Tagged Video

The Parasol Protectorate Series has been OPTIONED for Animation!

Posted by Gail Carriger

Hello Gentle Reader, this announcement officially hit the airways March 9, 2021. Nevertheless in case you missed it elsewhere, it is my very great pleasure to confirm that the Parasol Protectorate series has been optioned for animation by Frederator Studios (the people behind Castlevania and Adventure Time).

The official press release is here. Essentially, this is what is says (I edited it a bit and added oxford commas because you can’t take the writer out of an author):

WOW! Unlimited Media Strikes Deal to Develop New Animated Series Based on NY Times Best-selling Series Parasol Protectorate

Mystery and Paranormal Romance Set in Steampunk Victorian London

LOS ANGELES, March 09, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) ~ Frederator Studios (a WOW! Unlimited Media Inc. company), has acquired the rights to develop a new original animated series based on the New York Times best-selling, award-winning steampunk urban fantasy novel series, the Parasol Protectorate, by author Gail Carriger.

“As a massive fan of animation, I’m so excited and honored to have this series in their talented hands,” Carriger said. “I can’t wait to collaborate and see them work their story magic on Alexia and all her friends. I think it’s going to be ridiculously fun.”

With over a million copies in print, the Parasol Protectorate series (which includes the books Soulless, Changeless, Blameless, Heartless, and Timeless) has been translated into more than a dozen different languages and turned into graphic novels. It’s a New York Times, USA Today bestseller, with Kirkus praising the books by calling them “witty, engaging and fun.”

“The Parasol Protectorate is a wickedly fun, addictive, and refreshing paranormal adventure and will be an incredibly exciting and wonderful addition to the animation space,” says Frederator CEO, Michael Hirsh. The series will be executive produced by Gail Carriger, Michael Hirsh, and Kevin Kolde.

Set in an anachronistic Victorian London, the Parasol Protectorate series follows the exploits of Alexia Tarabotti, who finds herself caught in a mystery concerning London’s paranormal high society alongside the gorgeous Scottish werewolf, Lord Maccon.

About WOW!

WOW! is a leading animation-focused entertainment company that produces top-end content and builds brands and audiences on engaging media platforms. The company produces animation in its two established studios: Mainframe Studios in Vancouver and Frederator Studios in Los Angeles. The Company’s media offerings include Channel Frederator Network on YouTube, as well as WOW! branded programming on Crave, Canada’s premier streaming entertainment platform, owned by Bell Media. The Voting Shares are listed on the TSXV (TSXV: WOW) and the OTCQX Best Market (OTCQX: WOWMF).

About FREDERATOR

Founded in 1998, Frederator Studios is an Emmy-award winning animation studio with hits like Nickelodeon’s The Fairly OddParents, Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time, Netflix’s Castlevania and Bee and PuppyCat, which won Best Animated Series at the 2019 Ottawa International Animation Festival.

About GAIL GARRIGER

Carriger has over a dozen NYT bestsellers and starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus, and Romantic Times. Her debut, Soulless, made Audible’s Best list, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book, an IndieBound Notable, and a Locus Recommended Read. She has received the ALA’s Alex Award, the Prix Julia Verlanger, the Elbakin Award, Steampunk Chronicle’s Reader’s Choice Award, and a Starburner Award. She is best known for the Parasol Protectorate and Finishing School series.

Carriger is represented by Angela Cheng Caplan of Cheng Caplan Company, Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency, and attorney Wayne Alexander of Alexander, Lawrence, Frumes, & Labowitz, LLP.

Okay but what does that mean?

I’m going to talk about the nitty gritty and take any question you have on my April 2021 Live. But here’s me trying to anticipate and answer some of your questions…

  1. My books have been optioned before, as some of my older fans might know. *waves at the stalwarts*
  2. I’m kinda infamous for walking away from a major deal for the Finishing School books for ethical reasons (ask me over drinks some time). So you know I wouldn’t sign if I didn’t like the company.
  3. This is still only an option. So please remember an option does not a movie make (or in this case, a cartoon). I do believe that animation is a little easier to get off the ground than live action, so I’m cautiously optimistic.
  4. I have no idea about production schedule, intent, casting, anything like that. And even if I did, I probably wouldn’t be able to talk about it publicly.

I have a producer credit but I am pretty hands off about this kind of thing (see my manga adaptations). Frederator knows what they’re doing. I will probably have chats with them about things like animation style and voice talent but I don’t intend to stick my orr in unless invited (I know, how vampiric of me). I believe the best adaptations are just that, adaptations, and when a book evolves into a new form of media it is strengthened by artistic visions (e.g. Ghibli’s version of Howl’s Moving Castle). You want my take on this story and these characters… you can always READ that take. You want to watch my stuff? It should be under the guidance of someone whose expertise is in watchability.

Hamming it up at a Harlequin Party with agents Kristin Nelson & Kelli Martin

The Players (in laymen’s terms)

Frederator is the actual animation production company who will do things like putting together an artist team and hiring voice actors etc… They are based in LA.

WOW! is the parent company, they are mostly based out of Canada.

Angela Cheng Caplan is my fantastic film agent. She found me in part because of the manga and in part because she knows Kristin. She is my third (and I hope forever) film agent. We hit it off like a house on fire because we both like manga and old school anime (read seriously old school in my case Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs).

Kristin Nelson is my literary agent and she helped broker the deal. Kristin has been my agent since 2008 (!) and I could not survive the publishing world, let alone Hollywood, without her.

Wayne Alexander is my IP lawyer. He reads over all the fine print and is obsessed with details exactly as he should be. Also, as a steampunk author, I get a ton of (non malicious) IP infringement (see my discussion on fan-make etc) and Wayne is always there to help. On occasion he also helped when Amazon accused me of copyright infringement on… myself. But that’s another story.

How It Happened

My last film option lapsed several years ago, and there was a dearth of interest during which time I moved film agents. Then, rather unexpectedly for me (Hollywood works in mysterious ways), we started to get pings again.

Frederator approached us but then merged with WOW! in the middle of negotiations. Fortunately WOW! was still intersted. There were two other companies actively trying to option at the time: a VC firm and a writing team. Generally, in Hollywood, people will chat with a film agent first and she will gage interest level. They always want to talk to the author, but I tend to like to wait until later on in the process.

I had my first conversation with Frederator on January 28, 2020. It was frustratingly hilarious for all concerned, as I was traveling with a seriously crappy phone connection and the call kept dropping on us. But they seemed genuinely cool and to grok the spirit of the books in a way I hadn’t encountered before. I’ve always liked the idea of animation, since my world is so visually complex (with historic, steampunk, and monstrous elements) it would be very expensive to produce live action. Animation seems like a much more pleasant way to do it justice.

It took a year for us to iron out all the details and now… here we are!

An option does not a movie make.

If it were live action who would I cast?

Creative Choices

  • Do I have a preference for animation style?
  • What sort of soundtrack do I think they’ll go for?
  • Is it going to follow the books, or be set in the universe? Would it cover only the first book, or several?
  • Any chance Emily Gray would play a part?
  • How does it relate to the manga?
  • What is one thing I think they will change?
  • What’s something I don’t want them to change?

Production

  • How confident am I that it will actually be made? What is the proposed time frame for release?
  • How far are they away from a script? Any idea how many episodes/how long they are going to be? Will I write it?
  • How much involvement will I have?

So I hope you’re as excited as I am, and I hope you will celebrate with me. Perhaps a nice hot cuppa and a biscuit or two?

Yours (how did I get here?),

Miss Gail 

  • Vixen Ecology ~ Interstitial short story featuring Mana and Lovejoy, follow up to The Enforcer Enigma, was released as a Chirrup digital exclusive. That’s Gail’s newsletter. If you sign up you will get a link to buy and download after you’re through the confirmation process.
  • Not into newsletters? Get only new releases by following Gail on Amazon or BookBub!

BOOK DE JOUR!

The Heroine’s Journey: For Writers, Readers, and Fans of Pop Culture

Heroines Journey Gail Carriger free pdf ripped download

PICK YOUR VENDOR!

Direct from me?

My first non-fiction book! How to use ancient story structure to understand and crack bestselling genre fiction. It is available in print, digital, or audio.

Upcoming Scribbles?

  • Gail is currently writing the next Delightfully Deadly book which will release later this year.
  • She also has a fun technofantasy in production, about a world where magic only works when you’re dating someone, and the boy who falls in love with the wrong person.
  • Need to know what else Gail is working on right now? That’s in the Chirrup.

Gail’s Daily Tea Party

Tisane of Nifty 

Council of El-Frond

My first thought was, “Oh look, the Council of El-Frond.” And that, my dears, is the kind of crap that gets a girl a film deal.

Writerly Tincture 

Book Nibble 

Quote to Sip 


Foreign Editions: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Books in Translation (Video)

Posted by Gail Carriger

Hello Gentle Reader, this video is all about books in translation, AKA foreign editions (although they are not exactly the same thing – I talk about that too!)

QUESTIONS I ANSWERED

  • Have you ever been able to read a translation of your work? How do you make sure the translation is good? If you could read one which language would you pick?
  • How does the process of deciding to translate and choosing a translator go? Did you ever have to switch translators in the middle of the series?
  • If the Protectorate and Finishing School are published by different publishers in the same country, can you ask to keep the same translator?
  • What is the most surprising language your books have been translated into?
  • Do translators ask you questions to clarify a passage ? What was the most funny or unexpected question asked? Here’s an example of some of the questions my Japanese translator asked.
  • How do you make sure that the jokes do not get lost in translation? Straight washing?

I start off talking about the 3 different ways a book/author can get translated – 2 traditional and one indie. There are others but these are the main ones:

  1. Selling world rights to your US or UK publisher.
  2. Retaining world rights and selling them individually into foreign countries with a foreign literary agent.
  3. Doing it alone, where you have to contract and hire the translator. This means you must understand international copyright laws (esp Germany).

I also talk about why it really rare to be in certain languages/countries esp China, Russia.

Why cover art might change in different countries.

Fishing School Gail Carriger Japan Curtsies Conspiracies

LINKS OF INTEREST

Here is one of the places you can buy my foreign editions: Worldbuilders Market (proceeds to charity).

In some cases you can also buy foreign editions outside of the country of origin on Book Depository & Amazon.

Occasionally I will give a few away to my newsletter subscribers (option to enter, random number generated winners).

There are updated lists of all my foreign translations and editions on my wikia.

Here it is as of Feb 2021 (this post/list will not be kept up to date please use the wikia for that). These are book that have SOLD THE RIGHTS to be translated and/or distributed into that territory, I generally have NO IDEA if they are actually out in that territory.

UK & Commonwealth ~ Orbit UK | Atom 

Brazil ~ Editora Valentina 

  • Alma? (Soulless) ~ 2012
  • Metamorphose? (Changeless)~ 2013
  • Inocencia? (Blameless)~ 2014
  • Coracao? (Heartless)~ April 8, 2016
  • (Timeless) ~ unknown

Soulless Gail Carriger Book Shelf Foreign Editions

Croatia ~ Školska knjiga, Lumen imprint, Zagreb 

  • Šarm i špijunaža (Etiquette & Espionage) ~ release date unknown

Czech Republic & Slovak Republic ~ Albatros Media/CooBoo, Prague & Bratislava

  • Etiketa & Spionáz (Etiquette & Espionage)~ out
  • Poklony & Sprisahania (Curtsies & Conspiracies) ~ out – Slovak Edition
  • Úklony & Úklady (Curtsies & Conspiracies) ~ out – Czech Edition

(The paperwork for these two publishers gets very confusing. They both show up as CooBoo.)

Denmark ~ Forlaget Tellerup 

  • Sjælesluger (Soulless)~ September 2019
  • Forbandelsesbryder (Changeless) ~ out
  • (Blameless) ~ out

France ~ Orbit Franch | Calmann Levy | Le Livre de Poche | Pika 

  • Sans Âme (Soulless)~ January 2011, Orbit France / Calmann Levy, pocket ed Le Livre de Poche
  • Sans Ame (audiobook)
  • Sans Forme (Changeless)~ November 2011, pocket ed Le Livre de Poche
  • Sans Honte (Blameless) ~ April 2012, pocket ed Le Livre de Poche
  • Sans Coeur (Heartless) ~ November 2012, pocket ed Le Livre de Poche
  • Sans Âge (Timeless) ~ April 2013, pocket ed Le Livre de Poche
  • Étiquette & Espionnage ~ March 12, 2014, Le Livre de Poche
  • Corsets & Complots ~ September 24, 2014, Le Livre de Poche
  • Jupons & Poisons ~ June 10, 2015, Le Livre de Poche
  • Artifices & Arbalètes ~ June 15, 2016, Le Livre de Poche
  • (Soulless Vol. 1) manga ~ March 2014, Pika
  • (Soulless Vol. 2) manga ~ May 2014, Pika
  • (Soulless Vol. 3) manga ~ March 2015, Pika
  • Prudence ~ October 26, 2016
  • Imprudence ~ June 7, 2017

All Parasol Protectorate Books Germany Soulless Changeless Blameless Heartless Timeless Teacup Octopus Nook Bedding

Germany ~ Blanvalet | Carlsen Verlag | Weltbild

  • Glühende Dunkelheit (Glowing Night – Soulless) ~ May 2011, Blanvalet, hardcover from Weltbild
  • Glühende Dunkelheit (audiobook), Blanvalet
  • Brennende Finsternis (Ignited Darkness – Changeless) ~ September 2011, Blanvalet, hardcover from Weltbild
  • Entflammte Nacht (Burning Night – Blameless) ~ July 2011, Blanvalet, hardcover from Weltbild
  • Feurige Schatten (Fiery Shade – Heartless) ~ April 2012, Blanvalet
  • Sengendes Zwielicht (Searing Twilight – Timeless) ~ November 2012 , Blanvalet
  • (Soulless Vol. 1) manga ~ Summer 2013, Carlsen Verlag
  • (Soulless Vol. 2) manga ~ Winter 2013, Carlsen Verlag
  • (Soulless Vol. 3) manga ~ Winter 2014, Carlsen Verlag

German HC Blameless entflamt nacht hardcover

Hungary ~ Konyvmolykepzo 

  • Lélektelen (Soulless)~ November 2011
  • (Changeless) ~ Summer 2013
  • Szégyentelen (Blameless) ~ out
  • (Heartless) ~ 2016

Italy ~ Baldina & Castoldi 

  • (Soulless) ~ March 2011
  • (Changeless) ~ out
  • (Blameless) ~ unlikely
  • (Heartless) ~ unlikely
  • (Timeless) ~ unlikely

Italian and Spanish editions of the Parasol Protectorate are unlikely to continue to be published for legal reasons.

All Parasol Protectorate Books Japan Soulless Changeless Blameless Heartless Timeless Teacups Nook Bedding copy

The Parasol Protectorate Books Japanese Translations (not manga)

Japan ~ Hayakawa 

  • (Soulless) ~ April 2011
  • (Changeless) ~ June 2011
  • (Blameless) ~ December 2011
  • (Heartless) ~ April 2012
  • (Timeless) ~ Fall 2013
  • (Etiquette & Espionage) ~ out
  • (Curtsies & Conspiracies) ~ out
  • (Waistcoats & Weaponry) ~ April 22, 2015
  • (Manners & Mutiny) ~ out
  • (Prudence) ~ December 8, 2015

Poland ~ Proszynski Ska S.A. 

  • Bezduszna (Soulless)~ March 2011
  • Bezzmienna (Changeless) ~ June 2011
  • Bezgrzeszna (Blameless) ~ March 2012
  • Bezwzgledna (Heartless) ~ out

Spain ~ Versatil

  • Sin Alma ~ November 2010
  • (Changeless) ~ October 2011
  • (Blameless) ~ April 2012

Italian and Spanish editions of the Parasol Protectorate are unlikely to continue to be published for legal reasons.

Sweden ~ Styxx Fantasy 

  • Själlös (Soulless) ~ March 2012
  • Chanslös (Changeless) ~ Winter 2013
  • Hemlös (Blameless) ~ unknown

Taiwan ~ Faces Publications

  • (Soulless) ~ January 2012
  • (Changeless) ~ Unknown
  • (Blameless) ~ Unknown
  • (Heartless) ~ Unknown
  • (Timeless) ~ Unknown
  • (Soulless Vol. 1) manga ~ Unknown
  • (Soulless Vol. 2) manga ~ Unknown
  • (Soulless Vol. 3) manga ~ Unknown

Thailand ~ KaeKwarn 

  • (Soulless) ~ January 2012
  • (Changeless) ~ April 2017
  • (Blameless) ~ April 2017
  • (Heartless) ~ April 2017
  • (Timeless) ~ April 2017

Turkey ~ Artemis Yayinlari 

  • Soulless ~ unknown
  • Changeless ~ unknown
  • Blameless ~ unknown
  • (Etiquette & Espionage) ~ unknown
  • (Curtsies & Conspiracies) ~ unknown

Russia ~ Arcadia Press 

Russian Covers Soulless Changeless

Russian Covers of Soulless & Changeless

Yours still confused about foreign editions,

Miss Gail

  • Did you miss my latest release announcement? This stuff goes to my Chirrup members, because I love them bestest. Sign up here.
  • Not into newsletters? Get only new releases by following Gail on Amazon or BookBub!

BOOK DE JOUR!

The Heroine’s Journey: For Writers, Readers, and Fans of Pop Culture

PICK YOUR VENDOR!

Direct from me?

My first non-fiction book! How to use ancient story structure to understand and crack bestselling genre fiction. It is available in print, digital, or audio.

Upcoming Scribbles?

Gail’s Daily Tea Party

Tisane of Nifty 

Writerly Tincture 

Book Nibble 

Quote to Sip 


Weird human skill, writing more than one story & finding author community (Video Q&A)

Posted by Gail Carriger

I did a New Year’s Q&A video here’s some of the stuff I talked about and links to answers.

I didn’t bother to re-watch so if I forgot anything do let me know?

Links of Import!

Join the Chirrup to get Vixen Ecology.

Heroine’s Journey is here.

And here’s the schematic I showed briefly:

HJ Heroine's Journey Gail Carriger Graphic Schematic by Gail Carriger

Cape I’m wearing can be found here.

The cozy book we talked about was Klune’s House on the Cerulean Sea

The House in the Cerulean Sea

The blog post I directed you to for more cozy book suggestions is here.

Lovely-Odd Questions I Answered

  • What other country would I live in?
  • What I drink when I am not drinking tea?
  • Do I have any weird talents like folding your tongue in a taco? (I demonstrate one skill.)
  • What are the only 3 foods I really will not eat? (Otherwise I genuinely with try anything.)
  • What weird human foods does my cat, Lilliput, like to eat?
  • As an archaeological ceramicist am I also a potter? Here’s a tiny photo of one of my old pieces (sorry it’s all I got).

