Studying in immersive environments is the best way to learn Mandarin. However, when you cannot hop on a plane to visit China, reading, watching, and listening to authentic Chinese media is a great way to immerse yourself in the language. While Chinese TV shows and movies aren’t regularly cited as overall the best in the world, the following 4 shows are great Netflix shows for Chinese learners. Moreover, they aren’t too difficult for non-native speakers to understand. None of the shows listed are period dramas, which are very popular in China at the moment, because these shows often use difficult and rare vocabulary. To view more Chinese language programming beyond the list below you can view all of Netflix’s Chinese offerings at https://www.netflix.com/browse/audio/zh.
A Sun (阳光普照)
A Taiwanese family drama
In the words of Netflix, this film follows “a family reckon[ing] with the aftermath of their son’s incarceration are a greater misfortune that follows.” A poignant look at the bonds which hold families together, this film will keep your eyes glued to the screen. Mandarin Study Guide recommends A Sun because it is filmed with modern, unaccented Chinese and is easy to understand.
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (卧虎藏龙)
Ang Lee’s action masterpiece
In 19th century Qing Dynasty China, a warrior gives his sword, Green Destiny, to his lover to deliver to safe keeping, but it is stolen, and the chase is on to find it. The search leads to the House of Yu where the story takes on a whole different level. This is the best historical piece for Chinese language learners. Unlike the period dramas being filmed today, Ang Lee’s movie uses easy to understand Chinese and is perfect for action/thriller movie lovers.
Put your Head on my Shoulder (致我们暖暖的小时光)
As a college student approaches her graduation she finds herself confused about her future. After meeting a handsome physics student, life becomes increasingly wonderful, but also increasingly confusing. This is not the best show in the world, but it uses extremely simple vocabulary and the actors speak slowly. 《致我们暖暖的小时光》is the perfect first show for those just beginning to use Chinese media.
Well Intended Love (奈何BOSS要娶我）
An unsuccessful actress is diagnosed with leukemia and must enter into a secret marriage with a CEO in order to receive a bone marrow transplant to survive. What sounds like a drama winds up as a comedy as the actors lean into the cheesiness of the script. With everyday topics as the bread and butter for the dialogue in this show, Well Intended Love is an easy place to start watching Chinese television