Heading into the webdrama Addicted, I wasn’t expecting much. Actually, to be completely honest, what with the (storywise) trainwreck that was CounterAttack and the incessant amount of behind the scenes promotion which amounted to basically hours of fangirl gay-baiting, I wasn’t looking forward to it. I thought I might even give it a pass.
I’m really happy that I changed my mind.
So, let’s give some history, lay some groundwork. Addicted is one of the BL…gah, I hate that term, can we please all get together and decide on something which doesn’t make me feel like a big fat perv? One that makes me want to duck my head in embarrassment when it comes my turn to tell people what I’m watching? I feel like with that term these shows should all be passed around, hidden in a brown paper bag. Or whatever the internet equivalent of that is. A romance is a romance be it straight or gay. Tangent over, back to Addicted… BL webdramas which seem to be flowing through the drama pipeworks with an ever increasing frequency.
Guess I’m not alone there in my enjoyment of them, am I?
Addicted is based on a web book by author Jan Di (can you ever read that name without thinking of Boys Over Flowers??) who also wrote the original story of CounterAttack. Part of me wants to review both of these stories together, as CounterAttack should be ranted about, but Addicted is such a good story, I don’t want to taint it any more than it already is. I guess I’m going to just have to do a review on CounterAttack all by itself. That should be fun…
Anyway, the story follows the story of two boys one rich and one poor. The rich boy lives with his father who he resents (having to do with the death of his mother) and when daddy dearest decides to take a wife, a wife who wants to bring her own son to live with them and join Gu Hai at his fancy pants private school, Gu Hai has had enough and refuses to live with them, moving out, ditching his rich school, and enrolling into the local high school.
The poor boy lives with his father and grandmother. They are very poor and he is very cranky. One day his mother, who abandoned him as a child, comes back, tells him she’s remarried and now wants to be a mom with plans to bring him to live with her, her new wealthy husband, his son (who she’s sure he’ll really like) and wants to take him out of his poor school and put him in her new son’s exclusive private school. Bai Luo Yin, fairly pissed, tells her he doesn’t consider her his mother, and thinks he’s doing just fine in his regular public school—even if there is a new guy in his class who is a complete tool and they immediately butt heads.
Ding-Dong-Ding! Didja get it? Yep. Unbeknownst to our major players, our new ‘brothers’ not only land in the same school but the same class, and are instant adversaries. When I was watching and trying to get Cherry to watch our conversation went something like this:
Stephanie: I’m watching Addicted. It’s pretty good.
Cherry: Isn’t that by the people who did CounterAttack? Pass.
Stephanie: Yes, but Addicted is so much better!
Cherry: Well that’s nice, maybe I’ll check it out.
Stephanie: It’s the first time I’ve ever rooted for brothers to get together.
Okay, it’s not as pervy as I made it sound as they are not technically brothers in any way. Except, their new parents seem to think their marriage makes them an automatic family. It’s something you worry about within the drama as the story goes on as, you get to care for these boys and really root for their possible relationship, you know 1) if the parents ever find out they are going to have kittens and 2) both boys resent their respective parental units so much, it is entirely possible when they find out they this might put a wedge into their fledgling coupledom.
On the other side though, both boys hate their parents so much, and for once in a drama, have no problem fighting them for what they want for their own lives, if the parents just tried to break them up, I’m fairly certain they wouldn’t do the whole guilt ridden, break up thing that drives me crazy in dramas, but instead this would just cause them to fight harder for their relationship.
So. Why did I like this drama so much? Especially more so than CounterAttack? Well. Despite the fact that each episode is only about 20 minutes (with 15 episodes for the season) the writers took the time to create the world and the characters. I binge watched the first nine episodes (before I realized at the time it was still an ongoing drama and the rest hadn’t been released yet) and within those nine episodes, they still were not a couple! This show actually takes a lot of their very precious time to set up first the characters, and then bringing these adversaries to friends. Yes, at this point Gu Hai realizes his feelings for Bai Lou Yin and does what he can to stay near him (very near him) all while trying to stop other people from being near him. Despite all of Gu Hai’s attentions, Bai Lou Yin will have none of it. Laugh. The scene when they are all hanging out with Gu Hai’s friends and Bai Luo Yin asks them if it was normal for friends to touch each others…manparts, as Gu Hai had been trying to convince him it was, was hilarious.
