Stay Still is a Hong Kong BL series about two tenants in an apartment building. The main character recently moved into a small flat by himself. He befriends his elderly neighbour who lives on the floor above him. He also becomes close to her grandson as they form a romantic spark. However, both protagonists struggle with their past heartbreaks and may not be ready for a new relationship.
I enjoy Stay Still when it focuses on the lead couple. The series successfully teases sexual tension in a compelling romance. Both actors seem convincing as they express the characters' attraction to each other. However, I'm not fond of the other pairing. Their angsty relationship melodrama reminds me of a laughably over-the-top soap opera. The annoying theatrics tarnish the decent half of this BL drama.
Stay Still Summary
Hong Kong (2023)
Hayden is a new tenant in an apartment building. While moving in, he meets his elderly neighbour who lives on the floor above him. She has trouble walking up the stairs due to her sprained leg. Hayden immediately offers assistance. He supports her until she arrives home safely. Hayden also helps apply medication. The older woman thanks Hayden for his kindness.
Hayden spends his first day getting settled down in his flat. It's a small, filthy space. However, he works hard to clean up and make the place cozy. Later, Hayden leaves to meet his friend Paki. On his way down the stairs, he meets his neighbour again. She introduces him to her grandson, Damian. They have just come back from visiting the doctor. Damian and Hayden exchange casual pleasantries before parting ways.
Damian and his grandmother have dinner together. He seems curious about his new neighbour. Damian also suggests going on a trip with his grandmother, but she declines. Despite understanding his kind intentions, she wants her grandson to save the money for himself instead. Damian works as a tattoo artist, a profession she doesn't quite understand.
Hayden meets with Paki for drinks. She introduces him to her other friend, Archie, who recently returned from England. Paki tries to cheer up Hayden, who recently broke up with his cheating ex-boyfriend. He is upset and drowns his sorrows in alcohol. Later that night, Damian returns home and finds a drunken Hayden sprawled in front of his doorstep. Initially, Damian walks past and ignores his intoxicated neighbour. However, he soon returns to provide him with assistance. As Damian lifts his body, Hayden surprises him with a sudden kiss.
As Archie orders drinks, he's surprised to meet the bartender. It's his old teenage crush, Kelvin. They used to have a close relationship in high school. Kelvin, a jock, protected Archie from bullies. The two spend each day after school grabbing iced drinks together. Despite their close bond, they haven't stayed in touch. Initially, Kelvin doesn't remember Archie. Later, they reunite as the bar closes. Archie brings an iced drink to Kelvin, triggering his repressed memories.
Stay Still Trailer
Stay Still Cast
Louis Lam (林漢忠)
Hayden is a new tenant in an apartment building. He lives alone on the third floor. Hayden befriends the elderly neighbour on the fourth floor. She introduces him to her grandson, Damian. Recently, Hayden dumped his cheating ex-boyfriend, Owen. Hayden is friends with Paki, who cheers him up after his breakup.
Louis Lam (林漢忠) is a Hong Kong actor. His first BL project is a leading role in the 2023 series, Stay Still.
Jeremy Ho (何嘉威)
Damian is Hayden's neighbour who lives on the fourth floor with his grandmother. Due to her health issues, Damian spends much time looking after her. She introduces him to Hayden, the tenant who recently moved in. Like Hayden, Damian is trying to move on from his ex-boyfriend. In his day job, Damian works as a tattoo artist. He also owns a turtle called Koopa.
Jeremy Ho (何嘉威) is a Hong Kong actor. His first BL project is a leading role in the 2023 series, Stay Still.
Bosco Tse (謝葻諵)
Archie recently moved back to Hong Kong after spending time in England. He is friends with Paki, who welcomes him back home. Archie is surprised to reunite with Kelvin at a bar. They used to have a close relationship in high school, where Kelvin protected him from bullies. However, they haven't stayed in touch over the years.
Bosco Tse (謝葻諵) is a Hong Kong actor. His first BL project is a co-leading role in the 2023 drama, Stay Still.
Chun Hin To (凃俊軒)
Kelvin is a bartender. He used to have a close relationship with Archie and defended him from the high school bullies. After school, they hung out at arcades and shared iced drinks. However, the pair didn't stay in touch over the years. Kelvin doesn't recognize Archie when they meet by chance at the bar.
Chun Hin To
Chun Hin To (凃俊軒) is a Hong Kong actor. His first BL project is a co-leading role in the 2023 series, Stay Still.
