Ode to Joy Chinese Drama 💁‍♀️ A Review for Chinese Learners

Discover Chinese TV // Ode to Joy Chinese Drama

The Chinese drama Ode to Joy (欢乐颂 huānlè sòng) is a great series to watch for those Chinese learners out there!

The modern language and depiction of modern life in China make it a really useful series to both learn Chinese and learn about Chinese society today.

Ode to Joy Chinese Drama – Introduction

Ode to Joy Chinese Drama – Main Characters

Ode to Joy Chinese Drama – Why it’s Great for Chinese Learners

Ode to Joy Chinese Drama – Vocab in the show

Ode to Joy Chinese Drama – Where to Watch

Find out how to watch on Netflix with TWO sets of subtitles

Ode to Joy Chinese Drama – Introduction


Set in Shanghai, this drama focuses on five women in their 20s and early 30s as they navigate their way through life in modern China.

These women are from a variety of different backgrounds but are all brought together when they end up all living on the 22nd floor in an apartment complex called Ode to Joy.

The series shows how they tackle the difficulties of relationships and work in a large international city as modern, independent women. It is often referred to as the Chinese version of Sex and the City and has been praised online for it’s depiction of strong women.

There are currently two seasons of Ode to Joy that have been released with a third season rumoured to be released sometime in 2020.

The first season has 42 episodes and the second season has a staggering 52 episodes!

Each episode is about 40 minutes long so that’s a lot of Chinese learning content for you!

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Ode to Joy Chinese Drama – Main Characters

Fan Shengmei (樊胜美 fán shèngměi) – 30 year old Fan Shengmei is originally from a poor family but has managed to work herself up to become a senior HR executive for a multinational company. She lives together with Qiu Yingying and Guan Ju’er who affectionately call her 樊姐 fán jiě (elder sister Fan).

Qiu Yingying (邱莹莹 qiū yíngyíng) – 23 year old Qiu Yingying is from a small town and has moved to Shanghai to try and make it in the big city. Her naivety and innocence sometimes get her into trouble in both her personal and professional life.

Guan Ju’er (关雎尔 guān jū ěr) – 22 year old Guan Ju’er is the youngest of the main characters. She is from an academic family and is interning at a global top 500 company. A typical “good girl” (乖乖女 guāiguāi nǚ) many view her as the most down to earth character in the series.

Andy (安迪 ān dí) – 31 year old Andy was adopted and raised in the USA. A successful businesswoman and a CEO, she has returned to China from New York in search of her long-lost brother. She is very intelligent and talented but struggles when dealing with real life relationships.

Qu Xiaoxiao (曲筱绡 qū xiǎo xiāo) – 24 year old Qu Xiaoxiao is the daughter of a rich businessman. Spoiled by her father she has led quite an idle life. However, she decides to set up her own business to compete with her half brother and prove to her father that she can be taken seriously.

Who’s your favourite character? Leave us a comment below.

Ode to Joy Chinese Drama – Why it’s GREAT for Chinese Learners

One of the things that makes Ode to Joy such a good Chinese drama to watch is that it can help you learn lots of modern, everyday Chinese phrases and slang which you may not have learnt in the classroom.

I know from my own experience that is can be hard to make the jump from using Chinese in the classroom to actually using it in daily life. Watching Chinese dramas like Ode to Joy is one of the best ways to make this transition easier.

Ode to Joy shows you more realistic daily interactions and conversations than those found in textbooks.

Not only is it great listening practice, but the Chinese subtitles make it great reading practice as well!

However, Ode to Joy is not only great for learning more Chinese but also for learning about modern Chinese concepts and culture.

Each of the five main protagonists is from a different background. Making it a great way to gain insight into the range of daily struggles faced by Chinese woman today.

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Ode to Joy Chinese Drama – Vocab in the Show

There is some vocabulary and modern slang words in the show which you probably haven’t learnt in the classroom.

I’ve picked out a few of the key ones and explained their meaning for anyone not familiar with them.

  • 高富帅 gāofù shuài – “tall, rich, handsome”. It basically means “Mr Perfect”: the man who has everything a girl should be looking for.
  • 白富美 bái fùměi – “white, rich, beautiful”. The female equivalent of 高富帅 or “Ms Perfect”. In China an ivory or “white” complexion is the ideal beauty standard.
  • 富二代 fù èr dài – ” rich second generation”. Refers to the children of nouveau riche wealthy families in China. Qu Xiaoxiao is an example of this.
  • 穷二代 qióng èr dài – “poor second generation”. The opposite of 富二代, it describes children of poor families.
  • 拜金女 bàijīn nǚ – “worship, money woman”, this is the Chinese equivalent of a “gold digger” or a woman who is only interested in material things. In the series Qu Xiaoxiao accuses Fan Shengmei of being 拜金女 until she learns more about her.
  • 剩女 shèngnǚ – “leftover woman”. A derogatory term for unmarried women in their late twenties or older. Women who are seen to have chosen their career over starting a family are often described as this.

Ode to Joy Chinese Drama – Where to watch

The series is available on YouTube with Chinese subtitles and optional English subtitles.

It is also available on YouKu but only has Chinese subtitles available.

For more elementary learners of Chinese English subtitles are a must.

But, I really recommend intermediate or more advanced Chinese learners give it a try without them.

Watching Ode to Joy without subtitles may seem daunting, but actually the language used most of the time isn’t too complicated. You can always pause it and go back if there was something you really didn’t understand.

My top tip would be to not stress too much over knowing every single word. Translating every character can mean it will take forever to get through an episode, which can be quite frustrating. Even with a few missing words, the general overall meaning can normally be understood. Again, you can always skip back if you do get confused!

Also if you enjoyed learning more about daily life for Chinese women, why not check out our blog on traditional pregnancy practises still used today for even more insights?

Have a look at our Learn Chinese on YouTube blog for more tips.

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Ode to Joy Chinese Drama – FAQ’s

What is Ode to Joy Chinese drama about?

Ode to Joy is about five women living in Shanghai and their experiences of love, relationships and work as independent, modern women.

How many seasons of Ode to Joy are there?

Currently there are two seasons of Ode to Joy that have been released.

Is there an Ode to Joy season 3?

Yes, season 3 of Ode to Joy is due to be released sometime in 2020.

Where can I watch Ode to Joy?

You can watch Ode to Joy on YouTube and also on YouKu.

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