8 Disappointing Chinese Dramas Aired in the First Half of 2020

While some of the Mainland Chinese dramas aired this year found success and propelled many of their leads into stardom, other dramas have failed to live up to expectations. Slow and boring storylines, lack of character development, weak and anticlimactic endings, and poor chemistry between actors have all contributed to poor ratings. Below are eight Mainland Chinese dramas broadcasted in the first half of 2020 that have greatly disappointed viewers.

Serenade of Peaceful Joy <清平樂>

Produced by Daylight Entertainment, which is well-known for its quality productions, Serenade of Peaceful Joy was naturally one of the most-anticipated historical dramas of 2020. Despite the series’ close and conscientious recount of the life of Emperor Renzong, who reigned from 1022 to 1063, it received criticism for its slow pace and lack of narrative drive. As a result, it dropped from an initial rating of 8.2 to 6.6 points.

Well-Intended Love 2 <奈何BOSS要娶我2>

Producers agreed to a second season of Well-Intended Love after the first season proved to be a huge hit in 2019. However, like many sequels out there, Well-Intended Love 2 failed to reach the same dizzying heights of its predecessor. Fans lamented the drama honed in too much on the sweet and romantic scenes and lacked a refreshing plot. The drama’s low ratings of 5.6 points on Douban reflected the negative feedback.

Find Yourself <下一站是幸福>

Find Yourself, starring popular actor and actress, Song Weilong (宋威龙) and Victoria Song (宋茜), started with 8.1 points in ratings because of the older woman-younger man romance, and fans of the actors tuned in to support their idols. However, the drama ended on a sour note – with 6.0 points – when Victoria’s character, He Fan Xing, fell apart. This unexplained development greatly confused viewers.

Detective Chinatown <唐人街探案>

The highly-anticipated suspense crime web drama garnered 8.1 points in ratings with its interesting cases, fast-paced investigations, and skillful camera techniques. The first two cases received a great response thanks to the performances of leads Janine Chang (張鈞甯) and Roy Chiu (邱澤), but the sudden change in detectives in the third case dramatically led to its downfall as the audience was disappointed with the acting and plot.

The Sleuth of the Ming Dynasty <成化十四年>

Fans originally expressed interest in the period crime drama after knowing that it was helmed by The Untamed <陳情令> writer. Viewers were also curious to see if the male leads have chemistry. It turns out the actors lacked chemistry, and the confusing storyline did not help. These factors contributed to the series’ low rating of 5.7 points.

Love of Thousand Years <三千鴉殺>

With the drama based on a highly popular wuxia novel, fans of the novel looked forward to watching the adaptation. Yet, the drama’s plot and costumes failed to win over the audience. Love of Thousand Years did not achieve the same success as the novel due to the adjustments made on the romance storyline. Viewers said the plot was as plain and dull as water. The show barely managed to achieve 5.7 points on Douban.

Wu Xin: The Monster Killer 3 <無心法師3>

Following the success of its previous two seasons, the historical fantasy drama was deemed to be a big hit as well. However, it only earned a finale rating of 6.5 points. Viewers complained the third installment lacked substance, as the storyline was similar to that of any crime drama. Moreover, the comedic scenes were out of place, and the weak romance storyline did not do the show justice.

Ever Night 2 <將夜2>

Ever Night 2 is yet again another sequel that failed to earn the love of viewers. Dylan Wang (王鹤棣) replacing Arthur Chen (陈飞宇) as the male lead already raised some queries in the beginning, and it was further questioned throughout the drama’s run. Fans heavily criticized Dylan – they said he looked too old compared to Arthur, and that he did not portray the character Ning Que as well as Arthur.

Source: Beauty321

This article is written by Minna for JayneStars.com.

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  1. not a fan of chinese drama. i watched candles in the tomb, the ones made in 2019 and 2020 are great both story, premise and directorial style. other typical high rating dramas are meh.

    1. @m0m0 there are some great ones even if there are a lot of junk ones. similar to TVB. but you need to have the patience to go look

      1. @coralie
        you got any to recommend? i only know romance ones are very popular but that’s not my interest. most of the super popular ones are romance oriented.

      2. @m0m0 I am actually upset because I wrote a whole bunch of recs and then I got distracted and then before I could comment, the page refreshed and all of it was lost >=T.

        Anyways it depends what genre you like. Here are my recs:

        Joy of Life – Definitely one of my top faves this year. @aktf is right. It has everything. Sci-fi, comedy, romance, drama, political intrigue, bromance, tragedy, mind-blowing plot twists. If you liked A Step Into the Past, this surpasses that drama. Seriously, good stuff.

        If looking for silly romcom: The Romance between Tiger and Rose, My GF is an Alien (just get through the first two episodes and you’ll get addicted), Princess GoGo (disregard ending), Oh! My Emperor (disregard ending), Boss and Me (more slow-burn romance) and I’ve Fallen For You (terrible midway plot, but the beginning is very humorous.)

