11 years have gone by since Love of Siam (2007), a gay love story made waves in Thai cinemas for the first time ever. While moviehouses still offer exciting new titles, topics such as BL (Yaoi) found different avenues to showcase stories not particularly popular with the mainstream audience.
– Edited by TheFNGee
In the span of 11 years, what has Thailand produced that made them the undisputed leader in BL shows?
2019 was a sort of a trailblazer year not unlike 2018 but with more shows than ever before.
- 2moons2 The Series
- Dark Blue Kiss
- He’s Coming to Me
- I’m Your King S2 (Season 2)
- TharnType The Series
- Until We Meet Again
- Theory of Love
- The Effect
- 3 Will Be Free [not exactly BL, but the flavor is a bit similar in story and scope]
As a reviewer and Thai BL blogger since 2012, I am inclined to favor TharnType as the 2019 Drama Series of the year, followed closely by He’s Coming to Me. UWMA is still showing as of press time, and the artistic expressions it has generated are huge. Theory of Love is also a big favorite, with exceptional acting from the lead stars Gun and Off.
2Moons2 offered something different and challenging. It was directed by the acclaimed Thai filmmaker Aam Anusorn, who works on independent films. He is one of the few BL directors who is already recognized internationally.
2018 saw three new BL dramas – the raunchy yet appealing and popular Love by Chance, the under-developed and ‘conservative’ ‘Cause You’re my Boy and the complimentary Our Skyy, paying tribute to some of the year’s hottest BL couples.
Saint and Perth ignite the small screen (or a monitor for that matter) with their intense, intimate portrayal of two young boys falling in love.
Under LINE TV and GMM-tv, Love by Chance (2018) was boosted by the chemistry between the two leads – the sporty Perth Tanapon Sukhumpantanasan and the handsome Saint Suppapong Udomkaewkanjana. The 14-episode drama relied on the assumption that love knows no gender and while Ae (Perth) leans towards the ‘straight’ side of the spectrum, he began to develop feelings for Saint and their relationship gets deeper.
Social standing, sex, bullying (and blackmail), familial relationships (on a campus setting) make up the bulk of the drama.
The second couple (IMO) almost eclipsed the lead actors in that their story was in ‘suspended animation’ after the final episode. The elitist, haughty Mean Phiravich Attachitsataporn (as the rich kid with issues, Tin) is a perfect match for the naive and good-natured Plan Rathavit Kijworaluk (as Can). If you remember how Tin coyly calls our boy ‘Cantaloupe’, then you must be as disappointed as I am that a second season will not push through.
This BL series is also known for its numerous, but still tame sex scenes. A departure from the traditional BL route. Like a previous predecessor (Love Sick), the series has plenty of young (aspiring actors) and some of them were not fully utilized. But unlike Love Sick, there was plenty of character development to justify the roster.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. [See our Review Guide]
A look at the Thai BL background before Lovesick and SOTUS, Love by Chance and Tharn Type (these are the series that truly tops them all)
In 2014, the state of Thai BL series is that of acceptance locally and recognition internationally. Lovesick was released to much fanfare, with amateur English subbers working overnight to help the non-Thai audience understand what the heck these teens are talking about. I’ve been fascinated with French, Japanese, and German films for years, so when it was Thai BL series, it is not exactly unfamiliar territory.
But here’s the rub:
- Bootleg copies of Lovesick and other shows are only available
- English subbers were bullied, even by the production crew, so some decided to stop
- Enterprising individuals launched their own YouTube channels to feature stolen series, with equally stolen English subtitles (which still happens to this day)
- Since Thai BL is all the rage, there were few responses from “responsible” Thai broadcasting companies to understand (and appreciate) the huge impact of the international audience to play views, and in the long run, their bottom line (if at all).
GMM One’s ‘Cause You’re My Boy (2018) is also in a school setting where two male students (who were friends previously) reunited and started a serious relationship.
Drake is Mork and Frank is Tee in ‘Cause You’re my Boy (My Tee). It could have been a hit, except that there are plenty of confusion in both plot and character development.
The 12-episode series lacked the spark enjoyed by Love by Chance, but the actors are nonetheless promising. Frank Thanatsaran Samthonglai is very photogenic but needs acting lessons. The other lead, Drake Sattabut Laedeke, also needs acting lessons as well! Supporting cast Phuwin Tangsakyuen and Neo Trai Nimtawat were both underutilized. There is also a story between these two, and the series only scratched the surface – pity!
No fireworks here and there is plenty of confusing dialogue and plotting (with subplots). Some characters should have been left on the editing room floor permanently for lack of relevance.
