I’ve started to read a handful of them (mostly because like every other story on Episode right now appears to be a mafia/gang story). I’ve finished some of them too. I get the romanticization concerns, especially given the QUANTITY of stories with the whole “broken girl meets intense/overprotective/rude mafia leader then they fall in love” premise, but I don’t inherently hate the idea of mafia/gang stories, I guess? I mean, they are people too, so they have stories that can be told. I think I’m more annoyed with the overkill of the premise I mentioned above. Would be interesting to see more stories about reluctant members or members who want to leave or something.
Also, someone mentioned Are All Monsters Evil, and I’ve finally finished it (like literally just now), and I found it more frustrating in terms of the female MC than in terms of the mafia stuff itself. I don’t think it romanticized the mafia, necessarily, because it did show/discuss the killing and stuff. Unless the idea of falling in love with a mafia in and of itself is considered the romanticization… In which case, that’s every story on the app that involves mafia/gang members lol. Also figured I’d note, in case anyone saw it mentioned and is thinking about reading it, that I’m pretty sure it’s a choice-less story. I can’t remember if that’s 100% true because it’s 40+ chapters, but in these last 5 or so chapters, there’s not a single choice, which I started to find more frustrating as the female MC started to develop certain viewpoints/hard stances that really just like… clash with my own. But that’s a personal thing.
TLDR: There’s WAY too many of them on the app and idk why so many people are writing them, especially when the premises are pretty much the same for the vast majority I’ve seen; however, I still read some of them because what else I’ma do during this covid mess?!