SINGAPORE — Boys' love dramas, or BL series, have enjoyed a lot of popularity across Asia – BL shows have been made by Taiwan, China, Thailand and the Philippines. The latest and fourth season of HIStory, one of the most popular BL series from Taiwan, is currently available for streaming on Viu (as well as the first three seasons of the show; each season features different characters with a different storyline).
Previous seasons of the anthology series had featured high school students as well as cops and gangsters. HIStory 4: Close To You is about four young men – all suitably good-looking as the genre requires, and charming in their own ways – three of whom are friends who work at a wedding planning company. There are a total of 10 episodes; Viu has been releasing one new episode weekly at the same time as Line TV in Taiwan, and the last episode will premiere this Sunday on 16 May.
Starring Charles Tu Shan Tsun, Anson Chen Li An, Michael An Jun Peng, and Wico Lin Chia Wei, Close To You follows their four characters as they form two couples who develop romantic relationships in the course of the series.
Yahoo Lifestyle SEA caught up with the four heartthrobs of the Mandarin drama for a chat about the show and their characters.
One thing about the drama that is hotly debated by viewers is that the characters Ye Xing Si and Fu Yong Jie develop a romantic relationship despite being siblings – they're stepbrothers. 26-year-old Michael, who played Xing Si, said, "I think that, ultimately, because the two stepbrothers are not related by blood, I was OK with performing the role. The character of Yong Jie joined the family, and the two of them developed both familial and romantic bonds."
As for the other couple on the show – Xiao Li Cheng and Teng Mu Ren – one scene that got fans talking was their steamy bathtub scene. Mu Ren had been slipped a date rape drug by a predatory boss at the company, but Li Cheng turns up in time to rescue his groggy friend and help him take a bath to cool down. The two have an erotic and sexually suggestive scene, although that bit turns out to be only a dream of Li Cheng's.
Anson, 25, who played Mu Ren, said, "I didn't really think too much when we were shooting that scene. I was just trying to maximise my performance as an actor."
However, Charles, who played Li Cheng, was very impressed by Anson's performance, saying that other actors playing roofie victims would now use that as a reference. The 26-year-old said both actors researched in detail what the experience of being drugged in such a manner was like, including watching films of date rape drug victims.
The actors said director Nancy Chen (working from a script by Shao Hui Ting) gave them a lot of freedom to interpret their roles and express themselves, although they discussed their performances with her. Wico, 25, who played Yong Jie, said, "On the set, as an actor, I sometimes had a different direction than the director. But she would listen to our perspectives and combine our ideas and hers into a balanced result."
Although Taiwan has progressed a lot in terms of LGBTQ equality, in many parts of Asia, queer people are still frowned upon and experience a lot of stigma. I asked what the actors thought about representing the gay community through BL drama. For them, love is love, no matter human boundaries such as one's sexual orientation, race or age.
"To me, love is essentially about companionship," said Charles. "For me, even marriage itself doesn't have much meaning, because if love is about having a partner you like for companionship, then any partner could fulfil that criterion. What's important is that you love each other, and that has nothing to do with other people."
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