Alice falls down the tunnel to Wonderland waving. Text reads "good-bye 2020"

Well, since we’ve recently celebrated the Lunar New Year and I never got around to doing a top drama list for 2020, lets do it now! Here’s a list of my (Amanda) favourite top 10 (ish) dramas from the previous cursed year.

Ingredients is available on YouTube

10. Ingredients

The web series Ingredients was created as a commercial of sorts for a Thai grocery chain. It stars Jeff Satur as a singer/musician and Gameplay Garnpaphon as his roommate who’s a culinary arts student. The hook here is that Jeff is actually a singer (you can check him out on Spotify) and Gameplay is actually a cook. The show follows the roommates as they live in domestic adorableness and fall in love. Gameplay’s character, Tops, cooks for his roommate Marwin and offers him advice. The conflicts are all low stakes and usually wrap up happily within the 10-15 minute episode. All the recipes are laid out in detail by Gameplay in companion videos also available on the CentralFoodTV YouTube channel.

This series started in April of 2020 and took us all the way through the highs and lows of pandemic living. With focuses on handwashing and characters using sanitizer and face masks, this drama really shows the progression of how the year was going in Thailand. The production values aren’t great, but definitely got better as the series went on and gained in popularity. I started watching it right when it started and followed it all the way through to January of 2021. This drama was my comfort companion all the way through the year.

Never Twice is available to watch with a plus pass on Viki or Kocowa

9. Never Twice

Never Twice was my only family weekender last year. This story followed a young single mother as she tried to find the truth behind her husband’s untimely death. She moves into a boarding house, Paradise Inn, that is full of colourful and fun characters, each with their own story. The main conflict comes between the residents of Paradise Inn and the wealthy family who owns the fancy hotel up the road. The dead husband worked for the hotel, as do (or did) most of the residents of Paradise Inn. Even the owner of the boarding house has a past with the head of the wealthy family.

As sordid as this story sounds, this is very much a cozy family weekender and not a dark makjang one. The characters are all loveable and quirky. Even the horrible, rich moms up the hill grow on you over time. Every relationship works out and there are multiple romantic plots to root for. It’s silly at times, and sweet at others. It was a comfortable watch that I really enjoyed. If you’re a fan of Father is Strange, you’ll probably enjoy this show.

School Nurse Files is available to watch on Netflix

8. The School Nurse Files

The School Nurse Files is a quirky, short fantasy series based of a manga. It tells the story of a school nurse who can see the weird little energy beings that are released into the world through death and strong emotions. Often these creatures are relatively harmless, but when they feed off human emotions for too long, they can become deadly. She works in a high school that is built on a sort of Hellmouth for these creatures and spends her days healing students and destroying invisible demons.

The special effects are really fun to watch and the story is pretty good. I watched this over Netflix Party with a couple of friends and we binged it in a weekend. It is one of the most quintessentially Korean dramas I think that I have ever watched. The humour mixed with sadness and death, the spiritual fantasy coupled with real world emotions and tragedy; there is just something I found very exciting and compelling about this drama. I really hope there will be another season, which is something I don’t say very often about a kdrama.

Birthcare Center is available to watch on Viki

7. Birthcare Center

Birthcare Center was another drama that really moved me this year. My youngest child is 9 years old and still at times I felt myself saying “too soon, too soon” about some of the trials the new moms faced. It tells the story of an older businesswoman who has happily become pregnant after being told that it wasn’t likely to ever happen for her. She navigates through pregnancy and new motherhood with the help of her doting husband and a stay at a postnatal care facility.

The trailers made this show look like it was going to have some dark, Stepford Wives kinda vibes. I think that was intentional. While the show itself doesn’t have quite that dark edge, the idea that motherhood is not actually one size fits all really fits with the Stepford Wife concept. I found myself crying more than once and sometimes needing to take a break from something that still pushes a bruise on my heart that I thought had healed long ago. At other times I laughed out loud at feelings and experiences I remember all too well. If you’d like to hear more about this drama, I wrote a recap of the first episode over on the DramaCurrent website.

Cherry Magic is available to watch on Crunchyroll

6. Cherry Magic

What is there to say about Cherry Magic? This adorable drama took the world by storm before it ever found a legal streaming site. Eventually its popularity grabbed the attention of Crunchyroll and found it a legally subbed location.

This is the story of a shy, sweet young man who discovers he’s been gifted with mind-reading powers because he remained a virgin until his 30th birthday. Through these powers he comes to understand his coworkers better and learns that one of his coworkers, a man he very much admires, is in love with him. The romance unfolds slowly while we are treated to side stories about work and relationships with other characters. There is just something very comfortable about this drama. Is it perfect? No. Is it lovely? Yes. If you haven’t had a listen yet, check out our podcast episode about the two leads.

Cross Fire is available to watch on YouTube

5. Cross Fire

The Chinese drama Cross Fire was a wild ride start to finish. For me it was the perfect meld of the time travel trope seen in movies like Frequency or dramas like Signal, and the e-sport dramas that I have come to love. Luhan wowed me with his acting in this one. The story was pretty tight (there’s a bit of a Hail Mary plot device in the second half, but whatever, it worked out) and the characters are lovely.

