Plus & Minus is a Taiwanese BL series about the romance between two childhood friends. The main characters have been best friends for over twenty years. Now, they work as colleagues in the same law firm. Despite their close brotherly bond, this friendship never escalated affectionately until now.
As somebody who favours BL romances between childhood friends, I am obsessed with Plus and Minus. This couple delivers an enthusiastic rapport, many adorable relationship moments, and powerful displays of passion. They make me blush, giggle, and feel emotionally invested in their riveting dynamic. Despite some clunky writing, the delightful love story resonates with me so much.
Plus and Minus Summary
Plus and Minus is a cute & sweet BL drama.
Cheng Ze Shou and Fu Li Gong have been best friends for over twenty years. They are classmates, sharing many childhood memories and experiences together. Li Gong is diligent and sensible, while Ze Shou has a playful and extroverted personality. They maintain a close brotherly bond despite their differences. Li Gong harbours a secret crush on his friend for many years. They once shared a kiss during high school, but a drunken Ze Shou doesn't remember the incident.
Now adults, Li Gong and Ze Shou live together as roommates. They are also colleagues in a law office. Both work for Li Gong's dad, specializing in divorce cases. Ze Shou is cynical about love, traumatized by his mother abandoning the family when he was young. He gladly helps his clients separate from their partners and celebrate divorce as a practical measure. Ze Shou's dad wants his son to settle down and arranges blind dates for him. However, Ze Shou treats these dates as a joke and doesn't seem keen on marrying anyone.
Although Li Gong pines after Ze Shou, he doesn't want to jeopardize their friendship and never confesses his feelings. He's content with their brotherly camaraderie, and Ze Shou remains blissfully oblivious. One night, Ze Shou drank too much alcohol and returned home intoxicated. He accidentally kisses Li Gong again, but doesn't recall the incident the following day. Li Gong feels increasingly troubled and wrestles with the unreciprocated love for his friend.
Li Gong and Ze Shou visit a bar, owned by Nikita and her brother Yuki. The long-haired Yuki is a charming bartender who likes flirting with the patrons. The bar is located near a laundromat. The laundromat owner is Ying Ze, a single father with a young daughter. He shares custody of Ling Ling with his ex-wife. Ying Ze is a quiet man who leads an ordinary life, focused on running his business and caring for his child. He is also friendly with Li Gong and Ze Shou, his regular customers at the laundromat.
Nikita and Ying Ze do not get along. Their business proximity causes tensions. The bar is often noisy and messy, disrupting the laundromat operations. Recently, Ying Ze got into a heated argument with Nikita. He also has a negative opinion of Yuki, who is guilty by association. Unlike his strong-willed sister, Yuki doesn't want to be at odds with the laundromat owner. He takes a friendlier approach and tries to make peace with Ying Ze.
Plus and Minus Trailer
Plus and Minus Cast
Shi Cheng Xuan (石承泫)
Li Gong is a lawyer who works at his dad's law firm. He is diligent, attentive, and reliable at work. Li Gong has a secret crush on his childhood best friend, Ze Shou. They share similar hobbies, like baseball and watching hilariously bad dramas. However, Li Gong doesn't want to jeopardize their close friendship and never confesses his feelings.
Shi Cheng Xuan
Shi Cheng Xuan (石承泫) is a Taiwanese actor. He is born on March 24, 1995. His former name is Shi Cheng Hao (石承鎬). His first BL project is the 2022 series, HIStory 3: Make Our Days Count. He is the lead actor of the 2022 drama, Plus & Minus.
Max Lin (林上豪)
Ze Shou is Li Gong's colleague, roommate, and childhood friend. They have known each other for years, but Ze Shou remains oblivious to his best friend's secret crush on him. He has a playful personality and often annoys Li Gong with his mischievous antics. Ze Shou's mom abandoned her family during his youth, causing him to feel cynical about committed relationships.
Matt Lee (李見騰)
Ying Ze is a laundromat owner that Li Gong and Ze Shou frequently visit. He is a single father who shares custody of his young daughter. Ying Ze leads an ordinary life, focusing on his small business and caring for his child. Although quiet and reserved, he clashes with the bar owners next door and finds them disruptive.
Zheng Qi Lei (鄭齊磊)
Yuki is a bartender who works at his sister's bar. This long-haired lothario is known for making weird drinks and flirting casually with the customers. He is good friends with Ze Shou and Li Gong, his regular customers. Yuki's sister dislikes the laundromat owner next to their bar, but he doesn't feel the same way. Instead, Yuki wants to make peace.
Shara Lin (林逸欣)
Chen Shing Tung (陳星彤)
Flora Gu (古承頤)
Ze Shou's dad
Bryant Lee (李辰翔)
Li Gong's dad
Michael Lin (林明森)
Ai Yu Fan (艾雨帆)
Boris Wang (王品澔)
Aaron Lai (賴東賢)
Hank Wang (王碩瀚)
Kim Chen (程鈺婷)
Moon Wang (王月)
Lin Shuai Fu (林帥甫)
- Li Gong's actor (Shi Cheng Hao) had a supporting role in the 2019 Taiwanese BL series HIStory 3: Make Our Days Count. The two leads (Wayne Song and Huang Chun Chih) appear in Plus & Minus with guest cameos in the final episode.
- Ying Ze's actor (Matt Lee) appeared in the 2022 BL series DNA Says I Love You. He was in a supporting role and not part of a couple.
- The actors who play the divorcing couple (Aaron Lai and Hank Wang) starred in the BL drama Be Loved in House. That romantic series was also about an office romance.
- One of the lead actors from HIStory 4: Close to You (Charles Tu) had a guest cameo in the final episode.
- The director of Plus & Minus is Chiang Ping Chen. He made the 2020 Taiwanese BL series Craving You and the 2021 drama Be Loved in House.
Plus and Minus Review
Drama Review Score: 8.9
Plus & Minus has many remarkable qualities. Its juicy love story appeals to my fondness for romances between childhood friends. The couple shares hot chemistry, displaying their connection through funny banter, passionate encounters, and sweet relationship moments. It even introduces a Taiwanese BL multiverse with familiar faces from other dramas. Plus & Minus ticks all the boxes and delivers almost everything I cherish in this genre.
