Chinese drama, “Novoland: Pearl Eclipse” (斛珠夫人), starring Yang Mi (杨幂) and William Chan (陳偉霆), is in its second week of airing and has been doing well in the viewer ratings. However, there are some scenes between William Chan and Xu Kaicheng’s(徐开骋) characters that have led to some viewers criticize the drama for queerbaiting (卖腐). There were heated discussions about the storylines and even rumors that the original material was actually a BL novel and later changed to BG (Boy-Girl) relationship for the drama.
In the original novel, William Chan’s character, “Fang Zhu”, is a “baixi” for the emperor, “Di Xu”, played by Xu Kaicheng (徐开骋). A “baixi” is someone who endures all the sickness, pain, and injuries inflicted on their host, which was shown in the first episode when “Di Xu” was shot with an arrow, but “Fang Zhu” was the one who had to endure the injuries. The two of them have a deep relationship as they grew up together.
This “baixi” arrangement has been in “Fang Zhu’s” family for generations and their offspring must continue serving the succession of emperors. In order to protect his loved ones, he lets his disciple,”Fang Haishi” (played by Yang Mi), who has feelings for him, marry “Di Xu” as a consort. In the novel, “Fang Zhu” decides to end his lineage and castrates himself to be a eunuch to stop the pain his future offspring would have to suffer.
In the series, “Fang Zhu” made an oath not to marry in this lifetime when “Di Xu” tries to push off “Princess Tilan”, who is the late “Queen Zizan’s” sister, to him. “Princess Tilan” was already betrothed to “Di Xu” from the King of Zhunian to keep the peace between Dazheng and Zhunian.
There is also a scene in the series when one of “Di Xu’s” subjects mentions him and “Fang Zhu” can go back to being like they used to, which elicits a strong response from him.
Te author of the novel, Xiao Ruse, addressed the queerbaiting accusations and rumors about the novel changing it from a BL storyline to BG for tv viewers. On November 14, she made a long post expressing, “I personally don’t think the queerbaiting has anything to do with me. No matter what you see, ship whatever, as long as it happens in the minds of readers and it doesn’t violate any rules or laws, the author can’t control it. However, saying the readers see elements of BL is the author queerbaiting, something about deceiving marriage, and distorting the author’s original intentions, is not quite right. Also, the weird rumors about BL changing into BG. Some of these interpretations and rumors being treated as facts and being spread has already seriously crossed boundaries.”
Xiao Ruse also indirectly addressed the rumor about “Fang Zhu” castrating himself to be a eunuch in the series: “No no, no, no. In the series, there are no shortage of his (body) parts in this lifetime.”