The Rise of Thailand’s Boy Love Series
Thailand is currently the reigning king when it comes to producing boy love series (BLs) surpassing Japan. Thailand BLs have been slowly gaining popularity and prominence since 2013.
The demand for Thailand BLs over the past few years has grown tremendously. Shows like Kinnporsche, Not me, Cutie Pie, and Bad Buddy have huge success locally as well as internationally. These shows have been dominating the market and are currently Thailand’s biggest entertainment export.
Where it all began
Thailand’s boy love series culture was mostly inspired by the rising popularity of Japanese manga in Asia. At first, talks of adapting this drama genre were considered controversial. Many entertainment companies were hesitant to present a homoerotic relationship as the main plot of a show. This is why they opted to make them secondary subplots and gauge the reactions of their viewers.
Channel 9 network, however, decided to take a risk in 2014 when it released Love Sick: The series and changed the game forever. It became the inauguration of Thailand’s queer media on the mainstream platform.
The show was positively received and it proved that the audience was ready for homoerotic media that doesn’t conform to the heteronormative narrative.
Following the success of Love Sick, other Thailand entertainment companies started paying more attention to this new genre of media.
GMMTV, a subsidiary of Thailand’s largest entertainment conglomerate released SOTUS and it was a huge hit. The impact of this series’ success is still evident even today. SOTUS became the blueprint of the BL industry, it paved the way and popularized the BL series. It was also a wake-up call to entertainment companies that BL series can be extremely profitable.
The blossoming of the genre
Over the past few years, there has been a remarkable change in societal attitudes towards homosexuality. Globally, many young people support LGBTQ rights and are looking for queer representations in the shows they watch.
These shows are now evolving and are talking about the social complexities that queer people go through in their day-to-day lives. The show Cutie Pie raised the issue of same-sex marriages in Thailand.
Another hit show Not Me addressed LGBTQ activism and viewers can certainly relate to these issues. These shows have mastered how to discuss issues such as LGBTQ discrimination, coming out to parents, and exploring and understanding sexuality. The characters portray these storylines in a way that viewers can not only understand but also sympathize with.
The pandemic also helped popularize the Thai Bl series too. Worldwide lockdowns gave people the opportunity to binge-watch different shows and discover new content. One of the most effective ways to find out what shows are trending is through social media.
Shows like 2gether: The Series, have a huge social media following and it was released during the pandemic, which helped tremendously. Throughout its airing, it topped global trends on Twitter. More people became curious about BL series and soon found themselves falling into the rabbit hole.
There is also a correlation between K-pop and Thailand BLs; it’s like bread and butter. There is a running joke among fans that you can’t love one without knowing about the other.
Most fans have confessed they fell in love with K-pop and K-dramas and somehow found themselves also watching Asian BL series and vice-versa. The two fandoms beautifully intersect and influence each other positively.
The allure of the Thailand Boy Love series
The BL industry has learned to give its targeted audience exactly what they want. The biggest consumers of Thailand BL series are young women from across the globe.
One of the reasons why many young people watch BL series is the attractive men. These actors are not only handsome but they also work out and look every bit like the hot characters described in the manga.
Secondly, the on-screen chemistry between the two attractive leads. There’s something so enticing about good on-screen chemistry between lead actors. It helps the viewers root for their story and it makes their brand marketable. Thai BL actors have huge followings because of their amazing chemistry.
For example take a look at some of the most famous Thailand BL couples: MileApo, BibleBuild, Zeenew, Offgun, and YinWar. Their chemistry both on and off screen is something that fans are always curious to see.
The demand for them is so powerful and this enables them to create powerful brands that fans and companies want to invest in. Their huge following for these shows on social media has also helped Thailand to revive its dwindling tourism.
Fans want to visit Thailand and see the filming locations of famous scenes, they want to attend fan meetings to meet their favorite stars. They want to attend concerts held by their favorite actors and meet other fans.
The power of fandom
The success of these shows also propels these actors into global stardom and they garner millions of fans across the globe who will stop at nothing to support these actors and their future projects. After the release of KinnPorsche actors such as Bible, Build, Mile and Jeff Satur became instantly famous and have one of the most powerful fandoms online. It is the kind of soft power that you never want to mess with.
These dedicated fandoms play a huge role in spreading the “BL culture .” They have created a safe space online where people can be comfortable supporting BL series and can share their opinions. They are free to engage with each other and have discussions about the shows. Of course, there have been some toxic elements in the fandom especially online but every market has a madman.
The storytelling and the love scenes in these dramas are also crafted in a way that compels the audience to support the couples.
KinnPorsche elevated the Thailand BL industry by deviating from the usual high-school and university themes and their explicit approach to love scenes. KinnPorsche proved that a good storyline and great casting can truly elevate a show. The love scenes in the show continue to trend on TikTok and Twitter weeks after the show ended.
These series also sell the perfect fantasy and critics have long spoken about the fact that these shows don’t truly capture the reality of queer people in Thailand. Most of these series are set in a world where queer people are not a minority and don’t deal with the daily obstacles that many members of the LGBTQ community face.
However, others have argued that sometimes escaping from reality is a good thing. There is also the fantasy of getting the perfect partner who will go with you through the highs and lows. A hot, drop-dead gorgeous man who will love you till the end of eternity. These actors make their viewers believe in the possibility of such love. At the end of the day, fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory.
It is clear that Thailand Boy Love series are slowly taking over the world and many people are here for it. The global demand has opened new markets and opportunities for this genre and it is exciting to see how far it will go.
It is a new media era that has the potential to influence change, particularly in societal attitudes towards the queer community.
What are your thoughts on Thailand BL series and the current push for inclusivity? Do you think this is a good thing? Do let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!