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One of my summer projects is to improve my grasp of (Mandarin) Chinese. I can understand and speak at a basic conversational level, but I wouldn't consider myself fluent. I'm not in a position to go live in China or Taiwan, so I decided the next best thing would be to watch Chinese movies and shows.

I started with action movies like So Close (if you like flicks like The Matrix for the action scenes, you'll like it), and then I discovered Chinese dramas -- or c-drama. You can find them on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Hotpot TV, or Rakuten Viki, with English subtitles and (usually) the original Mandarin soundtrack.

I started by Googling "Chinese shows like 24" and found some websites with recommendations. One of the common ones was "Love Me If You Dare" (or the rather ominous "He Comes Now, Please Close Your Eyes" in Chinese), which is a serial that's kind of like The Silence of the Lambs crossed with a rom-com. The main characters are a high IQ/low EQ forensic psychologist who consults on serial killer cases for the police, and the young college graduate whom he hires as his assistant. It's a single season with (coincidentally) 24 episodes, and they pretty much all end in cliffhangers. I liked it a lot.

I'm currently watching "Head Above Water," which is a suspense thriller about Chinese state security agents who are trying to find stolen information about a secret submarine project. It's got a lot of "24"-like vibes (constant surveillance cameras everywhere, moles, annoying family members who get involved in the plot, antagonists with super tech), minus the real-time format and the torture porn. It's a single season with 30 episodes. This is a great show (so far, through 23 episodes for me)!

A lot of the c-dramas are historical ones, or wuxia (fantasy martial arts), which is great if you like those, but since I'm trying to improve my language skills, I'm sticking to modern day shows. A lot of the modern ones are straight rom-coms, which isn't my cup of tea, but fortunately there are plenty of crime/thriller shows as well.

Any other c-drama fans out there?
 
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