de mz4jun, Janeiro 16, 2021

It’s the time of the year again for my Year In Review article series. 2020 is definitely a strange year for all of us. Dealing with more time that I had to spend at home, I watched more dramas than before and at the same time, dropped a lot of dramas. Like 2019, my watchlist had a lot more Chinese dramas compared to Korean and Japanese dramas this year as well, so this article includes mostly Chinese dramas. 

So let us go through my recommended list of dramas by genre.

Romance Dramas

Someday or One Day 

Best time-travel romance drama of all time

My Rating: 9/10

MyDramaList Rating: 8.9/10

Of course I have to start with this drama because it is my favorite drama of 2020. It’s a Taiwanese drama that aired from late 2019 to early 2020. It’s a must-watch for all who likes time travel theme or heart-wrenching romance. It doesn’t have a single flaw - in terms of the plot, the characters, the execution, the cast and even OSTs are amazing. Honestly, most who have watched had only good things to say about this drama. It is also well-recognized by the critics and the public alike in Taiwan as it won four major awards in Golden Bell Awards, the biggest drama series award ceremony in Taiwan. 

Personally, I think it is one of the most well-made time travel dramas of all time. The technicalities of the time travel aspect - the mystery and the plot twists it gave us - were really intricate. At the same time, the emotional aspect of this drama was also really well-executed; the romance and the friendship between the main characters really grabbed my heart.  The casting was also perfect - the three main leads portrayed their characters really well and this drama introduced me to Greg Hsu, a new favorite Taiwanese actor of mine. And this drama also has the perfect OSTs that could bring me back to the emotions that this drama gave whenever I listen to them.

Love is Sweet

Sweetest romance drama of 2020 

My Rating: 8.5/10

MyDramaList Rating: 8.5/10

It is one of the sweetest, light-hearted romance dramas this year. What makes this drama special is definitely the chemistry between the two leads was amazing and phenomenal, that, for me, is very important for a romance drama to be very memorable. I personally love Luo Yun Xi as an actor since before and here in this drama again, he delivered his character very well, not to say his chemistry with Bai Lu was really sizzling as there are a lot of sweet moments between the two leads. At the same time, the characters they are playing are also both strong and independent as well as understanding to each other. 

Crime/Thriller dramas

Kidnapping Game

A great crime drama with a spice of surprisingly great romance

My Rating: 9/10

MyDramaList Rating - 8/10

This drama is one of the six Light On suspense-type series by iQiyi. It is not the most popular one among the six. The Bad Kids and The Long Night, the other two dramas from that series, are even more well-liked and well-received. However, I personally loved this drama very much.

Although all dramas from this Light On series are suspense-themed, Kidnapping Game gave out a very different vibe. It is more like a cat-and-mouse game where the criminal tries to outsmart the police. Although that crime/detective part of the drama was really interesting and well-executed with some plot twists, what I really loved about this drama was the relationship and the chemistry between the two leads. It can't be considered as a romance drama but the short-lived romance between the two leads was really thrilling and captivating. The chemistry between Zhu Ya Wen and Jin Chen was so amazing that I couldn’t help rooting for the two. It was my first time watching both of them, but their performance was really memorable for me.

A Murderous Affairs In Horizon Tower 

Another great crime drama with a different storytelling style 

My Rating: 8.5/10

MyDramaList Rating: 8.1/10
Although it is a crime drama, this one is more like an ensemble cast drama that focuses on the background stories of the characters than the crime itself. The drama follows the two detectives investigating a murder that happened in a big condominium and as they interrogates different suspects, the story unfolds through the suspects' own spins of what happened. I was really pleasantly surprised and intrigued by this storytelling style - the interrogations were intense as we can't know whether they are lying or not. As more and more characters were introduced, what really happened was uncovered later in the drama along with the biggest plot twist of this drama. This drama also touches upon social issues like child abuse and domestic violence, making it more special than a typical crime drama. 

In terms of the casts, since the story does not focus on one particular character, none of the casts particularly stood out for me, nonetheless, I think everyone did a great job portraying their characters. Some doubted this drama initially because of AngelaBaby's casting but I would say that although she didn’t do particularly well, her acting would not affect the drama’s enjoyment. 

