KAOHSIUNG (Taiwan News) -- Following on from last week’s article which presented our Top 10 Taiwanese Movies, we have decided to move from the big screen to the small one and take a look at our pick of Taiwan’s best TV shows.
Taiwanese TV has built a growing international following in recent years, culminating in the announcement last month that four Taiwanese TV shows had been picked up by global streaming giant Netflix to be made available to their subscribers globally.
Obviously, there are far more Taiwanese TV shows than there are movies and different people look for very different things from a TV show. In this guide, we have focused primarily on original Taiwanese drama and comedy shows. We have also leaned towards more contemporary shows rather than delving into the archives for the simple reason that most readers will find it easier to watch newer shows.
As with our movie article, this rundown is inevitably subjective. So, if we have missed your favorite Taiwanese TV show, don’t hesitate to share it with our readers by leaving a comment on our Facebook or Twitter pages.
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A top-notch Taiwanese horror series which is one of the shows picked up by Netflix. It tells the story of eight college friends who reunite after ten years at a cabin in the mountains to dig up a time capsule they buried together a decade before. One of the party never arrives and is soon found dead nearby. When a landslide traps the party on the mountain, an old scandal which drove them apart to begin with resurfaces as they try to figure out which of them is the murderer.
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The Devil Beside You is quite old now, but it still stands up to the test of time. It stars Rainie Yang, Mike Ho, and Kingone Wang in a classic love triangle, with a dark undertone. Qi Yue is in love with Yuan Yi, but her attempts to tell him fail. Ah Meng comes into possession of her letter to Yuan Yi and uses it to try and win her affections. He seems to be getting his way too until it suddenly turns out they are going to become step-siblings.
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Ok, Fresh off the Boat is an American-made show, but with a distinctly Taiwanese theme. It portrays the experiences of a Taiwanese immigrant family who moved to the USA in the 1990’s in pursuit of the American Dream. It is loosely based on the experiences of Taiwanese-American Eddie Huang who narrated the first series but has subsequently expressed some reservations about the show’s direction. It has definitely increased awareness of Taiwan in the USA though. There is no doubting its popularity there either, as it has drawn big audiences to ABC, who have commissioned five seasons to date.
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Ok, this show has only just begun broadcasting, but it is already shaping up to be a classic. The plot follows the story of two girls, one a Taiwanese doctor from Taipei and the other a Taiwanese/American engineer from San Francisco. They make a daring pact to swap homes and lives with each other and both end up on a thrilling journey packed with excitement, secrets, and unexpected challenges. The show is a Netflix Original series, made in Mandarin and directed by talented young Taiwanese director, Tien-Yun Yeh. It stars a whole host of big-name Taiwanese actors including Tammy Chen, Peggy Tseng, James Wen, Denny Huang, Irene Luo, and Lee Poh Shiang. The first season consists of 20 episodes and if it performs well, it could even be back for more.
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Life Plan A and B is another of the four Taiwanese shows which have been picked up by Netflix. It consists of six episodes and stars Taiwan singer and actress Rainie Yang and Yu-Lin Yen as a young couple in love. In a style similar to the 1990s drama Sliding Doors, the show explores parallel alternate realities, following the divergent paths of the characters and possibilities their relationship could have taken after Yang’s character is offered a lucrative job abroad.
5. Love Storm
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Love Storm is another of the four Taiwanese shows which Netflix has picked up. This seven-episode series is a powerful family drama starring Chris Wu, Chen Yu, and Greg Han as three siblings. They are brought back together when it is discovered that their elderly parents are considering getting a divorce. The news rocks the family to the core and forces each member to contemplate their own relationships and views on what family really means.
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This classic romantic comedy of opposites was a huge success in Taiwan and spawned a sequel series (They Kiss Again) and a remake in Korea. It is based on a famous Japanese manga series called Itazura na Kiss and tells the story of a high school girl, of average intelligence, who falls in love with the class genius. He rejects her, but then after a big earthquake leaves her homeless, her father and her end up living in his house. Determined to win his affections, she sets about trying to improve herself, with often hilarious consequences.
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This 2010 one-off romantic drama series is a stunning example of what Taiwanese television can achieve. It traces the stories of a romance between characters played by Van Ness Wu and Ady An who first meet at college. The series charts their separation and eventual reunion over 21 beautiful and powerful episodes.
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Bromance is a Taiwanese take on the classic gender-swapping comedies that have captivated theatre and TV audiences for centuries. It stars Megan Lai as a young girl forced to live her life as a boy following advice given to her parents by a fortune teller. She falls in love with a gangster’s son, played by Baron Chen, who seems to feel the same way, despite not knowing she is a girl. Both leads excel in this hilarious 18-episode comedy-drama.
1. Office Girls
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Office Girls is a classic Taiwanese romantic comedy. It stars Roy Chiu as Jason Chin, the son of a department store mogul who is forced to work a menial job in the business to prove his worth to his father. He is placed under the supervision of Shen Hsin-Jen, played by Chia-Yen Ko, who is perfectly happy in her job until he arrives. What follows is a long series of humorous and romantic exchanges between the two and various other colleagues. Will they end up together? And will he finally get to step up and run the store?