The hit series “Lovely Writer The Series” has charmed hearts across the world with the sweet love story between overtly romantic young actor Nubsib and his crush on older grumpy writer Gene.
The series features the two set against the colorful backdrop of a BL television series called “Bad Engineer” based on the novel of the same name written by Gene. As the first episode ends, Gene finds himself at a conjecture to decide whether to let Nubsib move into his apartment or not.
(This review covers Episodes 2 to 7 so expect spoilers.)
What I personally find interesting and at the same time confounding about this series is the writing. While most praise the series for the random shots fired at the approach, modern BL series display, I can’t help but notice it highlights the same things it demonizes. It is likely impossible to create a functioning series without the “problematic” or “toxic” elements, that the fans seem to love or hate. From assigning stereotypes to characters some find insulting (Tum’s effeminate acting as he pretends to be the make-up artist), to Nubsib’s controlling and possessive nature whenever he is around Gene (Nubsib loves to take over control, whenever he seemingly walks into any conversation that Gene is having with someone else). Although, fans seem to have a “love & hate” relationship with these elements, they maintain the fundamental makeup of all the characters for better or worse.
I don’t have a problem with these elements per se, as each individual is different and their negative qualities also make them who they are. Like I personally like how Nubsib loves to order Gene around (it’s cute). I get it, they aren’t politically correct, but he is a 21 years old with an old-fashioned mindset. It comes across as natural. Kao perfectly acts as the guard dog Nubsib who stays close to Gene at all times, creating a sense of almost guardian level presence. Even in private when he acts sweet, Nubsib can quickly flip to serious mode when Gene hurts himself (Gene spills boiling water on his hand and won’t stay still until Nubsib orders him to).
While Gene remains the same crotchety grouch on the outside in the initial episodes, in the succeeding episodes he changes his behavior and habits as he grows closer to Nubsib. His daily habits change as he begins to gravitate towards Nubsib. I enjoyed the subtle way the script changes Gene’s character to shine light on the various side characters who enter his life courtesy of his novel adaptation “Bad Engineer”. But they rather stay with him.
The side character’s storyline is where the writing seems to falter as the scriptwriter seems a bit unsure on how to best use them. For example, Tiffy is like a model, has a strong personality and very interesting backstory. But it takes six episodes for her to recognize her self-worth due to the limited screen time. The same goes for Aey as well, another character with loads of back story and conflicts but he is relegated to being an eye candy with a lustful eye for Nubsib until the later episodes. I understand the part where they choose to focus on Nubsib and Gene for two episodes, so people can fall in love with their cat and mouse games and feel their chemistry.
But having an independent woman (Tiffy) with a same-sex romantic past, who seems to actually be bisexual; as well as a young man (Aey) who has serious daddy issues, a troubled past, as well as more than a school boy crush feelings for his co-star, it seems a bit of a waste to reduce them to afterthoughts, especially if both have strong ties to the rest of the cast. But that is how the show uses a bulk of the main cast until midway when the characters get almost entire sections of an episode dedicated to them.
If you’re BL enthusiast like me, who attempts to learn the language, after watching shows for a year or so, then I’m sure you can understand my feelings. I’m not a Thai speaker conversationally, but I did notice when the English subtitles glossed over words and changed their meanings. Since we only have the subtitles to make sense of what we are seeing, I do hope their diction improves in the future. In the scene where Orn says Nubsib and Gene are the same age, the inference was that they belong to the same generation. The two characters are actually five years apart in age.
The series spends the first four episodes establishing Nubsib’s importance in Gene’s life with clever precision. The filming plays with angles to make Nubsib appear much taller than Gene, utilizing the existent standards of bigger seme vs smaller uke. The clever camera work gives each episode an almost dreamlike appearance which when coupled with the perfect lighting is exuberant. There are moments when I did find myself scratching my head though, but I feel those moments were abysmal because of the subpar editing. The scene where Gene and Nubsib are rehearsing kissing scenes made me feel dizzy because of the amount of cutting between angles. Side view, front view, wide view, side view front view, and then wide view had me screaming “JUST KISS DEAR GOD”!
Ironically that was one of the very few times, the show does that. It does employ the iconic three angle shots often, but it seems to be a ritual that fans have come to expect and for the most part enjoy. It’s nice that the cinematography combined with acting talents utilizes the space well as the characters emote and converse well. The camera is rarely shaken but instead offers an intimate look at these characters as they go through their day-to-day life. The way the drama is shot captures the perfect view of the moments and I can say that definitely adds to the drama.
The storyline does take a while to commence successfully. As the first four episodes focus on Nubsib and Gene’s blossoming relationship to understand the different aspects of their individual tasks (Nubsib on kissing another man for his role in a BL, Gene on how an NC scene between two men would go), the line between friend and something more blurs. Throughout that, the viewer gets random moments from the lives of the side characters. It would be fine if there wasn’t more to them, than the shallow first impressions I got from their scenes. I’m not actually used to a show working in this format, so we’ll count that as new.
After episode 4 the drama’s clearly outlines the other characters stories and we see their ambitions, pasts, and how they all relate to one another. The script chooses these scenes to reiterate important details about them. Aey goes from “eye candy” to “boy in love with Nubsib”. It’s obvious that he isn’t being entirely innocent. A point driven home by someone warning Gene about their “friend”: gesturing the viewers to what they should expect from these characters. Although it was a bit patronizing after a while, I didn’t mind it too much.
When Gene meets with his friends from college for a late night dinner, I found myself surprised. It was a mirror image of the same conversation the filmmakers recreated for “Bad Engineer” in the first episode (on trying to get an answer on whether Gene is gay or not). I get the significance of both moments but wished there was some more importance to these scenes (than acting as a plot device for Gene’s dependence on Nubsib in more ways than one). This is how the show utilizes the side characters throughout the series. But at the same time, it gives one character an entire section of an episode to explore their own backstory. After being satured with touch of Gene and Nubsib’s romance for so many episodes, it was jarring to experience this sudden change in their format.
Do I enjoy the show? Oh, yeah it’s amazing! But I do wish the creators had spent abit more time with the planning, pacing and execution. Once it gets to episode seven the show seems to calm down with the random jumping between characters and instead has a much stronger format that I hope continues forward.
Rating- 4 out of 5