Dear Straight People,
We all know how polarising the word ‘best’ can be—especially in the GL (Girls Love) drama fandom. It’s impossible for everyone to agree on which shows are the true cream of the crop. Which also means it’s impossible to make everyone happy.
So to solve this issue, we turned to an AI generator to settle things once and for all. As objective as we could possibly make it, we present you with ten GL drama recommendations for your sapphic viewing pleasure. From classic schoolgirl nostalgia to slowburn angst, there’s something for everyone on this list.
Number One’s a sleeper hit!
10) Pearl Next Door (2020)
Overview: Starring Adrianna So as the titular character, this eight-episode Youtube webseries is a spinoff set in the same world as popular Filipino BL series Gameboys. It follows social media influencer Pearl Gatdula’s mission to find her one true love. As she tries to decide between bestie Karleen and long-lost childhood friend Alex, Pearl also struggles to understand the nuances embedded in her sexual orientation.
In addition to the main story arc, the show is unafraid to openly tackle topics such as mental health, biphobia, polyamory and monogamy in the side plots. This makes it solid representation for the Southeast Asian LGBTQ+ community.
Unique points: Just like its predecessor, Pearl Next Door takes an innovative approach through the ‘Zoom-filmmaking style’ through incorporating video chats between characters and Pearl’s video recordings rather than conventionally shot scenes. Though this technique first arose from being forced into COVID-19 lockdown, the chops of both the talented crew and cast displayed in this humble series is still worth applauding.
9) Dear Uranus (2021)
Overview: Dear Uranus marks another welcome addition to the canon of Taiwanese queer cinema. Ruo Ning (Erol) and Ying Qing (Vivian Chen) navigate a tumultuous road towards declaring their feelings for each other in true angsty-schoolgirl fashion. Of course, this wouldn’t be complete without a love triangle, with classmate Jing Chen entering the foray to pursue Ruo Ning romantically.
With the cool, charismatic Ruo Ning acting as a foil to the shy and clumsy Ying Qing, the leads show us an intensely sweet chemistry that evokes the nostalgia of being seventeen and hopelessly in love again. Plus, they keep things short and sweet. With only three episodes clocking in at eleven minutes each, it’s dangerously easy to binge if you’re hankering after a trip down memory lane.
Unique points: This drama marks the first Taiwanese GL story produced and written by a Taiwanese married lesbian couple nicknamed Rabbit (Huang Ting Yu) and Wolf (Xue Yi Jie). Undoubtedly, the power of the queer female gaze shines through in the sensitive, human treatment of all the female characters.
8) ≥75℃ (2019)
Overview: When ‘Tea-Master’ Hong Jae-Eun (Shin Hyun-Jin) crosses paths with Marketing Manager Cha Song-Joo (Lee Yoo-Ri), the two are forced to work together to create a new winter tea course menu. The resulting friction causes immediate sparks to fly between the two main leads. Gently nudged along by tea bar employee Dan (Park Sun-Young), our enemies eventually become lovers.
Unique points: South Korean company Red Q launched this webseries in collaboration with Seoul-based tea and lifestyle company ‘Altdif’, where fans can actually go and taste the tea menus at the tea bar as featured in the show. This series is also available to watch on Youtube and has garnered over 21,000 subscribers since its launch.
Though each episode is a bite-sized couple of minutes long, ≥75℃ still manages to deliver a beautifully understated, gentle story of two women falling for each other. Give it a watch for the cosy K-drama vibes!
7) Girls Love 1 (2016)
Overview: The story revolves around Mi Le (Vespa Miller) and Yu Xiao Rou (He Jia Ying), who live together as roommates in an all-girl dormitory in China. With such a cliche-sounding premise, fans were pleasantly surprised to see the natural harmony of the characters’ dynamics and sustained tension throughout the show. While they were irked by the supporting characters surrounding the main couple, this only serves to anchor Girls Love 1 firmly into the reality of homophobic discrimination in China.
Unique points: True to real life, Vespa Miller is regarded as a queer icon known for her androgynous looks and has openly identified as a lesbian. In 2019, it was announced that Miller had introduced a child into the world with her girlfriend. Taking part in this project is all the more meaningful to represent the Chinese queer community.
6) Lily Fever (2015)
Overview: When Kim Kyung-Ju (Kim Hye-Joon) goes to her friend’s place to find her passport on a fateful day, her friend reminds her to mind her houseguest Jang Se-Rang (Jung Yeon-Joo). Though this premise seems bare-bones on the surface, this South Korean nine-episode webseries fully leverages the two’s intense chemistry. The strong supporting cast also brings the light-hearted comedy needed to offset the weightier moments throughout. Plus, each episode is available on Youtube and only a few minutes long each, which will undoubtedly leave you wanting more.
Unique points: Hopeful for a possible season two, fans were even more disappointed to find out that Lily Fever was initially intended to be a drama pilot, but plans to develop the series fell through. Alas, another undeserving loss for the lesbians.
5) Our Love Story (2016)
Overview: Another drama set in South Korea, this 90-minute film follows fine arts graduate student Yoon-joo (Lee Sang-Hee), who is instantly attracted to part-time bartender Ji-soo (Ryu Sun-Young) and begins an intimate relationship with her. Having only dated men in the past, the shy and reserved Yoon-joo finds herself unsure about what she wants from her first time with a woman, who of course is perfectly juxtaposed against the more sexually experienced Ji-soo.
