de Cho Na, agosto 8, 2021

Don't be late for school because of watching dramas!

The long school break is over. Since you are reading this article, I assume you are a student. Are you dreading to go back to school? Or are you anxious since it's your first year in high school or university? Meanwhile, you are worrying that you won't be able to keep up with watching dramas? No worries, your fellow MDL student youngsters, as well as MDL elders who have been students, rated these shows below to be their top school dramas! So even if you get behind in watching dramas, at least watch these top ten, as they are inspiring and full of life lessons to learn for students like you!

Some disclaimers:

  • The list is based on MDL top dramas filtered by school, youth, and friendship genres.
  • The rank and popularity numbers are based on the overall MDL ranking system. The smaller the numbers, the higher rank and the more popular the dramas.
  • The drama summaries are excerpted from MDL while eliminating long or spoilery synopses.
  • The data was taken on July 28, 2021. Any rank/popularity/rating discrepancy happened due to changes after the article was submitted for editing.

Let us start with the countdown!

Beware: May contain mild spoilers!

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#10 - I Told Sunset About You (2020)

Ranked: #341 -  Popularity: #310

Country: ThailandEpisodes: 5Duration: 1 hr. 19 min.
Rating: 8.4/10Where to watch: LINE TV
Teh (Billkin Putthipong Assaratanakul) and Oh-aew (PP Krit Amnuaydechkorn) were best friends until a boyhood line of reasoning turned them into rivals. Years later, as they're preparing for university admissions, both pursuing interests in the field of Communication Arts, the two meet in a Chinese language class. Their reunion awakens complicated and unstable feelings.

#9 - Put Your Head on My Shoulder (2019)

Ranked: #293 - Popularity: #105

Country: ChinaEpisodes: 24Duration: 42 min.
Rating: 8.5/10Where to watch: Netflix, WeTV, Viki, TencentVideo 
On the cusp of graduation, Situ Mo (Fair Xing), an accounting major, is at a loss about her future. As someone who got used to having her whole life planned out for her, she can't find the courage to make a decision for herself. She winds up living with Gu Wei Yi (Lin Yi), a genius physics student who shakes up her daily routine.

#8 - The Prince of Tennis (2019)

Ranked: #284 - Popularity: #1268

Country: ChinaEpisodes: 42Duration: 45 min.
Rating: 8.5/10Where to watch: Netflix 
Lu Xia (Peng Yu Chang) is a tennis prodigy who lived overseas since he was a child with his parents. Trapped under the shadow of his father, Lu Xia only sees tennis as a tool to win over him. Upon returning to China, he joins in a high school tennis team and met various tennis masters. In the process of working to win the national league, Lu Xia and his teammates learn to work as a group and understand the importance of friends. The other tennis prodigies are: Zhuo Zi (Zhang Yi Jie), Jia Le (Xu Ke), Qiao Chen (Dong Li), Si Yang (Xie Bin Bin), Da Yong (Zhu Zhi Ling), Bai Yang (Wu Xu Dong), Zhi Ming (Herman Li), and Xing Long (Fan Lin Feng).

#7 - Lovely Us (2020)

Ranked: #272 - Popularity: #2027

Country: ChinaEpisodes: 16Duration: 45 min.
Rating: 8.5/10Where to watch: iQiyi
The story takes place in 2007; five children from Shu De Faculty and Staff Family Hospital entered high school together, welcoming the youth/teenage years of their life. They are Tan Song (Marcus Li), Cheng Zi (Tian Xi Wei), Chen Zui (Li Ming Yuan), Jing Xiao (Silvery Li), and Jin Zhao (You Hao Ran). They are best friends and are always there for each other.  

#6 - Skate Into Love (2020)

Ranked: #270 - Popularity: #353

Country: ChinaEpisodes: 40Duration: 45 min.
Rating: 8.5/10Where to watch: Viki, YoYo English Channel, YoYo TV, YOUKU, Apple TV
During elementary school, the timid and cowardly Li Yu Bing (Steven Zhang) had to endure his seatmate Tang Xue (Janice Wu)'s constant bullying. Even so, they share one thing in common, a dream on the ice. When they meet again at Lin Da University, Li Yu Bing has become the school's ice hockey god while Tang Xue's future in short-track speed skating remains hazy.

#5 - Forever Love (2020)

Ranked: #198 - Popularity: #933

Country: ChinaEpisodes: 28Duration: 45 min.
Rating: 8.5/10Where to watch: WeTV, Viki, TencentVideo 
Xia Lin Xi (Xiang Han Zhi)'s senior year is full of radiance, while Jiang Zheng Han (Wang An Yu)'s is in peril. Jiang Zheng Han is doing everything he can to earn money and ends up becoming the tutor of a very unwilling Xia Lin Xi who still hasn't forgotten their terrible first meeting. When the two felt love for the first time, it was sweet and pure. It's the kind of love that you want to profess to the world, but it wasn't until after their exams that their feelings became more clear. Just as they wished, Xia Lin Xi and Jiang Zheng Han are admitted to the same university.  

#4 - Go Go Squid! (2019)

Ranked: #191 - Popularity: #176

Country: ChinaEpisodes: 41Duration: 45 min.
Rating: 8.6/10Where to watch: WeTV, Viki, Croton MEGA HIT, Apple TV 
A cute romance between Tong Nian (Yang Zi), a talented computer science major who is also a popular online singer, who develops a crush on a guy that she is too scared to approach. Han Shang Yan (Li Xian) is a genius in the field of computer engineering and a legend in the world of professional gaming.