My biggest complaint is how both parents appear to be ‘confused’ about their sons’ relationships. Surprisingly, it was Frank’s Mom, a well-educated but highly-strung parent who ‘condemns’ his son’s gay relationship. No one is quite sure if the affair was actually ‘consummated’. Unless they kissed and had sex outside the camera view.
This is one of Thailand’s most insignificant BL-themed series for me.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars. [See our Review Guide]
Not a pure BL-themed series, but it’s the BL portion that matters in this drama. All the other components – cast, storyline, whatever – are of little significance, if at all. I’m talking about Kiss Me Again (2018).
Pete (Tay) and Kao (New) are at loggerheads due to a previous incident. But an accidental ‘kiss’; may change all that.
Another GMM 25 production, this time, the cast is composed of 3 heterosexual couples, with a single BL couple thrown in. Pete (Tay Tawan Vihokratana) is an aggressive, and unpleasant student. The other half of the pair Kao (New Thitipoom Techaapaikhun) likes to keep everything smooth and easy-going. There was a previous incident that alienated both. However, the current plot machinations forced them to ‘cohabitate’ with 3 other friends.
An accidental ‘kiss’ between the two raised a precarious situation into something on the verge of the explosive. Is the animosity between them going to get even stronger? Or will love blossom? Sounds a bit cliché doesn’t it? But thanks to the on-screen chemistry between Tay and New, what could have been a predictable series turned into something entertaining.
A spinoff – Our Skyy – has been released just a few weeks ago (outside Thailand, of course) and a sequel entitled Dark Blue Kiss has been announced for this year.
There’s plenty of smooching between Tay and New, and it’s expected to continue in the sequel.
Rating: 3.25 out of 5 stars. [See our Review Guide]
Regarded by many BL-watchers as one of Thailand’s finest productions, Sotus: The Series (2016), and Sotus S: The Series (2017) are worthy of the praise they enjoy.
Singto and Krist overcome initial hostility to settle into a romantic yet subdued affair in SOTUS, the series, and its sequel.
Kongpob (Singto) is one of the most memorable BL characters in recent times. He is intelligent and responsible. He holds his values dear and will always fight for them. He is a born leader, and a very principled man for such a young age.
His character automatically puts him on a collision course with Arthit, a senior, and head hazer, who prides himself as a student leader. The seniors are expected to uphold the school’s highest honors and traditions. However, Arthit has tendencies to disregard the rules and experiment at the expense of the juniors.
Can two individuals so diametrically opposed in their beliefs arrive at a blissful resolution? Maybe even turn to falling in love? When asked about the drama, Singto says:
Our show isn’t exactly about LGBTs. It’s about love in general, that same love we all feel regardless of gender.
Set a few years later, Sotus S: The Series 2017, the sequel, continues what has been an eventful and challenging relationship between the two. In an office setting, can they maintain the well-guarded secret about their relationship without destroying it?
What is special about the series is that the characters come full-circle. A positive take on an unlikely relationship. Not that they’re portrayed as old men who continue to live together in their eighties, but you get the picture!
Both young men showed that love can withstand the pressures and politics of the many, and that’s pretty damn hard to do.
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars. [See our Review Guide]
Together With Me (2017) targets a more matured audience. This is the follow up to Bad Romance (2016) about a young lady named Yihwa who wants to forget all the boys and about Knock, Korn and another guy named Cho.
Knock and Korn joined forces to tackle issues affecting their relationship in Together With Me.
While other BL watchers are going gaga over this series, I have mixed feelings. I know that some people love to watch conflict and amuse themselves with manipulative people – the sowing of intrigue and characters making trouble for each other.
However, I wanted this series to be all about Korn and Knock and not necessarily the people they live (or worked) with. Yihwa (Maengmum Pimnitchakun Bumrungkit) is fine. While the other woman, Plern (Aim Satida Pinsinchai) seemingly serves a single purpose – a plot device to hinder the relationship between Knock and Korn. Her character and duplicitous acts have so much screen time that the series almost becomes unpleasant to watch.
And the biggest question of them all – how can Knock be so stupid? How can he trust Plern when all things point to the opposite. Was he born without a brain? ….or is he just a conveniently ignorant character for purposes of plot? Plus there is this BL couple – a manipulative doctor who goads a young boy into a relationship. The man is old enough to be the boy’s father! I don’t know what sort of “social statement” they’re attempting to make here….
However, the scenes when Korn and Knock remember childhood memories are endearing and emotional. There are also plenty of superlatives to describe the first few episodes, but the entertainment value diminishes as Plern concocts her evil schemes.
The second biggest question – WHY does a pretty and successful woman push so hard to “possess” a gay guy when she really doesn’t even care?
