Chinese Dramas Airing in May 2024 

 

Welcome back to Chasing Dramas! This is the podcast that keeps you up to date on Chinese entertainment news. We are your hosts Karen and Cathy! 

 

We are now in May and TBH i am SOOOO excited about what’s up this month. We’ll talk about 4 Chinese dramas that have aired or are airing soon. This podcast will be in English with names spoken in Mandarin Chinese. Appreciate all the support and this will be up on our website. 

 

In the name of the brother 哈尔滨一九四四

 

April 21, 2024

 

40 episodes 

 

What can I say about this drama. It stars Qin Hao as twin brothers Song Zhuo Wen and Song Zhuo Wu. The 85 flower Yang Mi is second billing and plays antagonist Guan Xue. This drama is set in 1944 in Ha Er Bin, a city in northeast China. 

 

In Ha Er Bin in 1944, railroad police officer Song Zhuo Wen ft Qin Hao tries to rescue intel from a fellow undercover agent only to be confronted with Guan Xue ft Yang Mi, who mistakes him for her rescuer many years before. In reality, it was Song Zhuo Wen’s older brother (also played by Qin Hao) that saved her. She brings Song Zhuo Wen back to the intelligence/spy department of the puppet government where she is currently a director. He uses his new gained access to undermine the regime.

 

Naturally, because this is Yang Mi and because this is her big transition role, there’s been a lot of interest around it. Buzz for this spy thriller has breached 9000 on iQiyi’s popularity index already and this drama is airing on three network stations at the same time. While perhaps still not as broad based as a CCTV8 airing, but still, 3 network stations choosing to air this drama is sign of strength.

 

Unfortunately, this drama is not necessarily getting the positive feedback that I think Yang Mi is hoping for. Since the first day of airing, her character of Guan Xue has been compared to a number of previous intelligence spy antagonist characters. Most notably, it is Wang Man Chun played by Wang Ou in 2015’s The Disguiser or 伪装者. That drama, while not a full on classic, has many fans since there were several breakout roles in that drama, including Wang Ou’s Wang Man Chun. Tao Xin Ran’s Feng Man Na from 2016‘s 胭脂or Rookie Agent Rouge which stars Zhao Li Yi, and somehow I actually watched that drama, is also brought forth for comparison. Yang Mi’s fans are highlighting how this is a strong improvement for Yang Mi while other audiences are saying it’s not enough and that Yang Mi’s Guan Xue pales in comparison vs these other characters. 

 

In a double whammy for Yang Mi, her new film that hit theaters during the May 1 labor day holiday season was pulled from theaters for poor box office performance. This is certainly not the result Yang Mi hoped for this year.

春色寄情人 Will Love in Spring

 

Total Episode Count: 21

 

Initial Airing Date: April 22, 2024

 

Platform: CCTV-8, Tencent

 

An engaging and beautifully shot romance drama that tackles rather heavy subjects such as death and disabilities. The acting from the cast is extremely natural and pulls the viewer into the small town of Nan Ping. 

 

Zhuang Jie (ft Zhou Yu Tong 周雨彤) is a successful medical devices saleswoman living in Shanghai with her best friend Wang Xi Xia (ft Wan Peng 万鹏). Zhuang Jie returns home for a break and encounters her old high school classmate Chen Mai Dong (ft Li Xian 李现). Chen Mai Dong is the local mortician and well known amongst the community both for his contributions, but also his storied past. Chen Mai Dong’s grandmother is determined to find her grandson a girlfriend and is delighted to see the “new girl” Zhuang Jie. She is determined to make a pair out of the two. Zhuang Jie is the first to admit that she finds Chen Mai Dong attractive but the two have to overcome many hurdles including the fact that Zhuang Jie wants to continue her career in Shanghai.

 

We’re getting more and more dramas that promote going back to ones roots instead of making it big in the big city. Think about Meet Yourself with Li Xian and Liu Yi Fei. I can’t help think that there is a political push as well to have more people head back to their local towns and villages to stimulate their local economies. 

 

The funny joke online is – Li Xian has Yang Zi in the city, Liu Yi Fei in the village, and now Zhou Yu Tong in a small town. He’s the perfect partner for each of those locations. Just pick your flavor! Again – Li Xian definitely has his niche.

 

The show did relatively well ratings-wise and word of mouth has been pretty positive. Li Xian continues to find his niche as the country / town boy who falls in love with the city girl. I’m glad Zhou Yu Tong is getting cast in more leading roles as she continues to develop her acting. The positive is that almost all of her recent dramas have aired on television, rather than only online. However, even though she’s getting recognized for her acting, she still isn’t a ratings pull. 

 

Side note – the most memeable person in the drama was actually Mama Liao who was portrayed by Liu Lin (who we know as the main wife from The Story of Ming Lan). She has so many sayings in the drama that I either keeled over laughing or agreed with!

我的阿勒泰 To the Wonder

 

A mini series that just began airing is turning heads. It’s called 我的阿勒泰 To the Wonder. It’s only an 8 episode drama that began airing on May 7th on CCTV1 and IQiYI. 

