Li Cheng and Mu Ren are coworkers, roommates, and friends who eventually become boyfriends.

HIStory 4: Close to You is a Taiwanese BL drama about three friends who live together and work at the same company. One of the characters pretends to be interested in BL to impress a new employee, but what started out as a charade leads to the development of unexpected romantic feelings. Meanwhile, another character is confronted by an obsessive stalker, as the two of them go through a twisted and turbulent dynamic.

This is easily the worst instalment in the HIStory franchise that romanticizes rape, celebrates toxic relationships, and indulges in offensive tropes. Maybe HIStory 4: Close to You becomes more watchable if you only focus on the lighthearted couple, even if their romance is ridiculous and cliché. However, the other pairing is extremely problematic with an evil psychotic character disguising as a viable love interest. Their storyline unfolds like a dark, disturbing horror that is very uncomfortable to watch.

HIStory 4: Close to You Summary

What is the drama called?

HIStory4 – 近距離愛上你

Where was the series made?

Taiwan

When was the drama released?

2021

How long is HIStory 4: Close to You?

Around 8 hours

What is the genre?

Horror

How would you describe the genre?

Dark and disturbing

How many episodes are there?

20 episodes

How long is each episode?

Around 23 minutes

Plot

Li Cheng, Mu Ren, and Hsing Ssu are all friends who work together at the same company.

Li Cheng, Mu Ren, and Hsing Ssu are coworkers who all work at a wedding planning company. The three of them have been great friends for a long time and live together in the same house as roommates. The sweet, docile Hsing Ssu is often the mediator between Li Cheng and Mu Ren, who frequently clash due to their different personalities. Li Cheng tends to be excitable and boisterous, while Mu Ren is calm and sophisticated. At the company, the two of them are sales managers who lead separate divisions, so they share a competitive rivalry with each other.

A new employee named Mei Fang joins Hsing Ssu's department in the company. Li Cheng used to be childhood friends with Mei Fang and he still has a massive crush on her. However, he teased and tormented her a lot during their adolescence, so she doesn't have a good impression of him. Even though Li Cheng tries to make amends in the workplace, Mei Fang thinks he's a nuisance and doesn't warm to him.

When Li Cheng discovers that Mei Fang is secretly a big fan of the BL genre, he pretends to like it to share a common interest with her. As a hardcore BL fangirl, Mei Fang suspects that Li Cheng is deeply in the closet and harbours secret feelings for Mu Ren. Although Li Cheng is actually interested in Mei Fang, he plays along with her fantasy so that the two of them can stay close. He even ropes in Mu Ren as part of the act, but his straight friend is reluctant and uncomfortable with their increasing intimacy.

Meanwhile, Hsing Ssu leads a simple, ordinary life as a single gay man. He is still closeted to his friends and family. Hsing Ssu is quite family-oriented and fears that he would lose a close relationship with his dad by coming out. Years ago, his dad got remarried after the death of his wife, so Hsing Ssu gained a new stepmom as well as a younger stepbrother, Yung Chieh. Although his antisocial little brother is cold and emotionally distant with almost everyone, he only ever opens up around Hsing Ssu.

Yung Chieh has developed an intense crush on his doting stepbrother, who just sees him as family. His unhealthy obsession with Hsing Ssu can be quite disturbing, which involves stalking his brother, breaking into his house, and crafting sinister plots to seduce him. Although Hsing Ssu has politely resisted all the romantic advances so far, he lets his guard down during a memorable evening together. Yung Chieh takes advantage of Hsing Ssu in his most vulnerable state, changing the dynamic of their brotherly relationship forever.

HIStory 4: Close to You OST

HIStory 4: Close to You Cast

Characters

Li Cheng Charles Tu (涂善存) Charles Tu Instagram

Li Cheng is played by the actor Charles Tu (涂善存).

Li Cheng is a sales manager at a wedding planning company. With his loud and hyper personality, Li Cheng always shows a childlike enthusiasm in everything he does. Although his character can be very bubbly, he tends to annoy his roommate Mu Ren and his childhood friend Mei Fang. In his free time, Li Cheng likes boxing, taking selfies, and hanging out with friends.

Mu Ren Anson Chen (陳立安) Anson Chen Instagram

Mu Ren is played by the actor Mu Ren Anson Chen (陳立安).