I liked the dynamic we had with this couple, how they both had their own issues and dark histories, both guys were, well, guys. They were hard and aggressive with each other, neither wanting to give in to the other. Eventually, throughout the trials of the story, they both became friends sticking up for each other when the chips were down.
I made the unfortunate choice to read some internet comments on the drama as I was waiting for the new episodes to be subbed. Gah! I hate being tricked into simulcasting something! (Side note: Hats off to the Youtuber Blake who, not only subbed each episode but subbed it fast. We all bow down to great subbers like you, Blake!) One lady said that the show had bad ratings and had been cut down from 18 episodes to 15. I’ve since found out that this was untrue, but when I pondered her comments, I could understand where she was coming from, why some BL fangirls might not be raving over this one as they did over others. Why? It’s for the same reason as why I almost didn’t watch it, or, once I had started watching it, I liked the story so much. With all of those behind the scenes practice videos, and luring in OTP pictures, the production seemed to promise a lot more skinship, a lot more coupledom than we actually got (again, by episode 9). It was a slower moving character piece and I can see how it might turn some people who are there for a certain thing, off. For me though? It made it a much better experience. One so that when they finally did get together, made it a much more rewarding pop.
The reason why I’m making such a point to mention episode 9, is once we get more couple-y, the show goes a bit off track and I’m not entirely sure who’s fault it is, its more a combination of things which made you scratch your head and go—uhhh what? Let’s get into it. Things will get a lot more spoilery from here on out.
We still have a bit of good and unexpected surprises in store. When it was finally revealed just who their parents were, and in turn who they were, it wasn’t Gu Hai but Bau Lou Yin who throws a hissy fit. Mom comes up again to try and convince him to join her on the dark and wealthy side, there is Gu Hai with him. It goes something like this:
Mom: Great! You know each other!
Bau Lou Yin: What?
Gu Hai: Remember that dumb woman my father married? Yeah, this is her. Let’s both be jerks to her!
Mom: Then there can be no more excuses as to why you can’t come and live with us because being wealthy and having a friend is obviously all you need to forget that I abandoned you for most of your life.
Bau Lou Yin: Fuck all y’all, I’m outta here. (storms off in a huff)
While they were both hot heads in the story, I always expected it to be Gu Hai who had the most issue with the reveal of the parental connection. While both boys are prickly, it is Gu Hai who is the more angry and aggressive of the two. Bau Lou Yin seems to come more from a place of frustration. But nope, in the name of his father, it is Bau Lou Yin who huffs off, breaking their connection.
This is where you really get to appreciate how much better of an actor Huang Johnny who plays Gu Hai is. Throughout the story and all it’s flaws (and let me tell you, while I may sound all glow-y, this story does have some big flaws) he makes you feel what his character does and when he says it doesn’t matter who or what their parents are, begs Bau Lou Yin to care more for him than he does their situation, you really feel for him. He may be the bad-boy brat, but in this relationship, he is definitely the one who feels the most.
So lets get back to the crazy time. Yeah, this is where the story takes a brief detour into crazypantsville, and I’m not sure who’s at fault for it. Well, #1, lets blame the writer. The fake kidnapping? Are you freaking kidding me? Gu Hai may be impulsive, and childish, but that was just dumb. Then, whatever, it finally gets the fangirl first kissing in—by frustrated force. Not super cool, man. But it was funny for him to realize that Bau Lou Yin had been about to forgive him and that his stupid impulsive act had ruined it all.
