Netflix drops trailer for Japan’s first same-sex dating show The Boyfriend

Two men go in for a kiss in an illustrated image for Netflix's new show The Boyfriend.

As one gay door closes, another opens, as the saying goes: We’ve just said goodbye to Dannii Minogue’s I Kissed A Girl, but Japan’s first same-sex dating show The Boyfriend is finally coming to Netflix.

There’s evidently something in the water (and by water, we mean TV executive boardroom meetings) when it comes to queer dating shows.

Following on from the BBC hits I Kissed A Boy and I Kissed A Girl, and Netflix’s Queer Love: The Ultimatum in the past year alone, our next big gay TV obsession has arrived: The Boyfriend.

Japan’s first same-sex dating series follows nine queer men who band together to live in a beach house and work at a coffee truck for a month, as they begin a quest for love – both romantic and plutonic.

“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,” explained Dai Ota, the executive producer of live action originals at Netflix Japan.

“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,” added director Keisuke Hishida.

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In a short trailer posted by Netflix, two of the men sit on the beach and contemplate having a kiss to work out whether they’re truly a good match for each other.

Don’t be fooled by the term dating show; The Boyfriend appears to be no Love Island. As the trailer teases, the men in the group take things a lot slower, and a lot more seriously. 

Through hugs, hand-holding and kisses, they’re working out whether they can truly fall in love. It seems unlikely that there won’t some drama along the way though, with one scene in the teaser promising tears and big, big questions.

A poster for Netflix's new dating show The Boyfriend, featuring nine men with their backs turned walking towards a house.
The Boyfriend is coming to Netflix on 9 July. (Netflix)

The “groundbreaking” new show will be hosted by an eclectic number of Japanese celebrities, including actresses MEGUMI and Chiaki Horan, actor Yoshimi Tokui, singer Thelma Aoyama, and drag queen Durian Lollobrigida. 

The Boyfriend is a bold move from Netflix, considering LGBTQ+ acceptance in Japan isn’t as widespread as in other developed countries. 

Though around two-thirds of Japan’s residents are in favour same-sex marriage, the nation remains the only G7 country not to legalise marriage equality.

However, several district courts have ruled the ban as “unconstitutional” – most recently, in March, the Sapporo court in northern Japan dubbed it “discriminatory”.

At the time, the High Court said that “enacting same-sex marriage does not seem to cause disadvantages or harmful effects,” and suggested that it was “strongly expected” that parliament would “institutionalise an appropriate law” soon.

Episode one of The Boyfriend will be available to stream on Netflix US on 9 July. Episodes will air on the following four Tuesdays.

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