Most BL fans would agree that the genre has some problematic elements in its history. There are definitely some common tropes that we could do without, and characters and dynamics that many would consider harmful. But for a long time, if you were a fan, there weren’t many options. Thankfully, as BL has grown in popularity, it’s starting to be treated much better. And that’s true of queer media on a worldwide scale. As more and more queer people are taking jobs behind the camera, the depth of storytelling increases.
Now, with streaming services like Netflix and Viki offering BL titles in their library, and many studios like GMMTV putting their shows up on YouTube for international audiences, there are almost too many shows to keep up with. I’ve only been seriously watching BL for about seven months and I’m honestly overwhelmed by all of the choices. I have a spreadsheet that I keep adding to, and my number of series to watch never seems to go down.
With so many shows at our disposal, it’s getting pretty easy to avoid series with problematic tropes. In fact, a lot of the titles that have been released in the past several years manage to sidestep those stereotypes entirely. Yeah, there are some not-so-great characters and situations, but that’s because of other reasons. Consent has become really important and heavily emphasized. There aren’t as many age gaps, and when they are, they aren’t quite so off-putting. Bad behavior in general is recognized and acknowledged.
And sometimes a character comes along that is just a walking green flag – the kind of character where everything went so right it’s ridiculous. These are the characters who you wish were real – and could be cloned – so that they could exist in our lives. These are my top 5 green flag characters, specifically from Thai BLs, as that’s primarily what I watch.
Standard caveat here: this list is composed of characters only from shows that I have seen, and I’ll admit that since I only really started getting into Thai BL dramas last May, I haven’t seen that many yet. I’ve got a list and I’m working through it, but if I forgot your favorite, it wasn’t intentional! It’s just because my pool is small at the moment.
These are presented in no particular order.
Also, fair warning, there are going to be spoilers for all of the shows mentioned. If you haven’t seen it and don’t want to be spoiled, just skip that character.
Chopper, Never Let Me Go (Perth Tanapon)
Never Let Me Go is the story of corporate heir Nueng (Phuwin Tangsakyuen) and his bodyguard-turned-boyfriend Palm (Pond Naravit). This show was a hot mess that I nonetheless loved. It couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be a serious mafia bodyguard AU or a lighthearted teen slice-of-life show, and thus failed at both. But Chopper and his heeled boots were my favorite part of this series.
Chopper gets double points because the marketing tried to make him out to be the bad guy, even as he kept waving green flags in everyone’s faces. After I finish a series (if I wasn’t watching live), I like to go back and read episode discussions, to see what people were thinking as it was airing. A lot of people figured that Chopper would end up turning on his cousin Nueng the same way his father did. It’s hard to blame them, considering the trailer made it seem that way.
But then here comes precious Chopper, upending expectations at every turn. Flat out saying that he doesn’t want the corporate empire his father is trying to build (or more accurately, steal from Nueng). Telling Nueng that whatever happens between their parents has nothing to do with the two of them. Eagerly befriending Palm despite all the adults trying to enforce their difference in class. And when his father abducted Nueng, it was Chopper who shot him. (Granted, he could have moved a little sooner, and then Palm wouldn’t have been shot, but still appreciate the dramatic entrance. Five stars.)
Nowhere was Chopper a greener flag than his relationship with Ben, his longtime crush. Prior to the events we see in the series, Chopper had confessed to Ben and been rejected, because Ben wasn’t ready to be out to other people or even to himself. But when Ben developed feelings for Nueng, Chopper supported both of them, even though you could tell it was killing him to do so. And in the end, Chopper ended up with Ben, and the two of them (hopefully) ran off to England to be very cute and happy together.
Pat, Bad Buddy (Ohm Pawat)
Bad Buddy is the story of childhood frenemies Pat and Pran (Nanon Korapat), who are separated during high school and reunite at college only to discover that their friends all hate each other. This show essentially started my BL brain rot. If you read my rec when I watched it last year, you’ll know that I was obsessed with it for about six weeks last summer. It still occupies a large portion of my brain. Head empty, just Pat and Pran.
Pat is held up as one of the gold standards of green flags in BL fandom. Basically, everything you think you know about him is wrong, and most of the hurt he causes is because he’s oblivious to all emotions, including his own. At least at first. He’s the perfect example of a person who was hopelessly in love with someone and didn’t even realize it.
He does so much for Pran. When Pran’s mom yanks him from school and transfers him, Pat makes sure to get Pran’s guitar, and he keeps it safe for years, despite never knowing if he will ever see Pran again. (They’re next-door neighbors, so it was likely always a possibility, but still.) When their friends find out they’re dating and Pran’s friends shut him out because of it, Pat offers to pretend to be heartbroken so that Pran’s friends will talk to him again, even though Pat has wanted nothing more than to be open about their relationship. When their parents find out they’re dating and everything goes to hell, Pat lets Pran be the one who falls apart.
But it’s little moments, too. Pat is able to balance Pran quite nicely, because Pran often gets caught in his own head in what I like to call the anxiety spiral. Pat pushes him to think outside the box and it helps Pran be more creative with his ideas. When Pran isn’t ready to be in a relationship, Pat figures out a creative way they can date without acknowledging that they’re dating. He acts goofy to cheer Pran up when he’s fighting with his friends. He makes him a special case for his headphones, which he is constantly losing, and decorates it with both of their initials. Basically, this boy is a smitten kitten who will do anything for his boyfriend.
