Absolute Boyfriend: Falling in love outside your sexual orientation

So, this is Part 3 of my international show review. As I mentioned before, I’ve gotten into an interesting habit lately of watching Asian dramas (To view my other articles, click here and here).

Now I know it may seem a bit random, but my thirst for TV shows has led me overseas. Quite frankly, I was suffering from the mid-season hiatus and I wanted some more action. Anyway, while watching one of these shows, I came across an interesting storyline that I wanted to share with you all.

Absolute Boyfriend (the Taiwanese version, which is based on a Japanese manga, but also has a Korean remake) is about a young woman who accidentally orders a robot online to serve as her boyfriend and has to keep her relationship a secret. He is far more than a sex toy; he is meant to be the perfect boyfriend. That’s the main storyline. However, I believe the more interesting story is the one that starts up between her co-workers.

Towards the end of the series, Sky, a gay man, falls in love with his co-worker Zhi Zi, a woman. One day, after Sky and Zhi Zi got drunk after work, Sky confesses that he’s been feeling lonely and wants to fall in love. He then kisses Zhi Zi. The next day, Zhi Zi avoids him at work, feeling confused about what happened. After Sky tracks her down, he tells her that he kissed her to confirm that his feelings for her are real. He had slowly developed feelings for her over a period of time. Zhi Zi gets angry at him, questioning his sexuality. In a later episode, he says that he fell in love with her, his best friend, despite his “sexual preferences.” But what does that mean?

Well, in order to understand the situation, we should understand what Sky is looking for in a partner. Even though he is well-known at his job for only being attracted to men, he mentions in an episode before falling for Zhi Zi that he wants to be in loving relationship with a person, where their gender does not matter.  So, we can tell from this statement that Sky wants to be in love, and to him the gender of the person is unimportant. This statement was made in passing and it could have easily been ignored due to everything else that was happening in the episode. However, the topic of gender and love comes up again in a later episode. After Sky confesses his love to Zhi Zi and she ignores him, their two friends discuss the matter amongst themselves. They seem to be confused as well, and they understood why Zhi Zi was avoiding Sky. In a moment of surprise, however, the robot jumped into the conversation and argued in favor of Sky. He said that “love is love”, and he did not understand why the bodies of the people involved should matter. One friend angrily responded that a robot could never understand a human situation like this one.

Well, it turned out that the robot was right. In embracing love as a concept that transcends gender for some, the robot was able to make the connection to Sky’s feelings and actually gave Sky the courage to continue his quest for winning Zhi Zi’s love. As for Zhi Zi, it turns out that the real reason she was resisting Sky’s affections was that she was suffering from a poor body image. When Sky discovered her fears, he sighed in relief. He simply said that if he was able to fall for her when he thought he only loved men, he is more than willing to accept her for all that she is.

It is uncommon to see a storyline with an ending like this in the United States. We more often see storylines where characters have a fleeting moment of falling for someone outside their orientation, but it is often attributed to experimentation. Or, if we see a gay man or lesbian fall for someone of another gender, many times it ends with their sexuality being corrected once and for all. It is rare to see a storyline ending in such a positive way in which the person’s sexual orientation is never forcibly renamed. After Sky and Zhi Zi finally start their relationship, the discussion never turned into whether or not Sky was straight again; the focus was on their finally finding happiness with each other.

I’ll admit that when I first heard the phrase, “I fell for you despite my sexual preferences,” I was a bit flustered. I did not want this show to end up like the many others where a gay character’s orientation was corrected to straight. But then I realized that perhaps the meaning was attributed to change. For some people, sexual orientation is fluid, and for some people, it could change over time. After watching the series, anyone could tell that regardless of orientation or preference, Sky was sure about how he felt romantically and more than determined to win the person of his dreams.   

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