The current year bought an onslaught of quality dramas that were brazen as well as realistic.
But what made these dramas an “Out of Box” experience were the intelligent pairings. A good script and incredible direction only works as long as we have good actors delivering on the lines in an honest manner. While most Asian dramas have a nonrecurring pattern where the main actors may or may not be paired together; the opposite holds true for Boy’s Love shows. BL dramas follow the fixed formula of projecting a couple as an affectionate pair. This might be attributed to the fact that most BL actors are straight and as such don’t favor juggling partners too much. There are very few who manage to toe the line and develop the fortitude to act with multiple partners. Today’s feature presents the “Best BL Couples of 2021”, who have managed to capture our attention with their effortless chemistry. So without further ado, let’s share the juicy details!
10) Pi and Mork (Fish Upon The Sky)
There isn’t anything phenomenal about this pairing. So the low ranking is understandable. The show, being an odd mix of parody and nonsensical comedy, doesn’t leave much space for romance. That’s where this pairing fails. While Pi spends an awful lot of time despising his love rival/possible love interest Mork, the storyline focuses too much on their conflicts. While Mork does try hard to express his feelings, the overall effect is lost due to Pi’s antagonistic attitude. I’m still waiting to watch the sparks fly or some kind of chemistry that might put this couple on par with the GMMTV legends. But so far, the drama hasn’t followed the precedent. Last week’s premise did give a ray of hope, so there might be progress in the upcoming episodes. Phuwin Tangsakyuen and Pond Naravit have a subtle or rather non-existent chemistry. It can be quite frustrating, because we have two good-looking actors and yet the romance isn’t heading anywhere. Their online interactions on social media are adorable, but I’m hoping they exhibit the same camaraderie onscreen. It will make watching this drama a worthwhile experience!
9) Song Shi On & Jin Hong Seok (You Make Me Dance)
This mini-series had the makings of a great drama- a good storyline, addictive music and a handsome casting. Yet, the show failed to garner sufficient attention or ratings, simply because of the abysmal storyline and the frizzled chemistry between the main actors. While Chu Young Woo who played the role of dancer/debtor Song Shi Oh had a formidable presence and tried his level best to herald the romance into the right direction; his co-star Won Hyung Hoon (Jin Hong Seok) rigid countenance failed to balance the act. The sweet boy with a twinkle in his eyes did manage to melt the loan shark’s heart, but the romance wasn’t as anticipated. This is my complaint with most Korean BL’s; they fail at casting actors who are comfortable portraying a gay character with finesse. As such, this couple failed to make the mark because the storyline didn’t afford them a decent romance, nor they were comfortable acting out their roles in entity.
8) Lee Dong Shik & Han Joo Wan (Beyond Evil)
A crime thriller with a serial murderer on the loose and suspects at every twist and turn! Beyond Evil was marketed by JTBC as a thriller and that’s the only plausible explanation for the low ranking. This show, which earned main lead Shin Ha Kyun (Lee Dong Shik) the “Best Actor Award” at the recently held 57th Baeksang Arts Awards, got worldwide recognition because of his inflammable chemistry with young co-star Yeo Jin Woo (Han Joo Wan). While each episode was raked with the mystery shedding light on the serial killer, the best moments belonged to these two actors. They set the screen on fire with their subtle romance and yet their antagonism added a distinct flavor to the overall mystery. Shin Ha Hyun and Yeo Jin Woo are comfortable with each other, which is quite unprecedented in the rigid Korean circles. They can be often seen praising each other and the show’s BTS videos reveals their offscreen camaraderie. It is nostalgic and memorable. The icing on the cake, these two look too good together!
7) Jiang Yue Lou and Chen Yu Zhi (Killer and Healer)
I’m actually surprised by the uncanny resemblance between the original novel and this show. While Jiang Yue Lou and Chen Yu Zhi’s start on the wrong note, it doesn’t take long before our angry Police Officer falls for his good Doctor. The show’s producers must be applauded for their efforts to portray this romance in the positive light. Despite the disappointing ending, the best facet of the drama was the recognizable romance between Jiang Yue Lou (Mao Zi Jun) and Dr. Chen Yu Zhi (Ian Yi). Mao Zi Jun did a fantabulous job portraying Jiang Yue Lou’s temperamental attitude as well as his naked affections. Ian Yi’s depiction of Chen Yu Zhi was more on the subtle side and yet their love was discernible. Chinese BL dramas are actually evolving and although I’m not exactly in favor of the strict censorship, this drama delivered their love story in a reckoning manner. Both Mao Zi Jun and Ian Yi are good friends which is visible from their online lives and BTS videos. I’m banking on the promise that Mao Zi Jun’s upcoming BL adaptation “The Story of Bat” will have the same amount of passionate romance!
6) Xiao Li Cheng and Teng Mu Ren (HIStory4: Close to You)
Main leads Xiao Li Cheng (Charles Tu) and Teng MuRen (Anson Chen) literally rewrote history. Popular as ChengRen on the social circuits, Charles Tu and Anson Chen are well known for their close friendship and commitment. Taiwanese BL dramas are mostly characterized by the highly sensual chemistry between the main leads and the infamous HIStory franchise was obviously built on this premise. This drama did court controversy pertaining to several sensitive issues, but the main spotlight remains on the depiction of “Healthy Relationships”.