Oh my gosh, I adore the relationship dynamic between the leads. Plus and Minus fulfills my favourite BL trope, featuring a protagonist with a secret crush on his best friend. The characters have an exciting rapport filled with tension, intrigue, and desire. I was riveted by the emotional drama in the early episodes. Furthermore, Li Gong and Ze Shou are charming protagonists with fun personalities. Their flirting is lighthearted, their quips are amusing, and their attraction feels palpable. Every interaction leaves me gushing and blushing.
Plus and Minus is incredibly generous with the BL content. This series is made by a genre-savvy storyteller who packs every episode with scintillating seduction. It presents the romance attractively with pretty visuals, modern styling, and a lovely soundtrack. Plus, the actors are cast well in their roles. Ze Shou's performer (Max Lin) is vivacious, carrying the rowdy antics with boisterous energy. Likewise, his costar (Shi Cheng Xuan) brings emotional sensitivity and quiet dignity. The two leads work splendidly together, comfortable and persuasive in their affectionate displays.
Incredibly, this couple becomes even more enchanting as the series progresses. Plus and Minus goes on a streak of sensational episodes where Li Gong and Ze Shou's relationship fires on all cylinders. It celebrates physical intimacy with steamy kisses and sexy exchanges. Also, it highlights a tender bond with heartwarming moments. Their romance is so magical that I melt into a puddle of gooeyness. I'm not as enamoured with the secondary leads or their iffy storyline. Nonetheless, they're tolerable and serve as mildly interesting diversions.
I can't defend the clunky writing. This imperfect series fumbles with awkward dialogue and poor direction in several parts. The worst offender is Episode 10, otherwise known as Li Gong's trainwreck era. His rational character behaves senselessly, creating unnecessary conflict that halts the narrative's momentum. It also misses an opportunity to explore Ze Shou's aversion to marriage, such an obvious storyline that gets overlooked. Plus and Minus spends all series emphasizing how he doesn't believe in matrimony, only to skip a pivotal point of his character development.
Plus and Minus rebounds strongly with a bustling conclusion, but the damage is already done. While I can dismiss the messiness, I'd understand why others might lower their opinion of the series. Still, the weak moments in the story aren't dealbreakers for me. I maintain an exceedingly positive impression of the romance, which won over me long ago. Plus & Minus captures the best aspects of BL, invigorating my joy and enthusiasm for the genre. I have no hesitation about including this cute, delightful drama in my list of favourites.
Plus and Minus features my favourite BL trope about childhood best friends navigating their secret attraction. Despite some clunky writing, the overall journey is fun and lighthearted.
I am obsessed with this cute couple and their exciting relationship dynamic. The leads share an emotional bond, funny banter, delightful interactions, juicy sexual tension, and affectionate encounters.
The lead actors are compatible and do an excellent job propelling their roles. Ze Shou's actor (Max Lin) is energetic, while his costar (Shi Cheng Xuan) brings a dignified vulnerability to his performance.
Plus and Minus has a happy ending that celebrates romance in a grand display of reconciliation and affection. It also includes various cameo appearances with actors in other Taiwanese BL series.
This drama has a stylish presentation supported by polished production values. The love story thrives on a romantic ambiance with beautiful visuals and a powerful soundtrack.
Plus & Minus is an enjoyable love story with charming protagonists, delightful interactions & a fabulous romance. Each episode is packed with divine relationship moments that make the BL fan in me giddy.
Plus and Minus Series Explained
- Childhood friends
- Birthday present
- Unreciprocated love
- Li Gong
- Ze Shou
- Bromance to romance
- First kiss
- After the kiss
- Ze Shou's feelings
- Dream relationship
- Ze Shou's dad
- Li Gong's rationale
- Ying Ze & Yuki
I admit to having a strong bias. Any drama about childhood best friends starts with an advantage for BL Watcher. I probably give higher review scores to these series than what they deserve, but I can't help my preferences. Despite a familiar formula, I never tire of watching a protagonist pine after his ambiguously gay best friend. Every childhood love story excites me, especially when it combines all the elements as splendidly as Plus & Minus.
Admittedly, Li Gong and Ze Shou's high school past isn't the significant reason why I like their romance. I'm more enchanted with their adult selves bantering, flirting, and acknowledging their repressed attraction. Nonetheless, I enjoy the flashbacks that give these characters more context and backstory to their relationship. The leads have known each other for twenty years. Their first kiss occurred on their 18th birthdays, which sent Li Gong into a romantic awakening. It began a decade of secret longing for Li Gong, even though Ze Shou didn't even realize what transpired.
Li Gong's crush started before the first kiss. Initially, his birthday present to Ze Shou was a couple's necklace. You keep one half (the positive sign), I keep the other half (the negative sign), and together we make a whole. However, he chickened out at the last moment and switched to a random gift instead. Years later, Li Gong keeps the necklace in his possessions, but he's afraid to let Ze Shou know about it. This birthday present becomes a metaphor that represents Li Gong's one-sided love. He holds onto it, frets over it, but can never admit it to Ze Shou.
Episode 3 features a scene where Ze Shou stands with his back against the wall, and the camera pans to Li Gong looking forlorn on the other side. This elegant visual symbolizes their relationship dynamic so aptly. Ze Shou is facing away from Li Gong, unaware of his best friend's romantic feelings. Meanwhile, Li Gong quietly looks at him, clutching onto a memory from their high school days. Plus & Minus uses this meaningful imagery to depict the anguish of his unreciprocated love.
Li Gong's secret feelings are the driving force in the early episodes. The viewers sympathize with the character (or maybe not, if you're heartless~ 💔), who suffers over his unspoken love for many years. Considering their close bond, it should've been straightforward for Li Gong to confess. Yet, Ze Shou never gave clear signals other than one drunken kiss during high school. He treats his buddy like a bro. Ze Shou also hits on girls at the bar while Li Gong sits nearby and pretends to not care.