Bad Buddy can be streamed on YouTube.
Mhok, Last Twilight (Jimmy Jitaraphol)
Last Twilight is the story of national badminton player Day (Sea Tawinan), who is losing his sight and needs a caretaker. Enter Mhok, fresh out of prison and having problems finding a job. This show is, like, a thousand times more tender and squee-inducing than I anticipated, which means that my Fridays are generally spent melting into a puddle of goo and then trying to be a normal human adult.
This show is currently airing (new episodes drop on Fridays), so make sure you check out my episode reviews. As such, I don’t know how much more I can say that I haven’t already gushed about every week. Regardless, I think it’s lowkey hilarious that every character on Last Twilight keeps insisting that Mhok is a bad boy. Aside from having been in prison, there is literally nothing “bad” about this boy. He is a solid wall of green flags.
Since the beginning of his relationship with Day, Mhok has gone out of his way to make him comfortable and adapt to his changing lifestyle. Whether it’s recognizing that the smell of smoke bothers him (taking off his shirt is an…interesting way to get around that, but we’re not going to argue), or buying him slippers so that he stops stubbing his toe on the furniture, Mhok is slowly learning to anticipate what Day needs. And he isn’t afraid to look silly while doing so, like donning an inflatable dinosaur costume to make Day smile or wearing a bright pink shirt so Day can find him more easily.
It’s more than his relationship with Day, though. This man waves all the green flags for everyone. He stepped aside when he thought Day’s former doubles partner (and crush), August, returned his feelings. He’s perfectly friendly to Day’s brother, Night, even though their relationship is strained. And when Porjai found out she was pregnant with her cheating ex’s baby, he insisted that she move in with him so that he could help.
Last Twilight can be streamed on YouTube.
Li Ming, Moonlight Chicken (Fourth Nattawat)
Moonlight Chicken is the story of diner owner Jim (Earth Pirapat) and his one-night stand Wen (Mix Sahaphap), who can’t seem to get over each other. But the show was totally stolen (at least for me), but Jim’s nephew Li Ming and his relationship with Heart (Gemini Norawit), the rich, reclusive deaf son of the town’s most influential couple. I started watching the show for Earth and Mix, but by the end all I cared about was what Li Ming and Heart were doing.
At first, I thought Li Ming and Heart would be enemies to lovers, and I have never been more glad to be wrong. There is a bit of antagonism at the beginning; Li Ming is blamed for something Heart did, and he is justifiably angry about no one believing him. But Heart only blamed him because he didn’t realize his parents would know who he was, and he apologizes pretty early on. The two strike up a friendship and are only “enemies” for like five minutes (which is about how long it takes for them to fall in love with each other).
Unlike Mhok, Li Ming isn’t really a green flag in other areas of his life. He’s young, angry, and he’s been dealt a bad hand. He frequently argues with his uncle in the way many teenagers do – pushing buttons, figuring out boundaries. But there is nothing this boy won’t do for Heart.
Timelines are a little fuzzy on this show, but presumably within days of meeting Heart, he starts learning sign language – something Heart’s own parents have failed to do in the three years since Heart went deaf. And he becomes pretty proficient fairly quickly. He offers to translate when they’re watching movies that don’t have subtitles. He helps Heart figure out a new way to enjoy music, which you can tell from Heart’s bedroom was an important part of his life before he lost his hearing. Heart feels shut up in the house, so Li Ming takes him out. Li Ming even helps Heart improve his relationship with his parents.
Moonlight Chicken can be streamed on YouTube.
Tinn, My School President (Gemini Norawit)
My School President was a phenomenon last year, getting international attention. Stars Fourth and Gemini were even interviewed by Teen Vogue about the show’s popularity. (BL stars normally don’t get press in Western media.) The story of Gun (Fourth), a high-schooler completely obsessed with making sure their band redeems itself after what happened the year before, and Tinn, the school’s president who is secretly in love with him, is charming and heartfelt. With the popularity of Heartstopper, it’s no surprise that My School President was the series to really get global acclaim.
On the surface, Tinn’s behavior can come across as creepy. I don’t even blame people who feel this way. He is kind of over the top in his affections, and occasionally slightly manipulates situations so that he and Gun end up together. And a lot of the stuff he does, he can’t be open about. One, because if his mother found out, she wouldn’t understand, and two, because if Gun found out, he wouldn’t accept Tinn’s help. So Tinn has to navigate a fine line.
But what makes Tinn such a green flag is that, while he would absolutely love for Gun to return his feelings, most of the stuff he does, he does without any expectations. The whole reason he is even school president is because he wanted to save Gun’s band. And he goes above and beyond to do so, finding them gigs and instruments, running interference with his mother (the principal). More than that, he’s willing to be the bad guy if it means Gun gets to follow his dreams.
And this boy has endless patience. He may not like that Gun thinks they’re enemies, but he’s willing to play the long game. When they finally do start dating, he follows Gun’s wish to keep it a secret (it’s against the band rules to have a significant other, and yes, it’s dumb). And he somehow manages to put up with the endless fake-outs when it comes to a kiss without storming off in a huff. (I know this is because Gem and Fourth are still young, but still. Let them smooch!)
My School President can be streamed on Viki.
All right, BL nation. Who did I miss? Share all the green flags with me.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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