As people finish watching all 50 episodes the popular Chinese BL drama, The Untamed, many are going right back to the beginning and starting over again. However, completely taken by the genre, many are also frantically searching for other shows that have similar content and themes. Fortunately, there is a lot of great content to be consumed.
The term BL, or ‘boys love’, originated in Japan. In recent years the genre has spread like wildfire throughout all of Asia. Taiwan & Thailand, in particular, are doing a great job of creating provocative content that explores a variety of LGBTQ themes and relationships.
It’s a good time to be a BL drama stan. As the genre gains more popularity around the world, budgets for these type of shows are increasing & therefore the quality of the content is also rapidly improving. There are many shows available for viewing on a variety of different platforms for people not in Asian countries.
Come with us as we unpack 5 of the most popular BL dramas people are binging right now.
This series debuted in China in January of 2016. Three episodes were released each week until Chinese authorities banned it because of its LGBTQ content. The show was removed from all streaming services in China just three episodes from the finale.
Upon its release, the show was an instant hit. In China alone, the show got approximately 10 million views within the first 48 hours. However, after removing it from all Chinese streaming services, the second season has been permanently canceled & the two lead actors have been banned from appearing together on screen in the future.
So what’s all the fuss about? When Bai Lou Yin (Xu Weizhou) turns sixteen years old, his mother marries a high ranking military officer and they move into his home. Enter Gu Hai (Huang Jingyu). Also a teen & happens to be in the same class as Bai Lou Yin at school, Gu Hai has a bad attitude and a grudge against his father.
While it takes some time, and some help from their classmates, the boys grow closer and feelings ensue. Although they are not blood related, it is a little on the nose as they are step brothers. Since they didn’t grow up together though, it seems that this is a non-issue for the millions of fans of this show.
While mainland China still has no access to the show, everyone else around the world can view all the episodes on Viki here.
Dark Blue and Moonlight
Young & successful marketing director, Yan Fei (Ting Yun Wang) has a heated encounter with art student Hai Qing (Aric Chen) in the bathroom of the local swimming pool. Before departing, Yan Fei puts his number into Hai Qing’s phone, but in a freak accident the phone ends up in the pool & his number is lost.
There is quite a passage of time before they happen to run into each other again. By then, both men are in relationships with other people. Yan Fei actually lives with his long term boyfriend, Jimmy (Charles Lin), while Hai Qing is happily exploring a new relationship with Chen Ping Jun (Ting Xuan Huang).
As soon as they find each other again, Yan Fei and Hai Qing start dating, but neither of them makes any immediate attempts to break up with their respective boyfriends. Hai Qing struggles with himself quite a bit because he has feelings for both men. Eventually though, a choice is made.
Apart from the chemistry between the two leads, the duality of Yan Fei’s character is what makes this show so interesting. He is both cocky & arrogant, yet incredibly loving & protective of Hai Qing. His complexity will draw you in.
Like many of the Taiwanese BL dramas, the ending of Dark Blue and Moonlight will leave your jaw hanging wide open, wanting more.
All episodes are subtitled and can be found on youtube here.
History 2: Crossing the line
In this Taiwanese drama, there are two storylines playing out concurrently. First, Wang Zen Wen (Nick Yang) has a crush on his older step brother, Wang Zhen Wu (Patrick Shih). Although not related by blood, it’s socially unacceptable for two individuals in their situation to become romantically involved. Thus, their arc revolves around the repression of their feelings for one another.
Qiu Zi Xuan (Zach Lu) is a very talented volleyball player. Plagued by injuries, he had to abandon his dreams to play professionally, but he still involves himself with volleyball related things at school. At training one day, he meets Hsia Yu Hao (Fandy Fan), who is hot tempered and easily angered. Regardless of his temper Qiu Zi Xuan sees something in Hsia Yu Hao and wants to help him grow and succeed.
This show has been praised for its rich plotlines. While fans are certainly showing up for the romance factor, they’re staying for the complex & funny characters. The chemistry between all the actors is totally on point and there are no moments of on screen awkwardness that seems to appear in many other BL dramas.
You can watch all episodes of HIStory 2: Crossing the Line subtitled on youtube here.
History 3: Trapped
In yet another Taiwanese drama, dedicated police officer Meng Shao Fei (Jake Hsu) has spent the last four years investigating a gang related shooting that left a police officer and prominent gang leader dead. His focus is Tang Yi (Chris Wu), who is the sole survivor of the shooting and heir to the throne of the gang.
Meng Shao Fei knows that Tang Yi is involved somehow but he can’t prove a thing. Meng Shao Fei’s relentless investigation of Tang Yi causes their paths to cross frequently. After some time, Meng Shao Fei realizes that his obsession with Tang Yi might not just be about solving the case.
It’s a slow burn, and it takes 7 out of 12 episodes to get this relationship off the ground. They’re completely surrounded by complications because of their police officer/gangster dynamic but they are completely unable to stay away from each other.
Their relationship is healthy: they communicate, they support each other, and they encourage the other to be better and do the right thing. The ending, like with so many of the Taiwanese BL dramas, will leave you hoping the creators of this show are planning a second season.
You can stream all 12 episodes for free with English subtitles here.
TharnType: The Series
This is a Thai BL drama based off a popular book series written by Mame. Type (Gulf Kanawut Traipipattanapong) and Tharn (Mew Suppasit Jongcheveevat) are both college freshmen who happen to be sharing a dorm room together. Tharn is openly gay and when Type finds out, he completely freaks out.
Type spews his homophobia all over Tharn for a couple of episodes before breaking down and telling Tharn the reason for his hatred: when he was younger, he was molested by a man. This confession seems to break down Type’s wall & he reigns in the hostility towards Tharn. In fact, although he’s fighting it, it’s clear that Type actually has feelings for Tharn.
The development of their relationship is both lovely and problematic at the same time. Type is very hot-headed and aggressive. Type hits Tharn a couple of times throughout the series and he is constantly laying hands on him, grabbing at Tharn’s shirt collar frequently. Tharn, fraught with abandonment issues, allows it to happen.
Yet, as Type works out his internalized homophobia, the bond the boys develop & the attachment they have to each other is beautiful. Tharn is completely in love with Type & waits patiently while Type works through his issues.
The last episode of the series is scheduled to air in Thailand on January 6. The official TharnType twitter account will upload episode 12 with English subtitles the moment the episode finishes airing in Thailand. The links to all previous episodes can be found here.
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Want to find out even more about boy love drama favorite TharnType: The Series? Here’s our article on why you should watch this addictive series.