Sometimes, Ze Shou teases affectionate exchanges between them, like their near-kiss on the blind date. However, his actions are platonic and not guided by romance. Being intimate with his best friend is like a joke to Ze Shou, something he feels comfortable doing because it doesn't mean anything. For Li Gong, these interactions convey a different message. When Ze Shou gives him another drunken kiss in Episode 2, Li Gong gets his hopes up again. Against better judgment, he wishes their kiss is a hint Ze Shou might see them as more than friends.
Episode 3 crushes Li Gong's hopes. He can't hide his despondence after seeing Ze Shou kiss their male colleague at the party game. The kiss meant nothing, but it makes Li Gong draw unfortunate parallels to his personal situation. He realizes the high-school kiss and the after-work kiss also have no deeper meaning for Ze Shou. Afterwards, there's another iconic imagery where Li Gong looks away in the foreground while Ze Shou hits on his coworker in the background. It's a powerful visual to convey Li Gong's feelings and help the viewers empathize with his situation.
Interestingly, Plus & Minus includes a quick reaction shot between the leads. After this kiss, Ze Shou glances at his friend and notices him looking hurt. They lock eyes for a second, but Ze Shou quickly averts his gaze. Typically, you'd expect him to laugh or make a funny comment. Instead, he has a hesitant reaction, hinting at his guilty conscience for making his best friend upset. It raises an intriguing possibility that Ze Shou is aware of Si Gong's feelings and plays dumb all along. Maybe the crush isn't entirely unreciprocated. Or perhaps he's just drunk lol.
Li Gong is a passive character who lacks initiative. He doesn't act upon his feelings for his best friend. His first instinct is to turn down party invitations from his former classmates, who tease him for being an "aloof Prince Charming". Even with his job, he takes the expected route and works for his father's law firm. These examples depict Li Gong as someone who seldom ventures out of his safety zone. He's cautious, not inclined to spontaneity, and takes calculated risks.
What draws Li Gong to Ze Shou is their opposite personalities. Ze Shou is outgoing, energetic, and annoyingly whimsical. He's the catalyst that motivates Li Gong to participate in activities. On the blind dates, Ze Shou convinces Li Gong to get involved in his wacky schemes. He also encourages his friend to attend school parties together. At one point, Ze Shou feels guilty about forcing his friend to tag along everywhere with him. The truth is that Li Gong appreciates Ze Shou's assertiveness, injecting a sense of excitement into his monotonous life.
Ze Shou's adventurous streak forms the basis of Li Gong's attraction. He doesn't fancy the guy just because of his abs. He's also drawn to Ze Shou's wildly different personality, compensating for Li Gong's shyness and docility. The leads get along because Ze Shou is the "plus" to his "minus", making up for whatever Li Gong lacks. These two form a complementary pair despite their many disparities. Without his friend's positive influence, Li Gong might resemble Ying Ze, a severely passive character confined to a dull existence.
Ze Shou is drawn to Li Gong for different reasons. His character suffers from lifelong abandonment issues, traumatized after his mother walked out on the family. Having a deadbeat parent conditioned Ze Shou to take a hardened stance against love, intimacy, and relationships. Episode 2 ends with Ze Shou declaring his intention to never marry anybody. The bold statement is his coping mechanism so that he doesn't experience a loved one's betrayal again.
Li Gong offers unwavering loyalty to Ze Shou, like the one constant in his life. This childhood friend has stayed by his side for over twenty years, accompanying him through adolescence, school, and work. Although never emphasized, we might surmise Li Gong recruited his friend at his father's law firm, a sign of their solidarity. In addition, Li Gong puts up with Ze Shou's annoying habits and unruly behaviour. He is a patient, understanding, and supportive companion who accepts Ze Shou unconditionally.
Ze Shou's recklessness gets him into trouble, like the violent fight in Episode 4. Li Gong immediately comes to his rescue, even if it means going against his cautious nature and endangering himself. Li Gong's selfless devotion to his friend carries significant value. Ze Shou grew up mistrusting people, yet his BFF is the exception to the rule. He trusts his bond with Li Gong, contrary to his pessimistic outlook. Li Gong restores Ze Shou's faith in relationships, proving there's someone who always has his back.
Bromance to romance
When Plus & Minus first began, the story focuses on Li Gong's unrequited love for his clueless friend. However, the relationship dynamics subtly change since the party in Episode 4. Li Gong's upset reaction to his coworkers kissing prompts Ze Shou to reassess their friendship. He considers the possibility his BFF has a crush on him. Notice how Ze Shou becomes hyperaware whenever Li Gong touches his shoulder. Ze Shou starts wondering whether these seemingly platonic gestures have a hidden subtext.
Ze Shou's suspicions intensify after the fight in Episode 5. He's startled Li Gong risked his life to protect him, signifying a bond that may exceed brotherhood. Until now, Ze Shou treated their friendship as a casual bromance, whereas Li Gong's feelings go much deeper. Ze Shou realizes the clear imbalance in their relationship dynamic, like my friend loves me more than I love him. Observe how he eagerly helps Li Gong with chores to overcompensate.
You may have noticed Ze Shou watching Li Gong closely in the past few episodes. He studies Li Gong's reaction to figure out his real feelings. The shirtless scene in Episode 5 might seem like comedic BL fluff, but Ze Shou is deliberately provoking his friend. Let me take off my shirt and seduce him to see how he responds. Li Gong doesn't take the bait, too guarded to reveal his crush this blatantly. It's Ze Shou's turn to be confused, unsure whether Li Gong likes him or he has gotten the wrong signals about their friendship.
Technically, their first kiss is the third intimate exchange between the leads. It happens in Episode 6 after Ze Shou's curiosity leads him to discover Li Gong's birthday present. Finally, the truth is out of the bag with Li Gong's biggest secret exposed. Both characters and the viewers realize the meaning behind the gift, a token of his secret love. Li Gong takes a gamble and kisses his friend. He's a hopeless romantic who believes in fate, hoping the universe brings them together for this moment of serendipity.
Unfortunately, Ze Shou doesn't respond well to the kiss. His reaction consists of a shocked expression, panic in his voice, awkward fist bumps, and an overeager insistence they're brothers. What could be more uncomfortable than kissing your secret crush and him exclaiming HEY, WE'RE STILL BROS!!! Li Gong clams up and feels immediate regret. His worst feelings are confirmed, proving Ze Shou doesn't reciprocate his love. You can see Li Gong's hopeless despair written all over his face.
