Let me start by admitting my bias. You all know that I love Idol Factory, the boss, Saint Suppapong, and I enjoyed Secret Crush on You, and I’ve been looking forward to this story. Gap is the first Girls Love (GL) in Thailand, where the main couple at the center of the story are two women. It is based on the novel Gap Yuri by Chao Planoy. The book is available in English through the MEB Market app or website.
—Edited by TheFNGee
Recently we’ve seen some side couples of girls love pairings in dramas, like the pair of Pa and Ink in Bad Buddy. And we’ve seen some GL from other countries, like Chasing Sunsets and Pearl Next Door from the Philippines, though I believe Pearl is bisexual. There are also several from Korea and Taiwan as well. But these examples don’t have the length and breadth of most BL narratives: the number of episodes is smaller, and the running time is shorter than your standard BLs. The excellent Chasing Sunsets only had five episodes with a run time of 30 minutes each. Pearl Next Door had eight episodes at 30 minutes each.
Mon is a young woman who is going to work in her idol’s company. Her idol is Khun Sam, a wealthy Mom Luang (a person with family ties to the royal family) who owns her own company: an online entertainment publication. Mon follows Khun Sam’s life carefully; having had a meaningful interaction with Sam at an early age, she clips society pages and saves pictures of her.
She meets Sam, who is nothing like she remembers from her childhood memories. Sam is fierce, cold, and aloof.
The two seem different, but the more they spend time together, the closer they become. There are many obstacles to overcome if their love is to succeed. They come from different social classes; they are both women, Khun Sam has a fiancé, and she’s a member of the royal lineage with a controlling grandmother. What will happen to them?
Where to Watch:
Gap will have 12 episodes. Episode 1 on YouTube had a running time of around 75 minutes. It is airing on Channel 3 with a desirable timeslot of 11 PM THA, followed by the release at midnight on Idol Factory’s YouTube Channel. The Midnight YouTube release will have English subtitles immediately and include extra scenes not seen in the broadcast version, referred to as “uncut.” There will be many other languages to follow, including German, Italian, Indonesian, and many more. They may be a week behind but look for them if another language is your primary.
Gap is groundbreaking indeed, and there weren’t any sponsors who stepped up during its production. Saint made this series through hard work, working many jobs himself, and using his own savings as the CEO. He believes strongly in this cause:
He believes in it so much that he put his own money into this production. And from the first episode, I can tell you it looks fabulous – they did not cut corners. The costumes are designer-class, the settings are gorgeous, and the cinematography uses state-of-the-art equipment, and the entire series is shot in beautiful 4K (3840 x 2160).
So I am adding a few words from Saint himself. There are English subtitles thanks to a beautiful channel that has subbed Becky and Freen content.
He hopes that this show will help shine a light and push forward change for LGBTQ+ rights in Thailand. It’s more than a BL/GL; it’s a way to bring issues of social equality to light. I’m proud to be a fan of someone so passionate about equal rights to love.
Saint Suppapong Udomkaewkanjana
Chen Sodpho, through Idol Factory Thailand
Becky Armstrong as Mon
Freen Sarocha Chankimha as Sam
Heng Asavarid Pinitkanjanapun as Kirk
Irin Urassaya Malaiwong as Yuki
Non Ratchanon Kanpiang as Nop
Looknam Orntara Poolsak as Jim
Noey Natnicha Vorrakittikun as Tee
We open with a beautiful shot of Bangkok, then transition to Mon talking to us about how her idol makes her feel. I can relate. Especially when you are down or sad or need inspiration or encouragement, your idol can make you feel better, help you smile, and inspire you to do your best. This parasocial relationship can be good, especially for those struggling to get through hard times. That’s my two cents. And I feel a bit called out when I see a wall of Khun Sam pictures on her mirror (though mine are in a small photo album, does that make it better? 🤣).
Mon and her friend Yuki go to a BillySeng concert, which cracks me up. It’s a great way to sneak in a guest appearance and have fans in as extras. Good marketing and money-saving because the fans will be extra excited to be on set. And they are glad to come and work for free to be close to their idols.
The cinematography is gorgeous in the freshman episode. The colors are vibrant and well-saturated. However, the backgrounds are softened, with a shallow depth of field. Top that off with some lens flares to make everything seem like a dream. I enjoyed the visuals very much.
We find out that Sam, as a teenager, rescued Mon and a cute dog from being hit by a car. Sam wanted to keep the dog but wasn’t allowed to, so she tearfully pleaded with Mon’s mom to take the dog. Mon asked her mom so sweetly, saying she didn’t like to see Khun Sam cry – such a sweet little girl.
As the story progresses, we see that the Sam that Mon thought she knew is not the same Sam that is currently her boss. She is a badass bitch boss with undeniable style, coldness, stoicism, and the hiding of her emotions.
As with BL, there are tropes we see in this GL. We know from the preview it will become an office romance between the two, yet Khun Sam fires a couple and makes a public example out of them for breaking the rule and dating in the office. A shot that beautifully captures her feelings comes on the heels of that scene. Sam walks to the rooftop of her building. Alone, she looks out over the buildings and breathes a sigh. You can see that it was hard for her, but here she is, literally at the top, alone and lonely, with no one to share her burdens or worries.
Another trope spotted is falling into your crush’s arms. Repeatedly Mon seems wobbly around Sam, her heart beating fast and her feet unsteady, leading her to fall into Khun Sam when she stumbles. It is cute, though.
We also see the dichotomy between the two families by showing the audience both houses. We have Mon, young, living with her mother and stepfather in a middle-class house. She has loving parents and a dog. Her world is warm, and she is supported.
We see Sam visiting her grandmother, who is cold, old-fashioned, and domineering. Grandmother sees Sam as someone to bend to her will, which is to get her married, give up her career, and have children. Grandmother places a large emphasis on formality and their status as a distant relative of the royal family. They eat at a giant table, placed far away from each other, with Sam, Grandmother, and Kirk, Sam’s fiancé, and business partner. Dinner is silent and cold, with the weight of expectations crowding around Sam.
When Sam returns to her huge house, she lights candles, turns on the opera, and has wine while in the bath. Despite all these fancy amenities, she is not relaxed or happy. She is lonely and stressed about whether or not she can make the company a success. She asked for five years, and she’s only at four but hasn’t achieved that success yet.
Which is where Mon comes in. She has new ideas and isn’t afraid to speak her mind to Sam. So what will happen next? I can’t wait to find out.
Some changes in the series differ from the novel I will leave here. From the flashback scene, we see that Mon’s mom looks like a teacher at the upper-class all-girls school. In the novel, her mother is a janitor and cleaner for the school. Mon rides the bus a long way each day to get from their small home to her job. It appears they decided to shorten the distance a bit between their social class and age. It makes sense because the age differences between Freen and Becky aren’t that much. And as for social classes, by having Mon being middle-class; she has a nice house, a cute wardrobe, etc.
So far as I can tell, the pair must face several obstacles. They will have to overcome Grandmother’s disapproval. Kurt, who’s Sam’s fiancé; Nop, a friend of Mon’s who is in love with her; the company policy created by Sam; and Society. That’s quite a hurdle to overcome in “only” 12 episodes.
Is it brilliant, thought-provoking, and heavy hitting?
Not yet, but it’s a really good start.
It makes me smile, and I’m cheering for the pair to be together. At the end of the day, I want love to win, no matter what class, age, race, gender, or anything that attempts to act as a barrier.
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars. [See our Review Guide]