July 19, 2024 The voice of all eras.

5 BL Series That You Need to Catch Up On

June 21, 2024

June 21, 2024

It is more than halfway through Pride Month, and everyone is still on a high from all the celebrations happening left and right. However, there’s no such thing as consuming too much queer media- at least in my opinion.

As an introvert, socializing may get tiring and sometimes I just want to just coop up, watch a good series. If you are on the same train as me, here are 5 of my personal favorite BL series to watch- in no particular order. Consider this as a checklist, counting down the remaining days left in Pride Month.

I am not saying these are the best BLs out there (art is subjective); but if you want a good laugh, cry, or kilig here are some shows you can add to your watchlist. 

Blueming (2022)
Blueming (2022)

Si Won puts great importance on his appearance and popularity and is determined to maintain that image in college. He meets Da Un, another popular student that comes from a high-profile wealthy background. The two personalities clash. And just like in a  good romance film, hate slowly turns to passion.

Blueming is by no means reinventing the wheel, but there’s something powerful in simple yet well-written stories. It is one of the very few Korean BL series that was able to utilize its shorter run time. It was able to lead you through the ebbs and flows of their relationship, every motivation clear and every scene earned. Kang Eun Bin (Si Won) and Jo Hyuk Joon (Da Un) also gave really good performances, and their chemistry is palpable throughout the whole show.

Admittedly, the BL series has a slow start and clunky at some parts. But I have no problem being a Blueming apologist.

The Eight Sense (2023)
The Eight Sense (2023)

Ji Hyun, a college freshman from the countryside,tries to find his footing in Seoul. Here he meets Jae Won, a senior in his university who just came back from his military service. As their relationship developed, we are tagged along through their push and pull relationship, as turbulent as the waves they surf.

I feel like The Eight Sense is the closest thing we can get to a French New Wave-esque filmmaking in BL. From its brooding narrative to its experimentation with film techniques, it sets itself apart from other series in the genre.

The BL series does not feel the need to fill in the gaps; it has confidence in its audience to do it themselves. Its slow burn pacing and dialogue heavy scenes might also be seen as boring, but it felt like an exercise for the actors in their craft. It resulted in very grounded and complex performances.

The Eight Sense is tonally different from other shows in this list. If you are a fan of indie films, this can be a good gateway to BL.

I Told Sunset About You (2020)
I Told Sunset About You (2020)

Teh and Oh-aew are childhood best friends turned rivals. As they prepare to both pursue their interest in Communication Arts in college, they meet again in a Chinese language class. Their personalities instantly clash, but in the process of reuniting, they navigate their complicated feelings for each other.

I am not alone in considering ITSAY as one of the best BL series out there. What sets it apart from its genre contemporaries is the honesty in which the story is told. How it tapped into the teenage anxiety about sexual liberation, young love, and adulthood was as genuine and pure as it can be. The characterization also encompassed the innocence and uncertainty of youth. This makes for compelling characters you root for despite their happiness and sadness, mistakes and triumphs. 

The cinematography of the show is also one of the best I have seen from an Asian series. Every frame was carefully curated, adding more depth to each scene. How it used framing to show separation and longingness. How certain scenes would go at length to capture tension between the characters. 

I don’t want to call this show a “masterpiece” because of the fear of being too hyperbolic. However, its poignant narrative, beautiful visual storytelling, and compelling performances makes spending over five hours for the whole season worth it.

If It’s With You (2023)
If It's With You (2023)

Highschooler Amane moves to the province to live with his grandmother. A love skeptic due to his past experience, he has given up on love. Upon moving, he meets Ryuuji, a boy his age that fits his type. Feelings grow as Amane experiences kindness that he never had before.

This 5-episode BL series is simplicity at its finest. The story is uncomplicated. It knows the plot points it wants to hit and does not feel the need to add any unnecessary angst or exuberant fluff. Yet, the performances are perfect in its subtlety. In a genre where everyone tries to one up each other, it is refreshing to watch a series that is just tender and sweet.

This series is definitely a comfort watch if you just want to feel warm and happy.

Gaya Sa Pelikula (2020)
Gaya Sa Pelikula (2020)

Architecture student Karl is forced by his parents to live in his uncle’s condo alone for the summer, a family tradition. After the client for his online job goes MIA, he becomes short of funds. Comes Vlad, who is hiding from his family, and offers him to become roommates in exchange for rent. As the two spend time together, Karl discovers his love for film and a part of himself that he always knew but is too scared to show.

Gaya Sa Pelikula -I’d argue- is one of the pioneers of Filipino BLs, alongside Game Boys. From amazing writing, to a compelling cast of characters, and a fire soundtrack (one that I still listen to this day), it was such a perfect show to usher in the BL genre to Filipino audiences.

Unfortunately, the show has become muddied due to issues with its creator/screenwriter. 

However, it cannot be ignored the impact the show has for the representation of the Filipino queer experience. It was such a loving depiction of one’s journey of coming to terms with their own identity; how the idea of coming out is handled with such care. Every episode ends with a message to the community, and it’s something that should be heard and seen by everybody.

Sadly, no show like Gaya Sa Pelikula has been made since. But I’m still hopeful for more Filipino queer storytelling that is honest and loving.

Cover image credit: Blueming

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