This moment is heartbreaking because it goes beyond just a rejected kiss. There's an extra dimension based on twenty years of history together. Li Gong never made a move because he was worried about jeopardizing their platonic relationship. He didn't want to lose his childhood friend, who might react badly to his confession. Now, Li Gong's insecurities came true. He ruined the simplicity of their lifelong friendship with his unreciprocated romantic feelings. Put yourself in Li Gong's shoes, and you'll understand the heavy weight of this devastating moment.
After the kiss
Li Gong and Ze Shou aren't just friends. They're colleagues who must work together in a tiny office. After the rejected kiss, you can't hide in embarrassment or bury yourself in work. You have to face the guy for at least eight hours every day in an awkward environment. Both guys pretend nothing happened. Ze Shou acts like they're still bros and plans social activities. His urge to return to a usual routine comes from good intentions. He wants to prove they're still friends, and the kiss hasn't affected their bond.
Yet, Li Gong wants to be alone. His character doesn't just feel humiliated by the rejection, but he's also hurt. Before, Li Gong could secretly pine after his best friend and maintain the fantasy without confirming Ze Shou's feelings. Now, that's no longer possible after Ze Shou has flat-out rejected him. Understandably, Li Gong wants distance from a guy who wouldn't return his love. Spending time with Ze Shou only makes him yearn for what he can't have.
As Li Gong rebuffs his friend's attempts at reconciliation, Ze Shou calls after him with a question: "Why do you like me then?" Ze Shou is annoyed. He puts effort into resuming their camaraderie after the kiss, but his friend keeps pushing him away. However, his words are hurtful and trigger Li Gong's insecurities. It confirms they both can't forget the kiss, a negative memory forever etched into their friendship. No matter how hard Ze Shou tries, Li Gong knows they can't return to their old dynamic.
Ze Shou's feelings
In Episode 7, Ze Shou confides his relationship problems to Nikita. They have a fascinating dynamic because she also likes Li Gong and sees him as a love rival. Yet, she puts aside her feelings and pushes the leads together. Nikita points out three home truths during their conversation:
- I don't think feelings are a one-sided investment.
- If you don't find a balance this time, it'll be hard to be together in the future.
- Ask yourself how earnest and genuine are your feelings.
Let's analyze each statement one by one:
Nikita's first observation is absolutely accurate. You can't sustain a relationship with just one person's feelings. Both partners must contribute emotionally and almost equally to maintain a lasting bond. The issue with their current relationship dynamic is the imbalance, because Li Gong loves Ze Shou more than his feelings are returned. The kiss highlighted this enormous gap, confirming to Li Gong his feelings are one-sided.
Nikita's second statement points out how the leads reached a critical point in their dynamic. The gap in their feelings has become too significant after the kiss. Li Gong can't tolerate being in Ze Shou's presence anymore because he feels hurt and insecure. The warning signs are imminent, and Ze Shou will lose this friendship unless he restores the balance. He needs to reassure Li Gong their relationship is reciprocal and meet at least somewhere in the middle.
The final statement forces Ze Shou to confront how much he loves Li Gong. Do you love him as just a friend? Can you love him as a romantic partner? As we can see with the glorious kiss, Ze Shou's answer is that he loves Li Gong a lot. Yes, he's capable of returning Li Gong's attraction. If we tie back to the plus and minus theme of the series, the leads used to have a discrepancy in their dynamic. One character had excessive feelings (plus), while the other had a deficiency (minus). Now, Li Gong and Ze Shou are equals with mutual feelings for each other.
Starting in Episode 7, Li Gong and Ze Shou become an item. Their first day of dating begins divinely with Ze Shou preparing breakfast for his new boyfriend. He also gives Li Gong a rose to celebrate the beginning of their relationship. Although buying breakfast & a flower are small gestures, they highlight Ze Shou's thoughtfulness. He makes an effort to impress Li Gong, exceeding expectations.
Li Gong appreciates these sweet gestures and gives his boyfriend a quick peck on the cheek. He looks overjoyed and a little in disbelief. Dating his childhood best friend already seems like a dream come true, but it turns out Ze Shou as a boyfriend is even better than imagined. As for me, I almost want to cry from happiness throughout this scene. I think about how Li Gong endured years of unrequited love and finally waited for this day to come. Ze Shou is now your boyfriend and he loves you so much! YOU DID IT, BABE!!! 😭
However, Ze Shou has bought too much for breakfast, unsure about his boyfriend's favourite foods. In contrast, Li Gong knows what his partner likes to eat (steamed buns with egg). Ze Shou reflects on how there's so much he hasn't noticed about Li Gong despite years of friendship. Although they're dating, their relationship isn't entirely equal yet. Li Gong still loves him more, and Ze Shou needs to catch up. Nonetheless, this first day is a promising start. As long as Ze Shou continues making an effort, he'll learn all about his other half.
Li Gong and Ze Shou go through their honeymoon period in Episodes 7, 8 and 9. I can't stop raving about how amazing their relationship scenes are. Each moment is cute, funny, and idyllic. The leads are physically affectionate and emotionally supportive. Their intimacy scenes are tasteful, respecting boundaries when Li Gong isn't ready to have sex. In addition, the characters have meaningful conversations, exchange flirty banter, and go on simple dates. They bond like an ordinary and authentic couple.
The storyteller captures the dreamy romance perfectly, getting every aspect right. What makes the scenes even better is that they're well-acted, well-filmed, and well-written. On top of developing the relationship, the narrative is balanced with plots from the law firm. The focus isn't solely on the characters' love lives, but we establish other storylines too. I'm impressed with the excellent balancing act in these three episodes, solidifying Plus & Minus as one of my favourite BL series.
I can highlight so many best moments during this trifecta of episodes, but the bedroom scene might be my favourite. It starts cute and funny, but then escalates into sexy and steamy. What a perfect combination. Some BL romances are 10/10, but the one in Plus & Minus is more like 100/10. This series has outdone itself in the romantic department, and they should be proud of themselves.