Lee Sing Sum (李聖心)
Miko Yau (邱靖茵)
Michelle Lai (賴卓瑩)
Shawn Fung (馮錫潮)
- Archie's actor (Bosco Tse) is one of the producers of Stay Still. In addition, the actor portraying Shawn (Shawn Fung) is also the director and screenwriter.
Stay Still Review
Drama Review Score: 7.4
Stay Still is a poignant story about transitions. All the characters undergo significant life changes, from moving into new homes to ending past relationships. They struggle between moving forward and remaining emotionally stagnant. The protagonists first meet at the stairwell, a fitting symbol of their metaphorical crossroads. Throughout the narrative, they face many predicaments that evoke sorrow, anger, or regret. Stay Still combines angsty plots with bittersweet romances to create a captivating BL drama.
This series is most enjoyable whenever it focuses on the leads, Hayden and Damian. Their simple, down-to-earth romance has enchanted me since the beginning. Both characters make solid first impressions based on their interactions with the grandmother. The story highlights Hayden's compassion when he assists his elderly neighbour after her injury. Likewise, Damian is the sensitive grandson who looks after his loved one, defying his tough tattooed exterior. Stay Still introduces two sympathetic protagonists with similar values, inspiring me to champion their relationship.
Unfortunately, Stay Still loses my enthusiasm when it shifts the spotlight to the other BL couple. Archie and Kelvin's storyline is annoyingly melodramatic. The events play out like an over-the-top soap opera, from scandalous affairs to scheming antagonists. We must put up with a tedious love triangle where all three characters come across as despicable. They are locked in a vicious cycle of abusive arguments, tearful accusations, and overwrought theatrics. The unpleasant relationship drama occupies half the narrative, tarnishing the positive aspects of Stay Still.
Having two separate storylines reduces the available time to focus on either plot. Both couples don't receive enough development, so they suffer from shallow backstories and empty characterizations. While Archie & Kelvin's annoying relationship is unsalvageable, Damian and Hayden's romance would've strengthened through additional scenes. Likewise, there should be more emphasis on Damian's bond with his grandma, which forms the emotional core of the series. Stay Still mismanages its two hours of content and fails to flesh out the narrative sufficiently.
Stay Still benefits from polished production values. The cinematographer experiments with different angles and perspectives to construct aesthetically pleasing shots. Even though the series films in a tiny apartment flat, it still finds creative ways to capture stylish visuals. In addition, the cast brings maturity and gravitas to their performances. Hayden's actor (Lucas Lam) is skilled at controlling his expressions, conveying the necessary feelings without the need for words. He shares passionate chemistry with his costar (Jeremy Ho), including a sizzling intimacy scene.
Although Stay Still carries a melancholic vibe, you'll be pleased to know it has a happy ending. A few moments in the finale are cheesy, especially when the series tries too hard with the philosophical quotes. Regardless, I appreciate how Hayden and Damian solidify their relationship. When they flirt in the last scene, this couple conveys a strong sense of affection and authenticity. Their relationship bliss fills my heart with giddiness. Despite its narrative flaws, Stay Still delivers an emotionally charged love story that resonates with me. Overall, my impression is favourable.
Stay Still depicts the relationship drama between two couples. I enjoy Damian & Hayden's down-to-earth romance. In contrast, Archie & Hayden's storyline is an annoyingly theatrical soap opera.
Damian & Hayden have a compelling romance. Their sexual tension builds to a sizzling exchange. I dislike the love triangle with the other couple. They irritate me with tedious relationship drama.
The performers bring maturity and gravitas to their performances. Hayden's actor (Louis Lam) has delicate control over his expressions. He shares passionate chemistry with his costar (Jeremy Ho).
Stay Still has a happy ending where both couples resolve their conflicts and solidify their relationships. Despite some cheesy moments, the finale conveys romantic bliss for Hayden and Damian.
The series dazzles with stylish production values. It combines different angles and perspectives to create visually distinct shots. The romantic encounters are brimming with ambiance.
Stay Still offers an emotionally charged love story with mature acting and stylish visuals. I like one of the couples a lot, but the other pair annoys me with their theatrical relationship melodrama.
Stay Still Episodes
Stay Still has a total of 6 episodes, including a prologue that introduces the story as "Episode 0". You should watch the prologue before the rest of the series. Each episode is around 15 to 20 minutes long. The last episode is around 22 minutes long, including a short epilogue after the ending credits.
Stay Still started on July 18, 2023 and ended its last episode on August 29, 2023. It is is a short BL drama, and you can finish the entire series in under 2 hours.