Mu Ren works at the wedding planning company as a sales manager. With his cool and poised demeanour, he gets into a lot of heated disagreements with Li Cheng, who is his polar opposite. One of Mu Ren's goals is to buy his own house before turning 30 years old. He lives with Li Cheng and Hsing Su to save money, and the three of them have a close friendship.

Hsing Ssu Michael An (安俊朋) Michael An Instagram

Hsing Ssu is played by the actor Michael An (安俊朋).

Hsing Ssu works as a creative director for a wedding planning business. He gets along with everybody in the workplace with his gentle and kind-hearted personality. Hsing Ssu is the model son who has a great relationship with his dad, but worries that he might disappoint him by coming out as gay. Currently single, Hsing Ssu feels lonely and wants to find somebody to settle down with.

Yung Chieh Wico Lin (林嘉威) Wico Lin Instagram

Yung Chieh is played by the actor Wico Lin (林嘉威).

Yung Chieh is a university student currently studying medicine. He is cynical, antisocial, and rarely shows emotions other than a depressing bleakness about life. Both his mom and his stepmother are concerned about their son's demeanour. Yung Chieh is unhealthily obsessed with Hsing Ssu, developing an intense crush on his stepbrother that is not reciprocated.

Supporting Cast

Mei Fang is played by the actress Cindy Chi (紀欣伶).

Mei Fang

Cindy Chi (紀欣伶)

Hsing Ssu's father is played by the actor Tiger Wang (汪建民).

Hsing Ssu's dad

Tiger Wang (汪建民)

Yung Chieh's mom is played by the actress Chen Wan Ting (陳婉婷).

Yung Chieh's mom

Chen Wan Ting (陳婉婷)

Sister Wang is played by the actress Liao Yi Sing (廖怡裬).

Sister Wang

Liao Yi Sing (廖怡裬)

Shao Fen is played by the actress Mimi Chen (陳蘊予).

Shao Fen

Mimi Chen (陳蘊予)

Vice President Gao is played by Richard Rim (林埈永).

Vice President Gao

Richard Rim (林埈永)

Gill is played by the actress Yuri Chen (陳怡叡).

Gill

Yuri Chen (陳怡叡)

Bo Xiang is played by the actor Wilson Liu (劉韋辰).

Bo Xiang

Wilson Liu (劉韋辰)

Zhi Gang is played by Thomas Chang (張瀚元).

Zhi Gang

Thomas Chang (張瀚元)

Cast highlights

  • You may have recognized a lot of alumni from HIStory 3: Make Our Days Count, including Mei Fang, Bo Xiang, and Zhi Gang. In addition, a few other characters from that series make guest appearances during the finale.
  • Li Cheng's actor (Charles Tu) made a guest cameo appearance in the 2022 Taiwanese BL series Plus & Minus. He appears in the final episode, portraying a wedding photographer.

HIStory 4: Close to You Review

Review

Drama Review Score: 3.0

F
Li Cheng winks at Mu Ren after beating up Hsing Ssu's little brother.

HIStory 4: Close to You is a BL drama gone wrong, glorifying the ugliness of nonconsensual sex, toxic relationships, and outdated stereotypes. One of the so-called romances is played out like a dark psychological horror, and I'm left disturbed by the sinister actions of an utterly despicable love interest. Nothing about Yung Chieh's unhealthy obsession with Hsing Ssu resembles love. It sickens me to see this grotesque dynamic passed off as some kind of tortured romance.

There's zero rationale for making Yung Chieh the love interest in a BL series. I can't overlook the jealous obsession, the emotional manipulation, the chilling psychopathic behaviour, or the total disregard for physical boundaries. His character comes across as a soulless monster with no moral conscience, and the few attempts to humanize him all fail spectacularly. Don't get your hopes up thinking that he gets any better later in the series. His evilness only becomes more flagrant because everyone around him enables what he has done.

The repulsion I feel towards Yung Chieh and Hsing Ssu's incestuous pairing overpowers all the other plots in HIStory 4: Close to You. It takes a lot of compartmentalization to isolate that one awful storyline and only focus on the lighthearted romance between Li Cheng and Mu Ren. Admittedly, their relationship dynamic is charming enough to be watchable, but still suffers from an outlandish narrative not grounded in reality. It feels dated, like a story taken from decades ago about a straight guy pretending to be gay so that a girl would notice him.

