While portraying fictional roles is a tedious task, embodying their quirks and characteristics is even more difficult.
Mainstream heterosexual romances are quite common, but playing a BL couple onscreen requires a certain level of comfort and rapport. These pairings bring to life, transient details related to the members of the LGBTQ community, their struggles as well as their emotions. Shipping these fictional BL couple’s is fast becoming a marketing strategy; as these romances transcend time and boundaries. As such, we at the BL Xpress want to take this opportunity to share our choices; reel couples who have left a deep impression on our psych with their vivid depictions!
Krishna Naidu’s Favorites
Dean and Pharm, Until We Meet Again
Whenever I think about classic BL romances, the first name that comes to my mind is the reincarnation saga “Until We Meet Again”. Obviously, ardent fans have their own preferences amongst the three couples depicted in this show; but my personal favorites are Dean and Pharm. It’s got nothing to do with the roles they portrayed; rather, I’m in awe with their heartfelt interpretations of these adapted characters. Dean (Ohm Thitiwat) and Pharm (Fluke Natouch) are the reincarnated versions of their past selves; presumably Korn (Kao Noppakao) and Intouch (Earth Katsamonnat). Most reincarnation dramas try their level best to make the past and present individuals sound alike; but UWMA was discerning. Dean and Pharm fall in love irrespective of their sad and wounded past life; proving that their feelings are genuine and unaffected by Korn and Intouch’s tragic romance. Ohm and Fluke have an effervescent chemistry; it leaves you utterly mesmerized and yearning for more!
Phana and Wayo, 2moons2 The Series
I’m hugely biased when it comes to this couple; because I belong to the #BenEarth and #Earthlings fandoms. Benjamin Brasier and Earth Teerapat are my absolute favorites. Popularly known by the moniker “PhaYo”, Phana and Wayo are the lead characters in author Chiffon Cake’s famous Thai BL books “2moons”. The show’s popularity can be gauged from the fact that the actors in the prequel as well as the sequel have individual fandoms. Despite the fervent comparison with predecessors God Itthipat and Bas Suradej; Ben and Earth owned their characters. While God and Bas lacked intimacy, Ben and Earth’s PhaYo redefined chemistry and mutual understanding. Like most couples, their relationship is fraught with problems like jealousy and distress. But it was nice to watch them talk through their personal issues and grow closer. The heartbreaking cliffhanger in the finale episode was regretfully inevitable. Ben and Earth won’t be reprising their roles in the upcoming sequel. But they have left a deep impression in our minds and will be forever be celebrated as “PhaYo”.
Han Tae Joo and Kang Gook, Where Your Eyes Linger
The first Korean BL webseries- announcement of this project was met with excitement and anxiety. While most BL fans rejoiced over the news; there were quite a few who were perturbed about the execution. Energetic Company and W-Story were new to this foray and attempting to create a romance that was unheard of before. And yet, they delivered a poignant romance, in the most classic way. While the storyline didn’t offer anything new, the burning chemistry between main leads Han Gi Chan and Jang Eui Soo was enough to grab the attention of the audiences. The scriptwriters did play with the age-old “Jealousy” trope; however it was the flawless execution of the subject by the said actors which turned the tide in their favor. This romance was inspiring, oddly relatable and hugely appealing. Where Your Eyes Linger certainly paved the way for future Korean BL dramas that are fast becoming a global phenomenon. It would be a worthwhile experience; if we got a chance to watch Eui Soo romance Gi Chan again. They are certainly a formidable pair!
Woo Tae Kyung and Noh Shin Woo, Light On Me
Woo Tae Kyung (Lee Sae On) and Noh Shin Woo (Kang Yoo Seok) are an iconic couple. This pairing was not only refreshing, but also highly unusual. Two characters who are complete opposites and yet undeniably perfect for each other. The only common trait between them is their daring honesty. While Tae Kyung might display an anti-social tendency, his shy demeanor and determination are appealing. Something that attracts Shin Woo’s attention. I’m also in love with Shin Woo’s conviction, which is unexpected from a teenager. He is unapologetic about his sexuality and openly accepts it. People respect him despite that, because Shin Woo has rightfully earned it. While he never shies away from his feelings for Tae Kyung, Shin Woo isn’t fraught with mundane emotions like jealousy or insecurity. He is confident about his feelings and is willing to wait for Tae Kyung, as long as it takes. Shin Woo’s steadfast approach, patience and caring nature finally win Tae Kyung’s heart. I’m pretty sure the entire BL world celebrated this union, because they are one of the most popular Korean BL couples ever!
