A (8.5+): Watch! These are dramas that I really enjoyed, either because they were so well-done or they emotionally just captured my heart.
B (7.0 – 8.5): Might be worth your time. These dramas likely have some flaws, or they weren’t very good objectively, but were somehow addicting enough to keep watching.
C (5.5 – 7.0): You can skip these. These dramas weren’t all that interesting, or tanked somewhere and never got better. They have a low rewatch value for me.
D/F (5.5 and below): Don’t bother. These dramas are really just not worth my time or yours. I would not recommend.
Circle (2017): A fun, tightly-plotted sci-fi drama. Uses a lot of common sci-fi tropes so it might seem average to an experienced sci-fi watcher, but makes the story compelling by featuring two brothers’ desperate search for each other. Loved the seamless transitions between the two parallel storylines and stellar lead acting performances. (8.5)
Goblin (2016-17): A near-perfect drama and roller-coaster ride of emotions. We get not one, but two pairs of star-crossed lovers to cheer for and cry for. The story and pacing are spot-on with a healthy dose of meta, tears, and laughter, and it’s more about the power of human will and choice against fate than it is about villains trying to sabotage a relationship. (9)
I’m Not a Robot (2018): A fun, fluffy rom-com with plenty of good feels and cute but cheesy moments. The drama and plot aren’t the strongest, but Yoo Seung Ho and Chae Soo Bin are an adorable couple and the supporting cast is equally lovable. (8)
A Smile is Beautiful (aka Love O2O, Just One Smile is Very Alluring): Beautiful but forgettable. Lacks any real conflict and feels like a very long commercial (so much product placement!) A story about two pretty, perfect people living their lives together. Does feature a nice, healthy relationship (by drama standards.) (6.5)
Boss & Me: Objectively quite good. A toned down, more realistic spin on the classic Cinderella/CEO-employee romance. Grew on me, but generally lacked an addictive hook and I could not get emotionally invested in the characters or story. (7.5)
Fifteen Years Waiting for Migratory Birds: I was skeptical at first and sometimes the acting feels forced, but it does a great job of focusing on a few main characters and really developing their growth and relationships, and the characters, story, and drama all grew on me. Very well done, especially in making me like and support a character who was such a dick in the beginning, and it would have been so good if not for the non-ending. (7.5)
My Sunshine: Not as depressing as the first few episodes would suggest. Turns into a surprising story about two people rediscovering and strengthening their relationship in the face of adversity. Once you get past the tears, it’s full of fluffy romantic moments, and would be great if not for some sloppy storytelling and misogynistic undertones early on. (8.5)
Nirvana in Fire: Lived up to the hype. A lengthy 54 episodes, but had perfect plotting and pacing so it never got boring or dragged. The characters are compelling and the drama intriguing. Suspenseful, but with just the right amount of humor to ease the tension. Definitely worth the watch. (10)
Prince of Lan Ling: Features some of the best and most interesting characters, but gets bogged down by slow moments in the middle and tragedy. I felt the true love so much in this drama, and loved the second male lead as well as all our side characters. The villains and complex and complicated. All the elements of a great romance drama, but some mixed feelings about the execution. (7)
Shuttle Love Millennium: A time travel romance inspired by Queen In-hyun’s Man that is not nearly as good and could not draw me in. The drama is beautifully shot and features some beautiful people, but I found some of the characters unbearable and the romance bland. Does have its cute, quirky moments, but overall feels underdeveloped. (7)
Stand by Me: A slice-of-life college drama that is fun, light, and real. A few of the episodes are slow, but if you can make it through them, the show is incredibly rewarding with a full cast of characters you can care about and really realistic and relatable life issues. (9)
Super Star Academy: A surprisingly addicting, fun drama with wacky humor and plenty of meta moments. Reminds me a lot of Moon River in quality and emotional attachment, but takes itself way less seriously. Has magic, action, family drama, fluffy romance, and pretty much all the drama tropes you want without getting bogged down. Features a cast of boy band actors, but it’s just so fun! (7.5)
