“History4: Close To You” Finale Review (Ep.15 to 20)

“Equality means more than passing laws. The struggle is really won in the hearts and minds of the community, where it really counts.” – Barbara Gittings

Although the show faltered in its countenance in the initial episodes, History4: Close To You should be definitely exuded for its consistent efforts to highlight major issues that plague the minds and lives of the LGBTQ community. The execution was at times faulty, but the cast and crew have managed to recreate the effortless magic of the “HIStory” franchise. While I fell in love with Xiao Li Cheng and Teng MuRen’s sweet romance, Ye Xing Si and Fu Yongsi made me question my belief. That’s exactly what we expect from a trailblazer Taiwanese BL! If it makes you think, makes you question the societal norms; then it means that the show was successful in its endeavor. The social media outlets were rift with continuous arguements between the two factions of the fandom: ardent fans who loved this drama versus fans who condemned the “Stepbrother Romance”. The jury is still out, but I’m guessing it will take sometime before the dust settles down. For now, let’s review the finale episodes as we reminisce moments that set this drama apart from its predecessors!

As our happy couple finally become official, Teng MuRen is always on the edge. While he has no qualms accepting his feelings for Li Cheng, societal deference becomes a roadblock in their relationship. Li Cheng renders his support as they cross the bridge slowly while taking time to understand each other better. In the midst of this, Vice President Gao returns and cooks a devious scheme to outst Li Cheng from office. In retaliation, Mu Ren plans to blackmail VP Gao with equally exonerated evidence. Li Cheng however misunderstands his intentions. Their argument leads to a hot make out session and Li Cheng reveals that he has already figured out the way to prove his innocence. Ye Xing Si on the other hand accepts his feelings for Fu Yongjie and they reconcile. They have a conversation with their parents where Xing Si’s Father finally accepts them. The show ends on a high note where both couples get their “Happily Ever After”.

Definition of Healthy Relationship

If there was a guidebook on “Healthy Relationships”, then I’m sure that Xiao Li Cheng and Teng MuRen would be gracing the cover. Li Cheng might be the goofiest character in the HIStory Universe and yet this man earned my respect. Simply because he set the precedent for my future relationships. I’m going to be judging future dates on the same scale and comparing them to Li Cheng henceforth. While Mu Ren does accept his feelings, he suffers from prejudices. He is afraid of societal rebukes and the sudden change in his sexuality often perplexes him. Li Cheng is entirely understanding of his boyfriend’s fears and tries his best to allay them. They have a deep sense of mutual understanding and trust. As a BL drama lover, I enjoyed watching this blossoming relationship. This show has given us valuable love lessons. If you have found the right person, hold onto them, feel proud and cherish your time together.

Because you never know when your bad luck might knock on your doorstep. Vice President Gao made it to the list of “My Most Hated Antagonists”. After his failure to malign Li Cheng’s reputation with unwanted videos, Gao blames him for stealing money from the company accounts. While I did spend a considerable amount of time cursing Gao for his vicious nature, Li Cheng’s unfazed attitude was inspiring. He never falls apart in the most difficult situations and he is more worried about MuRen’s reputation than his own. Everyone deserves to have a “Xiao Li Cheng” in their life.

Mu Ren’s happiness means more to him than anything else and I find that endearing. Especially in those scenes, where MuRen buys lube and is extremely nervous about the ensuing discussion. Li Cheng not only soothes him but also accepts being the “Bottom or 0” just to allay Mu Ren’s apprehension. I’m glad that this show highlighted the fact that “Versatility” does exist in Gay Relationships. Two men can be together without being labelled as “Top or Bottom”. LGBTQ relationships are much more than these fraudulent labels and the show’s producers must be applauded for showcasing this optional diversity!

While Li Cheng is more forthcoming about his feelings, it doesn’t mean that Mu Ren loves him any less. As such, he goes to the extent of hatching an equally devious plan to blackmail VP Gao. The only glitch in the plan occurs, when our resident devil Yongjie calls Li Cheng and informs him about Mu Ren’s possible liaison with VP Gao. This was the only time, I appreciated Yongjie’s underhanded tactics because he gives them the necessary nudge in the right direction. The make out session is obviously hot and steamy, because Li Cheng is possessive and raunchy (Obviously they had stiff competition from their predecessors and our sensual couple DID NOT disappoint).