Author Questions I Answered

  • Do I ever work on more than one story at a time?
  • Some Bridgerton thoughts as a consumer of romance books versus historical adaptations versus author perspective.
  • Which one of my books am I most proud of?
  • Has any audience reaction to a book release ever surprised me?
  • How to find and developed a writer-community + suggestions for those in very rural areas.
  • Following up on a NaNoWriMo project. What is the next step after finishing a draft? What did I learn about my process? Any advice?
  • Any / how much research into ASD / aspie did I do for Percy’s romance?

Reticence

I hope you enjoyed the video!

Yours,

Miss Gail

  • Did you miss my latest release announcement? This stuff goes to my Chirrup members, because I love them bestest. Sign up here.
  • Not into newsletters? Get only new releases by following Gail on Amazon or BookBub!

BOOK DE JOUR!

The Heroine’s Journey: For Writers, Readers, and Fans of Pop Culture

Heroines Journey Gail Carriger free pdf ripped download

PICK YOUR VENDOR!

Direct from me?

My first non-fiction book! How to use ancient story structure to understand and crack bestselling genre fiction.

Upcoming Scribbles?

Gail’s Daily Tea Party

Tisane of Nifty 

Writerly Tincture 

World reading habits in 2020

Book Nibble 

Quote to Sip 


Happy Holidays Q&A + Vixen Ecology (Video)

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

Final Video of the year!

I talk a lot about my weird food habits over holidays and all things yummy in conjunction with my family holiday traditions.

In This Video

Vixen Ecology will be a newsletter only digital release.  You can read more about it on my website.

Vixen Ecology free ebook mana lovejoy san andreas shifter GL carriger

My favorite chocolates to eat and gift? Belle Monde Chocolates.

The weirdest food traditions in my family around holidays. My favorite foods to eat at the holidays. How crab is a holiday food for me and why.

How do I feel about fruitcake? I mention, Panettone = Italian fruit bread. I also really love Italian Fruitcake cookies (I can’t remember the Italian name)

Other family food traditions: Pfeffernüsse, Dungeness Crab, Penguin Biscuits, Tim Tams, Jelly Babies.

Do I cook? What do I pretty much put into everything when I cook?

Crudrat started as a letter game!

Heroine’s Journey, how’s it going? What unusual things have happened because of it.

Traveling to research and researching while traveling for settings in books. I talk about my Singapore research for Competence here.

Piper and I discuss settings in books and why they make us want to visit certain places on our podcast, 20 Minute Delay.  And movies that do the same here.

Recommendations!

He’s Coming To Me – Gay Paranormal Romance – Thai BL.

Other favorite Thai Dramas: The Gifted (high school super powers, GREAT twist ending, PG13), 3 Will Be Free (poly romance on the run from assassins, trigger warning for sexual assault), and Until We Meet Again (epic reincarnation gay romance, so good, but trigger warning for suicide)

Sorcery & Cecelia

This is my favorite Chai, Thai Tea, cinnamon black.

A Villain for Christmas by Alice Winters.

My favorite holiday reads:

Gail Carriger’s Favorite Holiday Reads ~ Books for Kids & Adults (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Happy holidays,

Miss Gail

  • Did you miss my latest release announcement? This stuff goes to my Chirrup members, because I love them bestest. Sign up here.
  • Not into newsletters? Get only new releases by following Gail on Amazon or BookBub!

BOOK DE JOUR!

The Heroine’s Journey: For Writers, Readers, and Fans of Pop Culture

Heroines Journey Gail Carriger free pdf ripped download

PICK YOUR VENDOR!

Direct from me?

My first non-fiction book! How to use ancient story structure to understand and crack bestselling genre fiction.

Upcoming Scribbles?

Gail’s Daily Tea Party

Tisane of Nifty 

Just me and my huge teapot purse at the release of Reticence last year.

Lilliput for scale.

Writerly Tincture 

Book Nibble 

Quote to Sip 


All About The Craft of Writing with a NYT Bestselling Author (Q&A Video)

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

In which I go into how the sausage is made for #NaNoWriMo, Gentle Reader. I take writer’s questions and reveal all my deep dark secrets. You know I don’t talk craft often, so this is your chance.

And here is the video!

 

Questions Answered At the Beginning

Jules: What do you find most challenging in the writing process? What techniques do you use to overcome writing difficulties or blocks? More tips for getting over writer’s block.

Lauren: What do you wish you’d known when you set out to write your first novel?

Ai: What’s the most bonkers story idea you’ve enjoyed noodling in your brain but never put to paper?
The one I actually wrote: THE 5TH GENDER

Robin: What’s the most filling snack to eat while writing?

Jameson: What is the biggest pitfall that is the most difficult to overcome when writing and publishing?
More? 12 Things About Publishing This Author Wishes Everyone Knew

Karen: Do you use a traditional outline, the “post-its on a wall” method, or a synopsis to organize while writing? Do you do main character profiles, or a list of character traits per character? 
The index card technique.

Gail Carriger Roost Home Table Computer Setup Edits writing write

TOOL BREAK!

Tools used necessity and recommends with reservations:

Jessica: How do you hold yourself back from sharing all the cool Easter eggs and awesome references? 

Ali: How much does the story change while you are writing, and does it ever come out completely different from what you planned?

Dawn: With the popularity of audiobooks, do you find yourself making adjustments with book narration in mind? For example : not using character names that could be confused phonetically or messing around with accents and speech quirks.

Belle Monde Chocolates Nikki

Links of Great Import!

Yours, fighting with Audible,

Miss Gail

  • Did you miss my latest release announcement? This stuff goes to my Chirrup members, because I love them bestest. Sign up here.
  • Not into newsletters? Get only new releases by following Gail on Amazon or BookBub!

BOOK DE JOUR!

The Heroine’s Journey: For Writers, Readers, and Fans of Pop Culture

Heroines Journey Gail Carriger free pdf ripped download

PICK YOUR VENDOR!

Direct from me?

My first non-fiction book! How to use ancient story structure to understand and crack bestselling genre fiction.

The Heroine’s Journey by Gail Carriger is a game changer for genre fiction. Using dozens of examples from books and movies, Ms Carriger carefully and convincingly divides these into two distinct story camps based on the character arc of their protagonists: the lone wolf and the team player.”

~ The Blood-Red Pencil

Upcoming Scribbles?

Gail’s Daily Tea Party

Tisane of Nifty 

Victorian Thanksgiving Dinner 1899

From The WikiVictorian (@wikivictorian on Twitter) Thanksgiving dinner held by C. & N. W. Passenger Station, Chicago, 1899

Writerly Tincture 

Why Authors Should Know Their Target Audience

Book Nibble 

All Custard Protocol Books USA Prudence Imprudence Competence Reticence Teacups Nook Bedding Free

Quote to Sip 

DD Defy or Defend Quote Walk Like Kill


Fictional Travel – Favorite Movies With a Strong Sense of Place

Posted by Gail Carriger

I’m a pretty chronic traveler, Gentle Reader.

My parents put me on a plane by myself to the UK when I was 9. I pretty much never stopped moving after that. I’ve lived and worked overseas, as a student and as an archaeologist. Since I became a full time author I’ve travelled more, not less.

I also really love watching movies with a strong sense of place. And by that I mean my kind of movies ~ heroine’s journeys, romcoms, and queer dramas. Piper J Drake and I did a podcast on this topic for 20 Minute Delay so you can listen to our picks there as well, if you want.

Anyway as a companion piece, I thought I would concoct a list for you of some of my favorite movies that make me want to go somewhere. I’ve alphabetized by country/setting. (Incidentally, I have intentionally left LA and New York off this list. Far too much is filmed in those places.)

INDIA

Bride & Prejudice

I love this movie. I know, I know, it has issues but I have a weakness for Bollywood romances and this is take on Pride & Prejudice is directed by Gurinder Chadha! The genius who gave me one of my all time favorites: Bend it Like Beckham.

The two leads don’t have the greatest chemistry but I find everything else about Bride & Prejudice delightful.

I just want to go everywhere that they go, and no other movie has ever made me want to visit India as much as this one did. Also, I defy you not to get No Life, Without Wife stuck in your head.

Such a fun movie! It’s one of my favorite P&P adaptations, you can read about the others here:

The Great Pride & Prejudice Award Show! (Miss Carriger Recommends)

My book that visits India?

Prudence (specifically 1890s Bombay area) .

ITALY

Under the Tuscan Sun

I consider Northern Italy one of my heart homes. I excavated there in the late 90s for several summers running, near Florence. I’ve also traveled extensively throughout the country. I love the Como region in particular.

It’s the light and cadence of the language and the food of the northern parts of this country that particularly attract me. Also the vegetation and climate are similar to where I grew up in California.

Lake Como Italy in 2000 by Gail Carriger umbrella parasol

The AB and I once chatted about where we would be if we hadn’t met one another. My answer was probably living in Italy (at the time I had an EU passport). I always wanted to live and work in a place where I didn’t speak the language.

Under the Tuscan Sun was originally a book, a self-help memoir of the Eat, Pray, Love variety, but I prefer the movie. Still, as such it has serious flaws in terms of white lady syndrome, but that doesn’t stop the movie from making me yearn to return to Tuscany.

The movie is particularly evocative of the exact part of the country where I excavated and lived. It is a love letter to that part of the world. It is also a love story, if such can be said about falling in love with a different country.

I adore it because it so clearly reminds me of some of my youth as well as archaeology and my first real experience living in a non-English speaking country.

Also, in terms of movies that recommend Italy, I have to throw in the gorgeous Dangerous Beauty (about a female courtesan and famous poet in Venice late 1500s), Much Ado About Nothing, and, of course, Room with a View (for its intense worshipful look at Florence).

My book that visits Italy?

Blameless (Florence 1870s, I recommend the movie Daniel Deronda if you like this book). Yes, the Etruscan site they visit is a take on one that I worked on.

JAPAN

Spirited Away

Is it odd to have animation on this list? Not if it’s by Studio Ghibli. Many of their movies could be on this list but Spirited Away is my favorite. There is something about the evocativeness of the bath house and the spirits and the food in this one that really made me want to visit Japan. And yes, I admit it, I really just want to find soot spirits of my own.

My book that visits Japan?

Reticence (Meiji Restoration 1890s, although mostly a fictional floating lantern city).

NEW ZEALAND

The Lord of the Rings

The New Zealand tourist board did a smart thing when they embraced their identity as Middle Earth from The Lord of the Rings movies. It was watching them that made me want to visit. And before you ask, yes, I visited, and I went to Hobbiton. At the time I had to sign an NDA because they were re-doing the set for the new Hobbit movie which hadn’t even been announced yet. So I can’t post the photos, but we visited. My mom cried. She read The Lord of the Rings out loud to my father when they were first married. And then to me as a child. It’s very important to her.

I also visited the glow worm caves and every hot spring and vineyard I could find, steampunk HQ, most of the coast line, and so much else.

I’ve been back twice now, both times I drove around in a caravan and to be perfectly honest, I kinda just want to live there forever.

I flipping LOVE New Zealand, I enjoy the weather, like how quiet, unpopulated, and remote it is. Remember I grew up super rural, middle of nowhere is my natural habitat.

It is the only place in the world, that I have been able to find, where the coffee is as good as the tea. It’s a flipping miracle. Their breakfasts are often UK in nature (which I LOVE). In fact, there is very little I don’t like about New Zealand, to be fair. There would be a steep learning curve on Mexican food, but I’m willing to give it a try. And if I want to truly eat Singapore isn’t that far away.

THAILAND

Until We Meet Again

For decades now, Thailand has topped the list of Asian countries I want to visit. Initially this was for one reason and one reason only: The FOOD. It has always been my favorite cuisine since I first ate Tom Kha Gai (the world’s best soup, no contest, no argument). The spice profile of Thai food is to my exact preference leaning towards bright, herbaceous, sour, and spicy. I like every vegetable in their pantheon and every protein. I have yet to meet a Thai dish I didn’t enjoy.

Then I met and fell into an enduring friendship with the amazing Piper J Drake. She’s Thai and we have discussed visiting Thailand on more than on occasion. Piper and I both travel so much we started a travel podcast together called 20 Minute Delay about traveling, often alone as a woman. Thailand comes up… a lot.

And then, oh and then, I got into Thai BL Dramas and all was lost. I specifically chose Until You Again, for this blog post.

This mini-series is available on YouTube and it features modern Thai college students plus reincarnation, lost love, so much pining, and so many obscure Thai desserts it’s like heaven in TV form. (Trigger warning for suicide and family homophobia.) Watching dramas like this one caused me to become deeply interested in the Thai spoken language.

Now I’m basically obsessed with visiting Thailand.

My books that visit Thailand?

None yet.

So those are some of my top want to visit places driven my the silver screen. What are some of yours?

Yours in motion,

Miss Gail

  • Want more Tv and movie suggestions? This kind of thing goes to my Chirrup members once a month, because I love them bestest. Sign up here.
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BOOK DE JOUR!

The Enforcer Enigma, third the in San Andreas Shifters series.

TEE Enforcer Enigma SAS3 eBook

PICK YOUR VENDOR!

Direct from me?

A werewolf without rank or hope and an enforcer who has lived too long go up against the selkie mob.

This book has a very strong sense of place too, since it is set in the part of California I grew up in.

Upcoming Scribbles?

Gail’s Daily Tea Party

Tisane of Nifty 

Lotus Lilies, by American painter Charles Courtney Curran (1888). Terra Museum of American Art

Book Nibble 

Bonkers About Books says of The 5th Gender:

“I loved this book! It had everything I ever want from a sci-fi story and added in lots of lovely romance and then stirred the whole thing up with a murder mystery. With all my favourite tropes in one book, of course I loved it.”

Quote to Sip 


Gail Discusses Enforcer Enigma, Heroine’s Journey, & Tons of Gossip (Video)

Posted by Gail Carriger

A fun FB Live Q&A Video for you today, Gentle Reader.

I finally got some of my energy back and am a bit more upbeat than last time. The first question tackles some weighty matters and we delve in and out of the current troubling state of the book industry, but mostly I managed to keep it pretty light a chatty.

RELEVANT BOOKS

TEE Enforcer Enigma SAS3 eBook

The Enforcer Enigma

The Heroine’s Journey (preorder coming SOON to the Chirrup )

Marine Biology

ALL GAIL CARRIGER BOOKS

What’s going on with Enforcer print edition? Borderlands signed editions? And Borderlands in general? List of independent bookstores.

I also chat about upcoming Delightfully Deadly and Tinkered stars book. How I feel about traditional publishing and the publishing industry in general right now. I talk about writer lessons learned and changes as a writer over time.

Why does Changeless have a cliff hanger ending?

BOOK RELATED

The House in the Cerulean SeaBig warm hug of a book? The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Ripped Bodice (LA) – women owned and big diversity supporters

Try to order from Black-Owned Bookstores?

Coastal Magic

Gail’s Pinterest boards

Gail Carriger Comfort Reads

How did the Soulless cover come to be?

Piper J Drake call out

Donna my cover model and Geeky Teas

Belle Monde Chocolates Nikki

OTHER COOL STUFF

ON GAIL

Asian drama segue!

  • Eternal Love: Chinese epic fantasy drama on Netflix
  • Love O2O the series: Chinese romantic drama of a gamer girl and the hottest boy on campus who figures out she’s a secret gamer, in-world gaming character start the romance first, it is ADORABLE also bonus secret but clearly coded baby gay romance between nerd and hacker in second half.

BL Chinese drama rec:

  • History2: Crossing the Line (YouTube 8 eps) – Trigger warnings for glorified fighting and sub-plot of two step brothers getting together that’s pretty taboo/odd but the main romance is sweet and clean

BL Thai drama recs:

  • SOTUS: The Series (Netflix 15 eps) – Trigger warnings for hazing rituals and school sanctioned bullying.
  • Until We Meet Again (YouTube 17 eps) – SO MUCH FOOD Trigger warnings for suicide, family member homophobia, tragedy/lost love, extreme submissive tendencies

Incidentally, I dropped two massive treaties on BL dramas recently in this blog, intended to be read in order. You need passwords to read these posts, for various reasons explained in the forthcoming Chirrup. The password to them will also be provided in that August 2020 newsletter.

  1. BL Dramas Analyzed from a Writer’s Perspective: PART I
  2. BL Dramas THE LIST – What to watch? PART II

Right now I have no intention to make these completely public facing. But that might change in the future.

Okay, that’s all I got for ya!

Miss Gail

  • Did you miss my latest release announcement? This stuff goes to my Chirrup members, because I love them bestest. Sign up here.
  • Not into newsletters? Get only new releases by following Gail on Amazon or BookBub!

BOOK DE JOUR!

The Enforcer Enigma, third the in San Andreas Shifters series.

TEE Enforcer Enigma SAS3 eBook

PICK YOUR VENDOR!

Direct from me?

A werewolf without rank or hope and an enforcer who has lived too long go up against the selkie mob.

Upcoming Scribbles?

Gail’s Daily Tea Party

Tisane of Nifty 

Writerly Tincture 

English place-names

Book Nibble 

Quote to Sip 


BL Dramas THE LIST – What to watch? PART II

This is the second part of a two part series on BL Dramas through the lens of an American genre author. Some of the terms used in this post are a continuation of the discussion presented in the first installment, PART I: BL Dramas Discussed & Analyzed from a Writer Perspective

As such I recommend you read that article first! Or you might not know what I’m on about.

* Both articles discuss triggers, consent, and sexual acts. 

PART 2

BL Dramas: THE LIST

I’ve chosen and am ranking these series by the ones I think will be most easy to digest for an American queer-identified or queer-allied fan (I talk about my reasons in Part 1). In other words, the ones least egregious in some of the non-con and other sexual stuff are listed first. Don’t get me wrong I love many of these, but that doesn’t stop me from being troubled by certain aspects.

(Actor names: Thai names are given as chue len + first name. Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese names are given as surnames + first name.)

TOC

I’ve put trigger warnings in all of them, and I discuss some of my concerns with each. Hence the reasons this is such a long post.

Some of these characters start life as sub-plots in a mainly het drama. Some of the BL Dramas were so popular they got second seasons, or follow-ups. And some of them have multiple adaptations from a written work.

Where possible, I linked to the official broadcast, and suggest a watching order. As always with YouTube, I cannot guarantee the series will stay live.

