In the past couple of years, the popularity of dramas originating in eastern countries has exponentially increased. More and more fans are constantly searching for intricate and entertaining story lines that ought to take them into an alternative universe in which they merge with the characters as one and completely revel in the story.
Thankfully, dramas (or soap operas) aim to reach that exact objective. Considering the substantial increase of requests for more LGBTQ+ content, and specifically BL (Boys’ Love), the number of companies including a focus on queer character has grown much larger. Popular KPOP groups and celebrities like ACE have also teamed up with television companies to bring light to this new and unique genre. Considering this expansion, and to avoid anyone feeling overwhelmed, here is a list that we compiled with the best BL dramas to binge-watch during Pride Month.
10. I Told The Sunset About You
Released in 2020, I Told The Sunset About You quickly became extremely popular among BL fans and others alike. Its eclectic production combined with unique dialogue and great acting has lured people into this coming-of-age drama. Following the story of Teh and Oh-Aew from childhood friends to high school enemies, this drama includes two ambitious main characters aiming to become actors, butting heads along the way.
Counting 2 seasons — the second season entitled I Promised You The Moon — a documentary, and original music videos and songs, the Thai drama got a fantastic reception and was incredibly acclaimed for its cinematography, screenwriting, and performance.
9. We Best Love: No.1 For You
Produced and shot in Taiwan, We Best Love aired in 2021 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Needing a well-deserved break, fans quickly turned to this Taiwanese drama for comfort and were definitely not disappointed. Not usually considered to be the common clichéd romance, especially considering the first season’s cliffhanger in We Best Love, we get to know Zhou Shu Yi, a college student that always ends up in second place to his arch-enemy, Gao Shi De.
From frenemies to lovers, to strangers, this story continues its incredibly aesthetically pleasing cinematography and fantastic acting in season 2 (entitled Mr. 2nd), where the audience meets a more mature side of the main characters. Season 3 is currently in the works, with a possible focus on a few loved side characters.
8. HIStory 3: Trapped
Part of the HIStory web series, in which each season gets a new story line within the same universe as previous stories, Trapped is the 6th installment within the saga. Just like its counterparts, Trapped is a Taiwanese drama, with an incredibly good budget that is evident through the gorgeous cinematography and the top-tier casting.
This story has a much more mature story line, considering the main characters are enemies by the book: a policeman and a crime lord. Pursuing themes involving crime, revenge, death, and raw and passionate love stories, this drama is absolutely perfect for a kick of adrenaline alongside the much-adored trope of enemies to lovers.
7. Not Me
This time involving university students, Not Me is a drama that comprises revenge, crime, and a lot of bureaucratic controversies as a metaphorical form of societal criticism in Thailand. An exciting and intense story involving two twin brothers and their apolitical friends who are trying to overthrow a powerful drug lord who monopolizes the workforce, Not Me aired in 2021 but quickly became one of the most anticipated dramas of 2021.
Considering the casting includes Off and Gun, two popular names in the BL scene who have preciously co-starred in Theory of Love, the intricate plot and complex story lines were expected to make up for an overall incredibly good watch.
6. Semantic Error
South Korea is known for its dramas surely, but only recently have they jumped on the BL train, releasing quite a handful of BL dramas. In this case, Semantic Error just came out earlier this year, but as per the usual K-drama scene, it is absolutely outstanding. Adapted from the Korean manhwa by the same name, Semantic Error is a fun watch, showing the life of two university students whose friendship (and later on, romance) is off to a rocky start.
Showing what may be a neurodivergent main character studying computational engineering who is obsessed with structure, and a chaotic yet talented graphic designer, the two of them decide to join forces and create a video game. Funny, very cute, and with a great cast, Semantic Error is an 8 episode drama, thus making for a very quick watch.