Xiao Li Cheng and Teng MuRen’s romance represented several phases- “Sexuality Acceptance, Versatility Debate and Respecting the boundaries set by your partner”. They did it all and the ease with which they portrayed their character’s earnest emotions is praiseworthy. The mature representation of an understanding relationship make this pairing truly phenomenal. We also need to appreciate the fact that Charles and Anson’s offscreen camaraderie is just as good. While most Taiwanese BL couples lose base once the show ends, I’m hoping these two still keep in touch. Their chemistry is unreal and they make a handsome couple. Charles Tu released an MV with Anson on the finale night of HIStory4: Close to You. The romance is still alive and kicking!
5) Gene and Nubsib (Lovely Writer The Series)
Up Poompat and Kao Noppakao make a refreshing couple. I was unsure about their progressing chemistry, but this couple managed to allay my fears as they spun the narrative in favor of their romance. While Kao Nappakao seemed like a hesitant newcomer in his previous venture “UWMA”, he has matured in spades in this drama. His formidable presence was larger than life (as expected of the character), but his romance with Up was topnotch. They set the silver screen on fire with their passionate kisses (Kao really loves nipping on Up’s lower lips, as evident by their kissing scenes). They displayed no hesitancy nor reservations playing childhood sweethearts. While Kao is already quite popular in the BL circles, it was actually surprising to watch Up portray his character with a sincerity that betrays his age or experience. I’m going to miss watching them; because our overtly teasing actor (Nubsib) and his prickly boyfriend (Gene) are indeed an adorable couple. Their love story was resplendent of sweet memories, heartache and promises of a bright future together!
4) Zhou Zi Shu & Wen Ke Xing (Word of Honor)
We finally have a Chinese BL adaptation which was not only rustic in its romantic depictions but had lead actors that effortlessly spearheaded this wuxia dream’s success journey. Zhou Zi Shu (Zhang Zhe Han) and Wen Ke Xing (Simon Gong) embodied their character’s and watching their love story was a dream come true. While Chinese BL fans waited with bated breaths for an adaptation that remained true to its roots, Word of Honor stuck gold because of the incomparable chemistry between Zhang Zhe Han and Simon Gong. They were completely honest in their depictions and the camaraderie stems from their close friendship off screen. In an industry ruled by strict rules and regulations, ZZH and Simon Gong are truly exceptional. Watching their interviews and BTS videos is truly enjoyable experience! YouKu recently organized a theme concert for the cast and the event was marked by the exuberant camaraderie between the lead actors. They really love being together and have no qualms about it. It’s wishful thinking, but I’m hoping to see these two actors together in another BL adaptation. This magic should definitely be recreated!
3) Kang Seo Joon & Chef Han Ji Woo (To My Star)
When two actors enjoy portraying their roles wholeheartedly, we are blessed with a love story like “To My Star”. Although the storyline was loosely interpreted and bears reckoning, Kang Seo Joon’s romance (Son Woo Hyun) with his introvert roommate Chef Han Ji Woo (Kim Kang Min) is noteworthy. The chemistry is effervescent and memorable, because the actors took their time developing it. Kang Seo Joon’s goofy nature matched Han Ji Woo’s grumpy exterior. Both profiles are polar opposites and yet they couldn’t stop gravitating towards each other. Korean BL’s are mostly a lacklustre affair and I’m not a huge fan of these miniseries that are completely devoid of understandable romance. But Son Woo Hyun and Kim Kang Min spun this love story into acceptability, based on their compatibility and closeness. I’m hoping that the production house decide to bank on this premise, because the show definitely needs a sequel. Son Woo Hyun’s recent guest role in “Doom To Your Service” was a comic relief, where they took a dig at his status as a BL actor. It obviously showcases this couple’s popularity and the continuation of their love story definitely needs a second chance.
2) Gao Shi De & Zhou Shu Yi (We Best Love)
A couple with fiery chemistry- Sam Lin and Yu are the current favorites in the Taiwanese BL industry. Starring in a trailblazer show with two seasons under the belt, the series got renewed for the third season. The audiences can’t get enough of this couple and their offscreen interactions are just as adorable as their onscreen romance. Gao Shi De & Zhou Shu Yi’s journey from rivalry to hesitant interactions to full-blown romance became a global phenomenon, projecting this couple’s popularity into a vast arena. While the first season “No. 1 For You” focused on their college romance, the second season “Fighting Mr. 2nd” depicted their heartbreak and reconciliation. Sam Lin and Yu are very close friends and their online lives range from hilarious bickerings to flirtatious banter. Both of them are highly reserved individuals but their demeanor changes whenever they are in each other’s vicinity. Such a beautiful chemistry is unknown and I’m glad that they understand each other so well. Certainly one of the most loved BL couples in the present lot, they are handsome and their pairing is certainly compelling!
1) Phupha and Tian (A Tale of Thousand Stars)
A friendship of seven years, a drama that took more than a year’s arduous efforts and a love story that will forever be etched into the minds of the fandom!
People waited with bated breaths to watch this much awaited drama and the show’s Director did not disappoint. Neither did the main actors! Earth Pirapat and Mix Sahaphap’s apparent closeness made their characters relatable. The fact that they are almost strikingly similar to Phupha and Tian was an added advantage. Frankly, I’m not a huge fan of GMMTV’s distinct fare of BL dramas. They are usually devoid of sensible storyline or the main leads are uncomfortable portraying their character’s romantic overtones. A Tale of Thousand Stars broke through this horrible curse because the outstanding performances by the main lead actors made a marked difference. Although the drama wasn’t sexually explicit, Earth Pirapat and Mix Sahaphap stole the limelight with their realistic portrayals and honest approach. GMMTV needs to stop recycling old ideologies and start casting fresh faces that are comfortable enough to play their designated BL roles!
We will back with more exciting and exclusive BL contents, so keep watching this space for future updates!