International High School series Meteor Garden 2018 F4 China


3 Dec
Film & TV

3 International High School Series to Watch on Netflix

There’s a thing about high school series that remains attractive, no matter how old you are. Once in a while you just need a good dose of teen drama. The past decades, there have been ‘Gossip Girl’, ‘Glee’, ‘Beverly Hills 90210’, ‘Pretty Little Liars’, ‘One Three Hill’ and countless others. They’re pretty much all the same yet different enough to make it work and all of them American. That one country, America, has been dominating the way we look at “typical teenagers” for quite a while. Thanks to Netflix and its more international approach, that’s slowly changing. We’re no longer dependent on what our local tv chains want us to see and honestly, it’s a breath of fresh air.

Meteor Garden

Meteor Garden is a Chinese remake of the eponymous 2001 Taiwanese series. The story centers around Shancai, a middle-class Chinese girl. On her first day at Mingde University, she, unpleasantly, comes into contact with F4, the four most popular boys of her school. They’re all handsome, tall, smart, rich and usually very unreachable for a “commoner” like herself. She, however, manages to draw their attention, build a friendship and she even gets romantically involved with one of the guys. You go girl!

As we said in the introduction, after years of all-American series, it’s both weird and refreshing to watch a “made in China” TV show. We didn’t fully realize we got used to some sort of on-screen reality until later. A thing we found extremely odd is the fact that couples barely kiss, let alone have other kinds of physical contact. After 25 episodes, it almost felt like we were watching a children’s program. Besides that fact, Meteor Garden was fascinating and introduced us to a country and culture we’d like to know more about.

Side note: this show wins the award for best dressed male actors, by far! Props to the stylist.

International High School series Meteor Garden 2018 F4 China
International High School series Meteor Garden 2018 F4 China


Italians have proven yet again that they know a thing or two about on-screen masterpieces. We wouldn’t call Baby the best thing the country has produced so far, but it’s not bad, not bad at all. The story is based on a child prostitution scandal Italy had to cope with. Young girls had sex for money in order to buy designer clothes and expensive gadgets. A serious subject to base a drama series on, certainly in the current #metoo era. As to be expected, Netflix yet again provoked controversy. However, it’s a tough reality that can’t be swept under the rug.

Calling Baby a high school show might be slightly odd, but the story actually takes place in a high class Roman high school. A bunch of rich teens seem to live the perfect life, from the outside. As the story continues it becomes clear that it’s all about appearance and each of them has his or her personal issues to deal with. In order to escape from their reality, they begin exploring the Roman underworld.

With a sensitive subject such as this, everyone’s quick at finger-pointing and having an opinion. Girls are easily called a slut without anyone ever wondering what’s the story behind the story. Baby makes you look further than just the facts, it tries to give you an insight into what happens behind the scenes.

In certain ways Baby can be compared to its Netflix companion Riverdale, it has the same dramatic, dark mood. Except, Italians do it better, at least this time. Baby has that subtle, demure and beautiful tragic touch Italians portray so well.

International High School Series to watch on Netflix Baby Italy
International High School Series to watch on Netflix Baby Italy

Good Morning Call

Third on our list is the Japanese Good Morning Call, based on the eponymous shojo manga series. It tells the story about high school student Nao Yoshikawa who just moved into her own apartment when realizing she’s not the only one who rented it. One of the most popular guys at her school, Hisashi Uehara, apparently signed a contract for the exact same place. Because of both practical and financial reasons, they decide to live together even though it’s against the rules of their school.

Shojo manga mainly aims at a female teenage target group, which becomes clear when you watch Good Morning Call. Honestly, the series is very, very girly. Every time Uehara walks into the school it auditory feels like a Justin Bieber concert. Honestly, we still don’t really get whether the series is pro or against independent, strong women. In many ways it feels like Nao is just a stupid girl who blindly follows Uehara, even though he’s not even very kind to her. Despite this outdated behavior, she also often surprises us.

The reason why we watched Good Morning Call isn’t because of the interesting storyline or great protagonists, it’s out of pure curiosity towards a different on-screen culture. We’re familiar with some kinds of manga, but this is totally new to us. The way of acting often feels very strained, even a bit fake. Just like Meteor Garden, there’s hardly any physical contact amongst loved ones except for an occasional hug. To make a long story short: we’re glad we watched, but we’ll take a pass for the resee.

Side note: can someone please send Uehara to a decent hairdresser, thanks!


Photo credits: Meteor Garden, Baby and Good Morning Call

International High School Series to watch on Netflix Good Morning Call Japan
International High School Series to watch on Netflix Good Morning Call Japan
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