Ze Shou's dad
Li Gong and Ze Shou's paradise doesn't last forever as signs of tension creeped into their relationship bubble. A prominent conflict happens in Episode 9 when Ze Shou's dad sees them kissing. I have been wondering how their families would react to the relationship. We don't focus on Li Gong's dad, but he's clearly supportive. In contrast, a lot of drama happens with Ze Shou's father.
Ze Shou's father throws a homophobic fit after seeing his son kiss another guy. The dad can't articulate why he opposes this relationship, other than the senseless hostility stemming from his bigotry. His character is also a hypocrite. He sets up his son on blind dates with random girls, chastising him for not settling down with a partner. When Ze Shou finds a loving, long-term relationship with a guy, the dad is hateful and only focuses on the ~with a guy~ part.
Ze Shou's father is the central antagonist in Plus & Minus. However, the series doesn't demonize his character. He cares for his son and even delivers homemade lunches to his office. His circumstances are also sympathetic, as a widower who just lost his ex-wife to cancer. Nonetheless, Ze Shou's dad condemns the gay relationship, sparking heated arguments between father and son. While he isn't completely villainous, his disapproval is why our leads break up later in the series. Li Gong witnesses his boyfriend's animosity with his dad and blames himself for it.
In Episode 10, Li Gong inexplicably breaks up with his boyfriend. His shocking decision upsets Ze Shou, me, and probably everyone watching. WTF!? Li Gong says he changed his mind about their relationship and wants them to be friends instead. We know it's a lie, but the story doesn't offer a clear explanation and hides his perspective. Ze Shou feels confused, angry, and helpless. Last episode, his boyfriend insisted he'd never leave Ze Shou. Suddenly, this betrayal happens.
What an awful storytelling decision for so many reasons. Firstly, Li Gong's behaviour seems irrational. With no insights into his thought process, he acts like a jackass for dumping his boyfriend out of the blue. Secondly, Li Gong commits Ze Shou's worst fear of being deserted by a loved one. He knowingly triggers Ze Shou's lifelong abandonment trauma, reversing all the progress made. Thirdly, the breakup wrecks the foundation of their romance. Li Gong loved Ze Shou for two decades, yet he now gives up on their relationship. Hey, I don't love you enough to fight for us to be together.
Li Gong also acts out of character. After Ze Shou's mom dies, Li Gong doesn't offer consolation when they interact. He's going out of his way to be cruel, unlike the sensitive and thoughtful guy we knew earlier. Worst of all, their scenes are gloomy, infuriating, and halt the narrative's momentum. Plus & Minus botched these last few episodes badly. If we use a sports analogy, they did worse than dropping the ball before touchdown. It's like they gave the ball to the other team and the plot started going backwards! I hate this storyline so much.
Li Gong's rationale
There's no excusing what Li Gong did, but let's try to make sense of his character's murky motivations. He breaks up with Ze Shou out of guilt. Li Gong feels responsible for driving a wedge between Ze Shou and his homophobic father. His sense of culpability increases after reading the letter from his boyfriend's mom. It reminds him Ze Shou already had a terrible relationship with one of his parents, who is about to die. Li Gong believes he'll ruin Ze Shou's bond with his other parent, depriving him of even more family love.
As Li Gong watches his boyfriend argue with his dad, he feels powerless for being unable to help. He also feels selfish, making Ze Shou choose him over his family. Li Gong decides it's best if they return to their old peaceful dynamic. They got along for twenty years until he overstepped their platonic bond. From Li Gong's perspective, it's his fault for being greedy and wanting to turn this friendship into a romance. He feels the burden of correcting the problem and chooses to break up with Ze Shou.
Li Gong is wrong, of course. His self-sabotaging actions have hurt everyone, even if his intentions started as well-meaning. A recurring theme with Li Gong is his pessimism. In the first half of the series, he thinks their romance couldn't happen. In the second half, he says their romance shouldn't happen. Li Gong is associated with the minus sign, also known as the negative symbol. Li Gong succumbs to his negativity and doesn't believe he deserves this relationship with Ze Shou. He requires Ze Shou's positivity to reassure him they have a future.
After Li Gong's break-up, Nikita seizes the opportunity to confess her feelings. Li Gong is single and ready to mingle, so she decides to court him. I don't know the general consensus on Nikita, but I really like her character. She's an intriguing female love interest. Nikita comes across as an assertive woman who shows agency throughout the series. She has thoughtful opinions, stands up against patronizing men, and takes control of her own narrative. Nikita has my respect, even if I disagree with some of her actions.
Many BL dramas portray female love interests unfavourably as clueless, wounded, or scheming. Nikita doesn't fit this profile. She understands the dynamics and figures out Li Gong's feelings for Ze Shou. Despite liking Li Gong, she can put aside her agenda and encourage the leads to get together. Nikita isn't passive either. She doesn't keep her feelings bottled up, waiting for Li Gong to notice her one day. She pursues her happiness when he's ready to date and handles the rejection gracefully.
Nikita may seem abrasive, getting into numerous quarrels with the Ze Shou and Ying Ze. However, I like that she doesn't let these men talk down to her. When Ze Shou is rude and insults her integrity, she hurls a glass of water at the jackass. Similarly, she speaks her mind when Ying Ze accuses her of littering. Like, screw you, don't order me to clean up the garbage! Of course, Nikita could afford to be a little more neighbourly. Nonetheless, her self-assuredness impresses me, and I respond to this character positively.
The breakup drama consumes the last few episodes, so it's easy to overlook the interesting side plot with Ms. Wang. She's the client who insists on divorcing her husband after decades of marriage. Her reason for separation is unusual: she's no longer in love with her husband. There's no cheating, no financial trouble, and no irreconcilable differences. She's simply a woman desperate to exit a loveless marriage.
Ms. Wang's rationale may be challenging to accept because she goes against the norm. While many couples are in loveless marriages, they usually stay together out of convenience and complacency. In contrast, Ms. Wang is adamant about leaving her husband and restoring her independence. We don't know what caused her to lose passion in their marriage. However, do we need a reason? Some people suddenly fall in love without an explanation. Maybe the logic goes both ways and you can just fall out of love with someone.
