The early 2021 rumor that Chinese authorities were going to tamp down on C-dramas adopted from Chinese BL novels (boy love novels or 耽美 which means indulging in beauty) have proven not to happen as this year’s biggest hit so far 3 months in is wuxia drama Word of Honor (山河令 Shan He Ling or Mountain River Order) adapted from the BL novel 天涯客 or Faraway Wanderers. This is the most high profile BL novel adaptation since the 2019 drama The Untamed which catapulted leads Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo into the drama A-list. Word of Honor stars Zhang Zhe Han and Gong Jun who honestly seems to cosplay their own version of The Untamed duo with the flirty fire and grumpy ice dynamic. This drama is SOOOOO popular that C-ent is saying over a dozen BL novel adaptations in the words are rushing to air to capitalize on the bromance trend, and it really is that. WoH as with all BL novel adaptions does not openly acknowledge the two male leads in a romantic affection or relationship but uses the traditional wuxia bromance (i.e. 兄弟情) and plays coy with it because the overarching narrative has enemies and past trauma that both need to overcome and they do it together. The best analogy of what’s happening I can describe is Frodo and Sam in Lord of the Rings and their journey to Mordor, if the in the novel they were gay and loved each other as soulmate partners but the movie showed the love but without the romantic subtext to get past the censors. Chinese television whether airing or streaming does not allow true BL stories but this raging popularity of BL novels adopted into wink-wink BL-adjacent dramas has me scratching my head because I don’t get why. Either a viewer loves watching two men love each other so adapt the novel as is (totally cool, and two girls too, but sadly the BL market is like 99% larger than any GL consumption) or don’t and find different source material, because it does feel rather silly to see dramas take BL novel stories and then remove the over BL to just keep the two leads as super duper best friends. Anyhoo, I love seeing diversity and also less C-censorship so this is worth noting as a huge trend in C-ent right now. And sadly this does not work the other way, as I said BL novels/manga is a huge fanbase with majority women but no analogous GL adaptations or mainstream adoption.