Yep, we’re at that point in the year again. And while 2021 left much to be desired in many respects, it was at the very least a year in which Taiwanese TV thrived. Series like Light the Night, Sequalu, and Gold Leaf shot to the top of the most-streamed series on Netflix Taiwan when they were released, and have enjoyed significant success at home and abroad.
Naturally, after such a strong year for Taiwanese screens, it’s only fair that we round up a fresh batch of binge-worthy Netflix shows to dive into this winter. This list contains some of our favorites to drop over the last 12 months as well as a couple of new series and seasons we’re looking forward to in 2022. And if that’s still not enough, check out our lists for last year and the winter before that. C’mon! What else do you really need to do be doing right now?
Light the Night 華燈初上
Billed as a mash-up of mystery and emotionally intense drama, Light the Night follows the lives of several Taipei hostesses in the months leading up to a murder. Draped in late-eighties glamor and unfurling in the red light district of Tiaotong, a favorite haunt of Japanese businessmen, the story leads viewers through neon-soaked karaoke bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. Unsurprisingly, the NT$250 million masterpieces almost immediately became the top-rated series on Taiwan Netflix when it was released in November. Seasons one and two are already available to stream, with the third and final part expected to drop during 2022.
Mom, Don’t Do That! 媽，不要鬧！
A 60-year old widow dives into the world of online dating after her husband passes away, much to the concern of her two live-at-home daughters. Veteran performer Billy Wang stars in this zany comedy that takes its protagonist from Taiwan to Australia on her one-woman quest for love.
Gold Leaf 金茶
The only child of Taiwan’s biggest tea merchant breaks with convention when she takes over her father’s debt-ridden business. Set during the tumultuous early years of Taiwan’s White Terror (1949–1987), Gold Leaf is a tense yet opulent period drama worth watching if only for the gorgeous scenery shots.
One of the most hotly anticipated shows of the year, Seqalu is a retelling of the Rover Incident, where a group of American shipwreck survivors in southern Taiwan was killed by local indigenous tribesmen as retribution for a previous massacre of their people. Based on Chen Yao-chang’s (陳耀昌) 2016 novel Lady Butterfly of Formosa, this epic series explores tensions between the Seqalu people, local settlers, and the Chinese army as the latter tries to use the incident to take control of the tribal lands.
If you’ve already binged your way through our quarantine watchlist, you’ll likely spot the similarities between dystopian sci-fi and the 2018 hit On Children. Set 27 years into the not-too-distant future, 2049 follows three women in Taipei as the technology they’ve come to rely on becomes a burden on their lives.
Heaven on the 4th Floor 四樓的天堂
Tian Yi, a tuina practitioner operating out of a discreet fourth-floor apartment has the ability to make his customers confront their trauma through the traditional Chinese massage. Whether it’s a successful therapist who is unable to connect with her mother, a repressed actor, or a graffiti artist with a dark past, Tian Yi’s hands bring them face to face with their emotional problems in this touching Taiwanese melodrama.
Victim’s Game Season 2 誰是受害者
We shortlisted this immensely popular detective thriller last year, and we’re thrilled that we’ll get to dive back down the rabbit hole in 2022. So you’re caught up, this unnerving mystery follows a detective with Asperger’s syndrome as he tackles a series of deaths where the victims have been burned beyond recognition. Taiwanese series don’t often get renewed for multiple series on Netflix, so the fact that we’re in for a second season is proof that the show is deserving of its numerous accolades, including a Golden Bell (Taiwanese Emmy).
Tears on Fire 火神的眼淚
How do you really underscore the drama in melodrama? Set something on fire. Packed with love, loss, trauma, and conflict, this unique drama follows four firefighters at the Tong’an Branch Fire Department as they try to keep their professional and personal lives in check.
The Magician on the Sky Walk 天橋上的魔術師
Dingling its Golden Bell from the rooftops, The Magician on the SkyWalk follows Xiao Butian, an imaginative elementary student who has a life-changing encounter with a mysterious magician at an indoor market. Another eighties drama, The Magician is a window into a very different Taipei to today, playing out against the backdrop of the enormous Zhonghua Mall which used to stand outside Taipei Main Station. Quirky and psychedelic, except lovable characters, a spot of surrealism — oh, and a magic morphing zebra.