To be fair, Li Cheng and Mu Ren are fun to watch if you don't take the story too seriously. This is a cute and upbeat romance with lots of lighthearted silliness. The two characters bounce off each other well with a vibrant rapport, especially in their comedic scenes together. Li Cheng's actor is super animated, and his over-the-top charisma brings an irresistible energy to the series. Too bad this couple is saddled with the rest of HIStory 4: Close to You. I just don't think their romance is compelling enough to salvage the overall quality of the drama.

Even putting aside its problematic elements, this BL series suffers from crude storytelling, cliché characterization, and childish comedy. However, the flaws are packaged well under some slick production values, which honestly get better with every HIStory installment. You may be able to excuse many of the shortcomings when basking in the beautiful cinematography, the handsome actors, and the gorgeous music. Personally, I can't forgive HIStory 4: Close to You for its severe faults, including a dreadful incestuous relationship that makes my stomach churn.

Story

Awful story
Mu Ren finds out that Li Cheng lied to Mei Fang about the nature of their relationship.

I was intrigued after the first few episodes of HIStory 4: Close to You, because my reaction was: "Why did they pick two of the most challenging concepts for the plot in their BL drama?" Li Cheng pretending to be gay so that he could win over a girl is already a premise full of contradictions. I was doubtful whether they could pull off such a quirky storyline sensitively and convincingly, but held out hope that the drama might surprise me. (Narrator: "It did not.")

The other plot was so sinister from the start. I couldn't fathom how they were going to turn a stalker into a viable love interest. Like, how are they going to write themselves out of this mess? Of course, Yung Chieh only grew more monstrous with each passing episode. First, he was Hsing Ssu's stalker. Then, he was Hsing Ssu's brother. Next, he was Hsing Ssu's rapist. Afterwards, he blackmailed Hsing Ssu with suicide attempts and humiliated his parents with recorded video footage of the rape. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH HIM!!!!! 🤬🤬🤬

I swear to god, HIStory 4 seems determined to make Yung Chieh the most despicable human being possible. I couldn't come up with a worse love interest in a BL romance if I tried. This plot is so overwhelmingly bad that it doesn't matter what happens in the other storylines. The rapist psychotic brother will be the face of HIStory 4: Close to You, defining this series as a whole.

Romance

Awful romance
Hsing Ssu is so traumatized after being raped by his brother.

Let me spell out what happens in HIStory 4: Close to You: HE RAPED HIS BROTHER. ðŸš¨ðŸš¨ðŸš¨ Those four words should put you off the series for good, but it doesn't even end there. After being sexually assaulted, Hsing Ssu is deeply traumatized and blames himself for going through this terrible ordeal. Of course, his friends are garbage and don't know how to support him during this crisis.

Yung Chieh proceeds to manipulate Hsing Ssu and emotionally blackmail him into submission. The most blatant attempt was when he threatened to KILL HIMSELF if Hsing Ssu didn't get together with him. Eventually, Hsing Ssu's low self-esteem has been so destroyed that he brainwashes himself into loving his rapist brother. I want to scream in agony every time they kiss and pretend to be a happy couple. Who came up with this horrific storyline and thought it could be portrayed as a loving romance!?

The love story between Li Cheng and Mu Ren was a lot more lighthearted. It was mostly cheesy, but can also be charming in some places. No matter how playful their rapport is, however, the other relationship is so toxic that it poisons the entire series. I can't think of Li Cheng and Mu Ren as a cute couple when they're happily conversing with the rapist brother like nothing happened. Um hello, this guy raped your friend!? Can you act a little more outraged instead of going on a hot springs vacation with him!?

Acting

Good acting

The one positive thing that I can say about HIStory 4: Close to You is that the actors are pretty good. Li Cheng's actor (Charles Tu) steals the spotlight with his boisterous enthusiasm in every scene. His performance is extremely over-the-top, almost too much so, but it works in the context of the comedic scenes and ridiculous storylines. The actor's upbeat energy was pivotal to breathing life into this series.

The other two actors I liked are Hsing Ssu (Michael An), who put in a sensitive performance during his coming out scene, and Hsing Ssu's father (Tiger Wang), who was great at portraying the distress after learning about his son's relationship. I can believe in his performance as a father left completely devastated, with feelings of shock, fury, disgust, and helplessness over what happened.