        Drama: Nirvana in Fire, Ashes of Love, 10 Miles of Peach Blossom (aka Eternal Love), Empresses in the Palace, Story of Yanxi.

        Mystery/Fantasy: Wuxin: The Monster Killer 1 (watch only the first series; the rest suck.)

        At this moment, though, my favorite drama is actually a Korean one called “The Boy Next Door.” Very short, the most hilarious stomach-clutching modern drama I’ve seen in a while.

      3. @m0m0 woops sorry, didn’t realize you wrote no romance.

        Nirvana in Fire and Joy of Life are the two that comes to mind where romance isn’t the central theme. Another one is The Untamed, which is still more “bromance” centered, but it’s not romance, at least. I heard amazing things about the Longest Day in Chang’an and for a TV show, it was cinematically beautiful. I haven’t watched the whole thing, because it’s very slow, but I heard that’s what makes it so amazing. Definitely check it out.

      4. @coralie “Another one is The Untamed, which is still more “bromance” centered, but it’s not romance, at least.”

        The Untamed is possibly the greatest love story told on cdrama screen or any screen. It is definitely not bromance. It has many elements but the central is the love story and it was written, filmed but not marketed that way for obvious reasons. It is not wuxia by the way, not about political intrigue being central theme like joy of life, but it has everything. At least i guarantee there is resolution for each character, however minute. So no it isn’t bromance.

      5. @funn there is no outright “romance” which is why I say it’s bromance. there is definitely love, but not in the traditional lovey-dovey way. I would not use the superlative “greatest love story” on this drama lol as I’ve been impressed many times by other love stories over the yrs. I stopped watching I think at around episode 13, but at that point I think I’ve seen enough and didn’t continue. I will give it another chance when I have more time, though.

      6. @funn Yes, Untamed is worth watching esp. after reading the translated novel because you understand the characters better and it is alot funnier and sexier. LOL. I admit I.watched the anime first, read the novel as I watched the drama. It is boys love novel. I prefer the anime to the drama but unfortunately it is not complete like the novel. Those who have watched the anime and read the novel marvelled at the casting of ZX as Wei Wuxian. That cheeky and winsome smile is puuurfect. Those who like the drama, please read the novel. You will love chemistry between Lanzhan and Weiying more and appreciate many other characters in the drama.

      7. @m0m0 I dont like romance ones either. I go for detective types since romance is usually backseat. Someone said Wu Xin 1 which I agree (although I did still enjoy no2 tho not as much)
        A recent one was Ancient Detective as well, but that didnt seem resolved and was paving way for season 2….

      8. @coralie I found one gem, 鬓边不是海棠红 – Winter Begonia. Everything from the casts, cinematography, script, costumes to the OST are exquisitely beautiful. Yin Zheng is very very talented. The drama was a surprise for me as I didn’t expect anything because I’m not a fan of the Republican Era, Peking Opera and Huang Xiaoming. But it doesn’t matter because you will be captivated by the drama once you started.

      9. @snoopy I didn’t watch this yet, but I don’t know if I want to. I’m not a republican era fan. That period always connote war and hardship to me, so I don’t like most of them.

  2. @m0m0 if 2020 is no good, go back further. 2019 has the untamed and it’s on netflix with fantastic subtitles. Few years back we have Nirvana in fire. Theres story of ming lan which is a tad too long.

    I know I’ve been saying the same thing but seriously the untamed is the one to watch. First 2 episodes is confusing so you will need to read the synopsis and check our character chart. After that it is great 50 episodes which for cdrama is considered short.

    Joy of life is ok, except the start is sketchy and needs leap of faith in the story.

    1. @funnlim I actually had a hard time finishing The Untamed. I was about a third of the way into it and still felt like the plot wasn’t too interesting and Xiao Zhan’s acting was very rote. I know he can be a great actor, he gave all the necessary emotions and expressions, but I felt like his acting was too rehearsed, not natural enough. So even he couldn’t save the drama for me enough to continue. I might pick it up again when I have more time.

      On the other hand, Joy Of Life was amazing to me. The plot twists and the underdog momentum and the political intrigue was so juicy. It kept me entertained the whole time. I mean all the good sci-fi, fantasy stuff requires leap of faith, but it’s still in a class of its own.

      1. @coralie Lol, I actually had a hard time finishing Joy Of Life. I watch it because a lot of people saying the drama was very interesting. The main character was so pretentious that I had to press the forward button whenever he turns up. Like he was so “Yao Yeng”..errr can’t stand him. The good things about the drama was the king, 2nd prince and the costume. For me, the story is like a copy of “A Step in to the Past” & “Nirvana of Fire” but no better than them. Unexpectedly, I enjoy Story of Ming Lan more than Joy of Life.

      2. @snoopy haha guess we all have our preferences. story of minglan is ok, about 20 episodes too long and repetitive plot. If they kept it short and sweet, I think the ratings and reviews would be a lot higher.

        as for joy of life…well, personally speaking, I loved both a step into the past and Nirvana in Fire so maybe that’s why I love joy of life so much – great mash-up between the two. As to the lead guy, yea at first I wasn’t thrilled with their lead male selection, but now I don’t mind. I think honestly almost anyone can do well in this role, so it doesn’t have to be him, but he did well enough in the role that I can overlook the first few cringy episodes of his acting. He is much more comfortable in his acting later on.