The Whirlwind Girl: Your classic story of a plain, hard-working girl who has three pretty boys fall in love with her. Love the sports (martial arts) aspect, and like its Taiwanese cousin (Moon River), it is strangely addicting. Stayed emotionally invested only for the martial arts and two of our pretty boy love interests, but objectively more in the 6 territory. (7.5)
The Journey from Tonight is White (2017, aka The Endless Love): A light, pretty drama with some healthy romance and great friendships that avoids a lot of clichés. Features one of the most rational and reasonable female protagonists in drama-land, but gets dragged down by some poor writing and poor acting. An idol drama masquerading as a slice-of-life one, in a way that does not work. (6.5)
To Be With You: A fun, futuristic drama with virtual reality, cute, healthy romance, strong female characters, and intriguing corporate conspiracy that will keep you guessing. Watch if you want something light, fun, and can stomach some Meteor Garden-level ridiculousness and stiff acting. (7)
With You: A beautiful and sweet slice-of-life high school drama that feels nostalgic and real. Full of complex characters you can root for and adorable friendships. Watch for warm and fuzzy feels that almost make you want to cry out of happiness. On par with Answer Me 1997 and In a Good Way. (9.5)
Bromance: Enjoyable if you are willing to suspend disbelief and ignore some bizarre directorial choices. Baron Chen and Megan Lai have some of the best on-screen chemistry, the characters are lovable, and the message it sends about love, gender, and sexuality is so important and progressive. Gender-bending done right. (8)
Go, Single Lady: A hot mess. Mike He and Ady An are a simmering couple. The drama never gets too heavy and is cute, fun, and light-hearted, but the plot is rife with bizarre narrative choices and the ending is plagued with petty, unnecessary melodrama. (6.5)
In a Good Way: A feel-good slice-of-life, coming-of-age story about college, growing up, and friendship. Incredibly realistic and relatable, and so nostalgic, despite the generational and cultural differences. Lego Li and Lorene (then Kristen) Ren have great chemistry and make a beautiful couple. (10)
In Time With You: The show that made me a fan of Ariel Lin and Bolin Chen. Mature, poignant, fun, yet realistic. Another one of those slice-of-life stories that so perfectly captures friendship, life, and relationships. (10)
Just You: Aaron Yan and Puff Kuo as Qi Yi and Cheng Liang Liang in this are probably one of my all-time favorite couples. They made the show. Puff Kuo always feels so genuine when she smiles or is sad, and this character really brings it out of her. Full of cheesiness, classic over-exaggerated Taiwanese rom-com acting and an incredibly frustrating antagonist, but I’d watch it all over again just to see more of this adorable, feel-good couple. (8.5)
Moon River: Meteor Garden 2.0 but with martial arts and a stronger female lead thrown in. Objectively, there are plenty of flaws — acting can get a bit stiff and the plot isn’t the most complex or innovative — but emotionally had me hooked and still leaves me feeling so much love. Rough in the beginning and ending, but that middle journey was so beautiful and made it all worth it. (8.5)
Pleasantly Surprised: Would watch for the food alone, but I also got very emotionally attached to our characters, especially our lead couple. Gets very melodramatic, but the drama never lasts too long, and the dark moments are relieved by moments of great comedic timing and a stellar supporting cast. Overall has a very light atmosphere (you can tell from the opening theme and posters.) Watch if you love food, nice guys, cute couples, lovable supporting characters, and can stomach some drama and tears (there are plenty of laughs to balance it out!) (8.5)
Sunny Happiness: Classic poor, hard-working girl meets rich guy sort of Cinderella story with some good doses of reality. Multi-dimensional characters, great friend and romantic chemistry, and happy endings make for a nice feel-good drama. (8)
The Way We Were: Contemplative, but more nostalgic, bittersweet, and sad than I thought it would be. The characters and relationships grew and changed over time in a real way that is beautiful but tugs at your heartstrings. More realistic than most, but still had a lot of formulaic drama tropes. (7)