Welcome to the first post in the series on background audio and finding things to watch and listen to in the background. This post is an extension on one back from 2011, where I introduced the site Sugoideas. Thankfully this site is still going strong since then, and it has even more content and better categories to organize everything they have available. As I mentioned then, most of the titles are in English or romanized version of the Chinese names, so it can be a bit hard to find specific dramas and TV shows. As before, the website keeps episodes consistently updated, so there’s always new material available.
Now when you visit there’s nine categories listed at the top of the page to help you find something you might like:
Let’s take a look at those categories as well as a few selections from them! Hopefully you’ll find something you like and can do what I did all last weekend.. binge watch 😀
As the category suggests, this includes any type of variety show, including panel talk shows, cooking shows, interview shows, and more. I’ve been watching more variety shows than dramas recently, so here’s a list of a few places to get started:
First up is “Tasty Food” (Chinese: 美食大三通). I enjoy this show because I like the hosts, I find their chemistry quite good and pretty fun to watch. They also go to a lot of places, especially in China, so it’s a great way to see many different foods often not introduced.
“Super Taste” (Chinese: 食尚玩家) is probably one of my more favorite, as they tend to go to many different places in Taiwan. To get you started, there’s this episode where they go to Sun Moon Lake, or where they go to Greece. I prefer the two hosts in the latter episode for the same reason I like “Tasty Food”; their chemistry is better and they’re pretty funny.
“The Fashionable Chef’s Kitchen” (Chinese: 型男大主廚) is another pseudo-cooking competition series, but has two famous chefs on there. One of them is the male host in “Tasty Food”, the other is the more famous 阿基師, whose face you’ll find planted on a lot of cooking items, such as rice. In this show, two sides compete (usually some famous people in Taiwan) to cook without any help, though they may “call out” for help and randomly get a tip on how to cook. Once done, the chefs cook the meals and show the proper way to cook it, as well as tips on cooking. Later a judgement is done and whoever has the better tasting meal wins a saucepan.
“Healthy Cooking” (Chinese: 食在有健康) this show offers up some healthy cooking tips.
(can you tell like I like shows involving food yet??)
Finally, “One Word Worth a Thousand Gold” (Chinese: 一字千金), is a fun game show that tests knowledge of Chinese characters. Kind of fun to watch and play along and test your knowledge of the characters with the contestants 🙂 Incidentally, the name of this show is also an idiom which means “each word is highly valued” or, when praising calligraphy, saying that each character has been written with perfection.
This category includes all idol dramas, broken down by year (going back as far as early 2000). This is the category you’ll want to find a drama to watch (if it’s one you’ve heard of or seen a commercial for), or even to just go through the list and find a few to try and see if you’ll like the series. Some of the ones I watch are covered by the categories below, but a few others I watch include:
The first one I would recommend is called, in English, “The Hospital” (Chinese: 白色巨塔), which is obviously a medical drama. Description from the website:
When President’s only daughter, Liu Xin Ping, checked into the hospital for her chemotherapy treatment, the head of internal Medicine, Dr. Xu Da-Ming, and the head of surgery, Dr. Tang Guo-Tai, became the core members of the President’s medical team. Both men planned to use this opportunity to prove themselves to be the best person for the hospital director’s position.
It’s great because you can learn a lot of good medical vocabulary from there.
Next up is “Ni Yada” (Chinese: 倪亞達), a drama about a kid that tells the story from his point of view, through his diary. It’s very cute and the theme song is catchy and it’s fun to watch–though it has some odd imagery in it.
One of the ones I first got into is called “Story of Time” (Chinese: 光陰的故事), which looks at an era in Taiwanese history starting in the 50s through the 70s–literally a time story. Think of it as if someone made a drama about the 1950’s, the supposed golden age of American history. I think there’s some attachment to memories of that time. It can suffer from being dragged out a bit too long, but I still enjoy it.
This category lists all the dramas released in 2016. I am not too familiar with many of the more recent drams, but I kept seeing commercials for this one:
Prince of Wolf (Chinese: 狼王子). I’m not sure how to really describe it, since I haven’t watched it, but I guess he grows up in the wild with wolves and then there’s some kind of love story? Anyway, there’s only a few episodes so far.
Finally, as you may guess, this category has all the dramas started in 2015. Of these, I just started watching these after coming across them while preparing this post:
A Touch of Green (Chinese: 一把青): this one is a historical drama, covering the period from 1945 to 1981 in Taiwan when the Japanese colonial period ended and the Kuomintang came to Taiwan.
Sunset (Chinese: 落日): This one takes some true stories from a famous doctor and translates them into a drama. Pretty interesting so far.
And of course back to food:
Taste of Love (Chinese: 唯一繼承者): This follows the story of a famous restaurant that, of course, falls on some crazy dramatic times. It’s pretty fun and it opens in Macau. Besides, they do this whole big dance number in and around a grocery store for the opening titles.
Taste of Life (Chinese: 甘味人生): This is a long running series about a family whose business is in making soy sauce (in case you were ever curious how that was made). And of course all the drama that can surround that (?). It’s been interesting so far (hell a building almost blows up! The scene is nicely interspersed with fire trucks running through temple celebrations in Taiwan which is kind of interesting), so I’ll probably keep watching it.
The last few categories listed are actually some of the more currently popular shows in Taiwan:
Kangxi is Arriving is a pretty long running variety show in Taiwan, named for the two hosts. A good portion of this show is celebrity gossip, but it’s fairly well known, and sometimes it can be quite funny, so I would recommend checking it out at least once.
This show has been running since 1997, and it’s kind of an interesting comedy/news show. To me it felt like one of those shows that the ‘kids are all into’, and I never really got much into it. Still, it’s long running and popular so it’s worth looking into.
This show is a talk show, and they’ll cover a variety of topics. Things like “Girls will never talk about these topics in front of their male friends“. There’s enough variety that you’ll probably be able to find something you’ll want to watch.
I admittedly haven’t seen much of this variety show, it’s not really the kind of show I’m really into but it might be worth checking out and seeing if you like it.
This one, translated as “Mr. PLAYER” for some reason, (Chinese: 綜藝玩很大) is a travel show where a few well known personalities travel around and play a game in the places they visit. They form two teams, a black team and a yellow team, and compete. It’s fun if nothing else for seeing a bunch of different places in Asia, including Hong Kong, Malaysia, Korea and Japan.
There’s constantly new dramas being added all the time, so you definitely won’t run out of material to find. In addition, they keep up with adding new episodes as they come out, so you’ll always have new episodes to look forward to watching. There’s enough variety, the videos aren’t region blocked, and everything is organized quite nicely that you’ll find something you’ll want to watch. The great thing about the site is not only being able to watch the shows online, but then you can also put on in the background later to keep practicing.
Head on over to Sugoideas and find a new drama or variety show to watch!