Coming to watch Moonlight Chicken, again pairing Earth Pirapat Watthanasetsiri and Mix Sahaphap Wongratch, and they do an excellent job drawing me to them.
Directed and screen written by Aof Noppharnach Chaiwimol, I expected the series to be great. Kuhn Aof wrote and directed Tale of a Thousand Stars and He’s Coming To Me. Moonlight Chicken didn’t let me down.
—Edited by TheFNGee
Jack Kittisak Patomburana as Gong [Wen’s friend]
Jim is an ordinary guy running a Hainanese chicken rice diner. One night, he meets breezy Wen when he stays past closing drunk. Brought together by fate that night, intangible feelings arise. Neither can stop thinking about the other despite Jim’s efforts to remain unattached.
Working at the diner are Jim’s nephew Li Ming, Saleng, and occasionally chicken supplier Kaipa who doesn’t mind having an excuse to see him.
There are so many positive aspects to this show. I loved that this series is about grown-ups, working adults with adult worries and struggles in everyday life. Jim is a man who runs a chicken and rice diner in Pattaya. It looks like he lives and works in the Chinatown area of Pattaya. The Chinese lanterns give the feel of the vibrant ethnically Chinese Thai minority prevalent in parts of Thailand. It’s a beautiful setting that feels lush and romantic, with intricate carvings on the buildings and temples.
The community is tight-knit. Jim is known in the community as Uncle Jim. Customers, other vendors, and local business owners respect him. Jim raises his nephew, Li Ming, as his sister is out of the picture. He has an employee who loves to gamble, Salang. Also, a good friend of the local chicken vendor’s son Kaipa sometimes helps in his restaurant. Jim lives like the rest of us, balancing bills, caring for people, and trying his best to make himself and those around him happy. He doesn’t charge much even though the price of chicken has risen, and he doesn’t let people go home with an empty stomach.
One night a man drinks too much and passes out at one of Jim’s tables. Jim wakes the man, who asks to sit and have a beer with him. The man came out to celebrate a promotion he received at work. The two walk through the city late at night, when conversations flow and connections are made. They pray and receive some mooncakes from a local elderly woman. Chinatown is celebrating the Moon Festival. And then Jim ends up taking the man home. What could have been kindness turns into a passionate night for both of them. The caveat Jim makes is no complications of a relationship and no strings between them. He has enough on his plate.
In the morning, there is an easiness that exists between them. As we watch the two feed Jimbo, Jim’s cat, I can’t help but smile. I know that Earth and Mix have cats, and they are crazy about them. It is apparent in how they handle the cats. The easy camaraderie while petting the cat is enchanting to watch.
Jim doesn’t want to know the man’s name or anything more about him. He is content with the one-night stand they shared being a one-time thing. He’s not looking for romance.
After dropping his hookup at the main road, he doesn’t expect to see him again. He goes about his daily routine with a few surprises waiting for him. Jim is looking for a quick meal before returning home and sees Wen. Jim asks to sit with Wen, and the two share a table.
So, long story short, it’s a relationship that begins with a hookup, which leads to Wen taking a part-time position in Jim’s restaurant each night. Wen wants to get closer to Jim, so he begins the chase to wear him down the wall that Jim has intentionally placed between them.
I love love love the interactions between Wen and Jim. We see that Jim struggles to make ends meet. He is trying to save for his nephew’s college and paying bills when times are tight. He feels responsible for the people around him. Wen is coming off a long-time relationship but begins to fall in love.
Mark Pakin Kunaanuwit is Salang, a worker for Jim with a live-in girlfriend. He is charming and charismatic. I enjoyed the screen time for his story in this drama. All too often, side characters aren’t fleshed out or fall flat. But his performance makes you care about Salang and his future.
Speaking of characters, I thoroughly enjoyed the side plot of Gemini and Fourth playing the role of Li Ming and Heart. Li Ming is Jim’s nephew and struggles to find his place and future. Heart is the deaf son of a Senior Sargent Major, and they cross paths when Heart breaks a glass bottle of prized alcohol from the liquor cabinet when Li Ming scares him when delivering food. Heart then intentionally tells his parents that Li Ming broke the liquor bottle. The major, his wife, and Jim scold Li Ming despite Li Ming’s protests of innocence. He is told to work off the debt to pay for the bottle. He asks to work at their home, and they agree.
The two boys start an unlikely friendship that leads to more. I love how they showcase Heart’s disability. A byproduct of this state of affairs is Heart’s mom wanting to protect him, so she isolates Heart, effectively grounding him from living a “normal” life. However, Li Ming treats him like any other teen. The two boys end up getting closer, and Li Ming expands Heart’s world by going to the mall, the deaf center, watching movies with a friend, etc. Heart even teaches Li Ming sign language. I love this so much! The chemistry between the pair is super sweet.
It makes a nice comparison between a young couple’s first love and one of the grown-up lovers with their past and baggage. They don’t shy away from showing different sides of love and the ups and downs that come with it. It made the story sweeter.
I wish Moonlight Chicken were longer as a series. It’s not often out of the dozens of series brought to us by GMMtv, that we see one lasting only eight episodes. The last I remember was Star and Sky: Star in My Mind (2022). I just wish we could have seen more of what becomes of Jim and Wen. I also want to know what happens between Salang and Praew.
Also, I want a villain, someone we can point to or defeat to achieve the HEA (Happily Ever After). As it is, all the characters are relatable. None of the characters fails to learn and grow from their life experiences. The path of overcoming a “villain” makes them stronger and pushes them together.
It’s a mixed bag that we can’t single out anyone to be the bad guy. Even the ex-lover of Wen has reasons for being confused, wanting to hold on to Wen in any way he can. We may not like Alan but a part of us understands the anguish of not knowing why someone stops loving us.
Life is the villain here, but no one attempts to shift blame for sometimes shitty circumstances. Why was someone taken too soon? Why did a young man become deaf? Why did the mom desert her son? None of these characters is mere black and white. While we might want to get mad at someone, this series depends on the drama coming from real-life. There are only things that happen to us out of our control. It’s how we deal with them and move forward that shapes our character.
Jim and Wen are mature adults, each with their own adult baggage. I hurt for the struggles and obstacles they face, but wish sometimes that I could say, hey, here’s a bad guy. Go and defeat him. Then your troubles will end and your years will be happily ever after. That’s not the story they are telling here. Life is nuanced and messy, happy and sad, hard and complicated but oh so lovely sometimes.
Another criticism about the series is that some characters are flat, like the sister, her boyfriend, Heart’s one-dimensional father and the mother. They are background noise. They are there to move the plot along. It works, but that’s all it does. Not everyone has to shine, but I believe we should see benefit to their on screen time.
There were threads between the characters that they could have explored more had they extended the episodes. The story feels like a summary, a synopsis, not complete. I wanted details, but those were left to my imagination. I’m surprised they didn’t give this more than eight episodes.
The idea that Earth is a middle-aged man of 40 is funny. He pulls off the Uncle vibes, but still, he is not a believable 40. They should have given him a few more wrinkles for the character. I’m not sure how old Wen is supposed to be, but in his mid-twenties, I can buy. Wen is too calm and settled for a man of 25, so it must be a bit older. They were going for a ten-plus age gap but didn’t quite pull it off.
I enjoyed many aspects of Moonlight Chicken but wanted more: I wanted more plot, more episodes, more character development. It felt too rushed.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. [See our Review Guide]
Thanks again for reading! Let me know your thoughts. Sorry if I’m slow to respond, but I promise I will get there.