Popular BL culture, like most other genres, closely follows the same set of tropes that, though repetitive, are indeed endearing.
Audiences mostly prefer watching dramas belonging to a particular subtype which caters to their taste. As their tastebuds differ, so do the tropes. While some earnest fans prefer diverging into new boundaries, the eternal loyalists always remain faithful to their old tropes. Join us, our authors talk about their favorite BL tropes!
Krishna Naidu Favorites
Age Gap Romances
I’m certainly not a huge fan of the classic “Noona Romances” made popular by the Korean industry. And yet, I’m a sucker for age gap romances when it comes to the BL genre. The evident “Pull & Push” dynamics is definitely intriguing and worth exploring. As the older partner refrains from expressing his emotions; the hesitancy could be attributed to the cultural boundaries or the obvious differences in their ages. Unrequited love is indeed regretful, coupled with a generation gap that is detrimental to these love stories; age gap romances are unequivocally painful. And yet the yearning always draws my attention; watching the younger love interest, trying his level best to prove his worth, is interesting to watch. The recently concluded Japanese BL, “Old Fashioned Cupcake”, heavily banked on this premise and the lead couple led the narrative with their contrasting personalities. Currently on-air drama “Minotas Laundromat” is another example and the lead pair has a kind of sensual chemistry that is both enviable and incomparable!
Slow Burn Romance
Classic “Slow-burn romances” are my weakness. They can even be categorized into the “Enemies to Lover” trope. But rather than focusing on their enmity, I prefer to train my lens on the gradual development of these relationships. While “Enemies to Lovers” trope heavily leans on the couple’s contrasting personalities, their differing opinions and inevident clashes; the slow blossoming relationship certainly lends a distinct flavor to the drama. Bad Buddy, Not Me, Beloved Enemy, Beyond Evil, Gameboys, Hello Stranger, Hikaru No Go, Light on Me, HIStory3: Make Our Days Count, We Best Love Series and the ongoing Love Mechanics are just a few examples of this romantic trope, where the lead pair end up falling in love, despite their rivalry. Mostly these pairings are explosive and as such, their chemistry is always lit and on fire. There is something surreal about watching two rivals slowly untangle the knots in their hearts as they fall for each other!
Sadly, there are very few dramas in the BL genre that fall under this trope, despite the fact that crime thrillers are so exciting. I mostly prefer watching thrillers over romances; simply because the excitement & thrill surrounding the investigations trump over most things. Watching two partners work in proximity as they unravel secret codes and bring the suspect to justice is truly inspiring. The trope is different from most repetitive formulas and I prefer adding variety to my watchlist. If you have watched SCI Mystery, Under the Skin, Killer & Healer; then you will definitely understand my point of view. The romance element is toned down in these dramas, which gives more leeway to suspense and mystique; something that is sorely lacking in mainstream BL dramas.
Another trope that is inadequately represented in the BL genre. There are very few authors/production houses that prefer working in medical dramas. Despite this misnomer, BL culture seems to embracing this trope; which is quite evident from the fact that Sammon Scene and Dr. Patrick Rangsimant’s medical romances are being rapidly adapted into TV Series. Manner of Death and the recently concluded Triage have certainly spearheaded Sammon’s popularity and avid fans are looking forward to the upcoming sequel “Transplant” (where Max Nattapol & Tul Pakorn will return to reprise their roles). Tae Darvid received a lot of praise for his intense portrayal of Dr. Tin in Triage; thereby paving the way for upcoming medical adaptations. Dr. Rangsimant’s “My Ride The Series” was also well-received with more of his medical novels to be adapted in the future.
Friends to Lovers
As cliche as it might sound, “Friends to Lovers” is one of my favorite tropes. There is something immensely satisfying and soothing about watching two friends fall in love; as they reassess their feelings for each other and come to terms with their new relationship. It might sound fateful or even coincidental, but “Friends to Lovers” singularly brackets a lot of dramas in the BL industry. It’s the gradual progression in the relationship that makes this trope so riveting; close friends who are well-aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses slowly grow closer. They are bound to have disagreements but they are few and far between; as they understand each other well and have the patience to work past their differences. There is nothing explosive about their chemistry. They might seem like plain “Vanilla” and yet this trope is entirely compelling. Ben×Jim, I Told The Sunset About You, Cherry Blossom After Winter, Kamisama no Ekohiiki, Plus Minus, HIStory 4: Close to You, Cupid’s Last Wish are some of the interesting choices in this category!
Comedy as a trope isn’t essentially duplicated in the BL genre. As such, we have very few dramas that strike a perfect balance between romance & comedy. Romcoms are like a fresh breath of air, bringing along a lightness that is inherent to the said trope; they are rather an untethered form of entertainment to ease our worries and unwind. Love Stage, Rak Diao, Secret Crush On You, My Secret Love The Series are a few of my favorite romantic comedies. Their satirical style will definitely uplift your mood and make you smile!
Although the BL genre has very few Supernatural/Paranormal thrillers, they are totally enthralling. The CGI effects coupled with fantastic cinematography surely increase the oomph factor. Cherry Magic, Guardian, The Untamed, Cheat The Series are just a few examples of well-executed supernatural romances. The fantasy elements add a nice twist to the storyline, bringing a whole new overture to the table. They are a nice change of pace for audiences that bored with the stagnant tropes and want to try something new.
Friends to Lovers
My favorite trope is obviously the “Friends to Lovers”. It’s where two characters have been a friend since childhood and only in their later years experience attraction. Usually it’s one sided at first, brought on by some change to the status quo in the latter part of their lives, like a new student or new friend. The reason I adore this trope is because it forces the characters to change and grow as people. If well written and performed right, you can feel the moment their love becomes mutual.
Most hated tropes include bratty submissive characters who are usually the bottoms in the pairing. Why be so unpleasant but everyone loves you!
We will be back with an exciting new feature next weekend. Till then, keep watching this space as we bring you updates from the BL world!