Wu Xie and Zhang Qiling, Ultimate Note and The Lost Tomb 2: Explore With the Note
Two different adaptations and yet the common factor is the overwhelming romance between main leads Wu Xie and Zhang Qiling. Every live-action drama in “The Lost Tomb” franchise is characterized by a different casting. While “Explore With the Note” is adapted from the fourth book of “The Grave Robbers’ Chronicles” (盗墓笔记) by Kennedy Xu, “Ultimate Note” follows the storyline in the fifth, sixth and seventh books. Obviously these dramas should have followed each other, but continuity doesn’t exist in the “Lost Tomb” world and as such random interpretations are rampant. Popularly known as “PingXie” the evergreen romance between Wu Xie and Zhang Qiling is widely accepted and well-known. Bai Shu and Zhao Dong Ze (Explore With the Note) have an uncanny resemblance to Joseph Zeng and Xiao Yu Liang (from Ultimate Note). Their chemistry is off the charts and memorable. While Bai Shu and Zhao Dong Ze exemplify the phase where our young couple are still coming to terms with their feelings for each other; Joseph Zeng and Xiao Yu Liang represent their mature versions- openly affectionate and mostly in love. PingXie’s romance is hugely celebrated throughout the Chinese BL fandom and they are eternally immortalized!
Ram and King, My Engineer The Series
BL has blossomed into a burgeoning multimedia platform spanning across several nations. Whether fan subbed or officially translated, the images, motion, all offer the viewer a glimpse into someone else’s life. Real or imaginary, these shows offer fans different couples to stan, ogle, and fall in love with. For me that couple would be Ram and King from “My Engineer The Series ”. These two own my BL fangirl heart.
They both (as is typically the case with BL characters) come from rich families, so both of them have high expectations placed on them from an early age. The series does a wonderful job of exposing just enough of their personal lives to explain their individual traits. Ram, the mixed race silent young man, comes from a conservative family, but has a mischievous little brother with a wicked sense of humor.
King comes from a loud and fun-filled family and as a result, has a very open personality. His family has always spoiled him and so at times he is the more sensitive or dramatic side of this sweet couple. He tries his best to help anyone he feels is in need, whether they want it or not (which at times leads to funny results). The concept of an extrovert and an introvert meeting and falling in love could have been cliché.
But these two are such unique and quirky characters, brought to life by two wonderful actors; that they truly recapture your attention. Ram has selective mutism where he just doesn’t speak much unless needed. His shyness is beautifully brought to life by Perth Nakhun’s expressive facial expressions. Sometimes his silence speaks louder than his words. Couple that with his love for dogs and you have a smoldering seme. Talay Sanguandikul’s King on the other hand is loud, expressive and with an honesty that makes you want to protect him. He is either running, smiling or jumping into scenes with a loudness that draws your attention and leaves you captivated.
His sneaky way to get Ram to confess his feelings will have you rooting for their slow burn romance. I honestly became more invested in this pairing as compared to the others and I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel!
Kaila Genevieve’s Favorites
ChengRen, HIStory4: Close To You
HIStory4: Close To You was undoubtedly a whirlwind of controversy in the Taiwanese BL Industry, for the obvious reason of romanticizing rape and toxicity in the relationship between the side couple. However, the lead CP is a diamond in the rough. Xiao Li Cheng (played by Charles Tu) and Teng Mu Ren (played by Anson Chen) give us the “Exclusive Cupid Crash Course” on the Theory of Love and Relationships at the mere cost of a Viki Subscription. Yes. I said what I said, even though it seems like I’m exaggerating. Theirs is a relationship based on rock-solid trust and mutual understanding. Starting from arguing over who is 1 and who is 0, simply based on a toxic masculinity dispute, these two men journey through stormy tides that put their love for each other to the test. They go through all the tough phases of discovering their queerness for each other and finally decide to communicate, confess and reconcile. This kick-starts a beautiful voyage for ChengRen, where they show us the importance of sacrifice, communication and patience. What was once a dispute regarding positions, now became a discussion regarding positions and finally to the point of “Positions don’t even matter as long as we have each other”. If that isn’t the best upgrade ever, I don’t know what is.
Hurry up and get your copies of ChengRen’s Exclusive Cupid Crash Course on Viki now.
Teh and Oh-Aew, ITSAU & IPYTM
Teh-Oh’s story is as close as it can get to a “realistic” adolescent queer relationship in Thai BL Industry. It isn’t the typical boring and rather annoying trope of two handsome “straight” leads from the engineering department, all of a sudden turning gay exclusively for each other – “Oh I don’t like boys, I just like him”. Yeah Jerome, we heard your joke. I’m laughing rainbows now. It’s ridiculous really. Ask the gays; they’ll tell you. ITSAY and IPYTM, through Teh-Oh’s tempestuous story of love will fill the voids left in our hearts by Jerome’s depressing sense of humor.
