How do you derive a fixed formula for an exceptional drama- sublime storytelling, excellent cinematography or phenomenal actors?
While these conjugates are important, there is a very thin line separating quality content from sub-par works. Dramas often reflect the creative minds and mentality of the Directors. Their tendency to maneuver an actor’s emotions, keeping them in line with the storyline, is praiseworthy. While it is a director’s job to be in charge, the show would be abysmal if the actor’s execution was faulty. As such, a good drama is an amalgamation of perceptible direction and scintillating acting talents. In today’s feature, we will be sharing the artworks of some of the best creative minds in the Asian BL Industry. The poll results were consistent, and we are delighted to announce the deserving winners. So without further ado, let’s dig into the “Best BL Drama” in 2021!
10) HIStory4: Close to You
Fraught by controversies, the fourth installment of the popular HIStory franchise received mixed reactions and reviews. While it started on a slow slope, the fandom was split into two fractions because of the “Stepbrother and Non consensual Sex” plot twist. The indisputable chemistry between the main leads, Xiao Li Cheng (Charles Tu) and Teng MuRen (Anson Chen) remains the saving grace; which saved this ship from sinking to abyss. The show did touch on important societal issues while portraying the boundaries of “Healthy Relationships”. The major drawback however, were the complexities faced by the second lead couple, Ye Xing Si (An Jun Peng) and Fu Yongjie’s (Lin Chia Wei) in their budding romance. The script could have been better, because the actors had to work overtime to hide the viable flaws. If you can overlook the various roadblocks hammering the progress in the storytelling, then this show is definitely a worthwhile watch. Noticeably deviant, yet addictive!
9) Lovely Writer The Series
I’m actually surprised by the low ratings received by this phenomenal drama. Starring Kao Noppakao and rookie actor Up Poompat, Lovely Writer dealt a heavy blow to major issues plaguing the BL industry. While the first half focused on projecting the viable stereotypes in the entertainment world; the remaining episodes were relegated to developing the romance between our invariable couple. The script had a veritable presence, as the writer touched base on the most important problems faced by the LGBTQ community. It was both reckoning and inspiring. The true strength of a brilliant script lies in its flawless execution. In retrospect, Lovely Writer truly had all the makings for a sensational drama!
8) We Best Love: Fighting Mr. 2nd (2021)
The popular franchise’s sequel returned to a major trepidation, as it focused on the tumultuous reconciliation of main leads Gao Shi De (Sam Lin) & Zhou Shu Yi (Yu). While the show’s popularity is majorly attributed to the sensual chemistry between Sam Lin and Yu, the storytelling is polished; as resplendent in Taiwanese BL dramas. The drama also won accolades for portraying the supporting couple, Yu Zhen Xuan and Pei Shou Yi’s diffident relationship in a positive light. While the dreaded assault scene between Shi De and Shou Yi did raise white flags, the actors must be applauded for depicting the turmoil faced by their individual characters. It was heartbreaking, painful and as such, their reconciliation was ten times sweeter and meaningful. The second season ended on a positive note and the social media is rife with speculations regarding the upcoming third season!
7) We Best Love: No. 1 For You
This show that skyrocketed actors Sam Lin and Yu’s popularity and cemented their position as formidable actors; turning them into global icons. The iconic couple led this trailblazer romance with a distinct honesty and conviction that is incomparable. Focusing on the “Enemies to Lovers” trope, No. 1 For You became famous because of the believable chemistry between the main actors and the relatable storyline. The angsty romance evoked worldwide attention, as SamYu established base as the one of the most well-known BL couples in the Taiwanese industry. While Sam Lin portrayed Gao Shi De’s vulnerability with utter honesty; Yu’s depiction of Zhou Shu Yi was edgy and praiseworthy. The style of filmmaking is unfailingly different and astounding. A worthwhile experience, indeed!
6) Light on Me
Led by a phenomenal cast, this Korean BL was an unexpected celebration of freedom and self retrospection. The show majorly focused on the blossoming love triangle between main leads, Woo Tae Kyung (Lee Sae On), Noh Shin Woo (Kang Yoo Seok) and Shin Da On (Choe Chan Yi), while resolving age old adages that affect the LGBTQ community. Light On Me was truly daring as well as unconventional; the script betrayed maturity while the actors delivered an exceptional performance that deserves applause. Each character has a distinctive storyline, which was fraught with personal pursuits and self-reflection. The journey that led to the conclusion of this romance reflects the insecurities, fears and confusion faced by the main leads as they grow stronger and accept their flaws as well as strengths. This show also established Go Woo Jin’s supremacy as the best supporting lead ever. His “Nam Goong Shi Woon” will forever be etched into the minds of the audiences for his honesty and unrepentant attitude.