 

The drama is based off a few short stories from author 李娟. The drama unfolds with a young ethnically Han woman 李文秀 who grew up in Altay Prefecture, way up in the northern tip of Xin Jiang province, bordering Mongolia, Russia, and Kazahkstan, is forced to return home after her dreams of becoming a writer in the big city are dashed. She must now make a living with her mother 张凤侠, who despite being Han Chinese, has since adapted to local culture and lives a nomadic life while selling goods to make a living. She meets the horse trainer and herder of Kazakh ethnicity 巴太 and gradually begins to appreciate the beauty that is Altay. 

 

It stars 马伊琍 as 张凤侠. We last saw 马伊琍 as the Shanghai restauranteur in Blossoms Shanghai, but now she is a sunbaked and toughened up woman living in Xin Jiang. People have commented how they don’t even praise her acting anymore because they just accept that she’s going to be good at every role she’s in. 

There’s 周依然 who portrays 李文秀. She’s the daughter of 马伊利’s character and dreams to become a writer. It’s hilarious because in the first episode, she returns home but can’t actually find her mother’s yurt because her mother is constantly on the move. 

Lastly, there’s 于适 who portrays 巴太. He is a very handsome ethnically Kazahk horse trainer who is forced to return home in the summer to with the family’s livestock.

 

This drama was submitted in this year’s Canneseries competition for Best Series. This is the first Chinese language drama to ever be selected to compete for the awards. The drama actually filmed on location in Altay and features many ethnic Kazhak actors. Interestingly, the director chose 于适 to portray 巴太. The actor spent months learning how to speak Kazhak for the drama. 

 

There’s been quite a lot of buzz for this drama and I’ll definitely be watching! 

Joy of Life 2 is FINALLY airing!!! 

 

The first Joy of Life was a smash hit. Like major smash hit in 2019. But then it ended on a cliffhanger and so we have been waiting patiently or rather impatiently for the sequel. It’s been 5 years!!!

 

I think this is probably a good time to announce that after we wrap up The Longest Day in Chang An that we WILL be talking about Joy of Life. There’s not as much history in it but we will talk about book lore, story lore and also there’s a lot of modern day aspects of the drama interspersed in the drama for season 1 and season 2 that I’m seeing that may make sense to a Chinese viewer but will not resonate with foreign audiences. We will aim to rectify that. 

 

ANYWAYS. When is this drama airing and what is it about? It will air on CCTV8 and Tencent on May 16. That is a pretty big deal for this drama to be airing on CCTV8 because it not only means that the Chinese government approves of this drama, it also means that there is a major platform for the Chinese populace to watch this show at home and online. 

 

How excited are people for this drama? Online there are over 15million people who have clicked on 预约 or waiting to watch. I don’t know how much of that is spam but regardless, over 15 million people are waiting to watch this show.

 

CCTV8 is currently airing a condensed version of Joy of Life 1 in anticipation of the new season and the main cast are doing live streams and marketing tours in 4 major cities in China. They include Chong Qing, Tian Jing, Shang Hai and Beijing  I don’t think there’s been that much excitement for a second season of a drama in the last few years.

 

For those of you who don’t know, Joy of Life is based off of a book, which actually Cathy hates for the ending. And it’s a million chapters long. In any case, Joy of Life follows Fan Xian played by Zhang Ruo Yun as he navigates his life in the fictional Qing Kingdom. Except, he in the drama has memories of modern day. He wakes up in a baby’s body and grows up as Fan Xian but he remembers everything as an adult in the present. He grew up in 憺州 but then heads to the Capital of the Qing Kingdom. While he’s there, he runs into his Chicken Leg girl or 鸡腿姑娘 whom he instnatly falls in love with. Outside of his love story, he is caught up in the mystery of his mother whom is seemingly connected with many powers within the Qing Kingdom including the Qing Emperor himself as well as Chen Ping Ping, the leader of the intelligence agency in the Qing Kingdom.Fan Xian uses his wit and intelligence to ensure his footing in the capital when many powers wanted him dead.   At the end of season 1, Fan Xian had headed off to the northern Qi kingdom on a diplomatic mission that was harrowing to say the least. He was on his way home only for the drama to end on a cliffhanger that he was stabbed and bleeding out to death.

 

Well clearly, he’s not dead but very much alive so we will see exactly how he managed to survive. In interviews and previews, we see that Fan Xian has changed from being a chess piece to becoming the chess player. There will be continued interplay between the modern conscience vs his weird historical time setting and the vast array of characters he will interact with.

 

Speaking of the cast, this cast is huge and impressive. Almost all of the original cast members have returned. Zhang Ruo Yun will continue to play Fan Xian. Li Qin returns as Lin Wan Er. Guo Qi Lin as Fan Si Zhe, Song Yi as Fan Ruo Ruo, the story goes on. There are a few major shifts the most notable being Xiao Zhan isn’t returning as Yan Bin Yun but I think that’s fine. We will do an in depth podcast episode about this where we dive into the shifts from season 1 to season 2. We can all see for ourselves but from what previews and interviews say, the flavor of season 1 remains,but just with a much bigger budget and cast. 

 

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