1. SOTUS

SOTUS: The Series | SOTUS S: The Series | Our Skyy: Episode 5

  • Online: SOTUS Netflix 15 eps (from GMMTV official)
    • SOTUS S YouTube 13 eps from (GMMTV official)
    • Our Skyy 5 1 ep (from GMMTV official)
  • Country: Thailand
  • Setting: College 2016 & Post College 2018
  • Sexual Content: Just kissing, and very little of that
  • Hashtags: #kongpobarthit #sotus #sotustheseries #SingtoKrist

Tropes:

  • Enemies to lovers
  • Younger seme/older uke
  • Unrequited love, pining
  • Love at first sight
  • Sunshine one loves the grumpy one

Concerns & Triggers

  • Hazing rituals, school sanctioned bullying
  • Stalker action by means of relentless cheer and affectionate (if unwanted) care

Summary

Based on an online novel, SOTUS by BitterSweet, this stars Krist Perawat (AKA Kit) as Arthit Rojnapat, the uke character. Arthit is older, meaner, grumpy jerk who goes after his junior Kongpob (played by Singto Prachaya) because Kong objects to the Faculty of Engineering hazing rituals. (If BL teaches you nothing else, it’s that in Thailand, if you’re in engineering, you’re gay.)

The first series follows Arthit succumbing to Kong’s relentless pursuit, and them coming out to their friends.

The second series is both flashbacks to their second year as a couple (when Kong takes over as head hazer) and their current-day relationship, which is Arthit’s first job and Kong’s senior year/internship. It deals with coming out at work and has some interesting insights into corporate culture in Thailand.

There is a one episode look in, as part of the Our Skyy series, which follows Kong deciding to study abroad and Arthit’s feelings of abandonment after being the object of his obsession for so long.

Some Thoughts

There is an earnestness to SOTUS that lends it an air of authenticity that other BL dramas on this list simply don’t have. There is very little physical intimacy, and almost none of the culturally-understood intimacy (like head touching or forehead/cheek kisses). That, combined with so few triggers makes it easy to see why SOTUS was so palatable to Netflix mainstream. And it’s why it appears first on my list. (Although He’s Coming to Me might actually be even better now that it’s widely available.)

There is much less overacting/slapstick although there are a few cartoon noises and interjected clumsy pop songs. So, be warned, if you can’t stand SOTUS for this reason, you won’t be able to take any of the others listed here except those out of China or Taiwan.

The surrounding friendship groups for both characters are quite lovely. This is the only example on my list that depicts solid female friendships (with each other and the boys), as well as a lesbian character.

I like the dynamic of the uke being in a position of dominance and social power, it effectively negates any non-con action. Plus Kong is such a sweetie who would never force physical intimacy. However, the flip does occur, with Kong’s only option being to follow Arthit around like a lost puppy, which gets kinda stalkerish.

Their relationship, when it finally develops, is very teasing and sweet. The chinks in Arthit’s armor are all the more special for how hard they were for Kong to earn. I like to think of these two as the entertainment industry’s first acesexual homoromantic pairing.

Bonus nugget of insider info: The general BL obsession with pink milk, engineering, and gear symbols comes from this series.

2. Crossing the Line

History 2: Crossing the Line 

History2: Crossing the Line

  • OnlineViki 4 eps (part of the History2 feed official eps 5-8)
  • Country: Taiwan
  • Setting: High school 2018
  • Sexual Content: Kissing and not much of that

Tropes:

  • Enemies to lovers
  • Bad boy tough kid meets strict kindness
  • In world shipping
  • Younger seme/older uke
  • Big’ol love confession
  • Sports romance

Concerns & Triggers

  • There’s a sub-plot of two step brothers getting together that’s pretty taboo/odd
  • Characters depicted are minors (actors clearly are not)
  • Glorified fighting

Summary

Punk ass young trouble maker, Hsia Yu Hao (Fandy Fan), is basically press ganged by two senior students including Qiu Zi Xuan (Zach Lu), into joining the volleyball team.

Full of natural talent, he finds himself reluctantly interested in the sport, but more interested in Qiu Zi Xuan.

Soon enough, he falls madly in love with Qiu Zi Xuan, but the older boy won’t do anything in return, because his sister has a crush on Hsia Yu Ha.

Some Thoughts

The plot is thin but the earnestness of Hsia Yu Ha’s crush is charming. I liked how this addresses a cornerstone of the queer experience: how admiration for someone of the same gender can be initially misconstrued as wanting to be like them, when it’s really wanting to be with them. This BL drama is notable in that it has almost none of the triggers in terms of non-con etc that most BL has.

Basically this is just a sweet story of a boy who falls in love with another boy, declares himself, and then gets rejected… or does he?

Bonus points for accurate volleyball rep (I played in high school) plus a solid understanding of the love confession trope and classic representation of how it works in BL.

3. Until We Meet Again

 

Until We Meet Again

  • Online: Until We Meet Again YouTube 17 eps (from Studio Wabi Sabi official)
    • Between Us (in production spin off featuring side characters)
  • Country: Thailand
  • Setting: College 2019 & College 1989
  • Sexual Content: Kissing, hugging, touching, implied demands and off screen sex
  • Hashtags: #UntilWeMeetAgain #DeanPharm #WinTeam

Tropes:

  • Fated mates, eternal love
  • Instalove
  • Stern emotionless seme/sweet loving uke
  • Forbidden love, tragic destiny
  • Minor in world shipping
  • Older jaded seme/younger innocent uke

Concerns & Triggers

  • Suicide is both pillorized and romanticized, and it is depicted on screen in graphic detail
  • Homophobia in the past from family members with the power to destroy the relationship
  • Tragedy, lost love for one sub-plot
  • Seme’s shameful sexual needs injure or diminish the uke
  • Saving self for “the one and only” and having no other option but to submit

Summary

Until We Meet Again is the most dramatic drama to dramatize dramatically on this list. It stars Fluke Natouch as the uke character, Pharm (and boy does he have to cry A LOT), and Ohm Thitiwat as the older seme love interest, Dean. (Incidentally, Ohm is possibly the hottest human on Earth – fight me).

It’s based on The Red Thread by LazySheep which, I gather, is on Wattpad but otherwise impossible to get hold of in print/translation (for which I am VERY sad).

Two modern-day college students meet and fall in love, but are also plagued by a nostalgic misery and dream memories when they are together. These lead them to realize that they’re the reincarnated souls of two past lovers who committed double suicide because their fathers forbade a gay relationship. They have been tied together for eternity by a red thread.

Dean is an older student athlete who has never dated and seems always to be looking for someone. He’s stiff and unemotional and estranged from his family.

Pharm is a freshman who makes friends easily but lives alone and has various phobias and panic attacks. When they meet there is an instant connection. Dean begins a slow courtship of the shy sweet Pharm. Pharm responds with food (yes, please). While things are going well for them in modern times, the tragic deaths of their past selves threatens to undermine everything.

Dean and Pharm must determine exactly what happened, and why, and learn to forgive their families and each other, before they can heal and move on together.

Sub-plot: Swimmers flirting

Pharm’s protective friend Team, and Dean’s master of the side-eye tatted-up bad-boy BFF, Win, start a possible relationship which is supposed to continue in a forthcoming BL series Between Us.

Since I love WinTeam, and consider this one of the better sub-plots in all BL, I’m hoping Between Us happens. Win’s tattoos and piercings are fab, and it’s awesome to see an uke character like Team be all protective of Pharm, and tough with his seme. He’s so cute and fierce.

Also, notice Team drops the P’ with Win when they are alone together, but uses it in front of others? Interesting, no? He is, indeed, as Win says naughty.

Some Thoughts

First and foremost, we all need someone in our lives who looks at us the way that Dean looks a Pharm. The adoration is strong with that one.

Although, to be fair, I only really look at pastry that way.

You can feel Pharm and Dean’s need to love each other, and you really believe they are reincarnated.

There is so much crying in this series and so much pining it can get a bit frustrating. Dear Thailand, could we please see more of Fluke where he doesn’t have to be sad or depressed all the time?

The suicide thread is a big deal and runs throughout, so if that’s a trigger for you, do not watch this.

That said, Until We Meet Again, is probably the best, most cohesive, and well written stories on this list. The plot is so good and well paced and perfectly twisty.

What’s weird is how different Dean and Pharm’s current personalities are from their past selves, Korn and Intouch. That threw me a little. I wish Pharm had just a bit more of Intouch’s gumption.

Dean is impossibly kind and gentle with Pharm, but that does lead to the trope of “sex with the innocent uke makes him impure.” Dean is clearly ashamed of his sexual desire for Pharm and unlike most BL, the story is aggressively anti-dub-con to the extent of being anti sex. As if sex somehow cheapens their love, and Dean wanting to screw Pharm is a big’ol sin. I wanted Pharm to have more agency, even if only sexually. It would have fixed some of negative aspects of their power imbalance.

Despite its flaws, Until We Meet Again is possibly my favorite BL drama on this list.

It’s wonderful to see Dean’s strained relationship with his siblings and grandmother get repaired by Pharm and his cooking. What’s even better is how supportive and fun Pharm’s two besties are. Speaking of, Win and Team are adorable, and I really hope the spin-off happens.

This is one of those dramas that will put an ache in your throat for hours, so yeah, if you’re into that, go for it.

Also the food, the FOOD!

Food is a vital thread connecting Pharm to his past self, and it’s his primary love language. There is a scene where he feeds Dean a purple dumpling that is hotter than any sex scene ever filmed.

Pharm is an amazing chef and we get to see him cooking Thai meals and decorating Thai sweets. Also we learn about the meaning and history of many of the desserts.

Oh, and there’s no Faculty of Engineering theme in this one… who knew?

A quick word on Dean’s linguistics.

He doesn’t say much, in fact he’s as close to monosyllabic as you can get in Thai. He uses almost no polite particles, few honorifics or personal pronouns, and heaven forfend he ever Wai. In fact, by all accounts, Dean should be considered one of the rudest characters in BL (when actually that award probably goes to Type or Ae). However, he’s considered more like a curt aristocrat by the narrative ~ stern, like he can’t be bothered with trivial social mores, or aloof, like it’s not really his society to participate in.  It’s fascinating that Dean is not considered utterly intolerable by everyone. But the way side characters reference his attitude is partly based on his linguistic identity.

Bonus points for casting an out gay actor in a leading role, for an in-narrative self-identified bisexual character, and for discussing condom use. Also for an actual cohesive solid plot structure.

See BL? I knew you could do it!

4. Right or Wrong

History2: Right or Wrong

  • OnlineViki 4 eps (part of the History2 feed official eps 1-4)
  • Country: Taiwan
  • Setting: College 2018
  • Sexual Content: Kissing, topless sex scenes that fade to black

Tropes:

  • Student/teacher
  • May/December (12 year age difference)
  • Single dad/manny
  • Grumpy seme/sunshine uke
  • Out gay uke/gay-for-you seme
  • Found family
  • Old fashioned courtship

Concerns & Triggers

  • Uke experiences self hatred for his gayness
  • Child neglect and abandonment treated casually
  • Older seme in his early 30s but younger uke is only 19

Summary

Adorable sweetheart gay boy college student, Fei Sheng Zhe, with some confidence and self hatred issues meets the battle-scared cynical professor of his dreams, Shi Yi Jie. Turns out, they actually have met before, a couple of times and in different ways, until suddenly Fei Sheng Zhe finds himself the manny to the professor’s little daughter.

Shi Yi Jie is a divorced archaeology professor with a 7-year-old daughter, Yo Yo, who he’s trying to raise by himself (badly). After absorbing Fei Sheng Zhe into his family, he finds himself falling in love with the boy.

Shi Yi Jie is a little startled to find he’s enamored with a man, but he’s analytical and scientific and doesn’t have an easily ruffled personality, so he goes with the flow.

He decides Fei Sheng Zhe is perfect for him and starts formally courting him. He goes to Fei Sheng Zhe’s mother to ask permission and even agrees to a test of celibacy until Fei Sheng Zhe turns 20.

Then his ex wife shows up.

Some Thoughts

This one has some of the most Western sensibilities in terms of a classic American gay romance novel. It basically made me squee with the cute from about episode 4 onwards. It’s a bit rough going at the beginning but once the family dynamic is established and Shi Yi Jie’s neglect of his daughter is explained away, I loved it.

I didn’t even mind when the ex-wife shows up because she’s a perfect plot device for Fei Sheng Zhe to get his confidence back and claim his man. I love it when the uke’s lack of agency works against him and he has to step up and be more than just a passive partner. In Fei Sheng Zhe’s case, he remains sweet and submissive, but it’s established by the story that he will not be letting Shi Yi Jie walk all over him for the rest of their lives. Yes!

And when the sex finally happens, it’s very clearly mutual and super sweet. So, yeah for that, too!

There’s also some great dialogue.

Most of the time, because of translation, subtleties in dialogue are missed. This one has its issues but also some really well written moments that come across in captioning. There’s a scene where (very gay) Fei Sheng Zhe is part of a drama club and doing a romantic scene with his female BFF:

Fei Sheng Zhe: “Do I really have to kiss you?”
Actress BFF: “Yes!”
Fei Sheng Zhe: “But, you’re a GIRL!”

All in all, I left this series with an “aw, my babies!” feeling and hearts coming out my eyes. I think it falls short of a lot of BL lists because it satisfies so few traditional BL tropes, but also because only one half of the couple satisfies the criteria of boy.

But, gah, it’s SO CUTE!

“I don’t have to pay for your regrets.”

Bonus points for ready made family of adorableness.

5. Dark Blue Kiss

Kiss Me Again | Kiss the Series | Dark Blue Kiss: The Series | Our Skyy special

  • OnlineKiss Me Again Pete & Kao Cuts – Youtube 3 eps (from GMMTV official)
    • Kiss the Series Episode 14 – YouTube 1/2 of ep 14 (from GMMTV official)
    • Dark Blue Kiss: The Series  –YouTube 12 eps (from GMMTV official)
    • Our Skyy special (GMMTV official)
  • Country: Thailand
  • Setting: College 2016 – 2018
  • Sexual Content: Heavy kissing, sexual innuendo, implied sex, lots of shirtlessness
  • Hashtags: #PeteKao #DarkBlueKiss

Tropes:

  • Enemies to lovers but also friends to lovers
  • Bad boy meets kind nerd
  • Secret love/hidden relationship
  • Rough flirting of the pigtail pulling type

Concerns & Triggers

  • They punch the stuffing out of each other, especially early on
  • Pete is a real punk at the start with major anger issues
  • It’s implied that Pete’s relationship with Kao basically saves Pete from bad things
  • The poor little rich kid slander plot in Dark Blue Kiss is actually one of the better villain concepts I’ve seen in Thai BL, but it is really rough going content-wise in terms of child neglect, slander, and cyber stalking

Summary

You really need to at least watch the Pete/Kao fan assembled clips from Kiss Me Again or Dark Blue Kiss (their actual BL series) will not make sense.

Their sub-plot in KMA follows their journey from outright enemies in high school, to on-again off-again friends freshman year of college, to secret lovers. They are, indeed, in the Engineering Department.

Dark Blue Kiss picks up during their third year of college with Pete and Kao still together, out only to Pete’s dad and their close friends. Pete (Tay Tawan) brash and take-no-shit seme wants to be out, but Kao (New Thitipoom) sweetheart uke wants to remain closeted. Which effectively leaves him open to sexual blackmail.

Kao has to work tutoring high school kids to help support his mom and sister. His mom’s boss asks him to tutor his son, Non, who develops a huge crush on Kao. Meanwhile Pete and Non are in the same online competition and instantly hate each other.

Non figures out Pete is Kao’s boyfriend and starts a campaign to undermine Pete and steal Kao from him. Kao doesn’t see it. Pete gets increasingly jealous.

Non ends up claiming publicly that Kao seduced him (which has pedophile connotations), destroying Kao’s reputation and income, and putting Kao’s mother’s job at risk. All because Non has taken things too far and can’t admit he’s gay to his homophobic father. Of course, Pete comes to the rescue and Kao finally comes out.

There is a second plot line featuring café owner Sun, Kao’s sort-of ex boyfriend, trying to get bad-boy Mork to change his ways.

Some Thoughts

I flipping love Pete and Kao. They’re one of my favorite pairings in BL. There’s better sexual chemistry with some of the other couples (yes, Tharntype, of course it’s Tharntype, isn’t that everyone’s best?) but these two are so darn cute together. There’s a very puppy love teasing thing with them. It reads really well on screen as a college LTR.

They are more “equal” in their relationship than most BL couples, partly because Kao may be the uke but he doesn’t take any of Pete’s crap.

Also I LOVE LOVE LOVE their friendship group. Gah, they are all just so adorable.

And Pete’s dad. OMG Pete’s dad is beyond sweet, and so is Kao’s mom when he eventually tells her.

I can’t comment on the café sub-plot because I’m utterly unable to watch it for a really weird reason: the actor who plays Mork looks SO MUCH like my ex from college I actually find it unbearable. It’s not that I hate my ex or anything, it’s just creepy weird in a nails-on-chalkboard way.

Bonus points for little use of clumsy pop songs and cartoon sound effects. Across the board the acting is much smoother than many BLs. I actually really LIKE the intro music to Dark Blue Kiss. 

6. 2gether

2gether: The Series

  • Online: 2gether: The Series – YouTube 13 eps (from GMMTV official)
    • Still 2gether AKA 2gether the Series Season 2 (from GMMTV official)
  • Country: Thailand
  • Setting: College 2020
  • Sexual Content: Kissing, lots of sexual innuendo, implied off-scene sex, shirtlessness
  • Hashtags: #tinesarawat #2gether #brightwin

Tropes:

  • Fake boyfriends
  • In world shipping
  • Easygoing clueless uke meets demanding gay AF seme
  • Pining and obsession
  • Instalove
  • Embarrassing public declarations

Concerns & Triggers

  • Over feminization and predator-representation of “out” femme gay
  • Drinking and over drinking with sexual intent
  • Forced coming out
  • Bad singing
  • Overuse of cartoon noises
  • Egregious product placement

Summary

Tine (Win Metawin) is being pursued by an older flaming gay boy, Green. For various contrived reasons, Tine just can’t just say,

“No, go away Green.”

Because he wants to date girls and Green is cramping his style, Tine and his friends decide the best thing to do is to fake date the hottest boy on campus, Sarawat (Bright Vachirawit). Because obvs only a fake gay relationship will convince Green to go away (?!). Unfortunately for Tine, Sarawat is totally gay and totally into him.

Wat (the seme) is this introverted musician who kinda hates how popular he is with the ladies because, ya’ know, hella gay, and has been pining after this boy he met at a concert for, like, evs.

