It’s a low budget show about three perpetually broke twenty-somethings sharing an apartment in southern Ho Chi Minh City. So, of course it’s become an internet sensation, especially since it has a very centers around characters who are mostly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Making matters more fun, the show is coming to popularity at a time when Vietnam is considering legalizing same-sex marriage.
The show entitled “My Best Gay Friends” has surprised its creator with how popular it is on YouTube where it has, apparently, racked up millions of views.
Vietnam is still a communist nation, and until recently, homosexuality was seen as a social evil. That has changed greatly since then and homosexuality is more supported and marriage equality is creeping up fast.
Huynh Nguyen Dang Khoa, the star of the series, has even stated that “I thought it would only interest Vietnam’s gay community — but we’re hearing that parents, grandparents, whole families watch and love the shows and long for new episodes.”
Khoa based the show on his own life as he was coming out, and how he and his friends dealt with some weird, but amusing situations. In a sense, it is probably closer in origin to Steven Moffat’s “Coupling” than it is to something like “Will and Grace”.
Khoa has also said “We didn’t have much money so everyone chipped in — we had a little cash to cover equipment, and buying food for when we were shooting all day.” He also stated that “I wanted to show people that homosexuals have ordinary lives, full of emotion, friends, family — very normal lives.”
Homosexuality is not illegal in Vietnam, but like much of Asia where there is a strong emphasis on marriage and tradition, marriage equality is almost unthinkable. This has not stopped the Ministry of Health from deciding to move towards marriage equality.
Khoa stated “People of the same sex have the right to live… love, find happiness (and) get married.” Should Vietnam legalize same-sex marriage, it would be the second Asian or Pacific nation to do so. New Zealand legalized same-sex marriage just this year.
The show has tackled the issue of same-se marriage. In one episode, a lesbian couple try to get married with people opposing it including a restaurant manager who demands the wedding party leave while saying “The couple is female! This wedding goes against Vietnamese traditions and customs. They are violating the law.” In the episode, it turns out that the manager was ordered to shut down the wedding party by the authorities.
Khoa, though, has no intentions of bringing the show to television due to its sensitive issues.