The first quarter of 2021 is over and it was foreshadowed by a steep rise in the release of BL dramas all over the Asian Subcontinent.
There is very thin demarcation between “Good and Bad Dramas”. We at The BL Xpress endeavor to bring you the best content based on the reviews judged by our proficient team members. It wasn’t an easy task to prepare this list, but we are adept at keeping our promises. So without further ado, let’s dig into the “Best Rated BL Content” in 2021!
20. Second Chance The Series
This show was one rollercoaster ride and though initially slow paced, the drama gained subsequent attention in the penultimate episodes. Sadly, there isn’t much to write about the main lead couple’s romance, except for the death scare which elevated the audience’s interest. Banking on their titular roles, the show tries to hem together a storyline where the three couples (Paper-TongFah, Chris-Jeno and M-Near) are given a second chance at life. While Paper and Tong Fah’s story focused on their reconciliation (after Tong Fah’s accident), Chris and Jeno have to transverse through Jeno’s morbid insecurities. M and Near’s relationship is still in turmoil and tonight’s finale episode will give a better picture about their romance. Despite the fresh pairing of Fluke Chinnathan Rojrawee with Tong Thanayut, they failed to make a mark, because of their inadequate chemistry. Mawin Tanawin and Run Kantheephop on the other make a compatible couple. I’m still reserving my opinion on Nine Theepop and Games Nanthipat’s pairing. Although they look good together, their romance has alot of discrepancies which needs major retelling.
19) Y Destiny
Copy-A-Bangkok’s ambitious multi-star project “Y Destiny” was marketed as an intriguing drama with variant storyline. Sadly, the material inside the glossy packaging isn’t a worthwhile experience. I’m actually surprised with the inconsistency in the script as the show’s keep oscillating between “Good and Worst”. The first two episodes focused on the romance between boxers Tue (Chap Suppacheep) and Ake (Tae Chayapat). I was oddly dissatisfied with the absurdity of their dynamics. However, the third and fourth episodes bought relief with the refreshing chemistry between Sun (Max Saran) and Nuea (Natasitt Uareksit). The couple made waves during their “Why R U The Series” days and although their romance was short lived, the drama did leave us with some hope. As such, watching the innocent Natasitt transform into a sultry minx was riveting and Max as Sun was the perfect aficionados. Despite the loopholes in the script, Natasitt and Max’s sensual chemistry made up for the inadequacies in the script.
And while I was basking in the afterglow left by the Sun & Nuea’s romance, Y Destiny’s script plummeted yet again in the fifth episode. Mon (Korn Kornnarat) is a very naive college student who gets caught under the spell cast by popular casanova, Team (Gung Kunpong). Both these actors look great together and they did try to salvage the situation with their odd chemistry, but something felt off. Frankly, I enjoyed watching the scenes between Mon and his caring roommate Puth, than with Team (who is clearly playing a dubious mind game to win Mon’s affections). The jury is still out until the next episode premieres tomorrow.
18) You Make Me Dance
I rather enjoyed this dance musical in the initial episodes, but then the miniseries turned sour. This show had everything- great music, good casting and yet they failed because of the inconsistent storyline. There were alot of inadequacy in character development per se and we never got to learn more about the main leads. I understand that this is a miniseries and they had time constraints, but comparing this show to the previous Korean BL’s leaves alot to be desired. I would have preferred if they had taken the time to depict the initial struggles faced by our main leads in their life. Because those hardships led them to the current scenario which ultimately ends in their romance and reconciliation. The pacing was haphazard and even though I loved listening to the music (it’s melancholic and addictive), this miniseries suffered from the abject chemistry between the main couple. I wasn’t entirely convinced with the sudden fluctuations in their emotions which seemed indiscernible.