The Long Night 

Another great crime drama with emotional impact 

My Rating: 8.5/10

MyDramaList Rating: 8.2/10

This is another drama from iQiyi's Light On series. It again used another different style of storytelling as compared to the other dramas from that series. This one focuses more on the main character and his struggles to uncover the corruptions in the police/prosecution department over many years, despite the pressure and threats from his environment and his enemies.  I would say it's a great film as a crime drama film as it creates the emotional attachment to the main character as we follows through his journey. 

Bai Yu did a great job portraying as Jiang Yang, a righteous young police officer who unyieldingly pursues to solve a case, even sacrificing his youth and his career.

Historical dramas

Joy of Life

A high-quality historical drama with both seriousness and quirkiness

My Rating: 8.5/10

MyDramaList Rating: 8.9/10

It’s really one of the high-quality historical dramas in recent years. In terms of the plot, the execution, the production quality and the cast, everything is high quality. This drama is based on a very long novel called Qing Yu Nian and it is actually planned for a 3-season series and only the first season has aired in 2020. This drama is a rather serious historical drama with a lot of intense political fights and plotting between the two princes and the main lead, Fan Xian, but at the same time, it’s also comical because of the main lead’s wittiness and humor. 

What I like about this drama are firstly the cast and secondly, the quality of political scheming. Zhang Ruo yun is a perfect match for Fan Xian as he could get very serious at times and very funny at other times, making this character really well-portrayed. And the two veteran actors who portray his mentor and the Emperor respectively are also really imposing and gave strong performances. And Song Yi and Guo Qi Lin, who portrayed the two siblings, are well-casted and their chemistry with Zhang Ruo Yun as siblings is really great. As for the plot, this drama, unlike most other historical dramas, has a very complicated storyline with great political scheming but Fan Xian is also very intelligent to handle such scheming. 

The only one aspect that I didn’t find satisfying is the romance. As romance is not the main focus of the story, the relationship development between the two leads was rather quick and not very convincing.

The Romance of Tiger and Rose 

A very light-hearted and funny drama with a unique take on romance tropes

My Rating : 8/10

MyDramaList Rating: 8.6/10

This is one of the hit dramas of 2020 that got surprisingly really popular despite using the newer actors and actresses and not having a high profile. It is a very light-hearted historical romance drama, with little focus on politics. It is a transmigration drama where a script writer transmigrates into her own script, so she actually knew what would happen in the beginning. Her knowledge of the script actually created a lot of comical moments in this drama. 

What I liked about this drama is this drama’s own take on some of the popular romance tropes. A lot of couple moments between the two leads were created because the female lead wants to set things up between her sister and the male lead according to her knowledge of her own script, but things developed unexpectedly for her. Such kind of plot developments doesn't exist in other romance dramas, making this drama more unique. At the same time, the chemistry between the two leads is also phenomenal, portraying these funny and crazy moments really convincing.

Honorary Mentions

Some of the well-received dramas that I haven't watched or am currently watching:

The Bad Kids
MyDramaList Rating: 8.4/10

The Bad Kids, another drama from Light On series, got so much praise from the critics and the audience. Its portrayal of human dark nature really got the attention of everyone, making it one of the top dramas of this year.
Cross Fire
MyDramaList Rating: 8.3/10

Cross Fire, a drama about e-sports that follows through two game players who lived in different times but somehow got connected through the game.  This drama is all about youth, friendship and chasing dreams, with a bit of time-travel element in it.
Hikaru No Go
MyDramaList Rating: 8.4/10

Hikaru No Go, a Chinese drama adaptation of a Japanese manga of the same name, just ended a few weeks before the year ends and was well-received by the manga fans and the general audience alike. It's about a high-school student and a spirit of a Go Master from ancient times, bonding through their love for Go game.

So, the above are the dramas that I would like to mention as must-watch dramas of 2020 as we move further to the new year.  Please let me know in the comments if you have any drama that you really loved in 2020!