Boredom catches up to even the busiest being and when YouTube suggestions became my only hope for good mental health, I started watching Asian gay dramas. Asian boy-love or gay romances are attracting female audiences like bees to a flower, giving women something to drool over. Twice the men, twice the fun, right? Wrong.
There is a tug between accessibility and authenticity which causes this unintended misinterpretation. Although we cannot blame the production house or actors for needing money to survive, these series’ which is the premise to future mainstream LGBT romances, are setting a wrong example.
The 5 Blunders
There are two types of gays in dramas: Ones who flaunt 6 pack abs and a perfect tan or feminine, sassy, matter-of-factly gay men. There is no in-between. Effeminate gays are seldom seen in lead roles as it depreciates the availability of these men to the majority audience of heterosexual females. This is why agencies put out calls for straight men to play gay men. The aim is to sell, and what better way to do so than by employing 12 abs and 2 perfect tans!
I don’t like men, just him: A ‘sin’ for these homosexual male leads is coming out as ‘gay.’ The script wittily outs them as men who “don’t like other men, just him,” which makes them gay, but not too gay, and persists their attainability. You can indeed fall in love with anyone, regardless of their gender, sex or any attributes, as a matter of fact, this line can cause dysphoria in questioning people and aggravate the taunt of “it’s just a phase.”
We just cannot abandon gender roles: Just like those movies from the nineties that make our noses scrunch because of their shameless misogyny, new gay dramas try to employ older stereotypes, amalgamating them with this unseen sort of love and presents it to audiences in the hope of a better response. We see some inbred stereotypes such as declaring the ‘man’ in the relationship that tries to make the situation better, kidnapping the idea of equality from both heterosexual and homosexual relationships.
Toxicity is in the air: A constant in all romances is the generalization and normalisation of toxic behaviour. The dramas show non-consensual physical encounters (basically harassment), toxic jealousy and over possessiveness as signs of love and brush it under the carpet by developing it into steamy scenes that grip viewers. If you hadn’t fallen in love with this person, you’d probably be a witness against them in a court of law, just saying.
Tall, dark and handsome: Beauty standards aren’t ignored in these dramas, rather (sadly) over imposed, especially with the expectations of various Asian actors (Central or South-East) to be Oppa-looking. It is racist (and ridiculous) to expect to blend diverse Asian beauty into V-shaped faces, pale skin, lean bodies, perfect jawlines and high nose bridges. The casting colourism, a consequence of the beauty thresholds, often sideline better actors to second-lead roles or villains that just end up lowering the capacity of propagation of the dramas.
The dramas are a risky but rather successful attempt at normalizing various sexualities and various sorts of physical and emotional relationships that are hiding in plain sight around us and speak of different kinds of dysphoria that comes in questioning, fear and anxiety in coming out as well as judgements you may need to face.
A perfect mix of romance and reality, heartbreak and heartthrob and some eloquent, engaging dialogues (often lost in translation), these are the perfect dose of comfort for one in difficult times.
If you want to spend a night reminiscing your board exams, celebrating their cancellation of awaiting their inception, use dramas such as The Tale of a Thousand Stars, History 3: Make our days count, History 3: Trapped, Gaya Se Pelikula, SOTUS S, We Best Love and Dark Blue Kiss.
Warning: You may end up feeling too single.
Featured image credit: Finance Rewind/for representational purposes only.