Her character shares similar thinking to Ze Shou, who has expressed depressing views on marriages. She's like the human embodiment of why he opposes getting married. Her character seems like a cautionary tale, proving that relationships are not absolute. Feelings can fade over time. Soulmates aren't forever. These messages are very cynical for a BL series, but I like that they're controversial and thought-provoking. Plus & Minus expresses unique views about love worth examining. I appreciate it as a series that goes beyond just casual romantic fluff.
The breakup drama resolves as inelegantly as it started. Li Gong realizes he's a dumbass and reconciles with his boyfriend. The series rebounds with many romantic segments, ending with a big gay wedding between the leads. Taiwanese BL dramas tend to finish with a couple randomly tying the knot because it's an easy conclusion. However, I think it's suitable to Plus & Minus, given its story threads on marriage and divorce. If there's a series that should have a wedding in the final episode, it's this one.
That said, Li Gong & Ze Shou's wedding still feels tacked on due to the poor storytelling. For starters, the events are rushed. The couple just got back together this episode. Yet, we jump into a wedding when the relationship is stabilizing after a massive shake-up. Also, I find it impossible to trust Li Gong anymore after his stunt. Not enough time has passed to redeem his character or regain my goodwill. Whenever Li Gong tells Ze Shou he'll never leave his side, I raise my eyebrow suspiciously. Ugh, I hate this series for botching his characterization and making me doubt his sincerity.
Plus & Minus misses an opportunity to explore Ze Shou's aversion to marriage. Based on everything we know about his character, he wouldn't want to get hitched. We're missing the crucial character development that makes him accept Li Gong's proposal. The series could still end with a wedding, but where's his journey reaching this point? The obvious final storyline is Ze Shou overcoming his marriage phobia. This unique topic matches the overarching narrative themes. Regretfully, the series wastes the last few episodes on the unnecessary breakup instead.
Ying Ze & Yuki
Let's end this analysis with a few quick thoughts on the secondary romance. In my opinion, Ying Ze and Yuki are a mediocre couple. Their chemistry isn't engaging, a few encounters are written embarrassingly, and Yuki needs more characterization. I'm obsessed with Li Gong & Ze Shou's love story, so my overpouring love for them compensates for the shortcomings in this other romance. Put Ying Ze & Yuki in another BL series, and I'd probably rate the pairing as below average.
Ying Ze and Yuki's relationship echoes similar themes as the leads. Ying Ze is like Li Gong, very passive and afraid to exit his comfort zone. Yuki is like Ze Shou, free-spirited and unsure about settling down. They reconcile their different values and manage to build a future together, just like the other couple. I always like it when the two romances in a BL drama have overarching parallels. It makes the series more cohesive.
The most memorable Ying Ze and Yuki scene is their argument over the laundromat's second-hand clothes. Ying Ze wanted to hold onto some random old garments, but Yuki disposed of them without permission. The entire saga is pretty ridiculous, but it also feels like a dumb enough argument for a real couple to have. Not about the laundromat lost-and-found obviously lol. However, I can imagine many relationship quarrels over your loved one throwing away a seemingly useless memento.
Plus and Minus Ending Explained
Plus & Minus has a happy ending where Li Gong and Ze Shou reconcile after their breakup. Li Gong realized he shouldn't have broken up with his boyfriend. Previously, Ze Shou's father opposed their relationship, straining the relationship with his son. Li Gong thought separating was the right decision to bring Ze Shou and his dad closer. However, his boyfriend felt hurt and betrayed, so he handed a resignation letter to the law office. Li Gong's father warned his son to think about himself instead of others, or risk losing Ze Shou forever.
Meanwhile, Ze Shou clears the air with his father, who told him that Li Gong visited earlier. During their conversation, Li Gong offered to end his relationship so Ze Shou and his father could get along. He sacrificed his happiness, thinking it would help his boyfriend's family situation. Ze Shou realized the breakup came from Li Gong's misplaced good intentions, not because he fell out of love. Ze Shou's dad encourages his son to chase after his ex, indicating his newfound approval. The father insists he'll always support his son, no matter who he dates.
The leads meet on the baseball field, where Li Gong apologizes. He takes out a baseball with the text "one lifetime" (一輩子) written on it. Then, Li Gong adds one penstroke to change the word "one" to "ten". Now, it says "ten lifetimes" (十輩子), amplifying the magnitude of his love. He throws the baseball to Ze Shou, who reads it and understands the message. The main characters embrace each other and share an intimate kis. Their reconciliation is officially complete.
Oh my god, I think the symbolism in this scene is so clever with many meanings:
On the first level, the increase of "one lifetime" to "ten lifetimes" signifies eternal love.
On a second dimension, the word "one" in Chinese is a horizontal stroke that looks like a minus sign (一). Similarly, "ten" is written like a cross or plus symbol (十). When Li Gong uses a penstroke to modify the word "one" to "ten", he's simultaneously changing the minus sign to the plus sign. It ties to the title, making you understand why the drama is called Plus & Minus.
On a third layer, Li Gong is taking his negativity (aka the minus sign) and turning it into positivity (aka the plus sign). He won't act pessimistically and give up on their relationship anymore. Instead, he'll be optimistic and stay with Ze Shou forever.
Plus, they're standing on a baseball field made of dirt. In Chinese, the character for "dirt" or "earth" (土) is basically the plus and minus symbols combined together. An earlier scene alluded to the meaning in a comedic way. However, this specific character is an excellent metaphor because it unifies the two signs together. The baseball field is carefully chosen for the reconciliation scene to highlight the symbolism of dirt & earth. The plus and minus signs aren't separated anymore. They are now reunited together.
Even the baseball itself is an iconic item. It's an emblem representing Li Gong and Ze Shou's childhood friendship. They enjoyed playing this sport during their adolescence. This baseball emphasizes their strong bond that has lasted for decades.
The literary depth of this moment is like some complex labyrinth that blows my mind. Wow~ 🤯
Li Gong and Ze Shou aren't the only characters who reconcile in the Plus & Minus ending. In addition, Ze Shou makes amends with his father. The dad already changed his mind and supported his son's relationship in Episode 11. However, he gives a proper and sincere apology this time, admitting the errors of his thinking. It's a powerful episode of healing with really positive messages. I like seeing Ze Shou on good terms with his father and sister. They can joke and tease each other, exuding authentic family warmth.
