Though still relatively enjoying the second season of Single’s Inferno, I’ve felt a bit unfulfilled. So I decided to go looking for other possible series to check out. In the last year since Single’s Inferno first premiered and gained much attention, Korea has seen several new dating shows pop up. And each have had their own unique twists to the familiar format. That is, familiar perhaps to a western audience. But all still very different for a Korean audience who may not be used to such programs.
The first series I decided to check out was His Man (남의연애), perhaps the most unique of the diverse crop of shows in the last year. And that is primarily because His Man is Korea’s first gay reality dating series. That is a pretty huge deal. For one, South Korea is still a relatively conservative country. But also the fact that His Man was streamed on Wavve, a streaming platform jointly owned by the country’s three broadcast networks. It’s a very welcome step forward for Korean entertainment.
His Man brings together a group of handsome singles to a house where they will live and interact in the hopes of finding love. Sharing bedrooms, cooking meals together and going out on dates, the singles must navigate the unique situation and get to know each other to hopefully find a match in the end.
Right from the start, His Man is an engaging series. Obviously, featuring a group of gay men as the stars of the show is already something different and refreshing. But the series is immediately accessible to a wide audience. Seeing young people meeting and getting to know each other with all the awkwardness and shyness and excitement that comes with the format is a relatable experience.
And that’s all very much present from the moment the singles first arrive at the home. As with any reality dating show, the singles need some time to adjust to the unique circumstances. But His Man gives them a lot of opportunities to get to know one another.
For me, it’s hard not to compare it to Single’s Inferno. Especially since I’m still in the middle of watching the about-to-wrap-up season two. But I think His Man does a bit of a better job in opening up those chances for the singles. The show allows them to more freely meet each other both in and out of the home. While of course still keeping them within the carefully crafted confines of the show’s format.
And like Single’s Inferno, His Man is able to deftly deliver the K-Drama-infused feels into the familiar reality dating format.
An interesting aspect of the format includes opportunities for phone calls to one of the men they might be interested in. And while the caller isn’t required to reveal their identity, the calls actually end up encouraging the cast to be much more open with each other.
That’s also one of the things that makes His Man feel very refreshing. The singles are much more honest and upfront than participants in other shows. That leads to both happy and not-so-happy moments and results for the men. And that is a good thing. Not everything always results in happy endings. But both the happy and bittersweet moments of the show add to its authenticity. Regardless of what might happen after the show.
There are also great platonic relationships that form on the show as well. And one of the eleven episodes also takes the opportunity for the singles to have a discussion about their experiences as gay men. And it’s a very honest and open discussion that is sincere and enlightening. Most of all, an important discussion. Especially in South Korea on a mainstream program as well.
His Man represents Korea’s evolving society. Years ago, a show like His Man would be absolutely out of the question. But now it is one of many different offerings in Korean entertainment featuring LGBT stories at the forefront.
There is a lot of honesty and sincerity with the stories shared on the show. And when coupled with the awkwardness, drama and romance that comes with reality dating shows, His Man is a refreshing and engaging series. Really great to see a show like this exist, let alone gearing up for a second season too!