I sat down thinking I’d have a lot of complaining to do about Theory of Love, because Khai is possibly one of the most annoying characters I have seen in a BL.
However, now that I’m writing the actual review, I’m able to put the whole story into perspective. ToL is never going to be my favourite BL series, but it’s far from the worst.
Anyway, to the uninitiated, Theory of Love is the story of a group of filmmaking students – Khai (Off), Third (Gun), Two (White) and Bone (Mike). Together, they’re popular in their university as the Savage Team, who each have their specialisation and work well together, as well as being close friends. The series starts with Third doing film review vlogs through the course of which we understand that he is in love with his best friend, Khai. Khai, however, is a womanising jerk who is unaware of Third’s feelings as he makes his way through the women of their campus, breaking Third’s heart every time. Two is aware of Third’s feelings and supports him the best he can, while Bone is in the middle of dealing with his own complicated feelings for one of their teachers.
Normally I start with what I liked in a show, but this time I’m going to go the other way. Let’s get what I didn’t like out of the way first:
Khai. As I mentioned before, Khai is womanising jerk who absolutely takes his friends for granted, especially Third. He is completely oblivious to Third’s feelings for a quarter of the series, then does something that I find unforgivable, and then moves on to redeeming himself over the second half. Personally, the redemption was not sufficient to make up for his behaviour, but I’ll get to that.
Third. Yes, I know Third is supposed to be the sympathetic character we’re all feeling bad for and rooting for, but the whole time I just wanted him to move on with his life and stop hurting himself like this. His cold behaviour towards in the second half of the serries comes off as somewhat unbelievable and a tad hypocritical for this reason.
The treatment of women both by the script and the characters was also very iffy in places for me. For example, Lynn (Neen) is a girl that Two is interested in briefly but also serves as a vehicle for his romance with Un (Earth). There is at least one crazy-girlfriend trope, which is so tiring that it needs to go away. Also the whole gang is guilty of sexist remarks; Khai in particular, thanks to his character being a playboy, is kind of awful to women in general.
I was also not the biggest fan of the side couples in the series – while there was great potential between the romance between Un (Earth) and Two, it was ultimately underdeveloped and seemed to come out of nowhere. Even weirder was the teacher-student relationship that was being built between Bone and Paan (Sara Legge), which was just kind of awkward.
Enough with my gripes about the show, on to what I liked.
The structuring of the series is actually really interesting. I really love that each episode is thematically connected to a classic rom-com. It’s unique and ties in with the general ideas of the series, and some of the re-enacted scenes were good fun. I was especially impressed with how well they executed the ‘switch’ halfway through the series.
Also commendable are the cinematography and music, which are both really strong, as is fitting for a series about filmmaking students. I also have to point out that Getsunova’s Fake Protagonist is a great OST.
There are also some very good actor performances, led by Gun, who is without a doubt one of GMM’s best. Even though Third spends a good part of the series crying, he is still able to bring a variety of emotions to the screen. Off also packs an emotional punch in some scenes in the latter half of the series, when Khai is coming to terms with himself and dealing with being put in Third’s position.
So what ultimately redeemed Theory of Love for me?
Well, there’s something about the unrequited love story that will resonate with anyone who has ever been in Third’s position – being in an irrational, inexplicable kind of love – and had a Khai in their life – someone who you know will hurt you but you can’t really let go of. If you can appreciate that gut-wrenching feeling of heartbreak portrayed well, then, despite its many flaws, Theory of Love is definitely worth checking out.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5