5) Kieta Hatsukoi
Kieta Hatsukoi is one of those few BL romances that led the narrative with its compelling storytelling, rather than relying on overtly sexual content. While most Japanese BL’s are fraught with highly sensitized content, Kieta Hatsukoi managed to break through the mold and bear the markings of a classic romantic comedy. While Aoki and Ida (Michieda Shunsuke and Meguro Ren) redefined slow burn romances, best friends Hashimoto and Akkun championed their cause and worked endlessly to bring them together. The true strength of an absorbing story lies in the script and it’s ensuing execution. As such, this adaptation certainly tops the chart; there is no doubt about it. Michieda and Meguro make a handsome pair and have a natural chemistry that shines through. Kieta Hatsukoi is one of those beautiful romances that is heartwarming and intriguingly memorable!
4) To My Star
Another “Enemies to Lovers” trope that won worldwide popularity because of the incandescent chemistry between main leads, Son Woo Hyun and Kim Kang Min. Initially slow paced, To My Star banked on the unhinged romance between two characters that are polar opposites. The raw emotions coupled with their personality clashes evoked intrigue and bred excitement. Son Woo Hyun and Kim Kang Min are easily one of the most popular BL couples in the fanatic Korean industry. Currently shooting for the sequel, this is the first time in the history of Korean BL’s, that a franchise was alloted a second season. The first season was focused on the complicated romance between main characters Kang Seo Joon and Chef Han Ji Woo. Son Woo Hyun and Kim Kang Min broke through the curse plaguing the conservative Korean industry, with their combustible camaraderie. As such, we are totally looking forward to the premiere of Season Two in 2022. Let’s wait to watch them set the screens on fire!
3) Word of Honor
A Chinese BL that was true to its original intent, Word of Honor bears reconnaissance because of its revolutionary script and daring casting. Zhou Zi Shu (Zhang Zhe Han) and Wen Ke Xing (Simon Gong) were literally dubbed as “Soulmates”. An observation that will bear no arguments, as the show smashed “Chinese Censorship Rules” into smithereens. Zhang Zhe Han and Simon Gong make a formidable pair and their incredible performances are praiseworthy. The brilliance of this adaptation lies in the liberties afforded to the script. The scriptwriter remained true to the original novel, while weaving a delectable romance that was both heartbreaking and enviable. I’m not sure if we will get such quality adaptations in future (considering Chinese Government’s current strict directives). So, Word of Honor is pretty much the end of a foregone era, which may or may not return.
2) A Tale of Thousand Stars
Most GMMTV adaptations are lackluster or unoriginal, so imagine my surprise when “A Tale of Thousand Stars” premiered. Director Backaof Noppharnach has managed to pack a punch with this rustic romance. It bears resemblance to fairytales that remind you of old charms and the village setting was resplendent in folklore magic. Earth Pirapat and Mix Sahaphap’s pairing was refreshing and their characterization daringly honest. Tian and Phupha’s romance rewrote history as this show spearheaded EarthMix’s popularity in the right direction. Director Backaof’s shows are characterized by his distinctive style of filmmaking, and ATOTS was no different. Tian’s journey of self-reflection and acceptance was soul wrenching, as was his subtle romance with the grumpy Park Ranger, Phupha. Truly a love story written in the stars!
1) Bad Buddy The Series
The show should come with a disclaimer “Look No Further”. After winning the “Best BL Couple” award, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Another Backaof Noppharnach production, Bad Buddy The Series is currently the numero uno drama in terms of its notable storytelling and formidable casting. While main leads, Ohm Pawat and Nanon Korapat are winning hearts with their eclectic portrayal of Pat & Pran, the show is addressing and debunking issues afflicting the LGBTQ community. There are lessons to be learned in every Backaof directive and Bad Buddy follows through the promise. The delicious chemistry between Ohm and Nanon is just the cherry on the top. While the main characters are enchanting, the supporting cast is equally compelling. I’m pretty sure there is a separate faction of the fandom cheering on the sweet “InkPa” romance. Artistic, awe- inspiring and exemplary!
We will back with the results of the survey for the “Best BL Actors”, so keep watching this space for future updates!