17) Nobleman Ryu’s Wedding
The first Korean BL with a Josean era setting, Nobleman Ryu’s Wedding was marketed as a swindle cross-dressing romance. As compared to the previous Korean BL’s, this miniseries has a promising storyline and even better cast. With three main leads from accomplished BL shows, the miniseries focuses on the farce marriage between Nobleman Ryu Ho Seon and his witty bride, Choi Ki Wan (who is actually the real bride Choi Hwa Jin’s elder brother). The romcom scores high because of the incredible pairing between Kang In Soo and Lee Se Jin. I have watched them in their previous works “Wish You” and “Mr. Heart”. Yet, oddly enough they are more suited to their characters Ryo Ho Seon and Choi Ki Wan than their previous ventures. Choi Ki Wan’s consistent efforts to save his sister’s reputation and her marriage will surely tug at your heartstrings. Ryo Ho Seon portrays his part perfectly as he plays the part of the strict household scion as well as a caring husband. The hilarious situations which often bring them closer, will leave you rolling in laughter. And you can’t help but wish for their union. Kim Tae Hyeong (Jang Eui Soo) was a nice twist and added to their already precarious situation. Although his stalkerish tendencies were annoying, I’m glad that he inevitably bought our sweet couple closer. I’m awaiting the release of the finale episodes this weekend. Here’s hoping that our nobleman wins the heart of his bridegroom.
16) Fish Upon The Sky
Based on popular author Jittirain’s novel of the same name, “Fish Upon The Sky” is a classic case of audacious romance served with a side dish of absurd situations. Starting with an insecure character Pi (whose problems never cease to end), an utterly confident love rival Mork and an oblivious love interest Muang Nan who is caught unaware between the two, we have a recipe for disaster. Yet, this show scores high on the tactile use of subtle romance and forbidden intimacy. The main lead’s Phuwin Tangsakyuen and Pond Naravit don’t have much chemistry and I’m yet to feel the magic, but that doesn’t divert your attention from the storyline. The second lead couple Duean (Neo Trai) and Meen (Louis Thanawin) on the other hand have a weird love story going on. Their romance oscillates between sweet and antagonistic situations each week, which is becoming quite frustrating. The show recently quoted controversy for their disputed portrayal of Indian Sikhs in their recent episode. The need to add comic flare is understandable, but I’m hoping that the production house considers the feelings of the community before using them to their advantage.
15) Absolute BL
“A Man Who Defies the World of BL” was a rather satirical uptake on the Boys’ Love genre. Following the main lead Mob’s (Inukai Atsuhiro) journey as he traverses the distance between “Curiosity” and “Denial” was entirely reckoning. The mini series focuses on his efforts to co-exist in the BL world while defending his territory (which roughly translates into his sexuality). Although the show had exaggerated sequences that betray the real nature of the BL world, the miniseries can be taken as a true reflection of the said genre. It was ruthless, brutally honest while being realistically cynical. As Mob tries hard to escape falling under the spell of the BL world, unusual circumstances (his younger brother Ayato falls for his close friend Tojo and Mob’s realises that his classmate Kikuchi has feelings for him) soften his resolve. Honestly, as against the initial episodes where Mob acts anti-social, the slow changes in his nature and character development were encompassing. I had recommend this drama to everyone looking for a light romantic comedy that has distinct storyline and is unique in its portrayal of the BL universe.
14) Wheel of Love: Weekend to Remember
I’m not exactly a huge fan of Pinoy BL’s. There were very few shows that impressed me (Gameboys, Hell Stranger and My Extraordinary), so Wheel of Love: Weekend to Remember was obviously high on my watch list. The tagline of this show is quite interesting “We all have that weekend that changed our lives, as if, the wheel and dials of destiny aligned at that exact moment we will never forget”. The first three episodes premiered to high expectations and the show DID NOT disappoint. With a star-studded casting that includes former My Extraordinary mates Enzo Santiago, Sam Cafranca, John Cortez, Keijee Mesina, Weekend to Remember focuses on the five Asuncion siblings as they plan a surprise birthday party for their mother. The dynamics between the siblings is adorable and I’m in love with the beautiful script.