Lo, said boy shows up, demands he pretend to fake date, and Wat is gonna fake it ’til he macks all over it.

Tine spends the whole series just oblivious af and rolling with the punches (sometimes literally) until he accidentally finds himself in love with Wat at which juncture they promptly move into together.

There’s a sub-plot of Wat’s frankly awesome friend Man, King of Bi, getting the hots for Tine’s bitchy older brother. And another with his younger brother flirting with the campus bad boy.

Some Thoughts 

Okay so the fake boyfriend trope is so flipping contrived, and Wat’s cold/hot/awkwardness is unexplainable and unexplained but (and you knew there was a but) Wat is so gone over Tine it’s kinda adorable.

This one is the campiest, most over-acted, and most ridiculous on my list, yet somehow it’s become a favorite. It has a lot of problems with representation, but… argh, I still like it.

At first, because the Green thing is SO ANNOYING, and Tine so passive, I couldn’t even watch it, but Wat won me over.

2gether basically hits every BL trope there is with a club, dresses it up in a frilly apron, and then drags it around singing at it:

  • care and illness/injury tending
  • lost in woods
  • hair touch, tousling
  • teasing with sexual intent
  • confessions (and more confessions)
  • food = love
  • unrequited pining
  • arms around the shoulder in public (gasp)
  • love songs as public declarations
  • secret love songs as public declarations, again, and again, and again
  • possible ex girlfriends showing up at the worst time
  • caring when injured
  • and… REPEAT in Still 2gether

Okay yeah, the plot is cray-cray. But I kinda love watching this for Wat’s googley eyes, and Tine’s utter obtuseness.

Plus it’s nice to get a Thai drama where one of the boys is just clearly completely gay and all over his love interest both sexually and romantically. (Usually, it goes one way or the other and is closeted gay for you.)

Bonus points for condom representation, even if it is a gag gift.

7. 2 Moons

2 Moons the Series

  • Online2 Moons the Series – YouTube 12 eps (ripped only)
    • Gen Y the Series – recon, reboot, spin off-ish (ripped only)
  • Country: Thailand
  • Setting: College 2017, college & high school 2020 (for Gen Y)
  • Sexual Content: Kissing, sexualized tickling
  • Hashtags: #2Moonstheseries #PhaYo #MingKit #MarkKit

Tropes:

  • Willfull misunderstanding
  • Instalove
  • Older experienced seme/younger innocent uke

Concerns & Triggers

  • Uke can come off as innocent to the point of stupid
  • Uke has a collection of photos of Phana that is stalkerish bordering on psycho
  • King of awkward pauses
  • Casual references to rape as humorous
  • The music is really bad

Summary

Based on a three book series.

Phana/Dr Pha (so called because he is a med student) fell in love with a boy in high school but let him slip away. Years later that boy is a freshman at his university. Dr Pha is “Campus Moon” AKA hottest dude on campus.

Wayo, the love interest, is picked to represent his department in this year’s Moon competition. Pha doesn’t recognize him and they clash, although Wayo has also been in love with Pha since high school.

The 2 Moons series of books follows three pre-med best friends (the Wild Doctors) and their gay relationships. The main plot, the “2 Moons” of the title, features Dr Pha/Wayo. Their’s is a bog standard dominant demanding older smarter hotter seme falls instantly in love with, and in pursuit of, younger innocent uke. There’s some miscommunication to start but basically it’s a fated obsession on both sides.

This first installment starts a sub-plot of Wayo’s BFF, Ming, who’s a total womanizer but decides to go after Pha’s bestie, Kit, anyway. I like this better as a story. Kit is a prickly snarky asshat of a uke who resists being pursued by younger playboy Ming. My favorite 2 Moons sub-plot of Forth and Beam isn’t picked up until the second series, 2 Moons 2. This cast and iteration lost the rights to the series, but does a somewhat spin off of Ming and Kit, as Mark and Kit, in Gen Y. (Think soap operas, it’s complicated and illogical.)

Some Thoughts

This show is fluffy as all get up, the main relationship is basically just cute and pining.

I like some of this first installment better than the reboot, 2 Moons 2. But if you only watch one, watch that one instead. I think there’s slightly more chemistry between Wayo and Pha in this one, but that thread is my least favorite and the least interesting. Although Dr Pha wins first in class on the longing look of longing long-time, this version is very slow moving, but definitely more romantic in the long run than the second installment. (See what I did there?)

Bonus points for the adorable, enduring friendship between Wayo and Ming. And P’Forth, everyone’s favorite no matter who portrays him. Why are Thai engineering departments so good at giving us a tatted-up gay bad boy with a heart of gold? (I think we should make Win an honorary engineer.)

Oh and PinkMilk’s captioning is great, if you get their version. The extra MST3K commentary is most amusing.

8. 2 Moons 2

2 Moons 2 (reboot + further adventures)

  • Online: 2 Moons 2 – YouTube 12 eps (from Mello Thailand official)
    • 2 Moons 3 in production?
  • Country: Thailand
  • Setting: College 2019
  • Sexual Content: Kissing, topless fooling around for the main characters, full on sex for Forth and Beam (fade to black)
  • Hashtags: #2Moons2 #PhaYo #PhanaWayo #ForthBeam #MingKit

Tropes:

  • Misunderstanding
  • Instalove
  • Older experienced seme/younger very innocent uke
  • Also playboy bisexual younger seme/jaded older uke
  • Also friends-to-lovers, sexual chemistry first, relationship second

Concerns & Triggers

  • Wayo can come off as innocent to the point of stupid
  • Wayo has a collection of photos of Phana that is stalkerish bordering on psycho
  • Casual references to rape as humorous
  • Some very predator behavior
  • Dub-con due to alcohol, possible sexual assault
  • In world shipping
  • Cliff hanger ending

Summary & Thoughts

2 Moons 2 recasts and then re-films 2 Moons on a compressed time line. Then the second half picks up more of the sub-plots and side characters and advances the story arcs into three romances occurring simultaneously. But basically the first half is exactly the same as the original 2 Moons, only as cliff-notes.

As such, I can’t avoid a direct comparison.

I like the Wayo actor slightly better in this one, but Dr Pha better in the first one (both actors have now left BL). Either way, these two take up the majority of the screen time but have the least chemistry and least interesting story arc.

I’m mostly indifferent on Ming/Kit casting since I like their characters and story better either way. But if you pushed me, I think I like these two actors better than those in the first installment. Prickly little Kitkit is so cute, and Ming a touch less sleazy in version 2.2.

However, 2 Moons 2 wins for me because I like Forth/Beam so uch. In fact, their sub-plot (which only comes to fruition at the end of this series) is my favorite from both 2 Moons adaptations.

Incidentally Forth… Engineering Faculty, here we go again.

Forth/Beam also the most modern feeling love story, in that they’re both brokenhearted, get drunk, end up in bed together, and have sex. Then bad-ass-squishy-center Forth decides he really wants to have a relationship with Beam and starts flirting hardcore in this teasing aggressive way. It works very well as a friends to lovers dynamic, and puts them on a more equal footing from the start than most BL. Although Forth is PUSHY.

All three romantic pairings end up basically together at the end of 2 Moons 2 but there is a cliff hanger for the Wayo/Pha relationship at the very end of the last episode, with sexual assault implications.

There is supposed to be a 2 Moons 3 although the actor playing Wayo has left the franchise. I’m hoping it still happens and that we get more of Forth and Beam. And, since I’m being all demanding of the BL universe, why not make them verse? Come on, break ground in a GOOD way Mello? You can do eeett!

Bonus points for a great portrayal of complexity inherent in the friends to lovers trope for Beam and Forth.

9. My Engineer

My Engineer the series 

  • OnlineMy Engineer the series – YouTube 14 eps (from My Engineer Official)
  • Country: Thailand
  • Setting: College 2019
  • Sexual Content: Kissing
  • Hashtags: #myengineertheseries #BohnDuen #RamKing #MekBoss #TharaFong

Tropes:

  • Misunderstanding
  • Rake changing his ways for the right guy
  • Grumpy/sunshine
  • Also tortured seme/sweetheart uke
  • Also friends-to-lovers
  • Also enemies to lovers (maybe)

Concerns & Triggers

  • Duen can come off as innocent to the point of stupid, but is also a complete brat
  • Dub-con due to alcohol, possible sexual assault (turned into a joke)
  • Some very predator behavior
  • In world shipping
  • Cliff hanger ending on two sub plots

Summary

Consciously playing on the trope that any given Thai engineering department is full of gay boys, this follows essentially two groups of friends. One group of all freshmen and mostly pre med, and the other all second year engineering students (natural-muh).

The primary couple is bad boy womanizer campus heartthrob Bohn and his earnest pursuit of bratty Duen.

Secondary couples include Duen’s over-protective, reticent, tattooed friend Ram and his sunshine boy, King. There is also a friends to lovers plot between two of the engineer BFFs, Mek and Boss. And an unfinished enemies to lovers plot between Bohn’s rival, Fong, and his love interest Dr Smolder, Thara.

Thoughts

If 2gether hit every BL trope there is with a club, dressed each one up in a frilly apron, and dragged it around singing at it, then My Engineer put them in moon god robes and surrounded them by thousands of Y-fans screaming and hurling little pickles.

The Bohn/Duen thread is fine, a pretty standard seme/uke. It’s a bit exhaustingly hot/cold constant misunderstandings and jealousy. Ultra pushy Bohn does all the pursuing and Duen all the “oh noes, I couldn’t,” “no, don’t speak, don’t speak,” plus requisite dashing into the forest alone. But at least Duen fights back on occasion, and his friends are sweeties. While it’s always fun to see a bad boy go soft for the dorky nerd of his dreams, Duen is a little too much of a whiney damsel for me, and while it has some sweet moments, I think some of the sub plots are better.

The Mek/Boss BFFs falling in love sub plot is mostly pat longing looks, but cute enough.

I liked the Fong/Thara sub plot, it’s more mature, and better acted, but was given very very little screen time.

The Ram & King sub plot is my favorite, and they were given a cliff hanger ending. Ram’s not-speaking thing is a bit overdone (maybe because Thai is not the actor’s first language?) but King is utterly adorable. His love language is lecture notes and potted plants. I mean, come on.

This was by far the best conceived and acted story arc. These two had the most chemistry among the four couples. (Although, what is with Ram’s family’s accents? His mom speaks English with a strong French accent and Ram speaks Aussie.)

Pretty much everyone loves them best and if the producers know their bread/butter situation, they will have a more primary role in the next season (should it happen).

The best thing about this couple? No clear uke/semi dynamic.

There is supposed to be a follow up season in 2021 with the same cast, but love in the time of Covid is hard, even for Thai engineering students. I’ll watch it if we get one, if only for Ram and King.

Bonus points for at least addressing how ridiculous the idea is that one half of a gay couple always has to be the top.

The TharnType Universe

My final BL dramas all take place in the same universe with tons of crossover characters.

The only major crossover character we see on screen in the core entries is Type (played by different actors). However, his relationship with Tharn is represented and discussed in almost all of them, so I’m went with “TharnType Universe” as the catchall name.

In world chronological order is:

  1. Tharntype
  2. Tharntype Special
  3. Make It Right
  4. Love By Chance
  5. Love By Chance 2
  6. Why R U
  7. SiafahZon Story
  8. Tharntype 2

But for various reasons, I don’t suggest actually watching them in world order.

All of these are pretty problematic so I am presenting them in the order I watched them.

10. Love By Chance

Love by Chance

This one released first. But in world chronology, it follows TharnType by a few years. Type appears as a “senior” (AKA not-freshman) side character in this series, but is played by a different actor than in TharnType & Why R U. 

  • OnlineLove by Chance – YouTube 14 eps (from Studio Wabi Sabi official)
    • Love by Chance 2 – a retcon reboot spin off featuring secondary characters (Viki behind a paywall)
  • Country: Thailand
  • Setting: College 2018
  • Sexual Content: Kissing, topless fooling around, almost full on sex with a fade to black
  • Hashtags: #AePete #LoveByChance #TinCan

Tropes:

  • Discovering identity
  • Friends to lovers
  • Care and protection

Concerns & Triggers

  • Depicted gay bashing
  • Blackmail
  • Aggressive consensual flirting
  • Some very predator behavior in the sub-plots
  • Non-con rape due to alcohol sub-plot = very bad

Summary

Based on My Accidental Love Is You by MAME12938, the main plot of this story is actually one of my very favorites, unfortunately there are distressingly messy sub-plots.

Ae (Perth Tanapon), a freshman in Engineering (of course) and also a football player, accidentally tumbles into Pete’s life (Saint Suppapong) and then refuses to get untangled.

Pete is a freshman at the International College (private, expensive, and taught in English) and Ae is in the Engineering department (yep) of the Thai program (which IC kids treat a little like being in community college).

There’s a lot of class and language use differences with the two main characters. I know I missed a ton of nuance not speaking Thai myself. I ended up researching at lot of stuff for PART I of this blog series on race, class and language because of Love By Chance. What I learned was fascinating and I really enjoyed this aspect of Ae and Pete’s relationship.

Pete is a smart rich shy boy who knows he is gay and is having all sorts of issues with an abusive ex, blackmail, domineering friends, and life in college. He physically runs into and then gets adopted by Ae, a rough and tumble boy from the other side of the tracks with a heart of gold.

Ae is super sweet and caring and decides what Pete really needs is a BFF/bodyguard/butler, and Ae is the boy for the job. Ae comes off as gray/demi/ace and admits to never really being interested in anyone sexually or otherwise.

As his friendship with Pete becomes more loving and intimate Ae finds himself really wanting to look after Pete and be with him all the time. Eventually Ae is surprised to find he’s sexually attracted to Pete, when he’s never been attracted to anyone before (so I’m going with demisexual).

Eventually, Ae decides that if Pete is it for him, he better seriously pursue him. At this juncture Pete tries to put the breaks on because he believes that if Ae has a choice, he should choose to love a woman. That way Ae won’t have to go through all the misery Pete’s been through as an out gay boy. Of course, Ae is having none of it.

Sub-plot: Can/Tin

Tin (seme) is an entitled prick with a poor-little-rich-boy abusive home life and huge chip on his shoulder who becomes weirdly obsessed with Can (uke) – outgoing, chatterbox, ADD, eccentric. Can has no idea how to handle it. Can is occasionally whiny and annoying but also hilarious.

Sub-plot: Tar/Tum

Technically, in world chronology, this follows Tar’s sub-plot in Tharntype and it is a (step?)brother-lovers thread. Younger brother/uke, Tar, returns from France still broken from being raped in high school, and still refusing to tell his beloved older brother/seme, Tum, about it.

Finally, Tar tells all.

There’s definite brothers maybe wanna get it on thing here. Are they step brothers or are we getting all Flowers in the Attic? I don’t know. I think maybe there is a language barrier issue that’s indicating to Thai watchers the exact nature of the boys’ familial relationship that the caption person didn’t realize NEEDS TO BE MADE CLEAR to the rest of us.

Or there’s just, you know, casual incest going on with this sub-plot.

Sub-plot: Techno/Kla

This is the biggest problem child in the TharnType universe, like worse than possible incest (okay, maybe not, eh, anyway). Techno is this happy-go-lucky party-too-much sweetheart who gets maybe-it-can-be-said-seduced but really just raped by Kla, into a relationship? Nuh uh, honey.

Kla is a sexual predator regardless of the fact that he’s a minor. He basically f**ks Techno when Techno is blackout drunk and couldn’t possibly consent. Also, Techno’s younger brother is selling his older brother’s ass to Kla.

This thread is unredeemable.

Some Thoughts

Ae’s sexual awakening aspect is handled well, and I love seeing demi represented on the screen (openly acknowledged or not).

I like that even though Pete is definitely a submissive, he is the one with more sexual experience. Ae, as the seme character, is sort of bumbling along, eventually doing actual research into how to have gay sex. It’s adorable. And yeah, education!

This is the only BL drama on this list that addresses lube as a necessity. (Although, condoms are repped in Until We Meet Again, Why R U, TharnType, and 2gether).

Lots of other standard uke/seme tropes are flipped. For example, a lot is made of the fact that Ae is shorter, poorer, and less well educated than Pete.

There’s fun glimpses of different kinds of family life in Love By Chance, too. Although Pete comes out to his mother, Ae considers but does not come out to his family.

The sub-plot with Tin and Can is intriguing, although the actors don’t have great chemistry together, I still want them to get their HEA. However, it’s left as a cliffhanger that’s picked up in Love by Chance 2. AKA A Chance at Love this spin off focuses on Can/Tin as the primary couple, but rewrites and retells their narrative as if their original sub-plot didn’t exist. Meanwhile the other sub plots continue, including Ae/Pete breaking up(!). I found this second installment very uneven.

Incidentally, Saint, who portrays Pete, goes on to portray a different character in the same universe, Tutor in Why R U. Just to confuse matters.

Bonus points for depiction of researching how to have gay sex properly and lube use. (The ONLY example I’ve yet encountered.)

11. TharnType

TharnType: The Series

Technically speaking, in world chronology, this series comes a few years before Love by Chance, with TharnType Special occurring at the same time/after Why R U.

  • OnlineTharnType: The Series – 12 eps (ripped only)
    • Why R U: Episode 2 part 1 – (ripped only)
    • TharnType Special (ripped only)
    • TharnType 27 Years Of Love (ripped only)
  • Country: Thailand
  • Setting: College 2019 (in world 2015, 2018 & 2020)
  • Sexual Content: Kissing, blow job, basically full on sex without being actually porn
  • Hashtags: #TharnType #TharnTypetheseries

Tropes:

  • Homophobe who’s closeted
  • Enemies to lovers
  • Care and protection
  • Bad boy uke/caring sensitive out seme
  • Grumpy uke/sunshine seme

Concerns & Triggers

  • Verbal gay bashing with little redemption
  • Possessive behavior, including violence and sexual claiming
  • Uncorrected conflation of gay with pedophile
  • Aggressive dub-con touching and more
  • Bargaining for sex, trading favors for sex
  • Childhood abduction and abuse described and somewhat depicted
  • Non-con molestation when drunk

Summary + Thoughts

Ooof, where to start with this one?

So Type (Gulf Kanawut) is a tough, hot tempered, immature jock, with some serious emotional control issues. He’s also a raving homophobe who is openly verbally abusive towards gay men. This all stems from being kidnapped and abused as a kid.

(The narrative makes no effort to separate being a pedophile from being a gay man, which is just one of its many issues.)

Freshman year he’s assigned this crazy-hot roommate, Tharn (Mew Suppasit), and guess what? Tharn is openly gay.

