I think that the entertainment industry itself has a history of chasing success. Any time a hit product comes out, all the other companies start chasing after that success and trying to recreate it by putting out similar products-Shigeru Miyamoto
This might very well be the stark reality that seems irrelevant but is inevitably true. The BL industry spread throughout the South Asian Subcontinent was built on this formula and as such, setting precedents becomes necessary. However, there is a fine line between truth and blatant lies. CIWYW The Series chooses to bridge that distance, as popular Thai BL Director Aam Anusorn yet again uses the television medium to showcase the pivotal yet brutal issues corrupting the Entertainment Industry. The only difference is that this miniseries is tailored to showcase the miscreant acts in the BL industry. It was actually refreshing to witness the daily happenings in the BL world through the eyes of a hapless Director James, who envisions his work as a form of art. Without further ado, let’s review the first two episodes of this drama that is stirring up the hornet’s nest!
Time Dhamawat portrays the main lead James. He is a dedicated Director whose recent project gets cancelled and as such he is invited to direct a new project by star maker Executive Tee.
Benz Panupun plays the role of Ait. He stars as the main lead in “2Nights”, the new project that James would be directing.
Taiwanese model and actor Daniel Chang portrays the role of Marco, James’s close friend.
Michael Kiettisak plays the role of Bas, the other main lead in “2Nights”.
Kaprao Pongkorn plays his namesake, an actor whose contract is wrongfully terminated because of fraudulent rumors.
The Glaring Similarities Between Reel and Real
I was pleasantly surprised by the script which reflects popular Thai BL culture with a brutal honesty that highlights their narcissistic attitudes. Director James is all set to start on his new project when he receives the shocking news that Fon, the manager has fled from the nation with their production money. I was actually shocked that the show’s scriptwriter took a direct dig at a certain Thai Production House with similar discrepancies. This was really daring and we must applaud their efforts to project the glaring reality with a conviction. James is left devastated by the disturbing news and as such his close friend Marco (who has obvious affections for his Director friend) turns up to cheer him up. They seem to have an unlikely friendship because Marco looks at James with stars in his eyes and James is totally oblivious to his feelings. So much so, that he has no qualms hugging a flustered Marco in his naked glory.
Quite ironically James is roped into a new project as predicted by Marco. The project titled “2Nights” (which is a direct moniker to the famous Thai BL drama previously directed by Aam Anusorn), is being helmed by popular starmaker, Tee. Thai BL culture is heavily dependent on Managers and Executives who take up the mantle of shaping the lives of their actors. Now basically we have two kinds of managers- First those who do treat their actors as human beings and secondly those, for whom the actors are nothing more than brands they own and market. Sadly enough, Executive Tee belongs to the second category.
This is where things get interesting and we need to get back to the quote mentioned at the start of this review. James is left stunned by several revelations, as he turns up to sign the contract.
● James is asked to sign on a contract that offers him a menial wage of 60,000 Baht for 20 days of work. Although I have no idea about the minimum wage for a Director, James points out it is low. But since he is jobless, James is left with no other option but to sign the contract.
● Executive Tee is a powerful man, but he has no idea about the kind of work that James has directed. The direct implication is that James might very well be turned into a figurehead while Tee controls the crew from behind the scenes.
● The show takes a direct dig at Thai culture while James is having a casual conversation with Jub, Tee’s Assistant. He inquires about BL and she is obviously shocked. So, Jub gives a haphazard explanation about popular BL culture which is quite confusing.
“BL is where a straight man falls in love with another straight man, but it isn’t gay movies”
I was actually left aghast by her explanation but this is usual conundrum that strikes the common folks who DO NOT understand the difference between BL and LGBTQ content.
● Another interesting facet that was pointed out is the concept of “Shipping”. Kaprao was obviously fired because ardent BL fans aren’t happy seeing their idols with their female friends or girlfriends. The irony of this bias is that about 90% of the fandom comprises women.
● As soon as James is introduced to his main lead actors, he tries to get them comfortable. He questions them about their intention to become an actor and this is where the differences between their mindsets becomes clear. While Ait accepts that he wants to become an actor for earning money, it becomes obvious that he is lacking the passion. Bas on the other hand projects his inner fears and ardent passion to become successful because he wants to prove himself. They represent the two categories of actors that exist in the BL world!
● The next myth that gets debunked is how the actors and their life are monitored by the management. When Bas gets sick, Ait explains that Bas is on a daily diet of chicken breasts and cucumbers. Fame comes at a hard price, but should it come at the price of your own health? The actor’s cellphones are confiscated and the managers update their social media accounts. Like James correctly points out, this is fooling the loyal fans and playing with their emotions to create a “Fake Image”. Similarly, Ait is forced to get a nose job done, because Tee feels his nose isn’t symmetrical enough.
The Blatantly Obvious Romance
In a clear deviation from the norm, CIWYW The Series aims at projecting a romance between a Director and his Actor, which is frowned upon for obvious reasons. BL actors are supposed to maintain a certain image and close friendship with their co-stars during the period of production and in some cases even after the show goes on-air. They are forced to hide their personal life, relationships because they are dependent on “The Ships” for survival. Can an actor have a personal relationship beyond the boundaries of his BL lifestyle? This show is an ardent attempt to showcase the impossible. Although Ait isn’t clear about career goals, he is quite set on gaining James affections. I really enjoyed watching their refreshing chemistry. Ait is quite direct about his affections which leaves James flustered most of the time (the kid seriously uses sexual innuendos to tease his own Director). It should sound inappropriate given their professional relationship and yet you can’t help but fall in love with their sweet moments.
I was actually amused watching James’s stunned reaction when he meets Ait the next morning. Ait has his plaster removed and has an angelic glow which leaves our experienced Director tongue-tied. Beyond their professional capacities, James and Ait are normal human beings who are on their way to falling for each other. Obviously there will be attempts to sink this “Ship” (because Tee indirectly makes his intentions quite clear when he learns that Ait offered a lift to James).
CIWYW The Series is a 6 episode mini-series, so I’m wondering how they are going to handle the future hassles in James and Ait’s relationship. But the first two episodes have clearly set a precedent and I’m expecting more revelations in the upcoming episodes.
Rating- 4 out of 5