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars. [See our Review Guide]
Adapted from the BL Novel “Two Moon” by Chiffon_cake, 2 Moons The Series (2017) is about a puppy love that turns serious. The series also explores campus idols, popularity contests and plenty of rivalries on love and affection.
Wayo (Bas), the freshman hooks up with his longtime love, Phana (Godt), in 2 Moon the Series.
Wayo Panitchayasawad (Yo) enters his first year at university. There was an unexpected surprise – his longtime crush Phana Kongthanin (Pha) also studies there. This series is light and bubbly, with little confrontation except between the two leads. The female cast (as usual in Thai series) are regarded as manipulating villainies. And not one of them can touch the boys!
On the acting side, Wayo is raw and tentative while God is forthcoming and convincing. Yet the seemingly conscious effort to be ‘naive’ is worth the effort for Wayo as he charms the audience. Having Forth (Tae Darvid Kreepolrerk) as the third wheel serves as a source of significant thrill.
Not much of a fan when the drama teases the audience that the kiss will happen at the very end. That’s so passé.
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars. [See our Review Guide]
Fuse (Peak) and Tee (Boom) in Make it Right. Friendship or Bromance or both?
Expect the Thais to put up something unique – a BL themed coming-of-age for those into puppy love. Make It Right: The Series (2016) and Make It Right 2: The Series (2017) explore the same sex/romance for high school kids. Another thing going for the drama – plenty of these kids long for the same type of romance.
Fuse (Peak Peemapol Panichtamrong) is sensitive and dreamy. He just discovered that his girl is two-timing him. Heartbroken, he went on a drinking spree, and ended up spending the night with his friend, Tee (Boom Krittapak Udompanich) who wants him to be more than just a buddy. But Tee is no slut like his girl who pretends to be loyal and loving. Will Fuse accept Tee’s love and affection?
A remarkable side story involves blackmail and it was handled quite well by the supporting cast. Playing the victim is Book (Toey Sittiwat Imerbpathom). He’s ably supported by Frame (Ohm Pawat Chittsawangdee, this boy is the one to watch!).
A mix of light drama and comedy while tackling some serious issues, Make It Right is completely watchable. Though there is some supporting cast doing overacting, still its tolerable.
Rating: 3.25 out of 5 stars. [See our Review Guide]
Finally, Grey Rainbow (2016). The biggest complaint by those who have been watching BL series is that there is too much sadness, loneliness, or rejection. I think it applies to certain Chinese BL and Japanese series.
Nuer and Porsche struggle to find a balance between finding themselves and discovering the rewards of their relationship in Grey Rainbow.
Perhaps the most heartbreaking series of a Thai origin is Grey Rainbow, but instead of wallowing in sadness, the ‘famous’ ending is quite powerful and liberating.
Here’s the plot:
Nuer is the son of the owner of an elephant camp while Porsche is a law student. In university, they were dormitory roommates and close friends, each fighting against the feelings that one has for the other.
The 4-part series is not your run-of-the-mill production. It showcases the gorgeous sceneries of the Thai countryside – lush and green, welcoming and mysterious at the same time. It complements the difficult process by which Nuer and Porsche have to face before they finally dived into their intimate relationship.
Grey Rainbow offers little sugar-coating in what gay people have to go through on a daily basis – the insults, the jokes, the stares.
Mind you, these are two attractive guys who decided to get married.
Topnotch acting from the two leads. Porsche played by Hongladaromp Kasidej is cheerful and less serious. He’s the caretaker of the family’s Elephant camp. It’s a given that only dependable, emotionally matured people can take care of these huge and kind animals. Nuer portrayed by Rattanamongkol Nutchapon has a more serious demeanor and harbors certain insecurities. He’s the University student taking up Law.
Among all the series on this list, Grey Rainbow packs the most emotional punches. It’s an in-your-face, realistic approach to portraying characters who do not conform to society’s expectations. And why should they?
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars. [See our Review Guide]
I’m writing a separate review for Our Skyy. I’ve done 3 reviews already!
Our Skyy – Episode 3 (featuring Tee-Mork)
Our Skyy – Episode 2 (featuring In-Sun)
Our Skyy – Episode 5 (featuring Kongpop-Arthit)
Also worth mentioning are:
Waterboyy the Series – Just thought Earth, one of the two leads looks too old for the role.
My Bromance the Series – Got the chance to view a few episodes, but it’s not my cup of tea. I find the movie version better, though I have plenty of criticism too. The movie gets over-the-top, manipulating the audience’s emotions. It forces us to sympathize with the characters when honest-to-goodness truth and reality can prevail.
What the Duck – There is already a second season!
In Part 2, we’ll focus on Thai BL movies (from the same period).