Boys Before Friends is an online loosely-based American adaptation of the manga, Boys Over Flowers. The production team later stated that the series is an "original work." It was written by Kel and Eriden Williams. The web series was first announced in mid-2013 and began airing on December 26 of the same year. It abruptly ended at six episodes, though it was originally planned for sixteen.
The story follows the strong-willed heroine, Zoey Taylor (Tsukushi Makino) after she transfers to Ellison University. The school is controlled by Liam Montgomery (Tsukasa Domyoji), leader of the powerful clique called the F4.
Ellison University is a school for the rich and elite, meaning only the best of the best. However, once a year they hold auditions open to "common people" for scholarships. Zoey Taylor (Claude Racine; Dawn Morrow), an aspiring dancer, auditions and gets accepted into the college. Once there though she finds that her dream college is not as perfect as it seemed. The college is ruled by four rich kids, Liam Montgomery (Joseph Almani), Oliver Young (Trenton L. Culkin), Noah McCallister (Jason S. Mordeno), and Chase Carlton (Erik Thomas), who call themselves the F4. Initially, Zoey stays away from them, but eventually stands up to them for her new friend, Aubrey Fairchild (Renae Leniece). Zoey is relentlessly bullied, until she fights back with the help of good friends, Piper Davis (Jackie Aviera) and Chloe James (Suteara Vaughn).
Cast and characters
- A talented dancer, who wins a scholarship for Ellison University. Her dream is to become a professional choreographer. She is a headstrong, middle-class girl, and always fights for what is right. Zoey is the first person to stand up to the F4. Riley Rae Baker was originally cast to play Zoey.
- The F4's leader, whose grandfather built Ellison University. He is extremely talented and the school's star basketball player.
- A music genius and only sweet member of the F4. His family is "music royalty" with a huge amass of Grammys.
- An "uber-rich" playboy at Ellison. There are rumors that he has connections with the mafia. He is also an exceptionally good fighter.
Erik Thomas as Chase Carlton (Sojiro Nishikado)
- The number one artist out right now, currently with the number one album. He is also a smooth talking playboy, whose parents own an electronics firm.
|Aubrey Fairchild||Renae Leniece||Makiko Endo
|Oh Min-ji||Zoey's new friend|
|Brian Taylor||Michael Milford||Haruo Makino||Geum Il-bong||Zoey's father|
|Brock||Shane R. Kennedy||F4 henchman|
|Chloe James||Suteara Vaughn||Sachiyo Sengoku||Bom Choon-sik||Zoey's mentor|
|Chris||Dominic Elliott-Spencer||Kimoto||Lee Min-ha||Ex-victim, turned|
|Derek||Matt Poeschl||F4 henchman|
|Fiona Jensen||Mikayla S. Campbell||Shigeru Okawahara||Ha Jae-kyung|
|Jade Jones||Amanda Paddock|
|Jessica||Janina Sanchez||Minako Yamano||Lee Mi-sook||Mean Girl lackey|
|Krissy||Tiffany Daniels||Yuriko Asai||Choi Jin-hee||Mean Girl leader|
|Nikki||Alexia Quinn||Erika Ayuhara||Park Sun-ja||Mean Girl lackey|
|Piper Davis||Jackie Aviera||Yuki Matsuoka||Chu Ga-eul||Zoey's best friend|
|Riley Jensen||Andrew Klasnic||Junpei Oribe||Lee Jae-ha||Zoey's model friend|
|Roger||Paul S. Tracey||Teaching assistant|
The project was first announced through a Kickstarter campaign in mid-2013 by WillKinn Media (formerly Wazego Collective). The campaign raised $1,252 of their goal of $100,000. The producers wanted to "stay true" to the original manga with a goal "to do something different and unique to USA television." They never confirmed whether they obtained the rights to Boys Over Flowers from Shueisha. Additionally, they planned to keep the title Boys Over Flowers for the series, but later changed it to Boys Before Friends.
Filming was slated to begin on October 21, 2013 in Los Angeles, but the date was pushed to November 7. It was originally planned for sixteen episodes, but only six episodes and one special were produced. The production team later stated that they hope to continue the series sometime in the future. On February 22, 2014, WillKinn Media filed a lawsuit against three of the actors for blackmail, libel, extortion and defamation.
They announced that four unknown American actors, namely Joseph Almani, Trenton Culkin, Napoleon Tavale, and Jason S. Mordeno, would be portraying the F4 on September 23, 2013, and that Riley Rae Baker would play Zoey (Tsukushi) on September 25. Baker was later switched to Claude Racine, who appeared as Zoey for one and a half episodes before being replaced by Dawn Morrow. Napoleon Tavale was replaced by Erik Thomas for unknown reasons. Dawn Morrow and Joseph Almani were let go in the middle of production with allegations from both actors that they were fired. Kevin Markovic and Rose Guess replaced Almani and Morrow for the remaining duration of the series.
Prior to airing, the casting of older actors received criticism from Japanese internet users. Additionally, many American viewers thought it was unrealistic for the setting to be changed to college instead of high school. Further criticism was leveled at the show's editing, lighting, characterization, and acting.
- Boys Before Friends is similar to Meteor Shower in some respects. Both productions intended on obtaining the copyright to remake Boys Over Flowers, but were unable to for different reasons.
- OhSoEnthusiastic (March 20, 2020). The Failure of Boys Before Friends. My Drama List.