Episode 0 Review
Stay Still is marketed as a five-episode series, even though there are technically six episodes. I'm unsure why this episode is considered "Episode 0". Despite the confusing label, the prologue functions as the first episode of the series. It introduces the characters and establishes their dynamics, which is essential to following the story. You can't skip the prologue, or you'll feel confused about Hayden and Damian's interactions later in the narrative. I'm annoyed because it messes up my usual layout for the episode guide. Just call it Episode 1! 😩
Both protagonists make positive first impressions. I like how Hayden goes out of his way to assist an elderly neighbour. He even helps her apply medication. How nice of him! This gesture highlights his kind personality. Also, I like Damian's close relationship with his grandma. He takes her to a doctor's appointment and comes home to eat dinner with her. Despite his tough exterior, he's a softie on the inside. Right away, the two leads come across as very likable. I'm already rooting for them to be together.
The Cantonese title for Stay Still is 樓下來的人. It roughly translates to "the person on the floor below" in English, referring to how Damian and Hayden are neighbours. However, the title can also be interpreted as wordplay. When you read it aloud, it sounds the same as "the person who stayed behind". It refers to how the grandma won't leave her run-down apartment after living here for many decades. It also describes how Damian stays behind to care for his ill grandmother.
Episode 1 Review
What's the point of the straight couple? Paki is friends with Hayden and Archie. The trio shares only one scene throughout the series. Otherwise, Paki doesn't feature in either of their romances. Occasionally, she speaks wistfully about her friends' love lives, adding a melancholic tone to the series. However, her narration seems unnecessary. You can remove all of her scenes without affecting the BL content. I'd prefer to allocate her screen time to develop the two couples better.
I thought this BL drama was about Damian and Hayden's love story. Suddenly, the series introduces a second couple. I'm not against having two separate romances in the drama. The more, the merrier! However, Damian and Hayden have a compelling introduction in the prologue, teasing their sexual tension as new acquaintances. In contrast, Archie and Kelvin's plot feels expected. High school crushes reuniting as adults is a familiar trope. Been there, done that. If I get to pick, the Damian x Hayden romance offers more novelty. I'd rather watch them instead.
Archie and Kelvin's reunion doesn't have the intended emotional impact. One, I barely know the characters. I have no attachment to them. Two, their relationship scenes are too short. The high school flashbacks don't convey a strong romantic attraction. Sure, the leads seemed chummy. However, the story has condensed their connection into only a few minutes, which isn't enough time to build momentum. When Archie brings Kelvin the iced drink, it's supposed to be a profound moment that triggers his lover's recollection. Yet, I don't feel anything for the couple.
Episode 2 Review
I enjoy the simplicity of Hayden and Damian's romance. Their scenes with the grandmother feel very down-to-earth. They talk casually, help with kitchen errands, and eat a homemade meal together. When the grandma teases Damian, their interactions evoke a sense of comfort and warmth. Also, it's admirable to see these young men respect their elders. They spend time accommodating and accompanying a senior woman, a refreshing dynamic you don't often see in BL dramas.
During dinner, Damian's grandma mentions that he doesn't have a partner. It's a cute little moment where she tries to play matchmaker between the two leads. Afterwards, the camera shows Hayden's expression, which has a knowing look in his eyes and a coy smile on his face. You can detect a slight playfulness in his demeanour. It's the way you'd glance at a romantic prospect. The actor (Louis Lam) does a great job in this scene, conveying his feelings subtly. Viewers can speculate on his character's thoughts without the need for dialogue.
I enjoy Damian and Hayden's exchange on the rooftop. They spend alone time together, chatting and understanding each other better. Damian's line about relationships is cheesy. However, it gives his character an interesting backstory. Both leads emerge from a recent breakup, transitioning from one romance to another. Thematically, burning the photo is a poignant symbol of moving on. While the phone call interrupting the kiss seems annoying, it builds the sexual tension. There's more anticipation when the characters kiss in a future episode.
My jaw dropped when Kelvin's son suddenly appeared in this episode. OMG. Plot twist! He's married!? Seeing his wife and child adds an enormous complication to the relationship. Instead of enjoying the romantic encounter at the end of the episode, my conscience bothers me. This married family man betrays his wife at the first sign of temptation. We don't even see him struggle a little with the decision. Kelvin comes across as an unfaithful cheater, and his secret rendezvous with Archie feels very sleazy.
Despite my reservations about the circumstances, I like how the series films Kelvin and Archie's sex scene. The close-up shots of their physical affection evoke passion and intimacy. I enjoy the moment when the camera follows Kelvin as he kisses Archie's shirtless body. As he glides his lips across his lover's torso, we see a noticeable hunger in his eyes. He is in the midst of a scrumptious feast. After he finishes kissing, a lustful smile appears on Kelvin's face, conveying just the right amount of sleaziness. Morality issues aside, this encounter is full of sensuality.