Let the fireworks commence.

So there is a lot of fighting and abuse hurled and punching/kicking each other. It’s pretty clear that Tharn has it bad for Type from the start, despite his jerk ways. Why, tho? Just because Type is super hot, I guess. (Although I would like to point out that neither is in the Faculty of Engineering, or all their problems might be solved.)

Tharn is clearly going to get Type ass-up if it’s the last thing he does. Oh and I mean ass-up. Don’t think Tharn is the good guy here. Pretty much by the end of the first episode he is leaving hickeys on Type’s inebriated homophobic ass (not literally) and arranging things so Type thinks he’s been f**ked while black-out drunk. Because that’s hilarious. Yet Tharn is praised by Techno (later to be drunk raped himself in Love By Chance) for not actually taking advantage of Type – because Tharn is such a gentleman.

Seriously?

Tharn starts aggressively teasing Type because he thinks they’ve got that kind of relationship going. Type starts pranking him back, if not sexually responding, until one day Tharn pounces and starts making out with Type. Tharn obviously expects Type to either succumb or just kick his ass. Instead, Type breaks down and regresses, then starts having nightmares.

Remorseful, Tharn realizes Type is dealing with serious trauma and switches tactics to becoming relentlessly gentle and nice, secretly caring for Type through illness, feeding him, that sort of thing.

Then, suddenly, Tharn basically forces a blow job on Type. FYI, BJs in yaoi are payment/penance submissive acts performed by the seme in order to woo the uke. They have a ton of subtext and are almost never depicted in BL dramas, so this scene is super significant in many ways, but still… consent is REAL sketchy here.

After that, Tarn presses Type to explain why he hates gay men when he clearly likes both Tharn and the BJ.

Type confesses what happened to him as a child in detail. Tharn backs off but falls utterly in love with Type and continues to dole out affection and friendship and flirting.

And then, suddenly, whoa boy, Type is like:

“Tharn, let’s have sex.”

It’s weird.

So then they start (still arguing, and Type still being a homophobe) sleeping with each other on the regular as fuck buddies. It’s hot and yeah, Tharn is an unequivocal top, (with one possible exception later on), but still…

What. The actual. F#$k?

So Tharn ruins Type for girls. Type tries to have a “normal” relationship with a chick, but can’t get it up, so comes crawling back to Tharn. Because apparently Tharn is so good in the sack that Type falls in love with him.

They become covert boyfriends.

Everything is lovey dovey until wham bang there’s some contrived reason why Type has to break up with Tharn and pretty much destroy Tharn’s heart. Turns out Tharn’s psycho bandmate stalker Lhong keeps ruining Tharn’s relationships. Type can’t come up with a better plan to expose him.

Type’s plan works. Lhong is outed as insane. Type and Tharn are finally officially together. Slowly more and more people learn they’re boyfriends. They totally adore each other.

And… the end!

In TharnType Special we get a series of reflective HEA on three years of a relationship.

The couple also has one really sweet appearances in Why R U episode 2 as they’ve kinda become the model gay couple for the whole campus.

I’M CONFUSED TOO.

TharnType 2 picks up 7 years later with them both working and still mostly closeted. Tharn wants to marry Type and the drama begins again.

Sub-plot: Tar/Tum

This installment covers the fact that Tar (Tharn’s sweet uke ex-boyfriend) was set up to be gang raped by Tharn’s stalker, Lhong. Tar then dumped Tharn because Tar was too messed up to deal. He refused to tell Tharn why or what happened. Also he’s somehow still being manipulated by Lhong. Tar had a mental breakdown and his brother is overprotective and blames Tharn (but doesn’t know what really happened).

Tar flees to France at the end of this series after confessing all to Type. Type and he form a friendship because Type understands rape/abuse first hand. In Love By Chance this thread picks up with different actors.

Sub-plot: Techno/Kla

We see the beginning of Kla stalking Techno. It’s not as skeezy as in Love By Chance, as nothing happens. The same actor plays Kla, different actors play Techno.

TharnType Special has a look in on Tin (all HEA over Can, so we know that worked out okay) and a visit from Pete (but no Ae).

Some More Thoughts

Look, I know, right.

Didn’t I say there were tons of problems with this one? Not the least of which is the plot. (What plot?)

Here’s the thing, the chemistry between the leads is insane. The way the look at and touch each other is flipping genius. There is a reason the internet basically went crazy over them and will not believe the actors aren’t actually dating in real life. (It helps that the actors, Mew and Gulf, are pretty happy to play along. They know which side their bread is buttered on… in this case, both. In fact, there is no bread, it’s ALL butter.)

Look. Okay. It’s just… They are profoundly hot on screen together.

Tharn clearly just adores Type so much and Type is such a little shit to him, and then such a big ol’ ball of angsty loving shit to him, and on screen they are SO GOOD together.

Also Type is not even remotely submissive, in fact I would hesitate to say this has a uke/seme dynamic at all, more of just a plain old top/bottom. In that regard, it makes this whole series feel more modern.

Type’s love confession is fantastic. I mean, it’s genius from a writer perspective.

So, bah. You’ve been warned, but, yeah CHEMISTRY WORKS.

Sigh.

Bonus points for a uke who is, eventually, really into sex and bottoming. Oh and condoms. Again, gag gift, but still… implied regular condom use, so thumbs (er) up for that!

Extra bonus points for breaking the internet and making modeling history: Mew and Gulf appeared in the February 2020 issue of Harper’s Bazaar Thailand, the first BL couple to do so in the history of the magazine. The number of BL fans trying to read the article caused Harper’s website to crash. Since then multiple BL actors have appeared in Thai modeling campaigns, on billboards, in TV commercials, and in print.

12. Why R U

Why R U

Technically, in world chronology, this follows Love By Chance 2.

  • OnlineWhy R U – YouTube 12 eps (ripped only)
    • SaifahZon Story – 3 episode follow up
  • Country: Thailand
  • Setting: College 2020
  • Sexual Content: Kissing, topless fooling around, groping, basically full on sex without being actual porn
  • Hashtags: #WhyRUtehseries #FighterTutor #zaintsee

Tropes:

  • Instalove
  • Discovering identity
  • In world shipping
  • Enemies to lovers
  • Hot then cold, pining
  • Coming out

Concerns & Triggers

  • Aggressive consensual flirting
  • Cheating (with/on girls)
  • Very bad singing
  • Gaslighting
  • Homophobic father
  • This is actually the least egregious in terms of triggers set in the TharnType universe, but unfortunately its also the most cheesy awkward, which is why it’s last on the list

Summary

Zon (Tommy Sittichok) learns about BL and the fact that his sister Zol is basically shipping everyone on his campus and writing about it. Suddenly, he starts seeing gay relationships everywhere and gets freaked out that he might want one, and maybe has a crush on musician Saifah (Jummy Karn). Or is Zol just writing this into existence?

Meanwhile, second year Tutor (Saint Suppapong who also plays Pete in Love By Chance) and third year Fighter (Zee Pruk Panich) have serious angst and chemistry and history. Everyone kinda knows they should be together but for some reason Fighter is super hot/cold and resistant to the idea and Tutor is sick of his bullsh**.

Fighter has had a crush on Tutor since Tutor was a freshman but he hazed and teased him instead of actually doing anything about it. Possibly he’s a closet case and resents Tutor for making him want, or maybe he’s just bad at flirting. Fighter has a homophobic dad and other issues (like being apparently unable to button up his shirts), plus, you know, a girlfriend (beard?).

Fighter’s near constant GAY PANIC every time Tutor gets close is, pretty much, hilarious. And Tutor is a real pushy uke. I get the feeling Fighter’s unequivocal hots for Tutor is actually considered a flaw in their ability to have a romantic relationship.

The separation near the end is very contrived but eventually they work it all out, through lots of sex, and hooray, HEA.

Oh, and are they in the Faculty of Engineering? Sure are.

Some Thoughts

The Zon/Saifah plot is weak, awkward, and occupies too much screen time at the beginning and almost none at the end.

Fighter Gay pAnic

Seme with a bossy uke be like: Wait, what have I gotten myself into?

However the Tutor/Fighter story is hot if utterly confusing and the actors have great chemistry.

Frankly anytime Saint (the actor who plays both Tutor and Pete) gets all heavy lidded and seductive you know someone is going down – probably the nearest toppy boy.

He’s actually such a different personality as Tutor that I had to look it up to make sure it wasn’t different lookalike actor siblings or something. So yeah, ACTING!

Storywise I like an aggressive uke with agency and secretly suffering meets confused emotional seme. (I just wish I had  a better handle on WHY Fighter is suffering so.) However, the plot is incomprehensible.

Why is Fighter such a jerk? Why is Tutor so mean to him at the break up? What did Fighter’s dad hope to accomplish? Is Fighter actually just totally gay and everyone knows it?

Nevertheless, it’s still sexy and it has a toothsomely sweet ending with an implication that Fighter actually lets Tutor top him… ooo how shockingly gay of him! Verse in the BL verse, who knew that could happen?

Bonus points for a falling in love musical montage ’80s rom-com style, condom use, consent (!), and a demanding uke who is as into sex as the seme. These two get the most fan made music videos, and with good reason.

13. Make it Right

Make It Right Seasons 1 & 2

This may or may not exactly fit into the TharnType universe but it does have one set of cross over characters, and for that reason alone I’m sticking it here on the list. This can be considered this universe’s answer to Love Sick. It’s not as good, but covers similar ground.

  • Online: Make It Right – YouTube Season 1 12 eps, Season 2 14 eps (ripped only)
    • Why R You (character check in) – ep 2 part 2 (ripped only)
    • Make it Live on the Beach (follow up mini series) – YouTube 5 eps (ripped only)
  • Country: Thailand 2016-2017, 2019
  • Setting: High school
  • Sexual Content: Just a little kissing for the main couple, topless simulated sex for others
  • Hashtags: #TeeFuse #makeitright

Tropes:

  • Friends to lovers
  • Secret romance
  • Solid surrounding friendship group

Concerns & Triggers

  • Parental neglect
  • Characters are minors and look it
  • Very messy plot
  • Cheating (with/on girls and with/on guys and more)
  • Sexual blackmail
  • Self harm attempted suiside (pills)
  • All the consent issues

Summary & Thoughts

Make It Right follows two boys, Tee and Fuse, and their extended (increasingly) queer friendship group and multiple relationships. Tee and Fuse are semi-friends who fall drunkenly into bed together in episode 1. There is some attempt at consent, but Fuse is drunk and Tee should know better. Fuse has a girlfriend and is not pleased with the resulting situation. Tee is the type of seme who feels responsible and emotionally attached after “dirtying” his uke, and when Fuse lashes out at him, ALSO feels really guilty about drunk fucking him without established consent (thank you!). This is the only one on my list that specifically addresses dub-con due to alcohol, and Tee spends most of the first series guilt ridden about it.

Fuse is basically a really easygoing cheerful dude. He’s also an idiot, who, it turns out, can’t resist Tee and basically strings Tee along (for sex) while deciding whether to break up with his (plutonic) girlfriend… for about 20 episodes. Tee just lets Fuse walk all over him (sigh).

So far as queer representation goes, Fuse is touted as gay for you, but Tee clearly really likes boys. But, there are a ton of sub-plot characters who identify as gay or bi, some of them are out, and one of them is femme. It’s kind of nice to see that get some rep in BL.

Tee and Fuse have the best chemistry of any of the couples, and the least sexitimes, they barely kiss (it’s kinda weird and might be ’cause the actors are minors) but some of the other pairings are cute (like Frame and Book) ~ if you can get over all the triggers and other issues.

The Tee and Fuse check in we get in Why R U is lovely. It’s nice to know they stayed together and went to college still a couple.

Bonus for condom use made sexy in Season 2 with Frame and Book, and for Frame (at least) acknowledging he likes all genders (even if the lens shows this as slutty).

Others of Note

I’m pretty sure these push too far into the extremes for my readers to enjoy, or the quality is just too poor, or they don’t have great endings. I’m listing them for the sake of record keeping and because they carry weight in the BL community.

Love Sick

Love Sick AKA Lovesick The Series Seasons 1 & 2

This might be thought of as the BL drama that started Thai BL. It was the success of this series in Thailand that convinced Thai production companies to film more BL series and monetize them on YouTube. The hand holding bookstore incident is iconic.

It’s an afterthought on this list mostly because it’s just SO LONG and the video/captioning quality is so bad. But I really like it.

  • Online: YouTube Season 1 12 eps (or go for the 5 hr BL cut), Season 2 36 eps! (ripped only)
  • Country: Thailand 2014-2015
  • Setting: High school
  • Sexual Content: Just a little kissing
  • Hashtags: #PhunNoh #lovesicktheseries

Tropes:

  • Friends to lovers
  • Fake boyfriend
  • Secret romance
  • Solid surrounding friendship group

Concerns & Triggers

  • In world shipping (light)
  • Characters are minors and Noh looks it
  • Very slow moving
  • Public singing for love
  • Cheating (with/on girls)
  • Later episodes in season 2 are badly captioned to the point of incomprehension

Summary & Thoughts

Love Sick follows two boys, Phun and Noh, and their extended high school friendship groups and many relationships. Phun, the rich son of a politician, is a model student with a girlfriend and can’t quite figure out why he’s suddenly obsessed with Noh. Noh is a goofy, easygoing, sweetheart, easily influenced by his friends, and a total gentleman. The two boys fall unexpectedly and deeply in love with each other.

This is touted as gay for you, but it’s actually a pretty decent representation of bisexual discovery, identity crisis, and sexual awakening.

Neither of them handle their burgeoning romance well. Both of them are already dating girls. So there is cheating, rejection, tons of confusion, and pining.

“It’s a terrible feeling not knowing where the line is between us.”
~ Noh to Puhn in Love Sick 2

There is nothing more than kissing (implied fooling around), and even that takes forever. But the leads have good chemistry and their friends are, on occasion, laugh out loud funny. This one is probably more realistic and less idealized than lots of other BL dramas on this list. It is way less tropey and lacking in camp. Also quite well acted.

The first installment features multiple couples (soap opera style) with Phun and Noh as the main plot, with het side -plots.

The second season drops most of the het stuff and picks up some BL side-plots for Noh’s friends. It’s very slow moving, messy, but has a somewhat happy ending. The captioning use of gendered pronouns and terms, makes it impossible to know whether Phun actually comes out to his father or not, and that’s a critical plot point in the final episode.

Note:

After rewatching Phun’s coming out scene a few times, and knowing a little more about Thai pronouns I’m reasonably sure the entire thing is actually gender neutral. So when you watch try mentally substituting they/them for all she/he/her/him. Also substitute lover/partner for boyfriend/girlfriend (we are in faen territory again) and the whole thing will make more sense.

Both Phun and his dad are alluding to the fact that Phun is dating Noh without actually specifying it. Thai pronouns allow for this because they speak in third person singular gender neutral (in English we would say singular they/them).

In Thai, self-gendering is obligatory (the word “I” has gender attached to it and changes depending on the speaker). So the 7+ ways to say “I” in Thai are all translated as “I” in English. But there’s an opposite comprehension issue with he/she translations. While third person can be gendered, he/she Thai pronouns are most likely to be gender neutral.

Note the highlighted Thai words above for he/she are mostly exactly the same? Regardless of whether the person being talked about is male or female?

The Reminders series has a check in with Phun and Noh as seniors in college. And while it’s fun to see Noh with hair, the couple isn’t treated well by the narrative and it left me ultimately disappointed. If you just wanna see what the two actors look like grown up, watch this music video instead.

Frankly, Love Sick would probably be much higher on my list were is not so long, the video so crappy, and the captioning so challenging.

Bonus points very little uke/seme dynamic and no consent issues.

Addicted

Addicted web series – Heroin 

  • Online: YouTube 15 ep + deleted scenes (ripped only) & Viki uncut version has better subtitles
  • Country: China (I know, right?) 2016
  • Setting: High School
  • Sexual Content: Heavy petting, rough kissing, one very hot fade to black sex scene

Tropes:

  • Enemies to lovers
  • Bad boys
  • Poor little rich kid
  • Class struggles
  • Taboo relationship (both gay and step-brothers)

Concerns & Triggers

  • Ambiguous ending
  • Main characters physically fight, haze, and bully each other at the start
  • Kidnapping for love
  • Cheating (with/on girls)
  • One is poor the other rich and this is, somewhat, played for laughs
  • Divorce paints mother as a whore
  • Characters are minors, actors are clearly NOT
  • There is tons of subtext in terms of gay = perverted & unnatural
  • All initial sexual encounters are rough/rapey/demanding, however the one actual sex scene is not and is incited by the uke (but is probably what got this show banned)

Summary & Thoughts

Probably the best known and acted Chinese BL. Don’t worry, there is no drug use in this series (I was scared too) the subtitle “heroin” comes from the way the seme becomes addicted to the uke, plus a combination of their character names.

Bai Luo Yin (Xu Weizhou) lives in a poor part of town with his careless but loving father. When he’s 16, his estranged mother remarries a rich high-ranking military official. Meanwhile, Gu Hai (Huang Jingyu) has always hated his father and resents his new step-mother.

The step-brothers are unexpectedly placed in the same class in high school, without knowing each other’s background or their connection.

At first they hate each other, but Gu Hai realizes all his angst and physical violence and emotional feelings towards Bai Luo Yin are actually obsessive love (hello, classic seme). Then he decides to pretend to be poor, move in next door, and pursues Bai Luo Yin. (Oh, and Gu Hai has a girlfriend. Also, master of the pining sigh.)

Three episodes before the season finale (right when they stop fighting and start living together), this drama was removed from all Chinese streaming sites by order of SAPPRFT. This series is now inaccessible to Chinese viewers. Rumor is that China has banned the two actors from appearing on screen together (possibly because they have excellent chemistry).

The cut sex scene from the final episode 15 is available as a deleted scene on YouTube or as part of the final episode on Viki. I suggest stopping after watching that as the defacto ending.

If you, like me, become obsessed with candied hawthorn (Crataegus pinnatifida) AKA Bing Tanghulu as a result of seeing this show, it apparently tastes like a crabapple coated in red colored candied caramel, here’s a recipe.

Bonus points for the music in that sex scene, which is KILLER and perfectly chosen. Oh and for the fact that Xu Weizhou looks a bit like this generation’s Jonathan Rhys Meyers, because come on, who doesn’t want that?

