If there’s anything productions like last year’s runaway hit The Untamed and the intensely stalked set of Immortality have proven, it’s that the demand for BL (boys love) adaptations is not going anywhere just yet. The genre is clearly here to stay and it’s a good thing production companies wasted no time to take notice of its rising popularity.
Dangai 耽改剧 dramas – the film and television adaptation of danmei novels used to be quite niche in the past. But don’t underestimate its power to launch careers – Zhu Yilong and Bai Yu skyrocketed to popularity after Guardian, and let’s not forget the big push it has also given to Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo’s careers since The Untamed.
While the genre has served as a good training ground for newbie actors in the past – requiring minimal investments with the potential of big returns, things are already changing. All the attention it’s been receiving lately has meant production companies are now throwing bigger investments into these potential money makers. For viewers, let’s hope that equates to our better viewing pleasure.
In the meantime, here’s a selection of can’t miss BL adaptations y’all can look forward to in the near future.
Kicking things off with the drama Immortality aka Hao Yi Xing, the show is adapted from the novel The Husky and His White Cat Shizun by Meatbun Doesn’t Eat Meat. To fans, it is known as Er Ha or 2Ha which is short for Husky.
In his past life, Mo Ran was once the Taxian-jun whose name struck fear in the world of cultivation. He is reborn as a young man and gets a chance to do things over as the disciple of his shizun Chu Wanning as they try to prevent disaster from happening again.
It stars Arthur Chen Feiyu as Mo Ran and Luo Yunxi as Chu Wanning. Luo Yunxi, in particular, is a fan favorite to play Chu Wanning especially after Ashes of Love. Given the fanbase of the novel and the appeal of the leads, Immortality has been hounded by photographers and fans who will resort to anything from standing on excavators to hiding in the bushes just to get a glimpse. Things got so out of hand that the production had to apologize after a video of the crew member beating up a photographer leaked online.
Lately, Immortality was accused of adding romantic scenes for Sebrina Chen Yao who plays Shi Mei. Shi Mei is a male character in the novel so casting an actress is already a change. While it’s normal to have changes to the story, fans are against forcing a boy-girl relationship. Thankfully, the Immortality writer has taken to social media to assure fans that what should be there is there and what shouldn’t be on the script won’t be. Besides, the show has been very secretive so far with only a few conceptual posters released as filming continues, so it’s too early to judge. Filming lasted five months from Apr 24, 2020 to Sep 23, 2020.
Word of Honor 山河令 / A Tale of the Wanderers 天涯客
Priest is a popular BL author whose works include Guardian and Sha Po Lang. This year, another one of her novels is being adapted to drama. It tells the story of Zhou Zishu, the leader of an elite force that serves the emperor who leaves the bloodshed of his past behind to start anew. He meets Wen Kexing, the master of the valley who likes pretty things. Their paths unintentionally cross when they get caught in the affairs of the pugilistic world.
It stars Zhang Zhehan as Zhou Zishu and Simon Gong Jun as Wen Kexing along with Zhou Ye and Ma Wenyuan in supporting roles. Gong Jun is no stranger to the genre as he starred in the BL-adapted drama Advance Bravely. Filming began on Jun 3, 2020 and wrapped on Sep 23, 2020.
Winner is King 杀破狼
A month after filming for Word of Honor began, it was also announced that Sha Po Lang which is one of Priest’s most well-known works is also being adapted to a drama with the English title Winner is King.
Beixuan Kingdom is allowed a brief reprieve after a period of war and chaos. Chang Geng who is a young man living in the borders is almost killed by wolves during an outing before he was saved by Shen Shiliu. Chang Geng learns that he himself is actually a prince and that Shen Shiliu’s identity is the formidable general Gu Yun.
Tan Jianci stars as Gu Yun and Chen Zheyuan stars as Chang Geng. Li Hongyi and actress Sun Anke round up the cast to portray Chen Yi and Chen Qingxu. After over four months, filming wrapped on Nov 13, 2020.
A League of Nobleman 张公案
It is adapted from the novel Zhang Gongan by Da Feng Gua Guo. Although the author is known for writing the BL novel Peach Blossom Debt, her novel Zhang Gongan focuses on mystery solving. It follows the the poor scholar Zhang Ping and Ministry of Rituals Lan Jue. As they solve crime, Zhang Ping eventually works his way up to become the prime minister.
Even before filming began, controversy was already brewing over the show’s casting. It was rumored that Wu Lei who was a potential leading man along with Jing Boran has been blacklisted by Tencent due to top billing issues. Before the cast was finally revealed, author Da Feng Gua Guo also took to social media to say that she objects to a certain actor playing Zhang Ping because a drama he starred in has crossed the line…”
Netizens believe that she is referring to Song Weilong who starred in Untouchable Lovers, a Yu Zheng produced drama that allegedly plagiarized her work. In the end, Jing Boran and Song Weilong attended the boot ceremony on Aug 29, 2020 as the dual male leads of the drama as they play Lan Jue and Zhang Ping respectively. Also joining the cast are Wang Duo, Liu Xueyi and Bi Wenjun who reunites with Song Weilong after In a Class of Her Own.