This episode includes a quick exchange between Li Gong & his father. Li Gong's dad gives firm reassurance and says, "You'll definitely be happy." Notice how his character never makes a big deal about his son being gay. He's supportive and wishes them happiness from the get-go. He honestly has the best approach, much preferable to this coming-out melodrama. Also, the series infers Li Gong's dad went behind the scenes and gave Se Zhou's dad a stern talking. He helps the couple overcome their troubles in his low-key, unintrusive way, the sign of a good parent.
I love this ending because it was packed with romance, the area where Plus & Minus shines the most. After the leads reunite, we get a sex scene celebrating their physical intimacy. There's also an emphasis on their emotional bond when celebrating each other's birthdays.
The moment I like the most is when Ze Shou's dad visits the office. He brings food for everyone but includes extra portions for Li Gong. Ze Shou accuses his dad of showing favouritism. It's a cute way to show Ze Shou's father embracing Li Gong as part of his family.
This episode also features a proposal scene. The leads hang out in the living room, where Ze Shou gets on one knee and asks to marry his boyfriend. Le Gong instantly starts tearing up because he's so overjoyed. Your childhood best friend loves you and he will be your husband! YOU DID IT, BABE!!! 😭 Thematically, I like the idea of Ze Shou changing his views on marriage because he found his soulmate. I just wish there was more character development leading up to this point.
Plus & Minus ends with the leads getting married at their wedding ceremony. It's a fairly straightforward scene where the characters exchange rings, make out, and everyone celebrates festively. Nonetheless, the BL fan in me still gets giddy watching the nuptials. Earlier, I remarked how Taiwanese BL dramas like to include a random gay wedding in the last episode. However, I secretly enjoy this trope, appealing to my hopeless romantic side. Keep those weddings coming!
The wedding is also memorable because of the cameo appearances from actors in other BL dramas. The attendees include the two costars from HIStory 3: Make Our Days Count. One of the leads from HIStory 4: Close to You also appears as the photographer. Earlier in the series, Plus & Minus brought the two leads from Be Loved in House and even developed a side story around them.
Random observation: the leads from Plus & Minus look like the actors from Be Loved in House in an alternate universe.
Anyway, I love this BL multiverse in the same way other fans fawn over Marvel superheroes appearing in different franchises. These cameos don't mean anything, but it's just cool recognizing familiar faces. Keep the crossovers coming!
Going into the finale, the horrible breakup drama from Episode 10 still reverberated with me. I was so angry and annoyed at Li Gong for being an asshole. I felt jaded about the love story. However, the final episode has powerful displays of romance, positive messages of reconciliation, and that clever motif with the baseball. The series wins me over again, reminding me of what I enjoy about it so much. Plus, seeing Li Gong in tears at the proposal softened his character and made me forgive his earlier indiscretions.
With that said, I wish Plus & Minus could've rewritten the last few episodes to make them less disastrous. Here are my suggestions for an alternate universe:
THE BREAKUP SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN. Oh my god, this needs to be bolded, capitalized, and underlined. I know the series wants to introduce tension in the endgame, but the breakup drama was handled terribly. Instead, keep this couple together. Make Li Gong and Ze Shou face their troubles as a united pair.
Episode 10 should focus on the storyline with Ze Shou's father. Instead of breaking up, Li Gong and Ze Shou find a way to change the homophobe's mind. Maybe they can show up at the restaurant regularly, helping the dad with various errands. He doesn't warm to their presence initially. Over time, Ze Shou sees his son happy and softens his attitude. The episode ends with a thoughtful reconciliation between parent and child.
Episode 11 should be about exploring Ze Shou's aversion to marriage. My suggestion is to make Li Gong propose to his boyfriend in this episode. He gets excited, asks his father (who could use more scenes) to help, and plans a fun proposal. However, the tension is that Ze Shou rejects him. Ze Shou still wants to be a couple, but he doesn't want to marry his partner. This decision would align with everything we know about his character and his cynical views about marriage.
There could be conflict in the endgame. Li Gong is upset and doesn't understand Ze Shou's refusal to marry him. Afterwards, Ze Shou notices the distance between him and his boyfriend. We can insert some tension in the narrative. The drama resolves after Ze Shou talks to Ms Wang, the client in a loveless marriage. Ms Wang is happy about her divorce, but she doesn't regret getting married either. The marriage brought joy and self-enlightenment. Her response would be the Eureka moment to change Ze Shou's views on commitment.
Finally, the leads reunite on the baseball field in the last episode. It's similar to the reconciliation scene in the actual finale. However, Ze Shou uses this moment to propose to his boyfriend. Instead of giving a ring, he hands over the baseball with the "ten lifetimes" message and says, "Marry me."
Oh my god, I would be IN TEARS if that was the actual storyline. Ultimately, it's a piece of fantasy fanfiction that would never happen in any lifetime. However, it's my ideal version of Plus & Minus without the breakup drama.
Plus and Minus Episodes
Plus & Minus has a total of 12 episodes. Each episode is around 25 to 35 minutes long. The last episode is around 35 minutes long. It is a long BL drama, and you can finish the entire series in under 6 hours. Plus and Minus started airing on April 15, 2022 and ended on June 24, 2022.
After the series concluded, Plus & Minus also released a special episode on July 7, 2022. It loosely follows the events after the finale, including a quirky storyline about their high school days. To be honest, the episode is inconsequential to the plot and contains too many past clips. The special is more like BL fluff and not considered essential viewing.
The party game in Episode 3 is a significant scene for the love story. First, it highlights Li Gong's unrequited love poignantly. Ze Shou unknowingly toys with his emotions by being flirty during the drinking game. When he kisses their male colleague, you can feel the anguish and despondence of poor Li Gong.
This scene, which continues into Episode 4, also marks a turning point in their relationship. Beforehand, Ze Shou was clueless about his friend's feelings. However, he starts picking up signals after seeing Li Gong so upset. He starts putting together the pieces that Li Gong might like him as more than friends.