I’m going to miss this couple, simply because they were polar opposites and yet they made it work. Anson Chen must be applauded for his effortless portrayal of Teng MuRen. MuRen has an ice-cold demeanor and is an introvert. Yet, Li Cheng understands his unspoken words and this couple is totally in sync with each other. While Chen had to rely on his expressive eyes to betray MuRen’s emotions, Charles Tu led the narrative with his cheerful expressions. Watching their romance was a swoon worthy experience. Some love stories remain with you forever, Li Cheng and MuRen’s romance is one of them. Unforgettable and beautifully scripted!

The Romance Between Stepbrothers

The most controversial relationship in the “HIStory Franchise”, Ye Xing Si and Fu Yongjie’s love story has become the basis of several arguments and endless discussions. While Fu Yongjie’s behaviour cannot be condoned and Xingsi’s easily forgiving nature is confusing, the focal point of this relationship is “Parental Acceptance”. Yongjie’s entire existence revolves around Xing Si and although his tactics sound convoluted, he does achieve the expected result. Xing Si left home because he feared rejection, something that is a common issue in the LGBTQ community. “Coming Out” is a difficult phase for every individual. Although Yongjie forced his hand, I’m glad that Xing Si got the opportunity to face his insecurities which ultimately led to acceptance.

Yongjie is a mysterious character, but his relationship with his stepfather is enviable. Despite his dubious attempts to win Xingsi’s affections, Yongjie’s yearns for their Father’s acceptance too. He is a pretty intense character, never listens to advice and always bulldozes his way into every situation. I’m guessing his introvert nature draws Xingsi’s attention. Xing Si’s considerate nature is like a balm to Yongjie’s loneliness and despite all odds, they stick together. This persistence wins their Father’s approval.

Tiger Wang’s portrayal of Ye Zhi Hui is praiseworthy. Although Ye Zhi Hui has his own concerns and prejudices, he doesn’t tryst his opinions on his children. It takes time, but he tries to understand them individually and also addresses their issues. He accepts both: Xingsi’s sexuality and Yongjie’s diffident nature. As a Father, he cares more about his children’s happiness than societal pressures. I’m glad that this show managed to set a precedent using this storyline, despite the several loopholes that consciously derail this impossible romance.

A Dream Wedding of the Decade

I’m not a huge fan of this couple and despite that their guest appearance was commendable. Sun Bo Xiang and Lu Zhi Gang have been together for eight years and they seem to have matured together. Watching them recite their wedding vows was an overwhelming experience. Oddly it reminded me of the Malec Wedding scene from Shadowhunters. Normalizing LGBTQ weddings seems to be the present norm in Taiwanese BL (because it is the only Asian country which allows same-sex marriage). Marriage might not be the culmination of each love story, but it is certainly every couple’s dream. Hearing Lu Zhi Gang’s heartfelt speech made me burst into tears. They make a beautiful couple and I’m hoping we get to see many more portrayals of LGBTQ marriages in BL dramas.

Overall Impression

Is this show comparable to the other dramas in the HIStory series? Does it make a sound impression and leave you with everlasting memories? The answer is an astounding “Yes”. While there are several roadblocks that hammer the progress of this storyline, the chemistry between the main characters grabs your attention. “Hook, Line and Sinker”, you fall for their easy smiles and charm that elevates the entire experience. There are inconsistencies, but if you can overlook those flaws, the drama is definitely a worthwhile watch. There are life lessons to be learned, a crazy Fujoshi who loves everything “BL”, characters that slowly grow on you and a family that accepts them wholeheartedly!

Rating- 3.8 out of 5

News Updates

Yesterday, the social circuits were on fire when Wilson Liu posted the above picture on his Instagram account. It was nice to see the entire “HIStory3: Make Our Days Count” family together, as main leads Wayne Song (Xiang Hao Ting) and Huang Juan Zhi (Yu Xi Gu) joined their colleagues on their guest appearance. The fandom is currently abuzz with the possibility of the sequel of the hugely popular show. I’m wondering about the premise since the second lead couple are already married now. Since Yu Xi Gu was pronounced dead, how will Xiang Hao Ting’s storyline progress in the sequel? Will he fall in love with Xi Gu’s doppelganger? Looking forward to further news updates, fingers crossed!

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