Love or leave them, there is no denying that the tropes seen most often in BL dramas/film have carved out a place for themselves, even as some have transitioned out over the years. And with that in mind, we at the BLXpress are diving into our favorite dramatic clichés. Join us as we each share the tropes we love the most.
For those who’ve read my drama/film breakdowns, it’s probably no secret that the way to my heart often involves a little pain. The same goes for tropes. The more angsty a trope is and the more push and pull a drama has, the more deeply invested I tend to become. And a drama gets bonus points if it uses multiple favorite tropes in the series. So, without further ado, here are my top three favorite angsty tropes.
While I love a good friends-to-lovers or ‘we’re fated to be together’ romance, I’m a true softie for the rivals. The enemies-to-lovers trope isn’t new to any drama/film, gay or not, and there’s a reason it leaves an impression. Hate, like love, requires a lot of emotion and a ton of fire. The push and pull dynamic in rival-to-lover stories create an electric, passionate tension that’s hard to look away from. While real-life enemy stories may prove more toxic than romantic, the heated proximity on film often builds toward an explosive romantic ending that makes this trope a favorite for many. And it’s become prevalent recently. A few of my favorite dramas/films employing this dramatic device are KinnPorsche the series (Thailand), I Told Sunset About You (Thailand), Not Me (Thailand), Semantic Error (South Korea), Light On Me (South Korea), History 3 Trapped (Taiwan), We Best Love series (Taiwan), The Untamed (China), and KeixYaku (Japan).
Nothing says pain like being in love with someone who doesn’t love you. Or who loves you, but you’re too caught up in your one-sided feelings to see. And I live for this pain. Unrequited feelings are an easy trope to fall in love with because everyone has experienced it at least once. From grade school crushes to secretly admiring someone you know, the simple heart-pounding anticipation a person gets from seeing someone they’re attracted to is just as electrifying on-screen as it is in real life. A few of my favorite dramas that utilize this theme are My Beautiful Man (Japan), Cherry Magic (Japan), Old-Fashioned Cupcake (Japan), Theory of Love (Thailand), Light On Me (South Korea), We Best Love (Taiwan), KinnPorsche the series (KimChay, Thailand), and My Engineer (Thailand).
Fated to Love You/Forced Proximity
Although these two tropes stand independently, they also tend to be combined in many dramas. Because of this, I’m listing them together. Besides, fate often has a way of forcing two people into the same vicinity, intentionally or unintentionally. And so, while some of my favorite proximity storylines don’t include a fated-to-love-you theme, many do.
Fateful storylines are trickier for me. Because I prefer a random chance meeting over the idea that love is predestined, a fateful love has to be done well and filled with a genuinely emotional undertone to capture my attention. And the following dramas manage it for me: Until We Meet Again (Thailand), KinnPorsche the series (Thailand), He’s Coming to Me (Thailand), A Tale of A Thousand Stars (Thailand), HIS (Japan), Life Love on the Line (Japan), Kieta Hatsukoi/My Love Mix-Up (Japan), Given (Japan), and Dear Doctor I’m Coming For Soul (Thailand).
I wonder what you call ‘older man working with a younger person together to solve crime, fighting all along the way’ as a trope.
Jokes aside, there are quite a few tropes that I’m fond of, and I’m sure many people relate to them as well. Of course, they’re common to other genres but I really do love them in a good BL.
Enemies to Lovers
This is a trope that I’d be invested in, no matter the genre. There’s something about the journey of the characters, their growth, and their changing relationships with themselves as well as with their love interests that leave me wanting more of them in media. And BL is no exception. Beyond Evil (the series I’d mentioned earlier) would, without a doubt, fit into this category (yes, I’m considering BL-adjacent media, too). A few of my favourite examples include Semantic Error, Not Me, A Tale of Thousand Stars, Bad Buddy, To My Star and HIStory 3: Trapped. Also, a shoutout to NuerSyn (TutorYim) from Cutie Pie because they kept me watching the series more than anything else. Plus, I’d love to mention The Gifted for giving us the gift of NaMon (Nanon and Chimon) for making this BL-adjacent series even more so with their chemistry and constant bickering.
Best Friends to Lovers
This trope is sometimes a slow-burn romance and it might irritate the life out of viewers. However, it is a trope in which chemistry is generally established from the get-go. There’s something about the growth of the characters and the way they realise that they’re probably not just friends anymore that makes me fall more for these kinds of stories. Some examples of this are Theory of Love (I’d still like to smack Khai), Enchanté, Plus and Minus, Don’t Say No, (to a certain extent) and A First Love Story.
There’s really nothing to say except that it’s a cute trope and I just can’t stop gushing over the way the look when they stare into each other’s eyes. They’re at the ‘perfect’ height for hugs and kisses on the head, and I think there are times when that’s all it takes for me to get invested in a series. A few examples of this are Why R U, Close Friends (the Mii2 episode), Cherry Blossoms After Winter, Semantic Error (because Park Seoham is huge), Sasaki to Miyano (they’re terribly cute and I just can’t take it anymore with them).
Of course, this article would be incomplete without the mention of the ‘notice me senpai’ trope. It’s everywhere, and it’s my jam. It’s also commemorative of my first Thai BL i.e. SOTUS the Series, and despite the powerplay, I can’t get enough of it. There are quite a few wholesome BLs that I treasure which feature this trope. Some of my favourites include My Pistachio, Semantic Error, Sasaki to Miyano and En of Love: Tossara (because they were cute and the story had more potential which, unfortunately, went unrealised). Also Beyond Evil would somehow fit in here, too (because I say so).
We will be back next week with the second edition of this feature. So till then, keep watching this space as we bring you more updates from the Asian BL World!