Source: Netflix

Coffee, Companionship – and Love? 'The Boyfriend' Makes Reality Dating Show History

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 2 MIN.

"The Boyfriend," Japan's first gay dating reality show, is set to premiere on Netflix on July 9 and run for a month, with new episodes – 10 in total – dropping each week.

Variety described the show's format this way: "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."

Netflix exec Dai Ota, a producer in charge of the streamer's live-action Japanese content, said that the show's focus isn't just skin-deep.

"We started out wanting to highlight the young men's friendships and personalities," the Netflix page for the show quoted Ota saying. "Our focus wasn't just on romance but also on spending time together and experiencing personal growth."

Added series producer and director Keisuke Hishida, "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."

Still, gay romance is at the heart of the show, and that signals a significant shift.

"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," Variety noted.

While the U.S. market has seen a few queer dating shows over the years, such as Bravo's six-episode "Boy Meets Boy" from 2003 and a queer edition of "The Ultimatum" that streamed on Netflix last year, the genre's same-sex takes have come more often from foreign markets recently.

Two notable examples are the British reality dating shows "I Kissed a Girl," which the BBC first aired last year, and the followup "I Kissed a Boy," which the BBC ran this year. Both programs were hosted by Dannii Minogue, the younger sister of global pop star Kylie Minogue.

Both shows are streaming on Hulu for Pride month.

Check out the official teaser for "The Boyfriend," below.

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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