Seven Days 

7 Days

Seven Days 

Japan started the BL movement. They did so with live action yaoi manga adaptations in early 2010-2015. Filming style, dialogue, plot all came directly from yaoi as they basically used popular manga for story boards (they still do this today, see Love Stage.) Thailand, responsible for the second wave of BL and what we think of as the genre today, does come from yaoi and we can still spot yaoi it in the narratives, but is stylistically very different. If you want something that bridges the gap, Seven Days will do it. New Japanese entry, Cherry Magic is more modern BL and Restart After Come Back home possibly the most classy BL movie but Seven Days occupies a place in my heart that cannot be shaken. It’s pure delight.

Tropes:

  • Secret relationship
  • Friends to lovers
  • Game of love

Concerns & Triggers

  • None that I can think of, the hair is kinda weird but that’s typical of Japanese live action manga

Summary & Thoughts

Super popular freshman Seiryo will go out with the first girl who asks him starting every Monday. But he always breaks up with them before the week ends. He has the reputation for being a great boyfriend though, for that ONE week. On impulse, third year Yuzuru decides to see if that policy also applies to boys, so he asks Seiryo out. Surprised, Seriyo nevertheless agrees and, like he always does, tries his best to fall in love.

Yuzuru is sweet-faced and beautiful, but his personality is the opposite. He’s honest to the point of insulting, changeable and moody, and has the tendency to alienate people. His girlfriends have always dumped him because once they get to know him, they don’t like him anymore. Seiryo, however, adores Yuzuru’s bluntness. He always knows where he stands with him, and he likes being ordered about. He makes this fact clear to Yuzuru, who starts to fall in love with Seiryo because of the joy of being liked for who he really is.

Meanwhile, Seiryo thinks it’s all just a game to Yuzuru, but he’s falling in love too. Despite the fact that both want it to last more than a week, they’re afraid to break the magic between them by asking for more. Generally, I don’t like a story driven by miscommunication but this one is honestly wrought, since they are both young and nervous and playing a one week game that, in the end, neither wants to play. The ending is lovely and it’s probably my favorite early BLs.

Others Talked About

This is by no means a comprehensive list (and I stopped updating in 2020). In many cases I simply skipped to the final episode to see what the end was like (and then didn’t watch because SAD). Or I read the comments and knew I would not enjoy the drama. In other cases, I don’t have platform access or the video has no eng sub.

The ones I’ve  listed here are ones I enjoyed or at least thought were okay.

  • Amore (YouTube) Philippines, messy house of gays boys, everyone loves Joey. DNF
  • As If You Whisper (Vimeo) – Korea, musicians fall in love which impacts their chances of fame
  • Bangkok Love Stories (Netflix) – Thailand, mixed couples soap series including 1 BL thread that is decent and has an HEA
  • Cherry Magic – Japan, it’s SO GOOD
  • Color Rush – Korea, one of the best BL’s ever made, certainly the best out of Korea. Just WONDERFUL.
  • Counterattack Web Series AKA Falling in Love with a Rival (YouTube) – Taiwan?, very bad captioning
  • Gameboys web series (YouTube) – Philippines wonderful little series of two boys falling in love online in the time of Covid.
  • Gen Y the series – Thailand, hot mess with soem good threads and fun parody, but certainly not beginner level BL.

LOVED IT:

He’s Coming To Me (finally on YouTube GMMTV offical!) – Thailand, PNR of a boy (Thun) who falls in love with a ghost (Mes). It’s actually really good and features the actors who play Kong in SOTUS and Frame in Make it Right. They are great and both boys identify as gay in the narrative. There is even a good honest coming out sequence for Thun. The plot is also excellent, a favorite of mine.

  • Hey Rival, I LOVE YOU! (YouTube) – Vietnam, two boys courting the same girl discover she’d two timing them, plan to get revenge, fall in love with each other instead.
  • History1: Obsessed (Viki) – Taiwan, uke dies tragically for love and then gets a chance to do it all over again
  • History3: Make Our Days Count (Viki 10 eps) – Taiwan, good but VERY SAD

LIKED IT:

History 3: Trapped (Viki 10 eps probably) – Taiwan, ambiguous ending, but if you just don’t watch the very last scene, this is actually good. That said, it is also not BL, it’s gay romance. I have it on the list because it’s classified as BL online, but this has none of the hall markers of a true BL drama.

It’s just a decent gay romance mixed with mystery and action. I recommend it. It’s about a police investigator trying to solve a cold case who falls in love with his only witness, who happens to run a crime syndicate. Tropes include: enemies to lovers, cop/criminal, grumpy/sunshine, cat & mouse, and bad boy with a heart of gold. Bonus: All the plaid suits you could ever want.

  • I Told the Sunset About You – Thailand, more a queer coming of age romance than a BL. High quality and very well done, think Call Me By Your Name, but rough going from a queer identity perspective. It felt almost too honest, but it might possibly be a work of actual genius.
  • Ingredients the series- Thailand, so flipping cute, cook falls in love with musician roommate, they part ways at the end but it’s still sweet.
  • Love of Siam movie (YouTube) – Thailand, ambiguous ending (early Thai BL)
  • My Bromance (YouTube) – Thailand, movie and also multiple series with different actors,  second season My Bromance 2, step brothers fall in love, tragic ending (so far).
  • My Day – Philippines, super cute chefs being all adorable.
  • My Gear and Your Gown – uneven pacing but cute, enemies to lovers, high school to college.
  • My Tee AKA ‘Cause You’re My Boy (Youtube 12 ep) – starts out as a fun high school take on fake boyfriend trope (also in world shipping, parental homophobia) but goes pear shaped into a sad ending (fixed in an episode of Our Skyy). It has some interesting takes on gender dynamics, condom use, and sexual communication but also contains undefined time-lapse and flashbacks which make the narrative hard to follow.
  • Oxygen the Series – Thailand, sweet and soft with great communication but one poor sub-plot

EXCEPTION ALERT!

Puppy Honey 1 & 2 (YouTube) – Thailand, actually this series started as a het romance with a BL sub-plot. But Pick and Rome got so popular they kinda took it over. I recommend it because Pick and Rome as a couple are so cute. It is quite gentle and low heat. It has lots of tropes that I love, and no triggers: grumpy/sunshine, Rome (the uke) is shy and innocent but also playful and confidently gay, Pick’s coming out crisis is handled well and never touted as gay for you, and they are good at communicating in each other’s love languages. The two actors Off and GUn have played a couple in several series now and they are clearly good friends and comfortable with each other. (The Papii thing kills me.)

  • Roommate the series (YouTube) – Thailand, short 5 episodes (15-20 min each) plotless but sweet drama of roommates falling in love. Could have been great with some character dev but… got Covidized, maybe?
  • Theory of Love (YouTube) – series in which film students pine a lot, happy ending, same actors as Puppy Honey
  • Tonhon Chonlatee (YouTube) – Thailand) childhood friends reunite and fall in love, this is Thai BL trying to be woke, it’s only somewhat successful but the cast is GREAT.
  • Together With Me, Together With Me The Next Chapter & Bad Romance (YouTube 13 eps each) – Thailand, the infamous (in BL circles) Korn and Knock romantic thread which goes bonkers in plot ways that seems to have driven fandom bananas (see #KornKnock). If you choose to enter this minefield it does, eventually end happily, but there is tons of cheating and weird personality flips and it’s all rather insane, more of a soap opera than a BL. Also these dudes are ADULTS.
  • To My Star – Korea, like all Korean stuff a bit short and underdeveloped but so good, actor suffering from a scandal hides out with a very grumpy chef and falls in love with him.
  • The Untaimed (Netflix) – China, epic fantasy based on a BL story (yaoi?) with all the gay taken out, so it’s just a sad bromance, ugh, it could have been SO GOOD
  • Water Boyy (YouTube) – Thailand, movie and series with different actors, swim team friendship turns to love, sub-plot of student/teacher with creepy huge age difference, ambiguous end
  • We Best Love – Taiwan, SO GOOD.
  • Where Your Eyes Linger – Korea, bodyguard mafia, it’s fine
  • Wish You (Netflix, as a movie, was a series) – Korea, two musicians meet and fall in love while trying to break into the industry (features k-pop idol Song of Imfact). A bit instalove but terribly sweet.
  • You Are Ma Boy (YouTube) – Vietnam, pop star falls in love with a barrista, fame causes issues.
  • YYY the series and YYY2 – Thailand, extremely campy sitcom, with ambiguous ending fixed with an EXTEMELY weird follow up covid project.

AFTERWARD

You’ll note that my personal preferences do not include Korean or Vietnamese BL? I’ve seen some of these but in many cases I’m not wild about the story telling style and a lot of them have intentionally ambiguous/sad endings.

There are a few other out of the Philippines that I’m going to give a try. But I’m kind of stuck on anything filmed in Thailand right now, because I am fascinated with the language. It’s my favorite new thing to study.

Reminder

Unless attached to a longer series, I did not include movies or short films on my list. Also, I did not tackle anything for which BL was not a main plot or did not have, at least, the spark of a happy ending.

So if you’re a BL fan and you notice that some big titles are missing, that’s probably why.

Top Picks

  1. Best chemistry? TharnType 
  2. Most palatable & underrated? He’s Coming To Me & Seven Days
  3. Favorite plot & cast? Until We Meet Again
  4. Best character development? Arthrit (SOTUS series)
  5. Not BL but still great? Poly suspense adventure 3 Will Be Free & Gay Romantic Suspense drama series Manner of Death 
  6. Best concept and allegory for the queer experience? Color Rush
  7. Favorite Taiwanese BL? We Best Love
  8. Favorite Pinoy BL? My Day
  9. Favorite Korean BL? To My Star 
  10. Favorite Vietnamese BL? You Are Ma Boy 

Okay, I’m done now.

Happy watching,

Miss Gail


BL Dramas Analyzed from a Writer’s Perspective: PART I

Gentle Reader, I have a lot to say on the subject of BL dramas. Honestly, I’m not sure if anyone out there is interested, but since I got sick I’ve watched way too many I decided I needed an accounting. I love many of them, but I am also troubled by them, and this is my attempt to unpack my mixed feelings as a reader, writer, and queer feminist. (Here’s a surface article if this one seems overwhelming.)

I’ve divided this into two parts. This first installment is going to tackle the bulk of my concerns and analysis of these dramas. PART II is a list of recommendations with trigger warnings: BL Dramas: THE LIST

* Both articles discuss triggering elements, consent, and sexual acts. 

Honestly this could get into PhD thesis territory. I’ve considered turning this into a short book I have so much to say on the subject.

Dean & Pharm in Until We Meet Again

As a result, and mostly for my own ease of use, I put together an anchored TOC.

TOC

First and foremost, I want to make something clear:

This is an analysis and discussion not a critique or a defense.

I’m recognizing that I come from an American/British cultural background and I can only judge from within that lens (there can be no objectivity to pop culture analysis).

I urge you, as you read, when/if you react negatively or positively to something I’ve written here, to pause and think seriously about what that says about you, your up-bringing, and your own culture.

So why do this at all?

What is interesting about fiction to me, as an author of the stuff (and particularly about romance and sexualized representations of queer relationships) is how it speaks to an audience about internalized cultural biases. Both to those audience members who have a queer perspective and those who do not.

What does storytelling say about how we individually (and our society as a whole) define love, sex, and relationships?

So with that in mind, let’s talk BL dramas!

BL Fandom

I don’t consider myself a member of the BL fan community. Apart from everything else, I’m way too old, and too much of a quasi-celeb myself to be AT ALL comfortable with the real world actor/actor shipping and other seeming-obsessive behavior of some BL super fans. So I won’t be using the BL lingo in this post.

In fact, the only lingo I’ll be using is sourced in literary pop-culture analysis, a few terms borrowed from yaoi manga (my introduction to BL), some accidental anthropological stuff, and terms used in the romance author community. I try to define these for you up front.

But first!

Oh wait…

Butt first!

Before my list of BL dramas, I have a ton of codicils and thoughts on cultural differences, queer rep, language, and so much more…

APPROACH

My path to reading queer romance started in Japanese yaoi of the 1990s and 2000s. Todays BL dramas share narrative elements with those stories. A lot of the tropes, archetypes, and themes of yaoi graphic novels are still in place, only now on the screen.

My path looked something like this:

  1. yaoi manga (translated into English by presses like DramaQueen in 1990s-2000s) – A Glossary of Manga Terms for Newcomers
  2. early 2000s m/m romance novels (from small presses like LooseID)
  3. indie gay movies and mainstream queer TV soaps like Queer as Folk and The L Word
  4. Brokeback Mountain
  5. indie m/m romance (at the beginning of  the eBook revolution, my first gay ebook was 2014, and it was Bitterwood which I still love)
  6. gay and lesbian rom-com movies (see some of my favorites here)
  7. gay romance novels & queer #ownvoices YA
  8. queer romance novels
  9. Asian BL dramas

Note that slash and fanfic are not part of my journey? I’m too old.

As a result, as an author, I make a distinction between m/m vs gay vs queer romance, particularly in the fiction world. Here’s a break down of that distinction…

TYPES OF GAY ROMANCE

These are MY DISTINCTIONS, the fiction industry doesn’t usually bother.

  • m/m romance:
    This has more voyeuristic gaze and is written expressly by (mostly straight) women for (mostly straight) women readers. Like yaoi it tends to have a het-style Dominant/submissive chassis (see seme/uke below). Here is the States m/m is sourced in fanfic and slash fiction. To this day I swear I can tell if an author of gay romance comes out of slash (arches brow at Mary Calmes). I don’t mind this, probably because of my own history with yaoi and sexual identity, but some #ownvoices and gay readers really don’t like the m/m style, gaze, fetishization, or moniker.
  • gay romance:
    This is either written by a gay/queer identified person or by a non-queer with a good working understanding of the gay experience as it is now, if perhaps over romanticized. Sex scenes tend to be more graphic than most yaoi or BL, and relationships more complicated, but there are often some residual tropes carried over from m/m and 80s style romance novels. So these can feel a touch old-fashioned in tone. (See also the bara distinction in manga.)
  • queer romance:
    This means the author has a relatively intimate knowledge of the modern queer life experience and makes some effort at honest representation, either because they are queer themselves, or have significant ties to the community sufficient to give them a good working knowledge of terminology and real world relationship dynamics.

Classic yaoi dynamic: Dean & Pharm in Until We Meet Again

I feel like many BL dramas are more m/m then they are actually queer friendly or gay rep. This foundation and resulting sensibilities may cause BL dramas to offend modern American queer identified people and their allies.

You have been warned.

In Asian BL, there are many differences between the dramas coming out of Japan versus China versus Korea versus Taiwan versus Thailand. (Those last two tend to produce my favorites.)

However, the overall tenor of possessive behavior and dubious consent, plus an insistence on a hetero-sexualized central relationship featuring a dominant (seme) pursuing a submissive (uke), is endemic to most BL dramas.

If that dynamic turns you off, these shows are not for you. There is one short series, The Effect, which basically tells this dynamic as the abusive relationship it is with tragic consequences, but every trigger warning in the world for The Effect.

This warning also holds for lots of heterosexual relationships represented in non-BL Asian dramas. Viewers just might not be noticing how passive the uke is when he is a she appearing in something like Eternal Love or Love O2O.

TERMINOLOGY

Speaking of which, for the sake of ease of comprehension, I’m going to use (and already have used) the following important yaoi terms:

seme & uke

Left = Dean/seme; Right = Pharm/uke in Until We Meet Again

  • seme refers to the sexual top or active pursuer (in binary gendered terms this is the masculine or heroic figure), he is usually taller, richer, sterner, and more physically fit
  • uke refers to the sexual bottom or passive pursued (in binary gendered terms the feminine or heroine figure, often the POV character), he is usually smaller, slimmer, kinder, and more gentle

This exemplifies a dysmorphic binary heterosexual dynamic imposed on any gay relationship in BL, and it’s practically mandatory to be considered part of the BL oeuvre. There are exceptions in the details, like the uke may be taller (e.g. Love By Chance), the couple may be equally fit (e.g. TharnType or 2gether), but one character MUST be a top and the other MUST be a bottom.

It’s almost as if love and sex can only exist between two men, or perhaps I should say comprehended to exist, as an unequal partnership. In this, BL has stronger ties to the kink community than the queer community and I tend to think of these as D/s relationships.

Not that that’s an excuse.

Other Terms Used Herein

  • BL drama: boy’s love or boy love – live-action movies, TV, or web series featuring a romantic story arc between:
    • two biological sex and gender-identified men/males
    • one or both of whom are in high school (wearing shorts) or college (wearing pants)
    • who fall in love
    • although the drama may not necessarily be a romance by the current literary definition of the term, as the story may not end happily (hence the reason these are called BL dramas not BL romances)
  • BJ: blow job, of course
  • D/s: Dominant/submissive dynamic where one partner is a sexual dominant vested with the majority of the power to control the relationship/sexual encounter and the other is the submissive partner from whom control is taken
  • dub-con: dubious consensual sexual activities, in which permission for a sexual encounter may be implied but is never expressly asked, and some factor (like alcohol or repeated “no”) makes it concerning even when a physically positive response is depicted from the submissive
  • non-con: non-consensual sex, in which permission for a sexual encounter is never expressly asked and no outside factors (prearranged safeword) make this in any way appropriate, by American definitions this is statutory rape
  • eng sub – English subtitles, when captions are provided in English (usually American spelling)
  • HEA: happily ever after ending that implies that the main couple will stay together in bliss
  • het: heterosexual
  • in world shipping: girl characters in the setting of the story fantasize publicly about the male characters getting together – it’s very meta
  • love confession: often public (but not always) verbal request/demand for acknowledged receipt of romantic interest, with an implication that a yes results in dating exclusivity or status change to official boyfriends (sometimes this confession is broken into two parts, “let me date/flirt with/hit on you and prove myself trustworthy as a partner?” and then “let me show the world that you’re mine?” e.g. 2gether)
  • LTR: long term relationship, usually depicted at the college levels (sophomore-senior), so 3-4 years
  • minor: means both or one of the characters is likely under the age of 18 as part of the story, although usually the actors are not
  • sub-plot: a secondary plot line featuring friends or acquaintances of the main couple who are also on a relationship journey
  • please ask in the comments if there are other terms I use and don’t define (I’ve been at the author game a LONG time and a romance readers since I was 10, so I chuck terms around like everyone should know them)

TROPES & ARCHETYPES

By my definitions, a trope is a culturally shared concept that is imbued with social meaning that helps to create a predictable metaphor or outcome to plot. An archetype is a character that is actually a symbol or motif.

