Talks” which is also on YouTube.

5. 壹周立波秀 (yī zhōu lì bō xiù) — “Mr. Zhou Live Show”

If you love improv, you’ll love “Mr. Zhou Live Show.”

This talk show is hosted by the famous stand-up comedian 周立波 (zhōu lì bō) — Zhou Libo and the show is almost 100 percent unscripted. Most of the show just focuses on Zhou talking to the audience alone, so it’s easy to follow what he’s saying—although he can speak pretty fast at times. Regardless, this show is ideal for beginner Mandarin learners.

How Can Talk Shows Help You Learn Mandarin?

  • Most Chinese talk or “chat” shows have English subtitles, which makes a great stepping stone into conversational Mandarin. If you’re a beginner or intermediate Mandarin learner, those subtitles will help you naturally associate Chinese words with their correct translations.
  • Chinese talk shows are conversational. When you watch a scripted movie or TV show, you’re not really listening to an organic real-life conversation. But talk shows are much less scripted and can help you hear how an actual conversation in Chinese sounds.
  • Talk shows open a door to modern Chinese culture, which is an important aspect of learning the language. You can’t become fluent by just studying textbooks. To really improve your Mandarin and get to native-speaker levels, exploring modern Chinese culture and slang is vital.
  • Chinese talk shows are incredibly entertaining. What’s better than learning and being entertained at the same time?
  • You can watch full episodes or find small clips. Sometimes watching a full episode is too time-consuming or too advanced depending on your level. For this, you can look up individual episode clips on YouTube or watch clips on FluentU, a language learning platform that uses videos to teach Chinese.

    FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

    You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

    P.S. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

    FluentU Ad


Are you ready to make a bowl of popcorn, nestle into the couch and veg out to these great Chinese talk shows? There’s no shame in being lazy if you’re learning something at the same time, right?

Getting a grasp on the speed and tones of conversational Chinese can definitely help you improve your own fluency in real life.

And One More Thing...

If you want to continue learning Chinese with interactive and authentic Chinese content, then you'll love FluentU.

FluentU naturally eases you into learning Chinese language. Native Chinese content comes within reach, and you'll learn Chinese as it's spoken in real life.

FluentU has a wide range of contemporary videos—like dramas, TV shows, commercials and music videos.

FluentU brings these native Chinese videos within reach via interactive captions. You can tap on any word to instantly look it up. All words have carefully written definitions and examples that will help you understand how a word is used. Tap to add words you'd like to review to a vocab list.

FluentU's Learn Mode turns every video into a language learning lesson. You can always swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you're learning.

The best part is that FluentU always keeps track of your vocabulary. It customizes quizzes to focus on areas that need attention and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a 100% personalized experience.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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