      3. @snoopy I thought Story of Ming Lan was boring.. I couldn’t even finish up to ep.10. Medicore acting and same old plot. Just my opinion though.

        Agreed with the others, Joy of Life was good. Nothing like the Step into the Past other than the time travel. It is a lot better.

      4. @annechen Indeed the first 20 episodes of Ming Lan was boring. I also had to press forward button to continue watching. But the later episodes was quite interesting even though Zhao Li Ying’s performance was a bit weak. The reason I watched Ming Lan was because I couldn’t continue watching Joy of Life and Youtube recommended to me.

        I think Step into the Past was definitely better than Joy of Life. I mean it was so obvious that the main lead, Zhang Ruoyun was trying to emulate Louis Koo. He already has the haughty/smug look and his pretentious acting makes the drama even more cringy. (Might be the script’s fault). And then the script, the scriptwriters wanted it to sound smart/witty by including modern slang in it but it was too overly done. Other than that, the setting was too grandiose that it’s quite distracting. Take Fan BingBing’s “The Empress of China” as an example. It gave the feeling of pretentious/over the top. Sometimes less is more.

        Maybe If I didn’t watch Step into the Past and Nirvana of Fire, I would think Joy of Life is good. As I’m very picky when it comes to drama because these days Chinese drama is very long. I would rather spent time rewatching something good many times.

      5. @snoopy A lot of Chinese productions have grandiose settings. Some are faker than others and adds to the pretentiousness, I agree. Empress of China was the worst. The issue is that majority of the time, the settings look way too pristine and new. No signs of age or dirt or anything like that. But the opposite of grandiose is raggedy and poor, and I don’t think that is acceptable either. It can detract from viewership if the plot has nothing going for it. But JoL has a lot going for it…like I said, a bit of everything.

        In regards to ASITP and JoL comparisons, I know this will touch some nerves as many consider ASITP as the ultimate classic which no other competitors can surpass. I think of it that way myself, too. But I definitely think JoL channeled ASITP properly and integrated Nirvana in Fire as well, which is what made it great.

      6. @coralie Joy of life at the start was not started well due again to restriction. I couldn’t finish it, once i dropped it, I didn’t feel like picking it up. Once s2 arrives, I will pick it up to refresh.

        I think each opinion differs but for me Xiao Zhan was superb in the untamed and he started late, so i won’t say this is his best performance (same with wang yibo but i still am shocked he was 20-21 during filming) and I heard he was also superb in Joy of life in a small role probably bigger role in s2. I do know he filmed joy of life when filing the untamed, hence his thin sickly look. If you have a chance, do pick up the untamed again but it requires a bit of reading before watching to fully appreciate the subtexts and many stuff happening. It is not empty praises that this series was and is still hot in netflix, helped by the excellent english subs.

      7. @funn yea they did say joy of life was supposed to be a time transport theme and it wasn’t. but it’s only a minor quibble and didn’t impact the plot too much. I have high hopes for s2, but I am scared it won’t live up to the first season.

        I’m not saying Untamed doesn’t have its merits, but it does make me wonder whether it’s not more hyped up because it features Boy Love packaged in a different way. And because of that extra layer of subtlety to indicate love without showing visual action, it makes people love it more? But there are series that does this well in the past, like Return of the Cuckoo and just dramas in the past when times were more conservative

      8. @msxie0714 international fans also love brokeback mountain. coincidence? Is it due to novelty? Is it due to subtlety in behavior? Is it due to taboo theme of Boy Love?

      9. @coralie

        I enjoyed Untamed far more than Brokeback Mtn. The novel for UT was very explicit, while the live action film didn’t have a single physically intimate scene, but the eye expressions of the main characters said it all for the romantic feelings between the two. The story wasn’t just about love, but touched upon mob violence and blind obedience that resonated with the audience.

  3. Really disappointed with WuXin3 since I loved the original drama. But, in its defence, it was slightly better than season 2. Another reason why season 3 sucks is because it’s not adapted from the novel and written solely to promote onscreen romance for Elvis and Sabrina. I will pretend S2 and S3 never existed.

    1. @sehseh Agreed. I didn’t like season 2 or 3. They were a total letdown from season 1 of Wuxin. I was upset and angry when season 2 came out and then set my hopes up for season 3, but it was still so disappointing.

  4. Daylight Ent is very stupid. Of course everybody liked Ming Lan because of the idols in it. They are naïve enough to believe the fake reviews “we love actionless” “we love slow burning” “we love non-existing storylines”. They tried the same thing again without a potential idol, see what happen.

    Didn’t watch all 8 of the list but agreed with the ones I saw and none was impressive.

  5. I enjoyed Love of Thousand Years
    Surprise it did not rate well? Love the OST.

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