Part of the reason why I didn't give HIStory 4: Close to You a zero-score review is that the actors put in some decent performances despite the bad material. It's not their fault the story sucked, so I don't want to diminish their acting efforts. Of course, I can't find it in myself to give this series anything except a failing score. Just know that the few points are awarded to the actors.

Ending

Awful ending
Bo Xiang and Zhi Gang got married at the end of HIStory 4: Close to You.

If you've read my strong opinions in the rest of the review, you'll know there's no way I can be positive about the ending in HIStory 4: Close to You. Any series that ends with the rapist and the rape victim in a happy incestuous relationship together is just so messed up, and I can't give my endorsement.

Even putting that relationship aside, the final episode was a sloppy mess. They tried to amplify the drama with Li Cheng and his disgruntled boss, but the plot felt dumb, incoherent, and ridiculous. Of course, Yung Chieh acted like an evil little shit and did some shady stuff to make things worse, but whatever. I didn't care how that storyline ended as long as it was over.

One thing I did like about the ending in HIStory 4: Close to You is that they brought back alumni from HIStory 3: Make Our Days Count. It was fitting for this series to end with a beautiful wedding, and bringing back a couple from the previous series to tie the knot was a stroke of genius. I love this idea so much. I don't need an entirely new season dedicated to the past couples. However, I would appreciate it if the HIStory franchise gives us cute minor updates like these in future installments.

Funnily enough, I don't even like this couple in the original drama, but their relationship seems so healthy compared to the rapist brother and his victim that it puts things into perspective. Maybe if there's an even more toxic couple in HIStory 5, I would finally start to champion the unholy matrimony between Hsing Ssu and Yung Chieh. 😛

HIStory 4: Close to You Episodes

HIStory 4: Close to You has a total of 20 episodes. Each episode is around 23 minutes long. It is a long BL drama, and you can finish the entire series in under 8 hours. HIStory 4: Close to You started airing on March 14, 2021 and ended on May 16, 2021.

Episode 1 & 2

★★☆☆

Episode 3 & 4

★★☆☆

Episode 5 & 6

★☆☆☆

Episode 7 & 8

★☆☆☆

Episode 9 & 10

★★☆☆

Episode 11 & 12

★★☆☆

Episode 13 & 14

★★☆☆

Episode 15 & 16

★★☆☆

Episode 17 & 18

★☆☆☆

Episode 19 & 20

★☆☆☆

HIStory 4: Close to You Behind the Scenes

HIStory 4: Close to You Information

  1. I'm BL girl fans I always support History4 close to you I love BL so much my favorite idol is Anson chen Charles tu , Michael / wico , cindychi

  2. Ok this is 1 grade from you I'll disagree with lol I liked it…yes it's cliche but rather an F I would give it a B-, C-.

  3. I found this site by Coincidence and I fall in love with the way you describe everything and how I agree with almost every reviewe for the dramas in here I decided to write this here because I totally agree with you about everything you said about this drama it's was big disappoint

  4. sooo you basically gave it a low score because it tackles deep dark stuff? things like blackmail and rape happens in real life so it should be addressed as SUCH and it's aftermath on characters , it's clear as sky this series for 18+ of age not the same school/uni bl story that belongs to people under 12yrs rather than having the same re-used recycled plot/story/setting for the 5794 times . we bl fans above 20 of age specially are actually thrilled with this series .

  5. I believe what BL Watcher objects to is not the inclusion of rape and blackmail, but how the series shows a rape victim being blackmailed into having a romantic relationship with his rapist and the two becoming a happy couple. Even if this does happen in real life, what kind of relationship would it be? Would it be healthy in the first place? Unlikely.

  6. As a whole I'm a fan of the HIStory series and I'm sorry there are no more. However I do agree that the rape story was not handled properly. I was shocked at how little emotion the friends showed to the rapist… it was like it never happened, they were no angry or conflicted at all! Also I think that it's not right that you keep referring to this as the "brother" did this and the "brother" did that… (which he did …no 2 ways about it) but you should call him what he is…an STEPbrother with no blood links to each other at all. Otherwise it makes it look even more sordid than it is. I have seen other series where there are similar plots (not the rape/stalking but the "brotherly" love) and they all keep using the same word which always looks awful until you realise that they are no blood related and any relationship btw them should be just fine.

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