We are here with the much awaited next installment in “Top 20 Asian BL Dramas (1 to 10)”.
Compiling this list wasn’t an easy task, since we had to surf through a ginormous number of BL dramas that premiered in the first quarter. As The BL Xpress perseveres to bring you “Quality Content over Quantity”, we have tried our level best to judge the “Best Rated BL Content” in 2021. Without further ado, let’s get started on this journey!
10) “Call It What You Want” The Series
GagaOOLala’s new original “Call It What You Want” is currently getting high ratings and good reviews. Director Aam Anusorn’s open-minded disclosure and daring attitude have added a realistic dimension to this miniseries. The show focuses on the main leads James and Ait’s romance as they overcome several hurdles, hellbent on tearing them apart. Also, we have variant caricatures of actors Bas and Kaprao which betray the sexual torture and humiliation faced by most BL actors at the hands of their unruly management. The most intriguing facet about this show is the refreshing chemistry between actors Time Dhamawat (James) and Benz Panupun (Ait). Aam Anusorn’s work is characterized by the riveting slow burn chemistry between the main leads and CIWYW isn’t an exception to that rule. Kaprao’s revelation in the last episode was shocking and I’m hoping we reach a consensus in the finale episode.
9) Beyond Evil
Although this drama isn’t tagged as Bromance, ardent fans of the show will obviously disagree. Because the soul wrenching chemistry between the main leads, Shin Ha Hyun and Yeo Jin Woo is indescribable. Lee Dong Shik and Han Joo Won have become the source of thousands of fan fiction, simply because this pairing is a classic case of “Enemies to Lovers” trope. Starting as adversaries, both Dong Shik and Joo Wan did everything to undermine each other’s authority. They played mind games, while trying to outdo each other to the best of their abilities. However, somewhere down the line, their derision turned into affection and hatred morphed into mutual respect. Beyond Evil is a potboiler of morbid schemes and murder mysteries. Each week, the intricacies kept the audiences on the edge but the popularity of this show stems from the forbidden love affair between the cold-hearted Lieutenant and his maniacal Partner. Dong Shik and Joo Won were from different worlds and polar opposites. What drew them together was compassion and their strong sense of justice!
8) Killer and Healer
Chinese BL dramas are notorious for their distinct lack of romance (because strict censorship demands so). And yet, recent shows have been toeing the line between explicit romance and depiction of brotherhood. Killer and Healer certainly belongs to the former category. The drama focuses on the subtle romance between the two main characters- Police Chief Jiang Yue Lou (Mao Zi Jun) and Dr. Chen Yu Zhi (Ian Yi). One is violent while the other is docile. Both are diagonally opposite in their nature and ideologies. Yu Zhi’s compassionate nature draws Yue Lou’s attention and he can’t resist falling for the warm-hearted Doctor. Unlike most Bromances, this show has a marked difference- the antagonistic second lead couple Zhan Jun Bai (Chen Yu Cheng) and Fu Cheng (Patrick Quan). While Yue Lou and Yu Zhi are the resident sweethearts, Jun Bai and Fu Cheng’s relationship is a rollercoaster ride. Starting as acquaintances, they slowly became close friends and confidants. However, the revelation of Jun Bai’s treacherous identity is the setback that destroys their relationship and turns them into mortal enemies. Despite his frivolous nature, Jun Bai did love Fu Cheng in a convoluted manner. The disastrous ending was heartbreaking, but the show has set a comparable precedent that gay romance can certainly be portrayed in such nonchalant ways.
7) To My Star
One of my favorite Korean BL dramas, To My Star certainly rewrote history with a well executed script and excellent casting. Although the initial episodes were slow paced, they helped in establishing the wildly different personalities of the main characters. The miniseries focuses on the complicated romance between popular actor Kang Seo Joon (Son Woo Hyun) and introverted Chef Han Ji Woo (Kim Kang Min). The hilarious situations that leave to their cohabitation is entirely unbelievable and yet you end up falling in love with Seo Joon’s goofy nature. Obviously, Ji Woo can’t resist his charm as well. I had zero expectations when I started with this show, however the actors broke several prejudices that mark the distinct lack of sensual romance in the Korean BL industry. Son Woo Hyun and Kim Kang Min have a combustible chemistry and the show’s ratings skyrocketed after the premiere of the finale episode. The fans are currently demanding a second season and I’m absolutely in favor of the same! Kang Seo Joon and Han Ji Woo certainly deserve oodles of love and affection. While the first season focused on their blossoming relationship and the resulting complexities, I’m hoping to get a glimpse of their life as an established couple. Fingers crossed!
6) HIStory4: Close to You
My current favorite Taiwanese BL, started on a slow slope that mirrored the earlier History franchise dramas. But the show has picked up speed and is gaining attention because of the undeniable chemistry between main leads Xiao Li Cheng (Charles Tu) and Teng MuRen (Anson Chen). Popular as ChengRen on the social circuit, this couple share a comfortable chemistry onscreen and close friendship offscreen. Fans can’t stop raving about this love story which idolizes mutual respect and adoration. Li Cheng and Teng MuRen exemplify a happy couple existing in a healthy and harmonious relationship. Li Cheng always makes sure that Teng MuRen is comfortable with his advances (Important lesson learned- Consent is Important). MuRen on the other hand is afraid of societal acceptance which is understandable. Unlike most History series pairings who have explicit sex scenes, this couple has a more mature romance bordering on mutual understanding.
