The Bad Kids – The Best Chinese Drama of 2020 (or Ever!?)

The Bad Kids – The Hit Chinese Web Series Everyone is Talking About

When thinking about most Chinese dramas “dark” and “unidealistic” are not normally the words that come to mind, but these describe The Bad Kids perfectly.

The Bad Kids Chinese TV Show

The Chinese title of The Bad Kids is 隐秘的角落 yǐnmì de jiǎoluò, which translates to “Hidden Corners”.

This 12 part Chinese web series premiered on iQIYI (a Chinese streaming site) on 16th June 2020.

Since then it has received rave reviews from both China and abroad with many critics saying that it takes Chinese dramas to a whole new level.

It has also now become the top ranking TV show produced in China over the past 18 months on Douban with an 8.9 rating from more than 415,000 users.

So let’s find out what all the hype is about…

The Bad Kids – Introduction

The Bad Kids – Main Characters

The Bad Kids – Why You Should Watch It

The Bad Kids – What’s All the Hype About

The Bad Kids – Useful Vocab

For more Chinese dramas, make sure to check out our blog about the best dramas to watch to learn Chinese.

The Bad Kids – Introduction

Nothing quite shows how different The Bad Kids is to other Chinese dramas than its opening scene…

A man is hiking up a mountain with his in-laws when they stop so he can take a photo of them with the beautiful back drop behind. He moves closer so that he can arrange how they are posed, then suddenly he shoves them off the mountain.

“Mum! Dad!” he cries in feign horror as they plummet to their deaths. The opening credits then role.

The Bad Kids - The Cast

Yes, that definitely isn’t your typical Chinese drama opening, but then again The Bad Kids is not your typical Chinese drama either.

The series is set during the summer holidays of 2005 in a small, coastal city in South China called Ningzhou. The Bad Kids centres around three children who inadvertently film the man in the opening scene killing his in-laws.

What follows is a nail-biting, suspense filled drama that will keep you hooked from the word go.

The series is adapted from Zi Jinchen’s 2014 novel, Bad Kid (坏小孩 huài xiǎohái).

It is the second series from iQIYI’s “Light On Theater” (迷雾剧场 míwù jùchǎng) initiative which is a collection of suspense and thriller web series.

From how good The Bad Kids is I’m excited to see what else iQIYI has in store in this collection!

iQiyi Review // China’s Netflix vs Actual Netflix Thumbnail

iQiyi Review // China’s Netflix vs Actual Netflix

iQiyi Review | The best way to learn a language is immersion. We take a look at how China’s version of Netflix, iQiyi, compares to the Netflix.

The Bad Kids – Main Characters

Zhu Chaoyang 朱朝阳 zhū chāoyáng

13 year old Zhu Chaoyang is the main protagonist and perhaps even anti-hero of The Bad Kids.

He is an academically talented teenager who always comes first place in his class. However, he isn’t well liked by his classmates and has an introverted personality.

The Bad Kids - The Cast

His parents are divorced and his father has remarried a younger woman. They have a daughter together named Jing Jing.

Chaoyang doesn’t get on well with his step daughter and half sister which has led to him having a strained relationship with his father.

When Chaoyang unexpectedly meets his old childhood friend Yan Liang who also brings along his friend from the orphanage Yue Pu he finds himself with the friends he always wanted.

But when things take a very dark turn what will happen to their friendship?


Yan Liang 严良 yán liáng

13 year old Yan Liang was sent to an orphanage at a young age when his father, who was a member of a gang, and a drug addict was arrested.

The Bad Kids - Chinese Drama

He has now escaped from the orphanage and has returned to his home town in the hopes of finding his father.

He has escaped from the orphanage with Yue Pu who he treats like a younger sister.

He is very loyal and protective of her. Together, they have been struggling to live on the streets.

Yan Liang was a childhood friend of Chaoyang’s so he seeks Chaoyang out to see if he is able to help him and Yue Pu.

Yue Pu 岳普 yuè pǔ

10 year old Yue Pu, or more often called Pu Pu (普普 pǔ pǔ), was sent to live in an orphanage after both her parents died.

Chinese TV Drama

She has a younger brother who was adopted, however he has been diagnosed with leukaemia.

In order for her brother to have a chance of his leukaemia being cured he needs to have a surgery which costs 300,000 CNY.

His adopted parents are unable to afford this so Pu Pu is determined to find a way to raise the money to save her brother.

Pu Pu is a sweet natured, clever girl, she also suffers from asthma so always needs her inhaler close at hand. Out of the children in The Bad Kids she is the most innocent and genuinely sees the good in everyone.

Zhang Dongsheng 张东升 zhāng dōngshēng

The main villain of The Bad Kids comes in the unlikely form of the quiet substitute teacher Zhang Dongsheng.

Calmly pushing his mother and father in-law off a cliff in the opening scene this is clearly a man who is unhinged.

The Bad Kids

Zhang Dongsheng is in a failing marriage, he loves his wife, yet she has become distant from him and he doesn’t know how to save his marriage.

His wife wants a divorce, but he is desperate not to lose her and will do anything to make sure that doesn’t happen.