Our Love Story tells an earnest tale about two women forging a meaningful connection together. The two main actresses are lauded for their chemistry and nuanced performances, which took audiences through an emotional roller-coaster.
Unique points: This film was critically acclaimed throughout South Korea. From Lee Sang-Hee clinching Best New Actress at the 53rd Baeksang Arts Awards to director Lee Hyun-Ju scoring the Best New Director award at the 26th Buil Film Awards among others, it’s clear Our Love Story was truly memorable for the sapphics.
4) Saving Face (2004)
Overview: Saving Face is a Chinese-American film that follows the life of Wil (Michelle Kruisec), who is closeted to her mother Gao but starts a relationship with Vivian (Lynn Chen). After Gao gets kicked out for being pregnant out of wedlock, the mother and daughter’s lives grow entangled as they struggle to reach a mutual understanding.
Unlike most of the GL dramas on this list, this film focuses deeply on a family relationship at the centre of a lesbian protagonist’s journey of self-growth. Though Gao and Wil continually butt heads as a result of their conflicting cultural values, everything all comes together in a sweet, charming ending. The relatability of the story undoubtedly touched the hearts of both Asian and sapphic audiences all over the world.
Unique points: Saving Face marks the first feature-length debut by openly gay director and screenwriter Alice Wu. Not only was it a remarkable win for the lesbian community, it was also the first Chinese-American addition to Hollywood film since 1993. We love seeing authentic on-screen representation!
3) The Half of It (2020)
Overview: It’s not a love story—it’s a story about love. This coming-of-age film revolves around shy Chinese-American high schooler Ellie Chu in the quiet town of Squahamish. But when she is asked by inarticulate jock Paul to secretly write love letters to Aster Flores, another girl in their high school, Ellie begins to fall for Aster herself.
This film cleverly subverts the tired love-triangle trope by having Ellie foster a genuine friendship with supposed rival Paul alongside her connection with Aster, which makes it stand out as a fresh take on a queer teenager’s journey of self-discovery. It’s a heartwarming story about how hard it can be to muster up the courage to go after what you’ve always wanted—complete with a heavy dose of gay yearning.
Unique points: The Half of It is openly queer director and screenwriter Alice Wu’s follow up to her film debut—nearly fifteen years ago. And she clearly hasn’t slipped up, as proven by her clinching the Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival.
2) Family Plan (2016)
Overview: We’re taking another trip down memory lane with this South Korean short film starring Han Jae-Yi and Lee Tae-Kyung. Two high-school girls Jung-Min (Han) and Yoon-Sung (Lee) madly in love with each other fantasise about having a child that resembles both of them. Fast-forward nine years later—and this dream hasn’t died. With Jung-Min’s wedding quickly approaching, it’s time to make their plan a reality.
Fans adored Family Plan for its memorable soundtrack, gorgeous cinematography, fresh writing and talented cast. While the non-linear narrative timeline may be a tad confusing to watch, the bittersweet film perfectly captured the essence of being young and carefree, while striking a balance between naivete and maturity.
Unique points: As if you needed more convincing, the film also scored an award at the Busan International Film Festival 2016. Definitely add this to your to-watch list!
1) Chasing Sunsets (2020)
Overview: To round off this list, we bring you an underrated addition to the GL drama canon. Presented by Youtube channel camp avenue studios, this Filipino lesbian webseries is dedicated towards raising LGBTQ+ and HIV awareness. Lara Bautista (Aura Dominique) is a writer stranded in a summer campsite Camp Avenue in the Philippines due to the COVID-19 lockdown. She begins a passionate affair with its openly lesbian owner and mother Farrah (Donna Erno). Through their gentle, magnetic chemistry, the two leads unexpectedly bring out hidden depths in each other.
To add depth to the central narrative, supporting characters Dominic, King, and Cheche are given their own plotlines exploring their personal quarantine journeys. Linking up these stories makes Chasing Sunsets a memorable watch, not to mention its sensitive treatment of mental health issues, rape, and HIV. Fans have described the two ‘amateur’ actresses as a breath of fresh air and a delight to watch onscreen.
Unique points: We should also give massive props to the crew for pulling off the shoot amidst the actual quarantine lockdown in the Philippines, which only makes it more meaningful for a series explicitly set in a pandemic-stricken world. At a modest seven episodes, we promise you won’t regret making this show your latest binge.
What Other GL Dramas Do You Recommend?
We hope you’re inspired to add some new GL dramas to your to-watch list the next time you hit a rut in your binge-watching life.
But we also know that AI can never be the solution to all of our problems, and some of you are probably going to still disagree with some of our picks. What should have been included on this list? What’s your all-time favourite? Let us know in the comments!
Watch Getaway; Singapore Gay BL Web Series
Since we are on the topic of queer dramas, here is a shoutout to our very own BL (Boys Love) production ‘Getaway’.
Produced in 2022, ‘Getaway’ made history as Singapore’s first gay BL web series. Comprising 5 episodes, ‘Getaway’ is based on an original story from a gay creator featuring an openly queer cast from Singapore and Thailand.
BINGE THE 1ST SEASON OF GETAWAY HERE
If you like what you read, follow Dear Straight People on Facebook, IG @DearStraightPeopleIG, Tik Tok @DearStraightPeople and subscribe to us on our YouTube channel!