The story of an e-gamer in the modern age who connects to a gamer from the past through a magical computer is full of bromance and romance. It has all the highs and lows one expects from a sports drama, coupled with the suspense of a murder mystery. The modern day gamer tries to use his connection to the past to prevent the death of his older brother in an accident that left him wheelchair bound. He uses information from the past to become a better gamer and to try and find the gamer from the past who has mysteriously disappeared. This is probably my favourite e-sports drama ever, and I really enjoyed Go Go Squid and The King’s Avatar, so that’s pretty high praise.

Journey Across the Night is available on YouTube

4. The Journey Across the Night

The Journey Across the Night was another Chinese drama I watched last year which took me on a wild ride. I’m not sure what exactly drew me to it because the trailer I saw looked like it was a horror drama. I’m so glad that I checked it out though. It tells the story of a young psychology major who travels to Hong Kong on a full scholarship in order to study under a doctor who is preeminent in the field of the mental disorder which runs in his family.

At the heart of this drama is a found family friendship. The main character has never allowed himself to have friends because of his fear that he would descend into madness at some point. As he slowly opens up, he begins to realize that having people in your life can sometimes help one to cope with a mental illness. The show itself tackles several different disorders, looking at the ways that different life experiences can either hurt or help people living with mental illness. This drama is a roller coaster of emotion. Sometimes scary, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and sometimes hopeful. I did not see the end coming the way that it did, and that it always a plus in my book.

Gameboys is available to watch on YouTube and Netflix

3. Gameboys

Gameboys was the drama that put Filipino BL on the map last year. Its popularity unleashed a flood of BL webseries out of The Philippines. The story is sweet and fun, but also has sadness and darker moments. If one day you wanted to show your kids or grandkids a story that totally exemplified what the year 2020 was like, this would do the trick.

Filmed almost entirely through webcams and personal footage, this drama shows the separation that we all faced while living in a pandemic. One of the main characters has a family member in the hospital sick with Covid-19. The fear, sadness, boredom, and loneliness that most of us have felt at some time over the last year was shown in a multitude of ways throughout this drama. Is it the best of all the Filipino BL to come out last year? Maybe not, but it is definitely the OG, and certainly my favourite.

Mystic Pop-Up Bar is available on Netflix

2. Mystic Pop-Up Bar

Mystic Pop-Up Bar was gorgeous fun to watch. The beautiful costumes and set design was perfect. The story itself was creative and the characters were interesting and loveable. I honestly enjoyed every moment of this drama. There were many times where I wondered if the drama would steer me wrong, but it never did. Every time I worried it would take a wrong turn, this drama surprised me and stayed the course.

If you haven’t watched it yet, Mystic tells the tale of a woman who is paying a punishment for her wrong deeds in her past life which lead to the deaths of many thousands of people. She needs to repay the debt by helping the same number of people in life. She finds the people to help by running a pop-up bar in the city of Seoul. If you’ve watched Korean fantasy dramas in the past, you’ll know that they sometimes lose their way or struggle with finding a strong ending. This drama never wanders from its path and completely sticks its landing. For more thoughts on the drama, check out our podcast episode about it.

When the Weather is Fine is available on Viki

1. When the Weather is Fine

This brings us finally to my favourite drama of the last year. I’ll Go to You When the Weather is Fine was the coziest, moodiest, slowest, sweetest drama I watched all year. Like a warm bowl of porridge on a cold morning, this drama filled me up, gave me comfort, and stuck to my ribs. The lighting and cinematography were integral to the storytelling, as were the various locations. Set outside of Seoul, the countryside and small town setting created a wonderful framework for the show.

The story follows a young woman who goes back to her hometown for the winter holidays. She does this every year, but this year is different and her stay is indefinite. She moves back into her family home with a cantankerous Aunt. Down the road lives a quiet and somewhat mysterious young man who she knew in high school. The story of their love for one another unfolds like a warm blanket to wrap you up in comfort. Perfect viewing for the cold of winter, this drama is on my rewatch every year around this time list.

Special Mentions:

Hot Stove League

The 2019 drama Hot Stove League was phenomenal. It didn’t make my top 10 list of 2019 because it wasn’t finished yet, but it feels so long ago that it just doesn’t quite feel right to put it into the 2020 list. So it has fallen through the crack between years. This seems fitting since the drama fell through some cracks too. Too much sports for the non-sports drama watching people and too much office politics for the people who do like the sports dramas. It still managed to find it’s viewership somehow and was one of the most awarded shows for it’s network this past award season. If you haven’t checked it out yet I highly recommend it. If you’re still on the fence about it, you can check out the article I wrote over on and see if you think you might like it.

Gaya Sa Pelikula

Gaya Sa Pelikula was a fabulous drama and should probably be in the top 10. To be honest it was there and Ingredients was here, but here’s the thing, I just liked Ingredients more 🤷‍♀️ Is it a better drama that GSP? No. Gaya hit harder, had better production, gorgeous music choices, and told a great story. I am very much looking forward to the second season. Does it deserve a spot? Absolutely. But ultimately it just didn’t feel right for me the other way around. It is what it is.

Thanks for checking out my top 10 drama list. What do you think of my choices? Are any of my top picks on your top list for 2020? If not, I hope maybe you’ve found some new shows that have peaked your interest.

By Amanda