Handsome, cute and playful, Oh Aew is a young queer boy who has a history of fallout with his then-best friend Teh. Following their reunion at a cram school, they rekindle their friendship as they continually spend time in each other’s’ company. Teh, as opposed to Oh, is not as carefree and honest about his feelings, whatsoever they may be. The story revolves around an adolescent Teh, discovering his growing affections for his best-friend, who happens to be a man. This gay awakening is too overwhelming for this high school boy, who struggles to come to terms with his queerness; constantly grappling to veil it from his family and friends, the consequences of which put him as well as poor Oh Aew through living hell.
In the end however, they talk out their differences, as Teh comes clean about his sexuality to his brother, which ultimately gives him the courage to set the record straight (maybe not all that straight) with OhAew.
For those who haven’t allowed themselves the cost-free luxury of watching the second season of ITSAY, thou be warned, for grave spoilers await thee in the paragraphs ahead.
What I love most about IPYTM is that they made sure Teh cheated on Oh with a man, and not a woman, as though to re-inforce the point that BL characters can be BI! Hear that? Yeah that’s Teh singing “The Bisexual Anthem” – “I’m bi, I’m bi, I like ‘em both, I got pride…”. I know this isn’t even what you came to read in this feature but I had to get that out of my system.
Coming back to their relationship. Yes. Teh may be hated and chased to the depths of hell (may not be a good idea because Montero is bliss for the boys) by many. But he is what a realistic representation of a confused man in a relationship is. At least he stayed true to his feelings this time. He felt what he felt and acted on it; but he forgot the key component of a healthy relationship – open communication with his partner. And this time around, his insecurities troubled him a great deal too. None of this justifies the way he acted, however, what the character went through was a testament to the realism depicted in their relationship.
The ending was wholesome, highlighting the importance of a second chance and perseverance. Teh and Oh Aew never entirely gave up on each other. Anyone could tell they held lingering feelings for each other. I have written about the introspection part in detail in a previous Sunday feature.
That being said, I hope other BL production houses would follow suit with Nadao Music and give the world better, realistic and relatable BL’s instead of churning out dull, banal storylines stuffed with monotonous, one-dimensional fujoshi fantasy tropes. And that’s a very distasteful stuffing; believe me.
Honorable Mentions (Because my assignments said “No More”)
☆ Dean-Pharm – Mainly because I’m Thithiwhipped for my boy Ohm. But that aside, I loved the fact that these two had no doubts about their feelings for each other. No unnecessary gay panicking or confusions. I loved that Pharm was a cutie who loved being taken under Dean’s wing and how Dean loved doing that for Pharm. They had their own troubles and issues to deal with. But there were thankfully no misunderstandings regarding women or other men, which gave their storyline more room for problems of greater severity. The philosophical dimensions to their love story and their undulating commitment towards each other, to the very end of the series had me marveling at the chemistry and depth of these two characters. Until We Meet Again was what first had me so spellbound and gaping about how much wider and multidimensional the scope of the BL genre could be made. And last but not least, let us all stand up for the national anthem of UWMA universe. *Cue soulful rendition of “P’Dean”*.
☆ DeYi – They had chemistry, depth and an enviable relationship. I love how they found in each other exactly what the other had been searching for their entire life. Shou Yi’s temperament and haughty nature fit in so well with Shi De’s calm, composed and patient disposition. And that’s exactly how Shi De found his way to Shou Yi’s heart and how Shou Yi was able to open the doors to Shi De.
☆ KongArthit – I honestly don’t know why SOTUS gets so much hate or even worse why it is so underrated. It is one of the most relatable and wholesome BL series I’ve ever seen. And I love Kongpope’s and Arthit’s relationship too. The one time I didn’t hate the engineering uniform was in this series. It depicted the normal lives of a university couple – the struggles of college life, friendships, breakups, long-distance relationships, and so on. It does, undeniably, downplay the intimacy aspect in a relationship. But that’s fine because we can always watch TharnType or any other Mame series for that matter.
☆ TharnType – I hate their relationship, but they had laudable on-screen chemistry and a decent back-story. If I were looking for something raunchy to blow off some steam after a long weekend of tiring college/office work, I’d go for this series and this couple.
We will be back with an exciting new feature next weekend. So till then, keep watching this space as we bring you updates from the BL world!
(Pictures Courtesy- @pvnn93 (IG)