chinese tv shows

15 Chinese Shows to Learn Chinese (and Where to Stream Them)

You can learn Mandarin Chinese through TV.

But if you haven’t really watched Chinese TV before, how do you know where to get started? What should you watch?

I’ve picked out the top 15 TV shows for learning Chinese, from fun variety shows and cartoons to imperial dramas with more complex language.

You’ll also find out about popular Chinese streaming websites so you can access thousands of Chinese TV shows (and movies too).


1. 非诚勿扰 (If You Are the One)

Available on: Amazon PrimeYouTube

This show features around 24 female guests and about four or five male contestants every episode.

The female guests evaluate each male contestant based on video clips and questions asked by the hosts. If a female guest doesn’t like what she sees, she can hit a buzzer. Once every female guest hits the buzzer, the male contestant is eliminated.

This is one of the most controversial game shows in China, but it’s also among the most popular for that reason! 

2. 中国达人秀 (China’s Got Talent)

Available on: YouTube

In this show, people showcase their talents in front of a panel of judges who come from various professions in the entertainment industry.

The contestants come from different walks of life and also talk about personal topics sometimes. There are no restrictions on what you can show off, but the most popular auditions are the ones with singing and dancing.

3. 康熙来了 (Kangsi Coming)

Available on: YouTube

“Kangsi Coming” is a hilarious talk show where the hosts bring up controversial questions. But they do it in a fun, entertaining way so the show participants and the audience feel relaxed enough to join in the conversation.

The show has featured people who are obsessed with taking self-portraits, or 自拍 (zì pāi) in Chinese (and how different they are in real life), people who have had plastic surgery, Chinese-born celebrities who are raised abroad and their experiences overseas and so on.

4. 命中注定我爱你 (Fated to Love You)

Available on: Netflix

Also called “You’re My Destiny,” this story introduces us to a plain Taiwanese girl. One night, she accidentally sleeps with the wrong guy at a cruise trip. After clearing the misunderstanding, she returns to her old life.

Little does she know that months after, she’ll be pregnant with that stranger’s baby and that he happens to be the owner and CEO of the large company she works for…

Watch as the series of missteps and misunderstandings blossom into a story of real love in an unlikely turn of events!

5. 下一站,幸福 (Autumn’s Concerto)

Available on: Netflix | Viki

任光晞 (rén guāng xī) is a son from a wealthy family, but he feels empty and purposeless, with a deep mistrust for women. That is, until one day when he meets a simple delivery girl, 梁慕橙 (liáng mù chéng).

The two of them fall in love, but then it turns out 任光晞 has a brain tumor. He miraculously gets better, but at a heavy price: The love between 光晞 and 慕橙 vanishes into the nothingness from a bout of amnesia.

And thus, the real love story begins.

6. 醉后决定爱上你 (Drunken to Love You)

Available on: Amazon Prime | Viki

When an interior designer and a head waitress propose to their respective significant others, both of them are turned down. They respond to this by getting really drunk—only to wake up the next day officially married to each other! 

Now the two must work backward to find out how they wound up in this situation in the first place. Is this a terrible mistake or a blessing in disguise? Only time will tell!

7. Miaomiao

Available on: Amazon Prime | YouTube

This Mandarin-learning series is aimed at preschoolers, but it’s still entertaining to watch for adults. It follows the adventures of a young Chinese-Canadian girl named Miaomiao, her puppy Doudou and the rest of her animal friends.

Through the obstacles and problems they encounter, Miaomiao and her friends learn character-building lessons and the power of friendship, along with simple Chinese words and phrases. 

8. 天庭小子 – 小乾坤 (Heavenkid)

Available on: YouTube

This award-winning Taiwanese cartoon is based on the book 弟子规 (dì zǐ guī), known in English as “Ti Tzu Kui, Standards for Being a Good Pupil and Child.” The show educates children on discipline, morals and virtues deeply rooted in Ancient Chinese wisdom and Confucian teachings.

It offers a well-rounded education in terms of language and culture. This show is actually a popular reference for immersion daycares and kindergartens!

9. 伍六七 (Scissor Seven)

Available on: Netflix

Also known as “Killer 7” or 刺客伍六七 (cì kè wǔ liù qī), this show was the first Chinese animated series on Netflix

The story is about a hairdresser named Seven who suffers from amnesia and lives on Chicken Island with his friend and boss Daibo, who also happens to be a chicken. 

Because his past is a mystery, Seven figures that he needs to save up for an expensive medical operation, and he believes that becoming an assassin is the best way to earn that money. Although he has the power to control his scissors, his weapon of choice, Seven is a goofball and pretty much fails at killing anything.

10. 老表,你好嘢!(Inbound Troubles)

Available on: YouTube

This Hong Kong drama follows a couple who set out to achieve their dream of opening a travel agency but go bankrupt after being cheated out of a lot of money.