5. Manner of Death
Thai BL Dramas very often tend to take the form of school-life-related plots, and that might get repetitive as time goes by, but every so often a drama that completely shifts the narrative comes by, and in 2020 it was Manner of Death’s turn. Protagonized by Max and Tul, two famous BL actors previously known for Together With Me, this drama involves quite a complex backstory that is slowly disclosed as the episodes go by.
Full of twists and turns, Manner of Death shows the life of Dr. Bunnakit (Tul), a forensic doctor who rules out the death of a woman by suicide. All the clues rule out Tan (Max) as the probable murderer, while he denies any involvement and teams up with Bunnakit to find the real culprit. Passion, lust, betrayal, and intensity characterize this romance thriller.
4. Bad Buddy
Much lighter when it comes to thematics, Bad Buddy is a 2021 Thai drama that completely took over the internet upon its release. Passing down the rivalry from their families almost as a relic heirloom, Bad Buddy introduces the story of Pran and Pat, two children and later on, teenagers, who are in a constant state of rivalry. Whether it is about grades, achievements, or even appearance, these two boys are constantly quarreling and trying to outshine each other.
While trying to end their family’s brawl, the two decide to become friends, to the point where they start developing feelings for one another. In this fun drama, one gets to know Nanon and Ohm as the main actors who completely took over the heart of any fan due to their simple and subtle acting that just tugs at our heartstrings just right.
3. HIStory 3: Make Our Days Count
As the 7th drama of the HIStory web series, Make Our Days Count is a Taiwanese coming-of-age drama from 2019. From the same universe as HIStory 3: Trapped, this story shows a completely different side of the same city. In Make Our Days Count we get to know Xiang Hao Ting and Yu Xi Gu, two high school students who are nothing alike.
On one hand, Hao Ting disobeys the teachers and leads a carefree lifestyle, surrounded by love from his peers and family, on the other hand, there is Xi Gu, an orphan who is trying to make ends meet and trying his best to support himself while remaining a top student. The two sides of the same coin end up going from strangers to lovers, and at times fate isn’t kind, even for young people. In a heartbreaking yet beautiful and comedic drama, everyone will be able to find puppy love, comfort, and solace in these characters.
While it is still airing, KinnPorsche is probably the one drama that will end up dethroning everyone’s number one BL pick. In this action-filled story, Kinn and Porsche end up getting involved when Kinn, the son of a Mafia boss, is trying to flee from an enemy and meets Porsche, a waiter who offers to become his bodyguard. Going from a seemingly safe and steady job at a bar, Porsche now finds himself in a completely unorthodox and borderline violent job that puts his life at stake.
This is possibly one of the most explicit BL dramas to have come out, showing unequivocally brutal moments as well as explicitly lustful situations. Although it still only aired about half of the season, KinnPorsche is getting quite the reception online, many people even commenting that it will surely become the BL drama to bring in new fans into the BL group, and it will turn into the primary representative for BL as a genre.
At some point or another, everyone’s heard of the staple in BL dramas: Tharntype. Holding two of the most coveted actors in Thailand, Tharntype has the pleasure to have Mew and Gulf as its main actors, portraying Tharn and Type, respectively. Showing an intense rivalry between these two college roommates, Tharntype shows a raw and intense struggle with sexual identity which is a theme that isn’t as thoroughly explored in other dramas.
Type is a homophobic jock who is sharing a college dorm with a sexually ambiguous musician, Tharn. The popularity of this drama is very likely due to the actors’ chemistry, as well as their lustful scenes, leading to Tharntype being a symbolic emblem in the BL genre. With two seasons, two special episodes, and original songs, Tharntype is the ideal drama for everyone aiming to become attached to perfectly imperfect characters who are just trying to find their own place in an ungrateful world.
Although very niche and unique, BL and GL (Girls’ Love) are two genres that are slowly but surely expanding and opening their wings in the television scene. With more and more people getting access to eastern content on the internet, one can surely expect Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea to keep trying to bring more inclusivity and diversity to their entertainment content.