The second lead couple on the other hand are entirely different ballgame. Ye Xing Si (An Jun Peng) has finally confessed his feelings for Fu Yongjie (Lin Chia Wei). They are grown up men and as such being in a relationship is their own call (unless of course, their Father disagrees). My only issue is that given their intrinsic personality, will this couple stand the test of time? Like their Mom pointed out, Xing Si is a soft-hearted person while Yongjie has a manipulative and frigid personality. The complexities in this relationship will unfold eventually when their Father learns about this forbidden romance. I’m hoping for the better, if not the worst!
5) Lovely Writer The Series
I started with this Thai BL with major reservations regarding the main lead couple. I wasn’t sure if Kao Noppakao would be able to recreate his effervescent chemistry with previous co-star Earth Katsamonnat. You should never judge a book by its cover or a show by its cast! While the first half of the show heavily leaned on breaking several stereotypes that exist in the BL industry, the second half focuses on main lead Nubsib’s (Kao Noppakao) taboo romance with popular Author Gene. “Coming Out” is one of the most important phases for individuals belonging to the LGBTQ community and familial acceptance makes a marked difference.
While both Nubsib and Gene’s parents were initially against their relationship, both families have their own concerns. Their realistic conversations projected their fear of societal rebuttals. This is a major concern in most LGBTQ households and the show is doing a phenomenal job of highlighting it. Gene’s Father struggles with his past dalliances and it was an eye-opening experience. The scriptwriter’s honest depiction of the current scenario will certainly give courage to several teenagers who are faced with the same confusion and personal conflicts. Another shocking discovery was the revelation of Ait’s feelings for Gene. The first half of the show led us to believe that Ait might be in love with Nubsib. I was unpleasantly surprised. The upcoming episodes will probably focus on the public outrage when Nubsib and Gene’s relationship is bought to the spotlight by notorious paparazzi. Here’s hoping for the best!
4) We Best Love: Fighting Mr. 2nd (2021)
The second season of this popular drama series courted major controversy due to the assault scene between the main characters, Gao Shi De (Sam Lin) and Zhou Shu Yi (Yu). The sequel was focused on the reconciliation of the two lovebirds after five years of separation. The pilot episodes betrayed Zhou Shu Yi’s derision and hatred as he plans a conclusive revenge against ex-boyfriend Gao Shi De. The show foreshadowed their romance as they slowly resolved their misunderstandings. The journey wasn’t easy, but I’m guessing that forms the crux of this diffident relationship. While our enraged couple fought mind games, the show also focused on Yu Zhen Xuan’s complicated relationship with good doctor Pei Shou Yi. Both have led difficult lives, because of their individual mental disorders. It was heart-warming to watch Zhen Xuan’s step out of his comfort zone and make persistent efforts to win Shou Yi’s affections. Result Entertainment has announced the next season and the fandom is abuzz with the possibility of Shi De and Shu Yi’s marriage proposal.
3) We Best Love: No. 1 For You
“We Best Love: No. 1 For You” will forever be etched in the minds of BL fans because of the succinct romance between college goers Zhou Shu Yi (Yu) and Gao Shi De (Sam Lin). Relegating on the age-old trope of “Enemies to Lovers”, No. 1 For You is a classic case of two competitive students unexpectedly falling for each other. In the initial episodes, Shu Yi displays a cold attitude and animosity towards his supposed adversary Shi De. The facade however melts when he is faced with Shi De’s honesty and affections. The show’s popularity stems from the amazing chemistry between the main actors Sam Lin and Yu. Famous as “SamYu”, these two share a great friendship offscreen and are rather protective of each other. The fans are eagerly awaiting the announcement of the third season. If it happens, SamYu will most probably become the most iconic couple in the history of Taiwanese BL industry.
2) A Tale of Thousand Stars
I’m not a big fan of GMMTV shows because of their distinct lack of interesting storyline or inadequate chemistry between the main leads. “A Tale of Thousand Stars” was surprisingly different because of the Director’s honest approach to the original script and the magic created by the main actors. Tian’s journey of self discovery and redemption is praiseworthy. Coming from a privileged background, Tian had to face various struggles when he chooses to follow into the footsteps of his heart donor, Torfun. While Tian is outspoken and brazenly honest, his love interest Phupha is mysterious and introverted. Earth Pirapat and Mix Sahaphap’s pairing was unusual with a distinct touch of bittersweet camaraderie. I’m a huge fan of this couple and I’m hoping we get to see them in many more future projects. Because this magic needs to be replicated and recreated a thousand times!
1) Word of Honor
Are you having doubts about the numero uno selection? How did a Chinese Bromance make it to the “Top Slot”? Is it invariably possible?
The answer is resounding “Yes”. Word of Honor is of the few Chinese BL’s that is unflinchingly realistic in its depiction of Gay Romance. Although the drama doesn’t have explicit scenes like most BL dramas do, the main leads Zhou Zi Shu (Zhang Zhe Han) and Wen Ke Xing (Simon Gong) truly are “Soulmates”.
The scriptwriter has taken undue liberaties to script their romance in a distinct fashion that leaves no doubts about their feelings for each other. While WKX is hellbent on seeking revenge for his parent’s unwarranted death, ZZS faces his personal demons. Both are utterly flawed characters and yet while uniting for a common cause (to protect the Mirror Sect orphan, Cheng Ling), they inevitably end up falling in love with each other. The show’s producers have remained true to the original content. Author Priest’s novels are always devoid of explicit scenes, so we aren’t missing on much. The show’s ratings are skyrocketing because of the offscreen camaraderie between main leads Zhang Zhe Han and Simon Gong. In an industry ruled by homophobia, Zhang Zhe Han and Simon Gong are utterly comfortable with each other and they make a great team. Word of Honor has smashed most of the strict censorship rules pertaining to Chinese Bromances, while paving the way for quality adaptations.
We will back with more exciting and exclusive BL contents, so keep watching this space for future updates!