When he offers to take his in-laws to Liufeng Mountain was he already planning to get rid of them or is his murderous act on the spur of the moment?

Chen Guansheng 陈冠声 chén guānshēng

Chinese TV Shows

Chen Guansheng is an honest, hard working local policeman who is nearing his retirement.

Chen Guansheng’s character often acts as the moral compass in The Bad Kids.

He was involved in the arrest of Yan Liang’s father and so feels partly responsible for Yan Liang.

When Chen Guansheng’s police station is informed that Yan Liang has escaped from the orphanage he decides that it is his duty to find Yan Liang and return him.

Zhou Chunhong 周春红 zhōu chūnhóng

Zhou Chunhong is Chaoyang’s mother.

After her husband divorces her for a younger woman she find herself struggling as a single mother.

She works at the Liufeng Mountain Resort and often has to take extra shifts and work nights in order to earn enough money to raise Chaoyang.

She is very proud of Chaoyang’s academic achievements and always encourages him to study hard.

She believes that Chaoyang should focus on his studies and that it isn’t important if he doesn’t really have any friends at school.

Zhu Yongping 朱永平 zhū yǒngpíng

Zhu Yongping is the father of Chaoyang. He divorced Chaoyang’s mother for a younger woman who he has now had a daughter with named Jingjing.

He is neglectful of his fatherly duties towards Chaoyang, instead preferring to spend time and focus on his new wife and daughter Jingjing.

He tries to show affection to Chaoyang through money and gifts, however Chaoyang is not so easily bought.

Wang Yao 王瑶 wáng yáo

Wang Yao is Chaoyang’s step mother. She has little interest in Chaoyang and is instead completely devoted to her daughter Jingjing.

She believes that Chaoyang is jealous of Jingjing and dislikes him for this.

Ye Jun 叶军 yè jūn

Ye Jun is a criminal police officer and also the single father of a child in Chaoyang’s class.

His daughter always places second after Chaoyang in their class and is desperate to achieve first place.

The Bad Kids – Why You Should Watch It

This is a show for anyone who doesn’t normally like Chinese dramas or TV shows.

People who are fans of Chinese shows, will also love it because it’s an incredibly good TV show which should be enjoyed by all.

The feel of The Bad Kids is much more reminiscent of a UK or American crime/suspense thriller. There are no overly dramatic moments and no perfect characters living unrealistically idyllic lives.

Instead The Bad Kids portrays the more gritty, and often harsh, realities of living in modern China.

As always another reason to watch The Bad Kids is because, as with any Chinese TV show, it’s great Chinese practice.

I have often found in the past that watching some Chinese dramas can become a bit of a chore as I’m not super interested or engaged with the plot.

However, watching The Bad Kids became a complete addiction for me, with its many cliff hangers making me want to watch just one more episode.

I honestly think this is the best Chinese drama I’ve ever watched, and I’ve seen quite a few!

The series also only has 12 episodes which range from 30 – 60 minutes long, so it’s also much shorter than your average Chinese drama.

The Bad Kids is available to watch on iQIYI with not only with either simplified and traditional Chinese, but also English and seven other languages!

Although, it is a shame there isn’t a feature like Language Learning with Netflix where you can have two sets of subtitles.

If you do have a more advanced level of Chinese I would encourage you to watch it with just the Chinese subtitles, aside from the occasional criminology vocab, the language normally isn’t too complex.

If you’re looking for another more gritty Chinese offering, you might want to have a look at our review of Suzhou River.

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Suzhou River – Movie Review for Chinese Learners

Suzhou River Review – Our Guide for Chinese Learners Our next film recommendation for Chinese learners is Suzhou River. The film is set in Shanghai in the late 1990’s and focuses on contemporary China’s gritty urban experience. The dialogue in…

The Bad Kids – What’s All the Hype About?

When The Bad Kids was first released it quickly became a hot topic and was trending on Weibo.

This is largely due to the fact that it deals with many issues in modern China which are normally skimmed over in other TV series.

The Bad Kids - China TV Show

The issue the series deals with that has gained the most attention is how a child’s upbringing can effect the development of their character and morals.

The hashtag #原生家庭的影响有多大# (“how big is the influence of the main family members”) began trending on Weibo and has been viewed 290 million times!

The Bad Kids also shows the lives and reality of very ordinary people which many Chinese netizens have been able to relate to.

The show received a lot of praise from the media, even winning praise from the famous actress Zhang Ziyi (she starred in Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon):

“After watching American and British dramas for so many years, finally [I found] a Chinese drama that could compete with them on a level playing field. The overall quality of The Bad Kids is very high! The whole cast – from the child actors to professional actors, has showcased great acting skills.”

Along with serious discussions the show has also attracted attention for sparking a viral meme.

No longer will the innocuous question “Shall we go hiking together” (一起爬山吗?yīqǐ páshān ma?) have the same meaning.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 🎥 Does It Live Up To The Hype? Thumbnail

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 🎥 Does It Live Up To The Hype?

One of the best ways to learn a language is by watching Movies. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a great way to learn Chinese and discover the culture.