Episode 3 Review
Archie and Kelvin's storyline is TRASH. Whenever we switch to this couple, I feel like I've stepped into a terrible soap opera. There's too much over-the-top theatrics, including scandalous affairs, scheming girlfriends, and homophobic bullies. My least favourite is when Joanne smirks after watching the gay guy get beaten up. In the last episode, I felt sorry for Kelvin's wife when he cheated on her. I want to retract my sympathy. Ugh, this rotten character deserves whatever bad karma comes her way.
Can we scrap Archie & Kelvin's storyline and allocate their screen time to Damian and Hayden? The superior couple has outsold in every way. I adore their relationship. That scene where they run around during the night is such a mood. These lovers can make goofing around in the streets feel like a whimsical romantic fantasy. Even though they evade another kiss, the story successfully teases sexual tension and builds further anticipation. It's astounding that I have such drastically different opinions about the two couples. I love one half of the series, yet I loathe the other half.
SOS! Save the grandma! This episode is the last time we see her character before she dies. In my opinion, Stay Still hasn't explored her story arc well enough. I want to see more interactions between Damian and his grandmother, emphasizing their connection. Flesh out their relationship dynamic besides a few measly dinner scenes. How do they get along? What do they disagree about? Show us the different ways Damian looks after his grandmother. Highlight what she means to him. With more emphasis, her sudden departure would leave a significant emotional impact.
Episode 4 Review
I usually like inspirational quotes in BL dramas. However, Stay Still tries too hard to sound philosophical. There are several instances where the meaningful lines don't seem authentic. The rice-cooker exchange in this episode feels particularly forced. Suddenly, this random convenience shop guy rambles like Forrest Grump, comparing life to a cooking appliance. A better writer would deliver these messages more subtly. I prefer the series when it's casual and down-to-earth instead of acting deliberately profound.
This episode feels very heavy. Both storylines reach their dramatic climaxes, unleashing a lot of angst. When there's so much misery, I lose some motivation to continue watching the series. Damian's grandmother should have gotten a better send-off than just disappearing from the apartment. With that said, I like the farewell letter. Grief has overtaken Damian, causing his life to ~stay still~. The grandma offers comforting words posthumously, motivating him to move on. "Take good care of yourself and continue living," she tells him. Don't wallow in your sorrow.
Kelvin's family melodrama is so insufferable! While the acting performances are decent, I hate how the events unfold. All the characters in this love triangle are assholes. The story vilifies Joanne as the manipulative wife who coerces her gay husband to marry her. However, Kelvin has no backbone. He blames his spouse for everything and doesn't take responsibility for his life decisions. Likewise, Archie is a homewrecker who knowingly seduces a married man instead of showing restraint and distancing himself. None of these terrible people deserve my sympathy.
Episode 5 Review
I like how Damian recovers from his mental slump. In the last episode, Hayden writes motivational messages on memo notes, like "You're not alone" or "You'll overcome this pain." He uses empowering words to support his love interest. In this episode, Hayden's kindness finally reaches through. Damian gives a sweet and intimate reply to each message. While the gesture is a little schmaltzy, it feels appropriate for an emotionally charged finale. Their exchange culminates in a long-awaited kiss between the couple. Hooray!
In her letter, Damian's grandmother told him to settle down with someone he loves. Damian interprets her advice as, "I'M GONNA HAVE BRAZEN SEX ON THE ROOFTOP!!!" Making out with a dude is one way to cope with your loved one's death, I guess~ The intimate encounter is steamy! My favourite part is when Hayden pauses mid-action to gulp down some beer. Moments later, Damian sticks his tongue out and licks Hayden from torso to face. Wow, don't hold back! If grandma watches from heaven, she'll take comfort in knowing her grandson is enjoying life to the max!
I'm glad Kelvin finds his truth and lives honestly at last. With that said, his situation is very messy. He leaves behind a wife and a child, almost abandoning them. The series opts for a shallowly happy ending and doesn't address the emotional weight behind his decision. Stay Still concludes vaguely and doesn't confirm whether this couple gets together. Kelvin seems committed to winning over Archie, who still hasn't fully forgiven him. I'm not rooting for them. Their ugly relationship drama in the past few episodes left a bad taste. I can't endorse this sordid romance.
Stay Still Information
Shawn Fung (馮錫潮) is a Hong Kong director. His portfolio of work includes the 2023 BL series, Stay Still. He is also an actor and has a supporting role in the drama.