Except. You know. It didn’t. Here, I’m not sure if it’s that they deleted a scene to hurry the story along, but they go right from that to—not only being together again—but having dinner with their parents? What. The. Hell. How did this happen? How did Bau Lou Yin forgive Gu Hai? And how is it now that they are ‘brothers’ it’s okay for them to totally chill with their parents? No, all was not forgiven on the Mom-front as we saw in later scenes (when we got the story back on track) but it really seemed like there was a missing beat there, and it made the lack of it jarring.
Moving on, towards the end of our visit to Crazystoryville, we have the section where, for a day, Bau Lou Yin thinks he has Hep B. It’s not that crazy part which gives me issue, as I’m now used to Asian dramas and their weird dramatic turns. No, my issue with this section was the bedroom scene after Gu Hai has his way with Bau Lou Yin to prove his point that he doesn’t care that Bau Lou Yin has this highly communicable disease. Or did he? I don’t know. We go from the start, to them hanging out in bed in bathrobes. Are you alluding to something?
Look. I’m not a big perv. I don’t need to be shown every salacious detail. But if, by your dumb editing, or censoring, I can’t understand a fairly important part of the story, Imma gonna be pissed. Did they? Did they not? If they did, why did Bau Lou Yin go right back to pretending they weren’t really together? After that, the story seemed to get back on track as if none of this had happened. Its liked the writers realized they accidentally detoured into Crazystoryville, stopped, asked for directions, and got back on track. The pace slowed back down and it became the story I once enjoyed again.
Of course by then we didn’t have much story left to go and they decided that this show really needed a second season and started bringing in extra unnecessary characters. The cousin? What the fudge was he there for? Bringing the ex-girlfriend back at the last second to end on a cliffhanger? Booo… But here’s the thing. It’s not a cliffhanger. The story ended. They are together. Bau Lou Yin finally admitted out loud (okay, so not to Gu Hai) that he was in love.
There isn’t a need for some manufactured angst for a second season. The whole thing reminds me of the second Like Love movie, which ended pretty terribly, and it makes me wonder what will happen in season 2 of this show. Is there still an emotional movie to tell? Or, as like in Like Love 2, will it be all external angst? Then there’s the whole, will they actually even have a second season question. Yes, they plan on it, but China also seems to be planning to shut all these gay story productions down. Who will win out?
For me though, this is one of those stories where I choose to believe the last few minutes of it didn’t happen. That we see these characters being almost cute with each other (as they are still cranky boys) Gu Hai, still being jelly at anyone who looks Bau Lou Yin’s way (because, I’m sorry, that’s just adorable) together, and happy.
Have I mentioned how, everytime Gu Hai comforts Bau Lou Yin or tells him it’s all going to be okay because Gu Hai’s planning on making up for all the love Bau Lou Yin has missed out in his life, my heart just melts a little bit?
Or a lot?
Is this is a great show? If you compare it, quality wise to other mainstream dramas, honestly, no. It doesn’t have great video quality, The acting is cheesy, the story takes weird dives, but there is something about this couple which just gets to me. And in the world of the BL drama? It is a fairly well done show (I’ve seen a lot of stinkers). When I started this review, I know I said I didn’t want gay and straight dramas to be considered differently, but quality-wise, you can’t really compare the two. I don’t blame these shows, it’s a new genre for them. It’s still very taboo. They are all just beginning, so you can’t really paint them with the same brush as the straight dramas. For now. But these shows are becoming more popular, and more accepted, that it’s only a matter of time before they start becoming more mainstream. I look forward to that day.
Would I recommend someone watch this? Well, if you like the BL genre, heck yeah! High quality stories are hard to find. Would I have this be someone’s first foray into BL? Eh. Probably not. Truth of the matter you have to get people hooked on the real crack ones for them to appreciated the smaller shows like this. Will I watch it again? Oh yeah. If I can watch the terribly done Counterattack more than once, then this will be on the high rewatch rotation. Will I watch season 2 if it eventually comes out? That’s a silly question. Even though I’m worried, I need to be there when Bau Lou Yin finally tells Gu Hai he loves him.