#3 - Le Coup de Foudre (2019)

Ranked: #190 - Popularity: #395

Country: ChinaEpisodes: 35Duration: 45 min.
Rating: 8.6/10 Where to watch: Netflix, WeTV, Viki, HUACE GLOBAL FUN, dimsum entertainment 
Zhao Qiao Yi (Janice Wu) and Yan Mo (Zhang Yu Jian) may have been high school classmates, but the only thing they had in common was the desk they shared in class. One a top student, the other failing miserably. Promising to study abroad together after high school, this unlikely pair seems to have the world before them. But when an unexpected family emergency forces Qiao Yi to back out on their plans, the two drift apart and eventually lose touch. Four years later, the long-lost friends are reunited, and old flames are quickly rekindled.  

Fun facts: The drama is based on the real story of the author Qiao Yi and her husband, Yan Mo. Moreover, the actors who acted as the main couple, Janice Wu and Zhang Yu Jian, got married this year and have a daughter.

#2 - Reply 1997 (2012)

Ranked: #185 - Popularity: #42

Country: South KoreaEpisodes: 16Duration: 60 min.
Rating: 8.6/10Where to watch: Viki, Apple TV, K-DRAMA, Netflix 
Set in the 1990s, the drama centers around a female high school student Shi Won (Jung Eun Ji), who idolizes boyband H.O.T and her 5 high school friends in Busan: Yoon Jae (Seo In Guk), Jun Hee (Hoya), Yoo Jung (Shin So Yool). Hak Chan (Eun Ji Won), and Sung Jae (Lee Si Eon). As the timeline moves back and forth between their past as 18-year-old high schoolers in 1997 and their present as 33-year-olds at their high school reunion dinner in 2012, where one couple will announce that they're getting married.

And the top school drama picked by your fellow MDLers is... drum roll...!

#1 - Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo (2016)

Ranked: #51 - Popularity: #5

Country: South KoreaEpisodes: 16Duration: 60 min.
Rating: 8.8/10Where to watch: WeTV, Viki, Prime Video, iWant TFC, Apple TV, Kocowa 
Bok Joo (Lee Sung Kyung) is a weightlifter who is pursuing her dream of winning the gold medal, but she then finds romance in Joon Hyung (Nam Joo Hyuk) for the first time in her life. Focusing solely on weightlifting would jeopardize her relationship but leaving her weightlifting career for love would keep her from attaining her dreams. Can she find a way to have love as well as glory at the age of 20? The characters within this drama are elite athletes in weightlifting, swimming and rhythmic gymnastics who work hard to reach their goals in life. 

This drama is inspired by the life of South Korean Olympic weightlifter, gold-medalist Jang Mi Ran. 


Now, initially, I wanted to just list down the dramas, but I couldn't help notice some interesting things on the list.

  • Some dramas picked by the MDL computerized system are surprising. The Prince of Tennis and Lovely Us, for example. Though I heard about those two dramas since I'm a C-drama fan, I didn't think they would be on the list since they're not popular. Their popularity is numbered 1271 and 2033, respectively. However, although the numbers mean that not as many people watched them compared to the rest, the viewers are overall satisfied with the dramas, thus gave them high ratings. Indeed these two dramas are considered under the radar/hidden gems.
  • Out of 10 top dramas, China dominates with 7 dramas. It seems China makes more youth dramas than other countries in ratio comparison. I have actually wondered when Chinese students have time to watch dramas, especially the high schoolers? While researching for my article on healthy relationships, I found that Chinese high schoolers are discouraged from having romance (they call it puppy love) since they are busy studying to pass the national college entrance exam gao kao. Some schools even have prohibitions for dating in student manuals with the penalty of demerits. However, Chinese youth dramas are actually intended for college students and older, with characters having flashbacks of unrequited romantic feelings in the lower grades. Moreover, after high school, it seems Chinese young adults are 'pushed' to enter romantic relationships, as we see why there are many romantic C-dramas being released.
  • Out of 10 top dramas, 9 also have Romance in their genres. Only The Prince of Tennis doesn't list romance, but in fact, it has 'slight romance' in the tags. Now let's face it: most of us may not have time for dating during our school days, let alone find That-One-and-Only-Person. Heck, we're too busy finishing homework, studying for exams, and watching dramas, right? The reality is we may not experience a romantic life in our school days, and that's okay.
  • Now you may wonder why I include Friendship as a genre in the search. I am a sucker for dramas with friendship: bromance, sismance, and any other type of -mance. In general, we need friends during our school days, no matter how much of a loner we want to be, especially if nobody understands us fangirling for on-screen Asian guys, lol. Even if we have thousands of 'friends' in our social media accounts, nothing is better than real friends we can actually see, feel, and touch.
  • Finally, I acknowledged that I only watched 4 out of 10 dramas: Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo, Forever Love, Skate Into Love, and Put Your Head on My Shoulder. But I noticed that all top dramas listed are motivational and have life lessons to encourage us to do and be better while at school: lessons on hard-working, endurance, patience, friendship, teamwork, etc. I know that other school dramas may also be full of advice on how we should go through our school days, but we just trust our fellow MDLers who picked these as the best 10 school dramas! So if you don't have much time anymore to watch dramas, why don't you give them a try?

Thank you for reading, 

and good luck with your school work!

And don't stay up late watching your oppas!

Thank you to the editors who edited this article. I do not own any of the images used. Credits go to the respective owners. Image sources: drama stills/posters/screenshots, (Jang Mi Ran), and (cover image). GIF sources: Wifflegif and Giphy.

Edited by: YW (1st editor), devitto (2nd editor)

school weightlifting fairy youth friendship reply 1997 skate into love go go squid! forever love the prince of tennis lovely us le coup de foudre put your head i told sunset