The story follows a colorful cast of characters. There’s the protagonist’s wife, who falls in love with his best friend, the protagonist’s younger cousin who dreams of becoming a singer, an old diva who cons people for food and living accommodations and other fun personalities.

The show is centered around the theme of the conflicts between mainland China and Hong Kong. 

11. 巾帼枭雄 (Rosy Business)

Available on: Tubi | YouTube

“Rosy Business” is an acclaimed Qing Dynasty show that revolves around a wealthy family operating the largest rice trade business in Wuxi.

When the father of the family becomes sick, he hands control of the business to his fourth wife, but his other wives and their children scheme to take it for themselves. 

Centered around the themes of family, love and betrayal, the story follows the interactions between the fourth wife and the other wives, who each have very distinct motivations and personalities.

12. 溏心风暴之家好月圆 (Moonlight Resonance)

Available on: Tubi 

The protagonists, 钟笑荷 (zhōng xiào hé) and 甘泰祖 (gān tài zǔ) are owners of a small up-and-coming bakery in Hong Kong. However, all dreams for their little cafe fall apart when the husband cheats on his wife. The wife then leaves her husband, sparking a court battle between the couple to settle custody of their children.

Many years later, the husband and his new companion are rich and very well off, thanks to the expansion of their bakery business. Meanwhile, the wife remains in the original store, still working hard with the help of her children. As the two families cross paths again, a new legal battle full of love, hatred and jealousy ensues.

13. 还珠格格 (My Fair Princess)

Available on: Viki

Set in ancient Beijing, this story follows the story of two girls: 小燕子 (xiǎo yàn zi) or “Little Swallow” and 紫薇 (zǐwēi). The two girls become fast friends and before long, 紫薇 reveals that she’s actually the illegitimate daughter of the then-incumbent Chinese Emperor.

The two girls work together to reunite the emperor’s daughter with her father. However, through a series of misunderstandings, Little Swallow is taken to the palace in her place.

What will happen to the emperor’s daughter? Will she ever get to meet her father and clear up the misunderstandings? Watch this show to find out!

14. 宫心计 (Beyond the Realm of Consciousness)

Available on: Tubi | YouTube

This drama is set in ancient China, where a mother and the two girls in her care are thrown into service in the imperial palace as handmaids.

As they grow older in the palace, one girl lives by the words of her mother—to always do good and be kind—while the other is only out for her own survival, lying and cheating her way up the ranks. She sees the kind-hearted girl as a rival, so she plots to murder the empress and then blame the other girl.

15. 美人心计 (Beauty’s Rival in a Palace)

Available on: YouTube

This Imperial drama tells the story of Empress Dou, and how she helped her husband rule during his reign.

The show follows the future empress from her childhood. Because of her miserable upbringing, she learns to be witty in dealing with people, and her resourcefulness to survive is shown through many pressing circumstances and dangerous situations.

When she grows up, she’s once again embroiled in the sinister affairs of the imperial palace harem. Through her wits and cunningness, Dou manages to get herself out of many sticky situations. 

Where to Stream Chinese TV Shows

For Chinese-language shows, you can simply go to large video-streaming websites. Alternatively, there are also P2P websites that offer subtitled Chinese dramas without the need for a VPN.

Here’s a list of streaming platforms:

Tudou, Apps
Amazon Prime
Apple TV

If you come across a website that isn’t listed here, watch out for video mirrors, which are prohibited. Sites that link to video mirrors rather than hosting the videos themselves are problematic because these mirrors can sometimes be taken down over time or stop working altogether when the video hosting sites encounter issues. Plus, these websites offer a smaller selection of Chinese drama titles.

If you need it for your location, you can get a VPN that allows you to access streaming websites in China from a Chinese server location. On the other hand, if you’re in China at the moment, you can use that VPN to get past the Great Firewall. Either way, geographic restrictions are lifted, and you’re free to access any blocked shows.

The catch is that using a VPN doesn’t always provide a good experience for streaming videos. But you never know—you might be lucky and find a service that provides a smooth streaming experience.

How to Learn Mandarin Through Chinese TV Shows

So now that you have a good selection of shows, how do you actually learn Chinese through TV?

Using a series to improve your Chinese means watching it actively rather than just sitting back and enjoying it. If you hear an unfamiliar word, write it down. Make sure you look up the words in a good dictionary and then review them on a regular basis. 

That said, when you set out to learn Chinese with these shows, you’ll have to be realistic in your expectations.

Even if you watch the simplest types of TV shows, you’ll need to be at least at the intermediate level to know what’s going on. Otherwise, you’ll be struggling to even understand basic sentence structure and vocabulary.

For more learner support, one tool that you can practice with—no matter what your level—would be FluentU. This immersive language program teaches you key vocabulary through video clips from authentic Chinese media, so you can learn the language as it’s actually used by native speakers.


So, what are you waiting for?

You’re sure to find a show that you love among our large selection above. Start watching today and learn Chinese with TV shows!

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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