Common TROPES & ARCHETYPES of BL dramas:

Fierce uke can also be possessive, see Tutor in Why R U

  • romanticization of possession, clingy behavior, jealousy, and jealous rages
  • food as a love offering also eating together or feeding someone as an expression of intimacy
  • gestures of infantilization from seme to uke in terms of bathing, feeding, ministering, scolding, orders, and discipline  
  • humor particularly slapstick and camp (except in Until We Meet Again, Addicted, and the History# series)
  • enemies to lovers and/or opposites attract (e.g. SOTUS)
  • friends to lovers particularly common in sub-plots (e.g. Love Sick)
  • instalove or love at first sight (e.g. 2gether)
  • forbidden/hidden/taboo relationships including step brothers falling in love with each other (e.g. Crossing the Line sub-plot )
  • romanticized rape or rape fantasies – I divide this into dub-con and non-con, see above (e.g. the TharnType universe)

    Tin’s “revelation” in Love by Chance

  • gay for you AKA It’s Okay, If It’s You
  • coming out or not coming out as a plot device (e.g Dark Blue Kiss)
  • diminished female characters or a complete absence of them (e.g. 2 Moons 2)
  • fantasized gay social equality in terms of peer group acceptance or encouragement (e.g. 2gether)
  • supportive friendships but unsupportive families (e.g. Until We Meet Again)
  • physical representations of romantic interest mostly as an exchange of jewelry (necklace, earring, rings, bracelets) or representative charms (e.g. the gear in SOTUS)
  • romance femme fatale a female character intent on separating the main gay couple, often an ex-girlfriend (e.g. Ping in 2 Moons 2)
  • the wise fool/noble jester usually a straight male BFF, but sometimes a female friend, who serves as comedic relief but also a plot device for knowledge transfer (e.g. Pond in Love by Chance)
  • romantically tragic endings – particularly in BL from Korea (I don’t review any dramas that have this trope, since I require an HEA from my entertainment)

AUDIO, VIDEO, CAPTIONS

VIDEO

The video and audio quality on many of the YouTube offerings is pretty naff. Sometimes unbearably so. It’s worth the extra ads for the HD, if available.

Most episodes are about an hour long and each is usually broken into 4 parts. When the listing says “uncut” it means these four parts have been stuck back together again. Not, you know, that kind of uncut.

Also, there tends to be over-acting as Americans might term it. It’s a little like something that might show up in a children’s show or panto, particularly in comedic side characters.

The irrepressible Win seducing Team in Until We Meet Again

AUDIO

Audio tends to lean on cartoon sound effects and dramatic music or romantic pop songs at major moments of emotion. To me this seems as if the audio tech doesn’t trust the actors to transmit the emotion needed for comprehension. There’s a puppet-like Punch & Judy feel to this.

Either you can tolerate the absurdity of this, or you will find most BL dramas unbearable. Try the ones out of China and Taiwan to avoid this.

That said, the first three on my list are the least egregious, but the music will always SWELL. (Pun intended.)

CAPTIONS (or eng sub)

The captioning (English subtitles) is mostly done by volunteers, many of them are Thai native speakers with ESL (English as a second language). So the translations are often off, odd, or occasionally incomprehensible.

Also, there are words that just don’t translate directly into English.

And also, there are English slang and colloquial terms, ultra-modern American parlance, queer vocabulary, and longer more old-fashioned terms, that just aren’t taught as ESL and so translators don’t know to use them. (Singular/gender neutral they, for example, would be very useful on many occasions. As would use of the word ravage.)

This can occasionally be really funny. I’ll give an example from Eternal Love (Chinese and not BL).

Basically, it’s all these dignified gods and everyone is bowing all the time. But instead of saying “rise” or “arise” after an obeisance, the social superior says, “get up.” Which, to a native English speaker, sounds very mean and curt and rather rude and modern.

Also somewhat hilarious given context.

Some common mistakes include (my guess at a better term from context):

  • giving me goosebumps – I think a better translation would be creeping me out or giving me the shivers/willies
  • scratch – often actually should be touch, tickle, or horsing around
  • itch – is also Thai slang for being horny, but usually just translated as itchy
  • rape – when spoken of in a joking manner usually should be ravage, fuck, screw with, or screw around with (I have a lot more to say about this in the Consent section) modern romance writer parlance might use wreck
  • this person – should be singular they/them
  • I like you – maybe should be I’m into you or I’m seriously crushing on you or I’m crazy about you, this one is difficult as Americans don’t really define this kind of relationship or level of intimacy as distinct from dating, see love confession in Terminology
  • pluralization of irregular nouns – stuffs, foods

There is confusion over the terms boyfriend and girlfriend… they don’t really exist in polite Thai. The word that’s usually used, faen, is non-gender specific, so more like lover. I kinda adore this as a queer person, but it means that when a man speaks of his lover, people tend to assume it’s a woman, so he is going to have to get very specific in order to come out, either using names, or outright saying, “My lover is a man.”

SETTING

All the BL series I’m going to discuss closely are set in alternate but contemporary Asian environments, mostly Thailand. Almost all of them are set in a college or high school environment.

They are all profoundly influenced by their source country. They have to be. Any Hollywood set piece goes out and promotes a whole mess of American ideals and assumptions, these do the same for their homelands. Nothing is explained, nor should it be.

Friendship and loyalty play huge roles in a high school/college context as acting surrogate family. There is a level of intimacy and involvement in friend’s lives (and love lives) that would be perceived as inappropriate by most Americans, or allowed only between very best female friends of long duration.

The same can be said of sibling relationships. Older siblings and older students have a familial obligation of care to their younger counterparts that can read to Americans as unpardonably nosy, bossy, and interfering.

Oh, and boys go to the toilet together.

Hopefully, if you enjoy the show, you’ll be motivated to learn more about the history and modern culture of its setting.

NAMES & HONORIFICS

FYI several Asian languages dictate that the speaker refers to themself by name in certain sentences, declarations, and contexts (outside of introductions). In Thailand you can use your own name instead of “I/me.”

For example when Pharm is introducing Dean as his boyfriend to his mother in Until We Meet Again, he states the equivalent of “this is Dean the boyfriend of Pharm” or “Pharm’s lover.” Even though Dean is sitting right there next to him. He doesn’t say “this is my boyfriend, Dean” possibly because there is no way to directly formally say that to a parental figure.

I have to say, as someone who meets A LOT of people and forgets names easily, I really like this. I wish English had this linguistic element. It would be great if there were more conversational reasons to say our own names, as it would give people consistent knowledge of correct pronunciation!

Also, a reminder that in China, Taiwan, and Japan, surnames come first. Also address and conversation usually dictates that the full name is used, even between intimates. Calling someone by a pet name or just their first name is always a significant moment and often somewhat intimate if not outright proprietary.

And now a word on Thai BL names specifically (both the ones they call each other on screen and the actor’s names).

The actor, Suppapong Udomkaewkahjana AKA Saint, plays Pete in Love By Chance and Tutor in Why R U

Thai Names for the BL Watcher

Naming conventions are complicated in Thailand, and some of them sound insane to Americans.

There’s a full/written/official/legal name (first + last) and then there is usually a conversational chue len or nickname.

The nickname tends to be the name the person actually goes by both at home and in society.

  • Sometimes the chue len is actually a nickname, as in – a shortening of the legal first name, like Kong for Kongpob.
  • Sometimes the chue len is more a childhood pet name (or in addition to), like Kit.
  • The chue len is decided on by the family. It is usually chosen and given around birth, so unlike in the States, it’s not something you get or earn from your friends (although is can be adjusted to this later).
  • Also it’s sometimes English, or at least written and presented in Latin script, particularly for actors and other public figures.
  • Sometimes it’s what Americans would think of as a normal first name, like Dean or Pete.
  • Sometimes it will seem very odd to Americans, like Team or Type (although it’s usually pronounced differently).
  • Occasionally it’s just the Thai formal first name, like Pharm.

The first letter of the nick name is often shared among sibling, e.g. in Until We Meet Again Dean’s sister is Del and his brother is Don.

Here’s more on Thai names.

Still with me? Okay, now Thai HONORIFICS!

Thai speakers put an honorific in front most names.

This indicates relationship of the speaker to the person they’re addressing. If you don’t know how this works, there are plot points in Thai BL dramas that will not make sense.

For the purposes of understanding Thai BL, here’s a quick breakdown:

Pharm in Until We Meet Again ALWAYS uses the P’ with his boyfriend Dean.

P’ or Phi is for colleagues, friends, and siblings older than the speaker: “P’+[name]”. Phi can also be used alone, e.g. “What’s up, P?” Captions sometimes use “bro” for this, but I don’t think that’s right. The P is rarely dropped, even between lovers. For example, in Until We Meet Again, Pharm calls Dean, who is older than him, P’Dean, even when they are in bed together.

A’ or Ai’ is for same age friends and social equals: “A’+[name]”. In BL the Ai is usually left off by speakers and caption writers. Exceptions are made for polite characters and plot points. For example, Wayo accidentally calls Kit, his senior, Ai in 2 Moons and gets chastised for not using Phi. (This is also a comment on how young and innocent Kit looks.)

Nong: The opposite of Phi. Nong is used for younger sibs or junior colleagues/friends although less often than Phi. It is not often captioned unless being emphasized by the speaker. Under certain circumstances Nong can be considered a diminutive like little one. When used alone it can be translated as “kid.” As in, “See you later, kid.” In Until We Meet Again many of the older boys interested in dating Pharm use Nong on him. Possibly because he is so slight and cute, but also because they know that his seme Dean (who hardly takes his hands out of his pockets) would fuck their shit up if they ever did anything to Pharm. So it’s a tease.

Duen of My Engineer, biggest brat in BL, which I only realized when I noticed he dropped the P’ so quickly

No honorific: Use of a name without honorific when intimacy is not established/codified is considered rude, or at the very least highly presumptive especially if the speaker is younger. Duen drops P’ with his seme (and senior!) Bohn right away in My Engineer. This is a sign of disrespect in response to Bohn’s rudeness but also shows Duen’s brattiness and sets up the combative nature of their relationship. Bohn perversely loves it, and even teases Duen by using the P on him! (Unheard of!) However, they do discuss and revert to the correct honorifics when out with Duen’s little sister, because they don’t want to set a bad example.

Khun: This more formal (gender neutral?) honorific is translated as Mr/Ms/Mrs but it’s rarely used in BL. It’s a character plot point in the SOTUS S final episode and joked about in Why R U

Naming honorifics are significant plot points in 2 Moons, 2 Moons 2, and My Engineer.

Here’s more on Thai honorifics.

THE WAI & HAANG SIENG

Thai greeting wai

The Wai or formal acknowledgment

In Thailand there is something called the wai, or formal Thai greeting/farewell. The wai consists of a slight bow of the head, with the palms pressed together in a prayer-like fashion and raised towards the face. The height of hands and depth of bow determines level of respect. In the gif above from 2 moons, Wayo and Ming are greeting P’Forth who is an older student from a different department. Ming (on the right) doesn’t know P’Forth as well as Wayo, so even though he’s a less submissive character he gives more of a bow, plus P’Forth is courting Wayo, so Wayo doesn’t have to be as servile.

Pete(L) is younger & entering P’Oh’s(R) territory so he bows first & deeper

The words usually spoken with the wai are sawat di which sounds, to my ear, like shwa-dee. This is followed by the krub/ka polite particle. Here’s one of the actors from My Engineer, Perth Nakhun, who is Australian but acts in Thai explaining how exactly to pronounce sawat di to both English and Japanese speakers – polyglot much?

So, as a woman, I would say “sawat di, kha” but Pete says “sawat di, krub.”

The closest Western cultural analogy I can think of is Victorian (and earlier) British use of the phrase “How do you do?” which would have been accompanied by a nod, bow, or curtsy.

The Wai is observed upon entering or leaving a house, with parents and members of older generations, and under various other circumstances like meeting older students, plus starting and ending conversations with strangers. It is an important gesture of politeness, gratitude, or occasionally abject apology, and also a means of extracting oneself from an awkward conversation (see Pete in Love By Chance). Younger persons should do it to older persons first, but if in doubt, always Wai.

If you’re planning to travel to Thailand you should read up on and learn the proper way to Wai. It is far far better to Wai than not to Wai.

The haang sieng or polite particles: Krub & Ka

Basically this is a word that comes at the end of a sentence, like spoken punctuation. It is also used alone to acknowledge understanding/or state inquiry. Krub (or khráp, or slightly less formally, kab) is for male speakers and ka (khá) is for female speakers.

Speaking a sentence without adding krub/ka to the end is considered curt, abrupt, and impolite (or at least very informal). They aren’t used often among close friends and older characters may drop use with younger characters in a school setting relatively quickly.

Examples:

Pete in Love By Chance has a near pathological use of krub at all times. He is VERY polite. If you travel to Thailand, BE LIKE PETE.

Type, when he meets Tharn’s family for the first time in TharnType, leans on krub as a crutch. This is a sign of his nervousness as Type is normally a notably crass/brash character who leaves off honorifics and swears a lot.

Dean uses krub with Pharm after Pharm tells him “no need to hurry” in Until We Meet Again. This is a joke way of saying “Yes, sir!” Dean is the seme character and older than Pharm, and prior to this was using gentle but informal language with Pharm. To switch to using krub under those circumstances is a way of teasing Pharm for his presumption in giving an order.

Just saying krub/ka alone is like a simple nod of agreement or acknowledgment of understanding.

However, as honorifics are gendered it’s way more complicated than that.

P’Money in Love By Chance insults Tin, who richly deserves it

An out femme gay man may use the feminine ka. But polite gentleman may also use ka when he is addressing a young female child in a kindly manner. Or a womanizer might use ka when picking up girls at a club.

There are variations, like “ha” or “haa”. They’re still considered polite, but not as much as krub/ka and carry other subtext as they are often used under very specific circumstances (affection, intimacy, siblings or family members) or by certain more fluid genders such as members of LGBTQ+ community or third gender (who also use ja).

There is also “wa” which is an informal mood particle that acts even more like punctuation and is only used among intimates. And finally “na” with is mostly used in questions and pleading, but can be leaned on like English speakers do with rising inflection AKA high rising intonation sentences ends to soften a declarative.

I’m not sure if these less formal particles are technically gender neutral or not.

From a queer perspective, krub/ka is a near constant way to verbally self-gender. Kind of like a formalized state your pronouns.

Here’s more on polite Thai speech.

FOOD

In most Asian entertainment, but particularly in the Thai dramas, food is a REALLY BIG DEAL.

I saw you feed him. (Until We Meet Again)

It represents lots of things: sharing, family, intimacy, caring, community mindedness, provision, non-verbal communication, and love.

Which, of course, I adore possibly more than anything and might be one of the reasons I keep watching these shows.

As a result, feeding someone carries intense weight and significance, as does serving someone from a communal pot. This is the kind of thing ONLY a boyfriend would do.

Since communal meals among friends are commonplace there are a couple of incidences of “mistakes” made trough the simple act of one boy serving or sharing food with his boyfriend when they are not out (see Pete with Kao at family meals in Dark Blue Kiss).

Also food offerings, like buying beverages or snacks, are almost always gestures of caring, and usually represent courtship.

PACING

The pacing of most Asian love stories is different from the Western romance world. It might take a few episodes for the love interest to even be introduced on screen.

In many cases 1/3 of the way through all you get is a lingering hand touch, a hair touch, or maybe a kiss of frustration. In some instances even when an LTR is depicted, maybe one or two kisses are shown on screen (see SOTUS S).

Don’t expect the normal pay out, or a high sexual content, either. The most you ever get to see is tops-off making out that’s very sensual (TharnType universe) or very rough (China and Taiwan do this a lot). Queer as Folk this is NOT.

There’s a lot implied tho…

AFFECTION

Okay, intimacy is different too. I’m not sure on the scale (and it various between countries) but much much much greater weight is given to the following than here is the ol’ USA:

Affection options ( Until We Meet Again )

  • face touching/soft caress (cheek, lips, eyebrows)
  • hair tousling or touching of the head/hair
  • wishing someone sweet dreams
  • hugging
  • forehead kisses
  • cheek kisses (which are more like snuffles in Thailand)

I get the impression these all have profound family-care true-affection emotional meanings, that imply a more significant romantic interest than just a lips-on-lips kiss, which expresses mostly sexual interest.

Also the head often has religious/sacred connotations.

Which is not to say mouth kissing isn’t significant, but a lips kiss seems to be more “just sex” ish, and therefore less romantic than, for example, a hug.

French kissing is rarely, if ever, depicted on screen.

Dean caresses Pharm’s face in public (GASP!) in Until We Meet Again, Dean is very handsy with his uke

For example, in Why R U, Fighter will kiss the stuffing out of Tutor given the slightest opportunity (even though Fighter is dating someone else). But it takes him forever and several aborted attempts to work up the courage to kiss Tutor’s cheek, and only after he’s made a vow of exclusivity.

Holding hands in public may be the only one that carries similar weight as it would in the States.

Possession, ownership, and proprietary behavior (even so far as obsession) is over-romanticized.

“I give five on my confidence, ten on my look. I give over a hundred on how clingy my boyfriend is.”

~ Type talking about Tharn in Why R U (ep. 2)

Distinctions are made between hitting on someone (flirting), dating or trying to date someone (possible exclusivity), and being officially boyfriends or a recognized couple (which I think is a bit more serious than in the USA, more old-fashioned like going steady).

Tharntype and a few others like My Gear and Your Gown acknowledge that there is also the concept of casual sex (fuck buddies) but this isn’t really considered an option in most BL dramas, possibly because they are less sex forward than the TharnType universe.

More food sex stuff from Until We Meet Again

Certain phrases we would say casually have sexual connotations, often associated with other cultural intimacies such as eating or feeding. You can sort of see how this might work.

For example, in Until We Meet Again, much is made of Pharm accidentally offering to eat Dean (like it’s eating in the BJ sense, or more likely offering to feed Dean in the BJ sense, since seme usually goes down on uke). Why R U plays with idea this too.

Later there is direct association between Dean eating Pharm, again as an allegory for sex. I think this could be better translated to the American mind-set as Dean feeding Pharm his cock in the ass-up sense of the phrase.

(Sorry to be crass, but there is is.)

On a less explicit note, wishing someone goodnight, or more likely sweet dreams, is often something only a lover (or someone who wants to be your lover) would do.

Otherwise there are formal/friendship ways of greeting/goodbye. Which brings us nicely to…

RACE & CLASS

There are some frank discussions of aesthetics and standards of beauty in BL, particularly out of Thailand. Pale or fair (AKA bright) smooth skin (in men and women), certain so-called Western-identified features (in men, like a larger nose) and tallness (in men) are considered (and called out as) explicitly handsome.

