Same-Sex Japanese Dating Reality Show ‘The Boyfriend’ Launched by Netflix

Netflix will next month upload its first Japanese same-sex dating reality TV series, “The Boyfriend.”

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The show takes nine men to a beach house in order to find love. For a month, they live together and take turns working shifts at a coffee truck, forging deep friendships and learning about themselves along the way.

The show will also be hosted by an eclectic mix of personalities including Megumi, Horan Chiaki, Thelma Aoyama, drag queen Durian Lollobrigida and Yoshimi Tokui.

Starting July 9, new episodes will be released every Tuesday, with a total of 10 episodes over four weeks.

“We started out wanting to highlight the young men’s friendships and personalities. Our focus wasn’t just on romance but also on spending time together and experiencing personal growth,” said Dai Ota, executive producer of live action originals at Netflix Japan.

The topic is a challenging one in a country that remains largely socially conservative, and which is generally considered less LGBT-friendly than most other developed countries.

The last few years, however, have seen several legal challenges to the established order. Tokyo’s metropolitan government issued special same-sex partnership certificates from November 2022. But these certificates have negligible legal value. In June 2023, the Japanese government went on step further and passed a law which aims to ‘promote understanding’ of LGBTI people.

In March this year, courts in Sapporo and Tokyo ruled that the Japanese government’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. “The Japanese government now needs to be proactive in moving towards the legalization of same-sex marriage so that couples can fully enjoy the same marriage rights as their heterosexual counterparts,” said Amnesty International’s East Asia researcher Jang Boram. There is no timetable yet for the introduction in parliament of legislation to update the law on same-sex marriage.

Netflix simply describes “The Boyfriend” as part of its 2024 slate that aims to showcase unique Japanese stories and perspectives. The series comes after the success of recent original local storytelling, such as “Sanctuary,” “House of Ninjas” and “City Hunter.” It has also added new seasons of reality TV series “Love Village” and comedy talk show “Last One Standing.”

“I discussed with the cast how growth and valuable experiences stem from shared friendships, youth and struggles, not just romance. This led to many unexpected miracles on set,” said Hishida Keisuke, chief producer and director – Kyodo Television):

“I’m so happy with how this series took shape. I listened to each participant with a goal to produce a show that left everyone feeling valued and loved,” said Taiki, producer and casting director.
Watch the trailer here.

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