The show also relegates a considerable amount of time in developing the romance between the eldest Asuncion sibling Romeo (John Cortez) and their house help Jenevie (Keijee Mesina). I have been a huge fan of this couple since their “My Extraordinary” days because of their inevitable chemistry. While Romeo is the responsible elder brother, Jenevie is an obnoxious flirt. They are polar opposites and yet they gel together. Their different social statures might cause turmoil in their blossoming relationship and I’m hoping they don’t break up. Miguel’s (Nico Nicolas) homophobic attitude will obviously cause problems in the near future. How will this loving family overcomes the prejudices that might tear them apart?
13) Thousand Autumns
Adapted from Chinese BL author Meng Xi Shi (梦溪石) popular novel, Thousand Autumns (山河剑心, Qian Qiu) is rustic rendition of forbidden romance in the midst of power struggles. Our main lead Shen Qiao is a former Chief of the formidable Mount Xuanda sect. After his fall from grace, Shen Qiao loses his sight and memories. His meridians are irreparably destroyed, resulting in a loss of his martial arts skills. Yan Wushi, Leader of the evil Huanye Sect saves him and inevitably takes advantage of his amnesia to turn Shen Qiao into a demon. Shen Qiao’s upright attitude however becomes a stumbling block in Yan Wushi’s grand plans. I’m currently reading the novel and I’m aghast with the uncanny resemblance between the adaptation as well as the original script. You can’t help but fall in love with Shen Qiao’s honest disposition. Despite facing subsequent betrayals, Shen Qiao never gives up on his ethics or morals. Yan Wushi on the other hand might be the most dubious BL main lead ever, but his affections for Shen Qiao are true. The story currently focuses on their trials and tribulations as both our characters grow closer while learning to trust each other. I’m in love with the beautiful CGI effects, which is a trademark of most Chinese animation series. Don’t go looking for romance, because it is subtle. But Shen Qiao’s sweet demeanor and Yan Wushi’s audacious attitude are enough to keep you hooked!
12) Legend of Exorcism
The second season of my favorite anime series “Legend of Exorcism” is back with a bang and the visuals are resplendent of the first season. The storyline focuses on Demon Prince Kong Hongjun’s journey as he struggles to mask his true identity and find a foothold in the mystique Court of Exorcism. Led by the formidable general Li Jinglong and assisted by his colleagues Mo Rigen, A-Tai and Qiu Yongsi, Hongjun is shown battling the nine tailed Fox Demon Madam Guo (Prime Minister’s wife). In the backdrop of a high tension battle between the Fox Demon and the Court of Exorcism, Li Jinglong protects the Emperor from her unlikely ministrations. However, it is revealed later that the Demon’s actual target is the Imperial Consort. She plans to revive her dead sister using the Consort’s body. The first episode also showed some unspoken chemistry between A-Tai and Qiu Yongsi. As Li Jonglong struggles with handling the Heart Light, Hongjun guides him on concentrating the powers towards his sword, the Wisdom Blade. Madame Guo is extremely devious and is hellbent on taking revenge. The succeeding episodes will depict the change of dynamics between our main characters, as they protect the city of Chang’an from the evil demons.
11) Papa & Daddy
GagaOOLala’s new original “Papa and Daddy” is a rambunctious romcom that focuses on gender equality and LGBTQ rights pertaining to surrogacy and adoption. Taiwan is the only country in the Asian Subcontinent that has legalized marriage and surrogacy for the LGBTQ community. Papa and Daddy conceptualizes the struggles faced by same-sex parents and stresses on the fact that they aren’t any different from most heterosexual couples. Main leads Melvin Sia and Mike Lin’s relatable chemistry adds the much wanted realistic touch to this poignant drama. The supporting couples add a fresh breath of air to this vibrant universe that depicts the trials and tribulations faced by a same-sex couple (the coming out phase, marriage and subsequent choice of adoption or surrogacy). These three phases mark the life of every individual belonging to the LGBTQ community. While most Asian countries haven’t legalized marriage and surrogacy, Taiwan is certainly a setting a precedent that could be replicated. Everyone deserves to live in a world devoid of labels and although it is going to be a long battle, the foundation has been laid.
Keep watching this space as we bring you the next installment of “Top 20 Asian BL Dramas in the First Quarter of 2021 (1 to 10)”.