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
HIStory4 – 近距離愛上你
Dark and disturbing
Around 23 minutes
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 clash frequently 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 the 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
Li Cheng Charles Tu (涂善存) Charles Tu Instagram
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 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 he turns 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 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
Yung Chieh is a university student currently studying medicine. He is cynical, antisocial, and rarely shows any 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.
Cindy Chi (紀欣伶)
Hsing Ssu’s dad
Tiger Wang (汪建民)
Yung Chieh’s mom
Chen Wan Ting (陳婉婷)
Liao Yi Sing (廖怡裬)
Mimi Chen (陳蘊予)
Vice President Gao
Richard Rim (林埈永)
Yuri Chen (陳怡叡)
Wilson Liu (劉韋辰)
Thomas Chang (張瀚元)
- 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.
HIStory 4: Close to You Review
Drama Review Score: 3
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.
How is the story?
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 was blackmailing Hsing Ssu with suicide attempts and humiliating 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 is going to be the face of HIStory 4: Close to You, defining this series as a whole.
How is the romance?
Let me spell out what happens in HIStory 4: Close to You: HE RAPED HIS BROTHER. 🚨🚨🚨 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 doesn’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 doesn’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!?
How is the 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 for a failing score. Just know that the few points are awarded to the actors.
How is the ending?
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, but would appreciate if the HIStory franchise gives us cute little 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
This drama has a total of 20 episodes. Each episode is around 23 minutes long. This is a long BL drama, and you can finish the entire series in under 8 hours.
HIStory 4: Close to You Behind the Scenes
HIStory 4: Close to You Online
- Facebook: HIStory Facebook (Traditional Chinese)
- Instagram: HIStory Instagram (Traditional Chinese)
- LINE TV: HIStory 4: Close to You LINE TV (Traditional Chinese)
- MyDramaList: HIStory 4: Close to You MyDramaList
- Viki: HIStory 4: Close to You Viki
- Wikipedia: HIStory 4: Close to You Wikipedia (Traditional Chinese)
- Wikipedia: HIStory Wikipedia