Since we are always talking about our favorites, today’s feature would be focusing on the non favorites; dramas that left us shaking our heads in disbelief or shock. Mostly quantity precedes quality in the Boys’ Love world and there is no escaping the fact that most dramas seem lacking in terms of storytelling or casting. Join us, as our authors take stock of shows that were a major disappointment.
I’m sure many people may disagree with my choices, but I’m way beyond worrying about that. I have my reasons for being disappointed in them, and some of you may relate to that (or maybe not).
My Gear and Your Gown (2020)
While the rest of the world was tired of Engineering BLs, I finally had the time to binge Thai BL after a long hiatus post-Sotus era, starting from BrightWin’s 2gether the Series (2020). After sitting through every BL I could watch in a month (thanks to Thomas Baudinette’s presentations on them), I came across the trailer for My Gear and Your Gown and had high hopes for it because GMMTV had already given us some brilliant BLs. Sadly, this one wasn’t up to the mark for several reasons, one being a poorly-written plot. Marc’s and Pawin’s characters seemed lukewarm, and I’m glad they’ve gotten to emote better in their newer roles, even if they are part of the supporting cast.
The Effect (2019)
This was another one I found during my Thai BL binge month, and I kid you not when I say I smacked myself silly for not learning a lesson after watching Night Flight. I rushed into this miniseries without trying to find out what it was about. I can’t believe it baited me either—a show with a really cutesy first episode soon turned so ugly that I couldn’t watch BLs for days. The noncon was the least of my problems, and I wish I had seen some content warning to prepare myself (or, even better, drop the series before it took a toll on my mental health).
Tonhon Chonlatee (2020)
Another series I waited for, this one turned out to be one of the biggest disappointments of 2020 (to me, at least). For some reason, I loved the trailer. I suspect it was the childhood friends trope, and I’m a sucker for those. Even though the first episode spelled trouble (what even was that?) I decided to go on. In the process, I lost more brain cells than I could afford. What frustrated me was how random reasons were used to justify Ton’s behaviour, one that was rooted in toxic masculinity and deep queerphobia. I’m surprised that I sat through all the episodes, and that was mostly for Neo. Justice for the second lead all the way (I’m serious).
Cutie Pie the Series (2022)
Now this series was the one that had us fooled with its pilot trailer. After a long wait, I was disappointed to realise that Cutie Pie was not for me. There may have been quite a few conversations regarding queerness that were important, but I couldn’t help being annoyed with the first two couples. The only reason I made it to the last episode was because of Poppy and TutorYim (whose enemies-to-lovers subplot was my salvation).
HIStory 4: Close to You (2021)
I was here for Anson Chen and Charles Tu’s chemistry. That’s it.
I think I got more than what I’d bargained for. Many viewers may not have a problem with the dubcon/noncon, and that’s perfectly fine. However, I have to tell you that I was livid when I heard the kind of nonsensical reasoning that Fu Yong Jie for stalking and assaulting his stepbrother (it did not make any sense). What made things worse was how Ye Xing Si felt responsible for his younger stepbrother’s love towards him—as if his being gay was to blame. The internalized homophobia and terrible dialogues had me pulling out my hair after a point. I don’t think even Anson Chen’s god-tier beauty could salvage this series for me.
Although these were not the most disappointing ones, they came very close to being on this list for various reasons. I’m not interested in a fight, though, so I’d like to apologise in advance if your favourite is on this list:
Star & Sky (2022), although I was sort of prepared to be disappointed; HIStory 3: Make Our Days Count (2019), because Shi Gu did not deserve to die, Hao Ting did not deserve the sadness, and we certainly did not deserve the unnecessary angst; I Promised You the Moon (2021), because Teh is the most frustrating human being on this planet, and I was not really happy to see that he hadn’t changed in the least; Golden Blood (2021)—as someone who’s watched three different versions of the Malayalam movie Bodyguard, I’d like to say that rehashing the plot to create a Thai BL series was certainly not a smart decision.
When writing this I tried to focus on series that I’d been looking forward to, or went into expecting something more than what I got: in other words, dramas that left me thinking, quite literally, ‘I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed’. These are, of course, my personal opinions, so my measure of ‘disappointment’ will differ from those of others.
Cupid’s Last Wish
If you’ve read my review about this series, you’ll understand just how disappointed I was with it. The series had so much potential, it could have been so good and so fun, and yet failed to deliver on so many counts that it just left me feeling underwhelmed and longing for what could have been.
I loved the premise for this series, cliché though it was – rebellious young mafia heir and his bodyguard – it’s a set up for a million BL manga and I had hopes for some fun, sexy shenanigans and conflicts. What I got was, unfortunately mediocre, repetitive, and uninspired. Loved the side couple, though.
Star In My Mind
I started SIMM really enjoying it, mostly because Joong Archen fits that cold, popular college prince character so well, really delivers on the secret pining, and cries beautifully. But about halfway through the series, it completely seemed to lose the plot. I had no idea what even was happening with the characters and their motivations, and everyone seemed to go up several levels in annoying.
Countless Japanese BLs Before 2018
Yes, I’m counting this as a category, because it’s Japanese BL adaptations that turned me off live action BL adaptations altogether. Until 2019ish and a resurgence of interest in BL live actions (definitely because BLs from other countries started to get popular), J-BLs were for the most part, low budget, just okay in terms of acting, and featured some of the most awkward kisses ever put on film. One of the worst offenders for the purpose of this list is Same Difference (Docchi mo Docchi), adapted from the very funny manga of the same name but failing completely to translate to film.
We will be back next week with the third edition of this feature. So till then, keep watching this space as we bring you more updates from the Asian BL World!