Subtext: Because you’re so hot? ( Until We Meet Again )

There is a companion implication that a really pretty uke or really handsome seme can turn a straight boy gay (e.g. Kit’s internal monologues about Ming in 2 Moons 2).

On several occasions the equivalent of “you’re handsome, are you mixed?” (race) is asked bluntly (see Tharntype). Also the Adam’s apple and thick eyebrows seem to be be somewhat fetishized.

The opposite is implied ugly, and clearly carries with it racial stereotyping and/or certain class/rural or uneducated implications.

King’s sister in My Engineer shipping her brother with Ram (before they get together).

Often darker skinned or shorter male characters, even when they are the love interest, are depicted or referred to as tougher, more violent, crass, less controlled, regrettably informal, or uncivilized.

For example, in Love By Chance, Ae (who is shorter and has a tan) is called the roughly translated equivalent of “grassroots shorty” while Pete (his love interest who is taller and very pale) is mostly referred to as Koon-Chai a kind of “princely gentlemen.” Although both of the Thai terms used lack a direct translation into English.

There’s clearly complicated linguistic underpinnings to class and wealth.

Most BL dramas take place in private high schools or at the university level, which puts a wealth barrier in place. There is also a clear language of formality that ties to class and money also effecting social dynamics.

Much is made of the physical differences between Pete & Ae in Love by Chance

Establishing who is older, and whether there is any familial relationship, is pretty vital right away (see my notes on naming conventions and honorifics above).

Not only what characters say, but how they say it to each other, carries significant weight and judgement. As Americans reading captions we cannot hope to fully understand the nuances.

Pete in Love By Chance is the most startling representation of this. His speech is very formal and polite, all the time, even in bed.

The contrast between how he speaks and how his seme, Ae, speaks is shocking even to an untrained ear, and must be profoundly significant to a native Thai speaker.

The best (not quite right) comparison to this might be how certain British accents are considered impossibly posh and blue blooded – like the Eton accent, while others are considered merely highly educated – like the BBC accent, while others are considered lower class – like the Cockney accent.

SEXUAL IDENTITY

There is an amorphous lack of definition to sexual identity in a lot of BL dramas.

Very rarely do characters outright identify as gay or bi (or in one case, gray/demi/ace). In a few instances, the couple never comes out of the closet at all, because it would be too dangerous.

Thus, these BLs are not necessarily queer affirming, and you’re often left with the impression that the HEA will be a struggle, even in the rom-coms.

GASP?! Alex in Until We Meet Again

The implication most of the time is that these are gay for you stories and that the main characters are not, in fact, actually gay. Instead, it’s just they are overwhelmed by this one person. There is a ton of discussion in queer author communities about the damage done by this trope in queer romances (not the least of which is bi/pan erasure), so I won’t be covering it here.

There are some exceptions:

  • Pete in Love by Chance, Tharn in Tharntype, and Fei Sheng Zhe in History2: Right or Wrong all openly identify as gay. In all three cases, their ownership and acknowledgment of this identity is a plot point and a problem for the character.
  • Alex in Until We Meet Again identifies as bisexual. And Frame in Make It Right probably would ID as Pan, if he knew the term.
  • Prae in SOTUS identifies as a lesbian.
  • There’s a kind of tacit acknowledgment amongst Kao’s friends in Kiss Me Again and Wayo’s friends in 2 Moons & 2 Moons 2 that when they date, they date dudes, but it’s never discussed openly.

And… that’s about it. (More recent offerings are expanding on this but it’s moving slow.)

Heterosexuality in BL

In a strange way, this gay for you underpinning diminishes any het relationships the boys also have, or plot points where a femme fatale is introduced. Loving a woman is seen as somehow different or lesser (in context of a feelings so powerful it literally turns a guy gay) and therefore a girlfriend is less important than the all-consuming obsession driving the primary gay relationship (that would cause a man to defy social normals and his own “natural” inclinations).

Only Love Sick directly addresses this.

This base assumption ties to a prevailing idea that gay love (and acting sexually as a result of that love) is both corrupt/unnatural while simultaneously being more/better/different than a heterosexual relationship. This means that cheating on an existing het relationship with a man, is somehow not bad, or not as bad, as other forms of cheating.

Owning a Gay Identity in BL

In many cases, characters are teased, beaten up, or abused by friends or family members for their love affair and that behavior is not condemned by the lens of the drama (it’s more: well, that’s life, dude, suck it up if you want to suck cock).

Trans women, gender fluid masc presenting, or femme out gay men are often depicted negatively, play stalker or predatory characters, or are, at the very least, queeny and campy. In Thai dramas these characters tend to always be present and have a liminal third gender-esque linguistic identity. In interviews, some of the actors refer to these characters as third gender, although the term is not in use within the dramas themselves (so far as I can tell).

In TharnType gay is conflated with pedophile without challenge. (There is a reason TharnType is such a long entry on my list, it has many issues.)

Type aggressively owning the term “Wifey” and a uke/bottom identity in Why R U

If friends/peers know about the gay relationship, casual use of and joking reference to the uke partner as “wife” or “wifey” might occur (from the seme himself and/or their more accepting friends). Yes, this implies that the wife is the one taking it, and yes, friends and outsiders (even family) have an almost pathological need to establish this dynamic.

In this sense, any gay relationship can only be seen or modestly accepted if it mirrors a heterosexual relationship.

Yeah, so, there’s also that. Sigh.

CONSENT

So in BL, from all I’ve seen, consent is NOT sexy.

Colloquially known in the romance business as non-con or dub-con both are a near constant thing in BL dramas. I am not excusing it, but it happens in het dramas out of Asian countries ALL THE TIME too.

Actually asking for it in Until We Meet Again

Particularly around alcohol. It is assumed that alcohol lowers a characters inhibitions so he does what he really wants to do. Or, at the very least, that in drinking too much he basically deserve to be taken advantage of. (Examples of this from American pop culture include 16 Candles and Revenge of the Nerds.)

Yeah, yech.

Whether booze-instigated or not, acceptance of the idea is based on this premise:

The seme is so overwhelmed with his feelings (and so bad at talking about them, admitting them, or dealing with how they change his sexual orientation) that he lashes out at the source of them, the uke.

This can take the form of fist fights (when we deal with an enemies-to-lovers trope – see Pete and Kao in Kiss Me Again). Or it can take the form of rape, or start as rape until the uke submits (argh).

There is a kink component to this and it means a lot of the sex scenes involve the uke being physically held down by the seme, even if the seme is a sweetling love muffin like Ae in Love By Chance.

Ae giving in to his seme urges and holding Pete down against the lockers in Love by Chance

One important point though, when the word “rape” is used in jocular/teasing conversation between characters (e.g. Wayo and Ming in 2 Moons), this is actually a flawed translation to get around censorship.

The Thai word used means “to do sexual things with force/intent.”

I think the correct modern term is probably fuck (as in the verb: aggressive, masculine, and penetrative), and the ESL doing the captioning doesn’t realize that screw is a pretty decent alternate term best used to get around blackballing or even the more twee and old-fashioned ravage.

There’s also a trope of actually kidnapping someone for love, especially in BL from China and Japan. So, huh?

Safe, sane, and consensual?

Not so much.

The underpinning assumption is basically: if the uke doesn’t like it, he’s a dude so he should just defend himself physically.

TharnType is horrible on this one.

For example, as if to prove the point that “uke likes it or he’d just fight” we actually see Type, in a jealous rage, fully defend himself by kneeing Tharn in the groin, thus proving that he can fight if he wants to. It’s just in the past he hasn’t bothered.

Dean touches Pharm immediately in Until We Meet Again establishing intimacy/ownership on the basis of their shared past life

TharnType also defies code by representing a sexual relationship between equally physically fit men, where as most BL pairings have a size/fitness differential.

The smaller and sweeter the uke, the more the onus is on the seme to “be a gentleman” while simultaneously sanctifying when he “can’t take it anymore” because the uke is “just too darn cute.”

Most commonly this is expressed as “the uke doth protest too much” AKA “no means yes.”

I actually remember the USA university no means no campaign of the late 90s. The sweeping policy changes were much discussed by students at the time. You see, in my lifetime, there was indeed an American belief that saying “no” was really just a flirtatious way of saying “yes,” and that the dominant partner knew better and only had to push a bit harder to get the submissive partner to relent.

The idea of protesting as a form of flirtation/encouragement permeated 80s American romance fiction, and still pops up (I’m looking at you, 50 Shades), and it’s a prevailing part of the kink scene because it is still perceived very sexy whether we like it not.

Here are some ways this manifests in BL:

How dare you want sex? (Until We Meet Again)

  • Seme is overwhelmed by his lust for uke.
  • Seme won’t take no for an answer because his needs are too great and his needs take precedence.
  • This is what the uke really wants, anyway, isn’t it?
  • If the seme makes the choice for the uke, then the uke is not at fault and is still an innocent.
  • If the uke is interested in sex, he’s made impure or dirty by this interest.
  • The seme must read the uke’s mind and know what the uke really wants.
  • Sex of any kind diminishes both parties but particularly the one submitting, so the uke can’t possibly bear the responsibility of wanting sex, so the decision must be made by the seme for both of them.

Those are only some of the damaging messages underneath this narrative device. It doesn’t stop this from being used A LOT in BL dramas.

Tutor in Why R U is the only uke character on my list with an active interest in sex (expressed aggressively). His seme, Fighter, still spends half their time together worried about hurting him and trying to be a gentleman. That said, in TharnType Type comes around eventually to loving bottoming, but this series has so many issues with consent I can’t legitimately use him as a positive example of anything.

Oh and safe sex?

Let’s just say I spend an inordinate amount of time yelling at the screen about condoms and lube.

CRASSNESS

Friends Teasing BL

Many of these dramas are far more frank about masturbation and non-sexual bodily functions than Americans are accustomed to seeing on screen. You’ll see outright discussion of both, particularly from straight male side characters who usually play the wise fool archetype to the gay boys (like Pond in Love by Chance and June in Kiss Me Again).

There are also female/gender queer friends fulfilling/playing jester roles who act in clownish or in overly flirty ways. These characters are rarely considered threatening, no matter how outrageous they are, because female is identified by the narrative as submissive and therefore safe and non-aggressive. Straight men will happily flirt/joke with out femme gay characters, and a protective seme usually feels safe leaving his uke with a queer gender-fluid support group (e.g. 2 Moons 2).

On a more serious note, threat of man-on-man rape is casually joked about (even if they might not exactly mean rape, more ravage, sometimes they really do mean rape).

Also non-con voyeurism, peeping Toms, perving, and plying someone with alcohol with sexual intent, are all considered rather cheeky and not necessarily negative.

PRODUCT PLACEMENT

Product placement in most BL dramas is totally egregious. So so so bad. Really, honestly, awful. But hey, whatever makes enough money to make these, I guess?

The worst offender is 2gether, but most of the Thai dramas feature significant product placement. It’s how the series are paid for, one assumes. This doesn’t happen as much in BL out of Taiwan.

Okay, I think that’s all the warnings I have.

Other People’s Thoughts

Still with me?

Then read on for Part 2: THE LIST!

Happy watching, may all your dumplings be purple and all your milk be pink,

Miss Gail

Tutor & Fighter in Why R U


Gail Talks Future Projects, Author Demigods, and Gets Emotional (Video)

Posted by Gail Carriger

New video Q&A for you today, Gentle Reader!

So here I am chatting about everything from Enforcer Enigma to Heroine’s Journey to other future projects. I urge you not to turn authors into demigods and delve into the philosophical weight of separating artist from art. Also I get pretty emotional at the end. So many hugs to you all.

Sorry, I’m a bit low energy in this video as I’m recovering from a bought of ick.

Links of Note

Yours (destined to be killed by a tumbling TBR pile),

Miss Gail

  • Want more more sneak peeks, gossip, and behind the scenes info? This stuff goes to my Chirrup members, because I love them bestest. Sign up here.
  • Not into newsletters? Get only new releases by following Gail on Amazon or BookBub!

BOOK DE JOUR!

Defy or Defend, a new Delightfully Deadly book featuring Dimity!

PICK YOUR VENDOR!

Direct from me?

Dimity, London’s cheerfullest spy, must fix a broken vampire hive while a gentle soldier tries to keep her safe. A charming makeover story set in the popular Parasolverse.

It’s a battle for survival… and wallpaper!

Upcoming Scribbles?

Gail’s Daily Tea Party

Tisane of Nifty 

Lilliput supervising the live video recording. 

Writerly Tincture 

Book Signing Conversation Tips

Book Nibble 

Russian Covers Soulless Changeless

Russian Covers of Soulless & Changeless

Quote to Sip 


Gail Carriger Meets Mercedes Lackey ~ A Fangirl Story (Video)

Posted by Gail Carriger

Dear Gentle Reader,

Mercedes Lackey is one of my favorite authors. She is important to me as an inspiration. When I got to meet her in person I learn she’d my books and enjoyed them, I might have lost my tiny mind.

Gail Carriger Mercedes Lackey Fangirl

I still get giddy thinking about it.

Here is a short video in which I tell the story of the first time I met Mercedes Lackey. I am not the hero of this story. It is embarrassing because I was a professional author and went total fangirl. Please, enjoy my embarrassment…

So, yeah, what a fan girl I was! How much I do I owe to author/narrator Lauren Harris?

“Are we… HUGGING friends?”

I want to reiterate that what Lauren and I wanted to impress upon her was the fact that her books were so very important because they gave us a model of fantasy that included alternate sexuality. As she went to pains to point out, there were other genre authors doing this before her. But those authors were generally less accessible to young women.

Her books were/are important because in them queer wasn’t a big deal. It just was. And so when Lauren and I began to write it just was for us, too.

Normalization.

That, my darlings, is a powerful instrument of change.

Lackey Books!

Here is a short list of some of Lackey’s books that I recommend all the time:

The Last Herald Mage series

The first fantasy book I ever read with a queer main character. Warning, it’s hella sad.

The Arrows series

I think of these books as YA and I still love them so much. There’s some triggers for violence and bullying, but certainly no worse than hunger games. And since these are about be special but also about finding friends and family and making your way in the world… so good.

By the Sword 

This stand alone is probably my favorite Lackey book and if you are going to start anywhere, start with this one. It’s so good. A lady knight type character kicking ass and taking names, finding her place and her family, upsetting monarchies… you know, as you do.

Knight of Ghosts and Shadows (with Ellen Guon)

This was one of the very first books I ever read that had a poly-amorous triad at its heart. Lackey wrote urban fantasy before it was cool, and did it with her usual charm and aplomb (not to mention a few subtle jabs at various dominant cultural paradigms).  Want your elves in LA and bumming about the Renaissance Faire? Then this book if for you. The romance is very light, but still present, and this book may have the most romantic ending ever. (Read my full review on Goodreads.) (no ebook edition)

Lackey Queer by Ursula Vernon @ursulav on twitter

By the amazing Ursula Vernon @ursulav on twitter

More about my relationship with Mercedes Lackey and her work?

Queer Characters? Blame Mercedes Lackey, Behind The Supernatural Society (Special Extras)

This Is Why I Write: 10 Books That Inspired & Formed Gail’s Identity As An Author (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Yours (destined to be killed by a tumbling TBR pile),

Miss Gail

  • Want monthly books recs in your inbox? This stuff goes to my Chirrup members, because I love them bestest. Sign up here.
  • Not into newsletters? Get only new releases by following Gail on Amazon or BookBub!

BOOK DE JOUR!

Defy or Defend, a new Delightfully Deadly book featuring Dimity!

Defy Gail Model Green Vintage Dress Boots Brown Square

PICK YOUR VENDOR!

Direct from me?

Dimity, London’s cheerfullest spy, must fix a broken vampire hive while a gentle soldier tries to keep her safe. A charming makeover story set in the popular Parasolverse.

It’s a battle for survival… and wallpaper!

Tsana’s Reads says:

“I recommend the book to fans of Gail Carriger’s other supernatural Victoriana books. I also suggest it’s a pretty good place for a new reader to dip their toes in, since the book stands alone well and introduces the particular flavour of Carriger vampires (and werewolves, but less so).”

Upcoming Scribbles?

Gail’s Daily Tea Party

Tisane of Nifty 

Green Teacup Orchid Stensil square

Writerly Tincture 

On the origin of the word “blurb.”

Book Nibble 

A fun podcast interview I did with a bunch of librarians on the PLP Fiction podcast talking books.

Quote to Sip 

Quote Changeless Scottish Kilts Knees Ivy


Defy or Defend Launch Video

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

In which I read for you from my new book, Defy or Defend. Dimity’s story, Gentle Reader, here at last!

Gail Carriger FB LIVE Defy or Defend Launch Title

In this video I spend the first 15 minutes reading from Defy or Defend so you can hear what it sounds like in my head and then there’s a Q&A.

I drop some hints about the audio for this book, characters from other books making appearances, and what’s going on with Enforcer Enigma and Heroine’s Journey releases.

 

Non-fiction book suggestions?

Defy DD Tea Pastry Champagne Launch

Questions answered!

  • How many teacups are in my office?
  • How about that survey of future writing projects? Am I writing anything off of it?
  • What terrifies me about the writing process?
  • Favorite and least favorite characters to write?
  • How do I pick Beta readers?
  • Would I do a fairy tale retelling?
  • Are people reading more right now?
  • Who would I write FanFic for?

Gail Carriger Green Vintage Dress Borwn Boots Wrap Coat Turban Sun Glasses

Links & Fashion of Note

Yours (still rather frantic),

Miss Gail

  • Did you miss my latest release announcement? This stuff goes to my Chirrup members, because I love them bestest. Sign up here.
  • Not into newsletters? Get only new releases by following Gail on Amazon or BookBub!

BOOK DE JOUR?

Defy or Defend, a new Delightfully Deadly book featuring Dimity!

Defy or Defend Best Seller Orange Flag

PICK YOUR VENDOR!

Direct from me?

Dimity, London’s cheerfullest spy, must fix a broken vampire hive while a gentle soldier tries to keep her safe. A charming makeover story set in the popular Parasolverse.

It’s a battle for survival… and wallpaper!

Rally the Readers says:

Defy or Defend was perfect from beginning to end: the romance, the mission to save the hive, the friends from other Parasolverse stories, and as always with Gail Carriger’s books, the humor!”

Upcoming Scribbles?

Gail’s Daily Tea Party

Tisane of Nifty 

Green Gail Carriger Multiple Dresses

Writerly Tincture 

Pride and Prejudice and Werewolves Tweet Quote

Book Nibble 

Lilliput DoD Defy ARC Proof Stitting Crouch

Quote to Sip 

Custard is THinker Than Blood


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