Winter is basically here in Taiwan and (up north, at least) the temperature is dropping. So, there’s no better excuse for cancelling plans, curling up in bed and binging some Netflix. The last time we wrote a roundup like this, it was in preparation for a potential COVID-19-enforced lockdown. However, this time around, it’s about a self-enforced staying-out-of-the-cold hibernation. Here are nine of the best Taiwanese shows and movies to watch from the warmth and comfort of your own home. (Read more: Taiwanese Movies and Dramas to Watch on Netflix During your Coronavirus Quarantine)
U Motherbaker (我的婆婆怎麼那麼可愛)
A family comedy revolving around the tropes of generational gaps, issues with one’s mother-in-law, and parent-child relationships, U Motherbaker is set in a family bakery (hence the pun title) that is dealing with the issue of adapting to modernity while maintaining tradition. Subtitles will most likely be required, as a lot of the dialogue, particularly involving the older characters, is in Taiwanese rather than Mandarin. A great opportunity to brush up on your Taiyu…
Detention: The Series (返校影集)
Based on the 2017 video game of the same name, Detention, set during Taiwan’s White Terror period, was a Golden Horse Award-winning live action film and has now been adapted into a Netflix series (premiered December 5, 2020). Watch as the characters battle a whole host of oppressions from political unrest under martial law to dealing with the legends of local deities.
Nowhere Man (罪夢者)
Netflix’s first-ever Chinese-language production, Nowhere Man follows the life of a death row inmate (Joseph Chang) experiencing alternative timelines of his future while plotting escape from prison. Released in October 2019, it won a host of production awards at the 55th Golden Bell Awards (basically the Taiwanese Emmy Awards), including Best Cinematography.
The Making of an Ordinary Woman (俗女養成記)
Raised as a straight-A student in southern Taiwan, Chen Chia Lin (Ying Shiuan Hsieh), against her family’s wishes, left home to pursue her dreams in Taipei. Now 39 and without an apartment, a car, or a husband, she’s just lost her job but continues to live her life with an unapologetic confidence. As a protagonist, she’s relatable and will have you rooting for her from the start.
Wake Up Season 1 & 2 (麻醉風暴1&2)
Originally aired on PTS HD back in 2015, Wake Up revolves around the death of a hospital patient from a rare anesthesia complication. Anesthesiologist Dr. Hsiao Zheng Xun (Jag Huang) looks to be forced to take the blame but there appears to be more to the death than meets the eye. The show won several Golden Bell Awards and its sequel, Wake Up 2, aired in 2017.
Yong-jiu Grocery Store (用九柑仔店)
Working his way up the ranks at a real estate company, a 30-year-old development manager (Derek Chang) begins doubting his future. Soon after his grandfather falls ill, he finds himself put in charge of the family business, a grocery store. The show is adapted from a comic by Ruan Guang Min and is a heartwarming tale with a very welcome indie feel.
The Victims’ Game (誰是被害人)
In a nutshell, The Victims’ Game is about a forensic scientist with Asperger’s solving a case involving his estranged daughter. With a neurodiverse lead, the show does a great job not making the protagonist’s Asperger’s come across as a novelty or something others make light of. The Victim’s Game has a noticeably American feel, despite being Taiwanese, and, according to Decider, sort of feels like a season-long episode of CSI.
The Tag-Along (紅衣小女孩)
A Golden Horse-nominated horror movie, The Tag-Along is adapted from the Taiwanese urban legend The Little Girl in Red and upon its release broke a ten-year-old record for Taiwan’s best-selling horror film. If you’re in the mood for a small horror marathon, you can also stream the sequel The Tag-Along 2. If you’re brave enough that is…
Days We Stared at the Sun (Season 1&2) (他們在畢業的前一天爆炸1~2季)
From 2010, an honor student and his delinquent best friend discover a corrupt politician is the source of their families’ respective misfortunes and hardships. Their carefree approach to life quickly turns sour and, fueled by rage, they take matters into their own hands, just one day before their high school graduation.