Chinosity is your go-to place for reviews and lists of the next must-see dramas. As you might have noticed, Asian dramas have been steadily increasing in popularity for the past few years.

Previously the U.S. has been the leading creator of entertainment. But between the increase in production of Asian dramas on Netflix and Western audience’s interest, Asian content is slowly becoming more mainstream.

But why is that?

Hollywood is Unoriginal

Blockbuster movies’ screenplays are typically written by several writers. For example, “Godzilla: King of Monsters” had three screenwriters as did “The Meg”. Both received mediocre ratings. 

The issue is when you shove three writers into the same room. Putting their opinions together continually waters down the plot. 

More clichés are integrated to make the movie palatable and easy to understand. Dramatic moments lack emotional value. 

This is not to say American movies are no longer good. But audiences have noted a distinct lack of originality and excess amounts of spinoffs and reboots.

Asian Dramas’ Unique Structure

Hollywood’s lag has led audiences to crave something new. Asian dramas offer just that. 

There are dozens of Asian dramas on Netflix alone, all with varied plots. They’ve got any genre you want, from magical realism to period pieces to romantic dramas. 

Similar to American shows, Asian dramas take approximately nine months to create one season. This allows for the production of a lot of content.

However unlike American shows, Asian dramas are intended to be only one season. This causes plots to be cleaner and better written, since screenwriters don’t have to make clumsy plot allowances to tease another season. 

It also allows the industry to focus on new ideas as opposed to dragging out shows no one wants to see anymore (*cough* “Riverdale” *cough*).

A second season will be considered if the show receives overwhelming demand for one, like for the C-drama “The Romance of Tiger and Rose.” But rarely will a show be made with the intention for a second season.

Asian Dramas Draw on Diverse Inspiration

When it comes to originality Asian dramas really take the cake. That doesn’t mean there aren’t clichés. For example, many heroines in comedies are very similar. 

But the plots vary from a pro-gamer trying to revitalize his glory (“The King’s Avatar”) to martial arts twins who were separated at birth and pitted against each other (“Handsome Siblings”). 

The originality of Asian dramas is in part due to the fact that they have started taking their inspiration from webtoons and novels. 

Webtoon is a public platform that allows writers and artists to post their own stories. Many webtoons that gain popularity are made into dramas

Using webtoons as inspiration diversifies the sources of ideas, instead of taking plots all from within the TV industry. 

For example, “The Untamed,” one of China’s most popular dramas in 2019, was inspired by a web novel.

It's not that Hollywood doesn’t take inspiration from books. The previously mentioned film “The Meg” was inspired by a novel. 

However, Hollywood has too little faith in its audiences. It tends to remove or wash out the intricate details from the book in favor of CGI scenes and clichés. 

Asian dramas stay extremely faithful to the source material. They try to cram in every detail, occasionally to the point that it can be hard to follow. But at least you can never accuse them of being unoriginal. 

So don’t be shy and give Asian dramas a watch. The worst that can happen is you’ll go crawling back to the next CW show. 

Things are changing in the entertainment industry. So Hollywood, you better watch your back! 

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Adriane Kong

Adriane Kong is a student pursuing a B.A in Urban Studies at Columbia University. She hopes to combine art and design to promote the voices of marginalized groups.
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