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The Rise Of BL Television Series Across Southeast Asia

The Rise Of BL Television Series Across Southeast Asia

2gether: The Series

Thanks to online streaming services like Viu, Netflix and the like, Asian TV shows such as anime and Korean dramas are making waves worldwide. There is, however, another media trend that is gaining popularity in recent years: Boy’s Love (BL).

Originated from the ’70s in Japan, BL novels and mangas involve homoerotic relationships between male characters. According to Kristine Michelle Santos, an Assistant Professor from Ateneo de Manila, Philippines, says that this genre was born “mostly out of personal interest by young female creators.” In using man’s body, these creators have more freedom to express their creativity and also because men had more liberties than women back then.

Over time, as fanbase grew in the ‘90s, many novels and manga comics picked up steam outside of Japan (predominantly Thailand, the Philippines, Taiwan and Korea) and were translated into other languages. Particularly in Thailand, unofficial translations of these novels are commonly sold along the streets of Bangkok, fueling a new subculture into the younger generation, which eventually gained a place on the small screen.

In Thailand, popular titles over the recent years include such as Love By Chance, TharnType and the currently popular, 2gether: The Series. GMMTV, the production company of 2gether: The Series reported that the series has garnered more than 100 million views on its local streaming platform by 19 April — that’s apart from views from Youtube and its TV channel. 

Still cuts from 2gether: The Series EP 8

A common theme underlying these series is a college love story having a mix of romance, drama, tension and tear-jerking moments. In an interview with i-D, BL film director Aam Anusorn, who has directed series such as 2moons2 and Present Perfect, said that the audience are typically straight women who are drawn to the sensitive side of men that are not seen in everyday life.

Fans were hooked on these series because of the heart-fluttering moments that are reminiscent of when one first falls in love. These experiences are universal regardless of the sexual orientation of a person. And because of this burgeoning phenomenon, BL series across Asia have sparked conversations regarding the social inequalities in the region and eventually, these series hope to normalise queer culture and increase the representation of LGBTQ+ members.

Meanwhile, here are some noteworthy teasers of BL series across Asia, so you can have a sneak peek before delving into this fascinating BL universe:

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HIStory2: Crossing The Line

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