1. Till The World Ends. This gem deeply affected me with its simple love story with a cast of characters who are relatable and loving. While others, represented evilness. But even some of their qualities were motivated by love. Nothing is so black and white. I was so moved by this series. A + + + +
2. The Star Always Follow You. This is an astonishing and brilliant story of love from three different perspectives. All done with serenity and perspective of ordinary people living in ordinary places. The theme is love and the fragility of it in ordinary life. Never take it for granted. A + + + +
3. Bus Stop. This is a three-fold love story. One gay, one straight, and one never to be. It takes ordinary people and turns them into extraordinary characters. This series is a representation of humanity and is brilliant and as close to a masterpiece as you can get. A + + +
4. The Eclipse (2022). This story got into the inner workings and minds of all the characters. The intensity of feelings, emotional pain, and misgivings were evident throughout. We see real anguish. We also see real change. But we see genuine love as well. A + + +
5. My Beautiful Man Season 2. While this series is short, it is so profound and a brilliant piece of art. It truly is in a class all by itself. It is like taking a walk through the mind of toxicity and coming out somehow enlightened by the experience. This love should not be, yet here it is. A + + +
6. Candy Color Paradox. There is a moxie about this series that draws you into their story and their lives. The acting is simply superb. They underplay the roles yet bring such an underlying tone of sincerity to them. Both are misfits. Both are passionate, sincere, honorable, and dedicated. A + + +
7. Our Dating Sim. Sheer perfection about an unrequited love in high school exposed at the wrong time. It took 7 years and a lot of internal pain to make it right again. But their journey to reconnect is so beautiful and tender that it makes you believe in love all over again. A + + +
8. The Eighth Sense. A stunning and complex sojourn into a complex love story full of interoceptions that are intertwined not in a metaphysical sense but bound naturally because it was meant to be. While the story is deep and profound, it never gets melancholic and remains promising. A + + + +
The following are my absolute favorites BLs that came out in the year 2022 in rank order:
1. 180 Degree Longitude Passes Through Us Thailand Drama
2. Love At The End of The World Philippines Fantasy
3. Not Me Thailand Action
4. Bad Buddy Thailand Romance
5. About Youth Taiwan Romance
6. Rainbow Lagoon Thailand Romance
7. Country Boy 2 Thailand Romance
8. Plus and Minus Taiwan Romance
9. Heartstopper England Romance
10. The Promise Vietnam Romance
11. In Your Heart China Romance
12. Badhaai Do India Comedy
13. Rainbow Prince Philippines Romance
14. To Sir, With Love Thailand Drama
15. Male Entertainer Thailand Drama
· 180 Degree Longitude Passes Through Us: This is one of the best screenplays I have ever seen along with some of the finest acting in any series from any country. It is simply brilliant and the closest thing to the definition of a Masterpiece. It is simply breathtaking to watch. Its cinematic excellence in presenting the actors in the most sensually visualized fashion is pure genius. I have compared this to watching “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” as a study on how to dissect a human by intellectual surgery.
· Love At The End of the World: This almost made it to the number one spot because of its brilliance in Avant Garde symmetry, eroticism, and intensity It is like nothing you will ever see.
· Not Me: This is a political-social message told through the eyes of love between unlikely individuals. It tackles social injustice with individuals trying to find love in a world that seems destined to be against them.
· Bad Buddy: It is a sweet story of a love between two friends who are supposed to be family enemies. Sure, there are a few bumps along the road, but it does not pretend to be anything other than what it is. It made a ‘gay relationship’ feel nice and normal.
· About Youth: This is the best coming-of-age series I have ever seen, be it straight or gay. It is a saga of love between two young couples feeling and experiencing love for the first time.
· Rainbow Lagoon: This short series is a soft, gentle love story displaying a deeper connection with each other because they essentially take the time to put aside differences and see the other. Its beauty is in its simplicity.
· Country Boy 2: This gem is more of a ‘feelings’ series than a visual one. You can feel the love between the two main characters with one of the characters living in a world, perhaps his own, that is a Utopian one. He finds complete joy in living and is grateful for the even the shortest time with the person he loves. Living in his world will be nothing but love for the remainder of their lives.
· Plus and Minus: Two love stories are told simultaneously. One is a pre-destined love story that is initially rejected but is brought together by a symbol while the other is developed through a slow process of seeing love nurture because of the things that connect them to each other.