BTW, I love whenever Ze Shou grabs Li Gong's face, which he does multiple times throughout the series. I think Li Gong looks super adorable every time, bringing out the boyishness from his appearance.
Many people won't agree, but my favourite kiss in Plus & Minus is the shortest and most meaningless one. It happens in Episode 4 after Li Gong leaves the party game. He's clearly upset as Ze Shou chases after him. Suddenly, Ze Shou smooches his friend in the face. OMG. A few seconds later, we discover it's just a fantasy sequence from Li Gong's imagination. Poor Li Gong wants his unrequited love so badly that he's hallucinating in public.
I usually hate fake-out kisses in BL dramas because I get tricked every time. I get my hopes up and then find out the kiss is fake, ugh. However, I like this specific moment just because of the ambiance and the shock factor. It looks like a really picturesque kiss. I also have a thing for BL leads in handsome suits, which adds to the fantasy appeal. I was utterly shattered when Li Gong woke up from his daydream and his best friend was straight again. No, keep hallucinating and kissing!
Ze Shou's abs
Clearly, Ze Shou's shirtless body is enough to propel this moment to the best scenes list. However, what makes the scene work is Li Gong's stunned reaction. I love how his character slowly turns his head and sees abs in his peripheral vision. His immediate nervousness is so adorable, haha.
On top of being a funny segment, it's relevant to the plot too. At this point of the story, Ze Shou suspects his friend is attracted to him. He deliberately invites him to the shower as a seduction tactic. Let's see how he responds to my shirtless body. This moment may seem like a gratuitous way to display the character's abs, which it is. However, the scene also ties subtly to the narrative.
Episode 6 features the pivotal first kiss between the leads. However, it doesn't go as romantically as you'd hope. Ze Shou discovers his friend's birthday present, a clear sign of Li Gong's attraction. With his secret exposed, Li Gong takes a gamble and initiates a kiss between them. It's a monumental moment for his character as he finally confesses his secret love.
Unfortunately, Ze Shou's response isn't receptive. After the kiss, Ze Shou is stunned, nervous, and overcompensating. He keeps insisting they're brothers and even throws in a fist bump. It's basically the opposite of how you'd want your crush to respond after kissing him. Poor Li Gong is devastated. It dawns upon him that Ze Shou has no romantic feelings, and now their friendship might be jeopardized. Twenty years of unrequited love have resulted in this heartbreaking moment.
Ze Shou's kiss
Episode 7 begins with the leads at a rocky place in their relationship. After the rejected kiss, Li Gong and Ze Shou find it challenging to maintain a friendship anymore. Li Gong is too hurt, embarrassed, and self-conscious to tolerate his best friend's presence anymore.
A thoughtful conversation with Nikita forces Ze Shou to reassess his feelings for Li Gong. "How genuine are your feelings?" She asks him. Ze Shou responds spectacularly by initiating a kiss with his best friend. It was a magical moment, surprising Li Gong that Ze Shou actually reciprocated his feelings. He no longer has to suffer from unrequited love. This kiss confirms the two childhood friends have romantic feelings for each other.
Li Gong and Ze Shou officially begin dating in Episode 7. Their first morning together is off to a romantic start. Ze Shou has prepared a big breakfast for his new boyfriend, buying every type of food. In addition, he gives Li Gong a single rose to celebrate the special occasion. His gestures are charming and thoughtful.
You can see that Li Gong is surprised and overjoyed by Ze Shou's actions. He's in disbelief to even be in a relationship with his best friend. However, Ze Shou is an even better boyfriend than imagined, full of sweet ideas and pleasant surprises. As Li Gong kisses his boyfriend, I can't stop smiling. I'm just so happy for him, ahhhhh!!!
Episode 8 begins with Li Gong and Ze Shou preparing a romantic evening together. Their antics are funny and adorable. We see Li Gong preparing uncharacteristically flirty pick-up lines to himself. Meanwhile, Ze Shou has gone over the top, spreading himself out on the bed. He uses rose petals to draw the plus and minus signs. However, Li Gong laughs that it looks like he spelled the word "dirt" instead.
Later, the cute scene turns passionate as the couple gets steamy in the bedroom! It's their first time getting physically intimate with each other. Li Gong admits he isn't ready to go all the way, and Ze Shou is respectful of his boundaries. Plus & Minus successfully achieves a sexy yet tasteful encounter between this couple.
The characters go camping in the second half of Episode 8. These delightful moments showcase both couples, who are comfortable and relaxed with each other. You can feel the bliss in their relationship, conveyed through cute exchanges, genuine smiles, and an easygoing atmosphere. As I watch their delightful interactions, a gentle warmth spreads across me.
What really stands out is the beautiful cinematography in these scenes. The visuals are bright, stunning, and thoughtfully composed. There's a lot of love put into the presentation of this series. Their efforts are evident in many episodes, but especially this one.
Did you watch this episode's cute little Easter egg after the ending credits? It's pretty much fluff and doesn't add much to the plot. Nonetheless, these casual moments make the best BL content, depicting the easygoing rapport between the couple.
The scene shows Li Gong and Ze Shou watching a television series together. They flirt, feed popcorn, and make cute jokes. There's nothing remarkable about the scene, but I really like it! Plus & Minus has plenty of moments like these that sell the couple's authenticity to me.
In Episode 9, Ze Shou is upset after learning that his mother has cancer. The news distresses his character, troubled by his complicated feelings. Fortunately, he has a supportive boyfriend by his side, helping him get through the tough times.
We see them go on a movie date, where Ze Shou laughs at a dumb comedy film. After the movie, Li Gong is glad to see their date has alleviated the emotional burden from his boyfriend. It's a small and thoughtful gesture that shows how considerate he is. We love seeing BL couples not only when they are happy, but also supporting each other during emotional hardships.
I also like Ze Shou's line about watching movies. Li Gong says they should read comments first to avoid bad flicks. However, Ze Shou thinks they should ignore other people's comments. If you don't like something at first, try changing your perspective to see the good in the situation. Maybe a bad movie can be a funny comedy instead. It's an astute observation, one that applies to the series and other settings in life.