The Bad Kids – Useful Vocab

For those feeling brave enough to watch The Bad Kids without English subtitles here is some useful vocab to learn for the show.

Crime Related

  • 杀人 shārén – Murder
  • 杀人犯 shārén fàn – Murderer
  • 调查 diàochá – Investigate
  • 敲诈勒索 qiāozhà lèsuǒ – Extort, blackmail
  • 释放 shìfàng – Release, set free
  • 刑满释放 xíng mǎn shìfàng – Be released on completion of a sentence
  • 监狱 jiānyù – Prison
  • 撒谎 sāhuǎng – Lie
  • 实话 shíhuà – Truth
  • 罪犯 zuìfàn – Criminal
  • 坦白 tǎnbái – Confess
  • 叛逆 pànnì – Rebel, revolt
  • 抓 zhuā – Arrest
  • 派出所 pàichūsuǒ – Police station
  • 尸体 shītǐ corpse – Corpse
  • 尸检 shījiǎn – Autopsy
  • 凶手 xiōngshǒu – Murderer
  • 检测 jiǎncè – To detect, to test
  • 脱氧核糖核酸 tuōyǎng hétáng hésuān – DNA

School Related

期末 qímòEnd of term/semester
成绩chéngjīResult, achievement
成绩单 chéngjī dānSchool report
暑假 shǔjiàSummer vacation
奥数班 àoshù bānMaths Olympiad class
试听课shìtīng kèTrial class
代课老师dàikè lǎoshīSubstitute teacher
少年宫 shàoniángōngChildren’s Palace*
*institute where children can take part in extracurricular activities

Other Useful Vocab

  • 退休 tuìxiū – Retirement
  • 爬山 páshān – Hike
  • 六峰山 liùfēng shān – Liufeng Mountain, a local scenic spot
  • 景区 jǐngqū – Scenic spot
  • 相机 xiàngjī – Camera
  • 摄影 shèyǐng – Photography
  • 文艺汇演 wényì huìyǎn – Art show
  • 轮渡 lúndù – Ferry
  • 内向 nèixiàng – Introvert
  • 警告 jǐnggào – Warning
福利院fúlì yuànOrphanage
领养lǐngyǎngAdopt (a child)
寡母孤儿guǎ mǔ-gū’érA widow and her child
车标chē biāoCar logo
  • 欺负 qīfù – Bully
  • 讨厌 tǎoyàn – Dislike
  • 充满 chōngmǎn – Fill, to be filled with
  • 嫉妒 jídù – Be jealous
  • 协议 xiéyì – Agreement
  • 拟 nǐ – Draw up
  • 千万 qiān wàn – Be sure to
  • 探视 tànshì – Visit
  • 眼神 yǎnshén – Expression in one’s eyes
  • 抵押 dǐyā – Mortgage, collateral

The Bad Kids – FAQs

What is the Chinese title of The Bad Kids?

The Chinese title of The Bad Kids is 隐秘的角落 yǐnmì de jiǎoluò which translates to “Hidden Corners”.

Where can I watch The Bad Kids?

You can watch The Bad Kids for free on iQIYI.

Where can I watch The Bad Kids with English subtitles?

You can watch The Bad Kids on iQIYI with English subtitles.

What happens at the end of The Bad Kids?


At the end of The Bad Kids it seems that all three children survive while Zhang Dongsheng is killed. However, there has been some debate online about whether this is a real ending or just a fantasy.

Some viewers believe that Pu Pu actually died from the asthma attack as there wasn’t enough time for her to be taken to the hospital. After this scene you don’t see Pu Pu again in the show, so it may indicate that she is actually dead.

Yan Liang is believed to have drowned when he falls off the boat. In the scene when he comes into the auditorium at Chaoyang’s school none of the teachers or other pupils notice him, only Chaoyang.

Chen Guansheng is then also thought to have died trying to save Yan Liang as he was severely injured so how would he have been able to rescue him. When a clip of him dancing with his wife is shown he makes up the eighth person in the line, when the others have seven.

Of course none of this is confirmed, so it is up to viewers to decide what ending they want to believe.

What happened to Jingjing?


Many viewers believe that Jingjing was actually hanging on to the window before she fell because there is a scrap of fabric from her dress stuck outside the window. In episode 3 you can also hear Pu Pu say “She fell down”, whereas in the final episode when Chaoyang remembers it she says “She is going to fall.”

This means it’s possible that either Chaoyang then pushed her off while she was hanging there or didn’t help her when she was hanging there when he could have.

Some viewers think that Chaoyang pushed her because of what Pu Pu says in her letter to Chaoyang. In it she says that she never told Yan Liang the truth about what happened with Jingjing but she hopes that one day Chaoyang will be able to confess the truth and start over.

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  1. 14 Day Quarantine in China (for 2021) | Everything You Need to Know

    […] watching a Chinese TV show that has been on my to watch list for quite a while. It’s called The Bad Kids and is available to watch on […]

  2. Scott

    Agree with Katie, this is one of the better C-Dramas I've ever seen

    1. Max Hobbs

      Glad the feeling is mutual Scott!