First Impressions: Under the Skin

What happens when you combine a persistent detective and a forensic artist with Sherlockian observational skills? That’s the question Under the Skin is doing its best to answer. Come see if this is the Chinese crime drama you’ve been looking for!


Seven years ago, artist Shen Yi was asked to paint an age-progressed portrait of a young boy as a 35-year-old man by a mysterious lady in a hat and sunglasses. Using the resulting picture, the subject, a detective on the Haicheng police force named Lei Yifei, was murdered on the street. Du Cheng, Lei Yifei’s friend and partner, wasted no time in tracking down Shen Yi, but ended up frustrated with the artist’s inability to remember the murderer’s face.

Years later, Shen Yi, now a professor of art, gets his application to the police force accepted. The chief forces Du Cheng and Shen Yi to work together despite their troubled past. Together, the “Ticking Time Bomb” team uses their experience and artistic ability to solve the toughest of cases, but there’s always one question hanging over their heads: Who killed Lei Yifei?


Shen Yi (Tan Jian Ci) is quietly intelligent, a sensitive artist who wants to make up for his past mistake with Lei Yifei. The elusive image of the murderer’s face tortures him, so he does the next best thing he can: join the police force! His vast artistic knowledge and attention to detail have come in very handy during the first 5 episodes, and I can only assume the pattern will continue.

Du Cheng (Jin Shi Jia) is dogged and very, very good at his job. He understands people the way that Shen Yi understands art, and the two of them together make a strong team. After the chief says that Shen Yi must stay and that Du Cheng must be his partner, Du Cheng manages to put aside his resentment and work well with Shen Yi. Their combined experiences make them an excellent sleuthing pair. 


Under the Skin pulled me out of a night of restlessly skipping through dramas, holding my attention almost from the first scene. It’s very much a case-of-the-day, somewhat formulaic crime show, but sometimes that’s exactly what I want to watch, kind of like eating comfort food, you know? There are already hints of a bromance brewing, and the cases have been very intriguing. I’ll continue watching, for sure!

You can find Under the Skin on iQIYI and Viki.

Until the next forensic portrait, I remain –

Karie the Maknae

Dramas with a Side of Kimchi

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