Year in Review 2020: Most Memorable Drama Characters

“He learnt his lesson well.” Illustration of a scene from The Bad Kids by 电子鲫鱼

I can count on one hand how many dramas I watched from beginning to end, so I’ve decided to do things differently this year and shine the spotlight on the characters that I really liked. Feel free to submit your own reviews and posts here.

Standalone reviews 2020: A Murderous Affair in Horizon Tower, We Are All Alone, The Romance of Tiger and Rose

Which dramas did you follow this year, and which characters made a lasting impression on you?

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26th Magnolia Awards

Congratulations to Tao Hong for winning Best Supporting Actress! I absolutely loved her in A Little Reunion.

Even though the Magnolia Awards tend to favor actors/directors/dramas in the Shanghai circle, it is the awards show I enjoy watching most because the winners are usually worthy recipients. By all accounts, The Thunder winning Best Drama and Best Screenwriter was probably the biggest surprise of the night. A Little Reunion, Joy of Life and The Longest Day in Chang’an also took home two awards each.

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Friday Photos

Poster for Jia Zhangke’s latest film, Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue, a journey of modern China via writers Jia Pingwa, Yu Hua, and Liang Hong

Photos, stills, and posters that caught our eyes this week.

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Music Monday: 2019 drama soundtracks edition

I find all the character relationships in this drama to be very interesting, but my top three would have to be Crown Prince x Emperor, Crown Prince x Lu Wenxi and Lu Wenxi x Crown Princess.

A good original soundtrack / theme song always makes the drama-watching experience more enjoyable, so I’ve included the theme songs and instrumentals that have really impressed me this year. Which drama soundtracks made an impression on you this year?

Royal Nirvana: Instrumentals by Ah Kun

As long as Royal Nirvana doesn’t derail in the last half, then this series will be my favourite drama of the year.
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Drama Review: Joy of Life Eps 1 – 10


I have so much to say about the new Chinese drama Joy of Life 庆余年. As a fan of the original fiction as well as the author Maoni, I am satisfied with its skillful adaptation of the novel and the tight plot. The casting seems fantastic because this drama features a lot of big names such as Chen Daoming, Li Xiaoran, and Wu Gang.  I would rate a 9 out of 10 based on the first ten episodes. 

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Promo Round-up: Joy of Life

Thankful for the Remaining Years / Joy of Life stars Zhang Ruoyun as a modern time-traveler who believes in equality for all and is determined to change the feudal system of Qing. Costars include Chen Daoming, Wu Gang, Li Qin, Xin Zhilei, Song Yi and Li Chun.

Season 1 runs for 46 episodes and releases 2 eps every Mon-Wed on Tencent/iQiyi.

Character Intros | Episode 0

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Posters and trailer for political intrigue drama Thankful for the Remaining Years

Thankful for the Remaining Years / Qing Yu Nian comes from Wang Juan, the writer of cult hits Turbulence of the Mu Clan, Legend of Southwest Dance and Music and Young Blood. Zhang Ruoyun is a forward-thinking noble intent on pushing through political reforms, most of which are opposed by the tyrannical ruler of Qing (Chen Daoming).

It’s rumoured Season 1 of 3 will premiere in less than a week. [Character Intros]

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Zhang Ruoyun, Chen Daoming’s political intrigue drama releases first trailer

Thankful for the Remaining Years (Qing Yu Nian Season 1) has released a trailer after wrapping up filming for the first season, and stars Zhang Ruoyun as a young lad who is groomed into a righteous politician by Chen Pingping (Wu Gang).

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First stills released for Zhang Ruoyun, Li Qin’s Thankful for the Remaining Years

Thankful for the Remaining Years / Qing Yu Nian Season 1, also known as Joy of Life, has released stills of the leading cast members. Fan Xian’s (Zhang Ruoyun) growth arc will stretch across the entire show, as he learns valuable skills from Chen Pingping (Wu Gang), head of the kingdom’s investigative agency.

Fan Xian gets embroiled in murder mysteries and strange cases in the pugilist world (jianghu), and ultimately makes his way into the political scene, where he decides to challenge the Emperor (Chen Daoming) and the feudal system he represents.

Character introductions | Extended synopsis

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Brief introduction to the characters in Thankful for the Remaining Years

Yes! Chen Daoming is back in drama land, and as a main character no less. In Thankful for the Remaining Years / Qing Yu Nian Season 1, he’ll be playing the tyrannical Emperor of the fictional country of Qing (he may be known as Liu Yu in the drama), a martial arts grand master and biological father of our protagonist Fan Xian (Zhang Ruoyun). Extended synopsis can be found here. Continue reading