· Heartstopper: It tells its story with grit, brutality, and above all, veracity. These characters are relatable, feel like real people, and display the characteristics of their personality from the beginning.
· The Promise: A saga that is an astonishing and brilliant concatenation of a love story between two stepbrothers told by deep reflection as if in the past yet remaining hopeful for the future.
· In Your Heart: This story is a journey of understanding who they are to each other and what they mean to each other. They have been and shall always be in love with each other. They are soulmates even if they do not fully understand that yet or fully comprehend its power.
· Badhaai Do: This is a complex story of an Indian man and woman who hide their true identities in plain sight but end up failing miserably at trying to escape the prying eyes of their families. It gives new meaning to the color lavender.
· Rainbow Prince: While panned by others, this series is an exercise in freedom from the shackles of what a BL should be. It took a BL and turned it into a make-believe enchantment that was fun, entertaining, and made you feel good. It is the first musical fantasy BL that little boys can now romanticize about as a fairytale.
· To Sir, With Love: This is a lakorn of Biblical proportions. It is so much fun to watch and encompasses a love story, subtle in presentation, but profound in meaning. Its message can be summed up in one word – RESPECT.
· Male Entertainer: This sees and presents the uglier side of the sex industry in Thailand and is presented in docudrama format. It is simply brilliant and profoundly moving as it presents the life of sex workers as nothing more than tools to be used.
Indeed, this is an eclectic list mostly based on personal impact. All of these had deep connections with others but not always in positive ways. Watching these should mean something and you should feel its message. And I did with all of these.
If you have not seen these series, I highly recommend viewing these before they get lost to history. Sometimes, it is good to just stop and take a breath and see what is already out there before we tackle new ones. These 15 are the best of the best in 2022!!
1. Country Boy Thailand A + + + +
2. Utsukushii Kare Japan A + + + +
3. Happiness Flies Far Away Vietnam A + + + +
4. Word of Honor China A + + + +
5. Fools-The Friends Vietnam A + + + +
6. Restart After Coming Back Home Japan A + + + +
7. Follow My Sunshine Vietnam A + + + +
8. Call It What You Want 2 Thailand A + + + +
9. Light Taiwan A +++ (+)
10. Call It What You Want 1 Thailand A + + +
11. Sea Him Vietnam A + + +
12. Y - Destiny Thailand A + + +
While there have been other exceptional BLs in 2021 and a number of them could be on a “Honorable Mention” List, these are my favorite, in ranked order. Perhaps number 1 is a bit of a surprise. It should not be. This by a ‘country-mile’ is THE best. It is not pretentious. It is so beautiful in its simplicity and its basic message of involvement. Sure, there are no passionate romances here, but it is not needed. Love is expressed in many ways and sometimes it is expressed quietly, softly and in whispered tones but oh so heart-rendering. This is one of those rare gems that told a story of goodness and kindness and human drama in a most unimposing way. I simply loved it.
This indeed is an eclectic list mostly based on personal impact. All of these had deep connections with others but not always positive ones. I know my last pick is another surprise, as it has been panned by so many. It is a misunderstood series that sometimes got lost in its weight of so many stories. But they portrayed love in complex ways in complex situations culminated and manifested in one of the best final scenes of a series I have ever seen.
If you have not seen these series, I highly recommend viewing them before they get lost to history. Sometimes, it is good to just stop and take a breath and see what is already out there before we tackle new ones. These 12 are the best of the best!
The following are BL series I think should be on everyone’s list to absolutely see. They are not necessarily always the top-rated or most highly rated series or maybe even the best acted. But in some way, they have changed the direction of the concept of BL or had a significant impact on where these series are going. They have stood the test of time or in some way had a classic or masterpiece feel about them that just makes them so special that they stand out. They have solicited in me a sense of awe, wonderment, or an emotional response that go beyond what is felt in the moment. They left me with a lasting impression. Since these are highly subjective, no one needs to agree with this list. It is meant to be a starting point.
The bottom line is that this list will not decrease but only increase as new ‘classic’ series or movies emerge.
Yours to enjoy!
Recommended from the year 2020:
My additions from the year 2021:
My additions from the year 2022. Note that all of these recommendations had a BLISS Rating of A +++: