[Webtoon Wednesday] Surviving As A Maid

Title: Surviving As A Maid

Author/Story: Cloud Whale Soap

Artist: Heeseo

Rating: Teen

Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Historical, Isekai/Transmigration, BL (Sort of)

Hosted On:  Tapas, Kakao

Official Link(s): English, Korean

Official Summary:

Ash Tolkayn was an ordinary office worker before she somehow became a maid in a BL novel with a scandalous love triangle between the King, his mysterious male lover, and the jilted Queen. But everything changes when the King appoints Ash as the crown prince’s new nanny… after murdering the previous one! Now, on top of juggling the duties of childcare, she finds herself smack dab in the middle of the cutthroat royal drama. Can Ash rise to the challenge and survive as a maid?

My Thoughts:

Surviving As A Maid for being one of the series that gave me trust issues when it came to a new-to-me subgenre of isekai series: girl gets transmigrated into a minor female role in a Boys Love series.

On the face of it, that’s not a bad role to have. If you’re a BL fan, getting to be in the world of one of your favorite series probably is extra rewarding for you. These are often somewhat queer normative worlds and the focus on relationships between dudes means less pressure on the transmigrator to be in a relationship herself.

However, Surviving As A Maid has… problems. Or rather, I have problems with it. Despite the great art and the developing palace intrigue and magical mysteries, Surviving As A Maid is both pro-gay and homophobic at once? For multiple reasons. The first of which is the way that the BL relationships – aka “all the queer relationships we’re likely to get” – wind up problematized even in this sort of queer-normative society?

Yes, men can get married to men or the main character of the original novel is into dudes… but there’s always a problem with it. In Surviving As A Maid, it’s slowly being implied that the King’s mysterious lover might have been drugging/manipulating the original capture targets in the novel. That “scandalous love triangle” in the blurb? Doesn’t exactly exist. The King doesn’t care about his wife. She’s a forgotten former-princess who has been replaced by the blond haired bottom in the King’s heart and has been subject to magical atrocities to solidify the future of the kingdom.  (Like the world of The Princess of Convenient Plot Devices, there’s a “the gay couple needs a woman to bear their child before being discarded” element that feels… bad.)

Ash, the main character, is a transmigrator with no memory of the life lived before her transmigration. She winds up taking care of the King’s son and in getting close to the child, she comes closer to understanding the darkness deep within the kingdom. The problem is… that the character she transmigrated into was uh… maybe not straight? It’s a little hard to understand, but it looks like the original character Ash now inhabits in this world was a lesbian in love with a character who died before the webtoon began for us and now she is… not one. She’s already captured two targets for herself – sort of… — and one of them was a former target of the King’s bae.

And this is a trend in these books. I was reading Let’s Hide My Little Brother (which also has some transmisogynistic vibes to me) and Touch My Little Brother and You’re Dead. Both of those series also has the female lead who’s transmigrated turn around and snag a formerly gay capture target from the BL series’ main character. That the one in Surviving As A Maid is also heavily implied to have been a lesbian before transmigration?

It leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I don’t normally say bad things about the webtoons I read. I really don’t. But this is up there with fatphobia for “things that will make me stop reading a webtoon”. It’s just… uncomfortable to read because of what it says about the author’s potential priorities. Maybe by the end of the series, we’ll find out that the mysterious blond bae isn’t a predatory manipulative stereotype or that Ash is bisexual. I don’t know… But the misogyny and homophobia of the series had me in a tizzy from early on. I know the late, great Alexander Doty did excellent work on the stereotype of queer misogyny as a shorthand within queer coding. It’s a good essay and a seriously relevant concept… but I don’t think I like reading a series that plays that stereotype/trope straight? (Pun only intended if it lands.) Like as the series goes on, the queen’s mistreatment becomes one of the worst things I’ve ever seen in a SFW webtoon or manga thus far? She deserves better, but the only way I can see her getting it will then lead to a gay character likely being yeeted so… Yikes.

I’d love to see more Female Lead transmigrates into a BL/GL series where it’s just plain queer. Where there’s a happy ending, no misogyny, queer women doing things even as secondary characters, and I don’t have to watch characters in a BL series be revealed to have been Heterosexual But Brainwashed the Entire Time.

If you have any recs, I will gladly take them!


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s