7 days, 10-ish hours of live content, 8 (+1) incredibly attractive men, one house.
GMMTV’s SafeHouse is probably their biggest risk and the best idea they’ve ever come up with. Nobody knew how a live reality show would work, especially with such long broadcast times and an eclectic cast of actors, but now that it’s over, I think it’s probably GMMTV’s biggest risk and the best idea they’ve ever come up with.
So first, the cast. GMM did a clever marketing trick of introducing eight silhouettes a week before, leaving fans guessing who the members of this house would be and building up hype. In the end, it turned out most of the guesses were wrong and the final cast was – Gun, Earth, Luke, Mix, Khaotung, Pond, Neo and Phuwin. Gun left after three days of the show, to be replaced by Tay Tawan.
To describe the show as chaos would be an understatement.
The idea of eight men in a house, being filmed 24 hours a day is pretty insane on its own. The SafeHouse formula was that there would be 3 major lives a day – one hour in the morning, two hours at lunch and a whopping six hour live in the evening, running from 6 to 12 PM local time. Each live would include games for the residents to play for coins, and ultimately the one with the most coins would win the whole thing, with the prize being an item or gadget of their choosing. Every day one resident would also be crowned ‘king’ of the safehouse, which gave them the privilege of choosing their own teams.
Now, I could make this into an essay about how there’s something fascinating about how so many of us tuned in to watch our favourite actors go about their day while being monitored the whole time, but I ‘m not going to. I am instead going to explain what made SafeHouse so fun and why they should definitely do it again. Just not immediately, because I need to catch up on all that lost sleep.
Tay once said that there is no one normal at GMMTV, and SafeHouse pretty much proved it. Every game usually devolved into a lot of screaming, the creation of one extremely catchy chant that also includes twerking, and at least two occasions of Phuwin getting nearly maimed by one of his fellow residents.
Besides the fun of the games, it was also just as exciting to watch the residents in their down time, just chilling by the pool or in the living room, singing and playing the guitar. Joss Way-ar’s Lonely Mode became something of a recurring theme song of the SafeHouse boys: they’d often sing the chorus and even made a game out of innovating one of the lines with a suitable pun. The song has found its place as an earworm for anyone who watched all seven days of the show, and with good reason.
And now, some highlights of what really stood out in the show (not including shirtless men parading around the house and in the pool):
If you’re a fan of EarthMix or PondPhuwin and you haven’t seen the gazillion edits and highlight reels that came out of SafeHouse, you are missing out. Fans of both the ships were thoroughly well fed through the course of seven days. EarthMix fans had the chance to coo and go dewy eyed at Mix softly waking Earth up on some mornings, watching the two of them be super conscious of each other at meal times, and also scream and demand an explanation for Mix biting Earth’s ear on live television.
Narawins were given plenty of cute skinship moments and excessive clinginess, one hilarious conversation about who hogs the blankets in their couple, and a… hand… kissing… moment.
Ghost Ships and Found (?) Families
My god the ghost ships.
In this regard, I think Luke Ishakawa Plowden deserves an award for being the Face that Launched a Thousand Ghost Ships. His interactions with Gun and Mix in particular inspired both OffGun and EarthMix fans to launch dedicated LukeGun and LukeMix agendas. Arguments could also be made for LukeKhaotung, and LukeNeo. I’ve also seen Luke as the third wheel in PondPhuwin stories too. The most amusing part of this is that Luke, who comes off as one of the nicest guys you’d ever meet and a quintessential jock, seems blissfully unaware of the chaos he’s wreaking in fandoms when he looks at Gun like he hung the stars or tells Mix that he has a cute face and nice ass.
Both of these are things that happened.
Besides Luke-centric ships, there were also lowkey ghost ships developing between all the boys, and really, you could find moments to justify any of them.
The other fun relationship that came out SafeHouse is the bizarre yet adorable family of EarthMix with Neo and Phuwin, whom they seemed to have adopted as their sons over the course of the week, with Earth even referring to himself as ‘father’ to Neo on more than one occasion.
Oh, and of course, you cannot forget my personal favourite ghost ship: Pond and the duck floatie in the pool aka #duckiepond
You know when you think your idols are cool and then they start dancing and you rethink your life choices?
Safehouse did that in the best possible way. I can’t even describe it, just… Just watch the video.
The Bonds, Though
Both inside and outside the show, SafeHouse created some really unique bonds. It was the first time I saw fandoms come together to share content, translate, comment on the events of the show. It was heartwarming to see people from different fandoms come to learn more about each other’s favourites and appreciate them.
Within the series as well, we can see that the experience created new friendships and bonds between the boys, and watching that dynamic grow and develop was part of the appeal.
People who had gotten used to Gun’s ethereal, yet ruthless game winning presence on the show were concerned about how the introduction of an agent of chaos like Tay Tawan would change the dynamic of the house, and during the first day of Tay’s stay, there was already a clear change in mood. Gun, who we usually see as the baby of the groups, played the role of mature big brother, and it was great to see him take younger artists under his wing.
Especially endearing was watching Khaotung confess that he is a long time fan of Gun’s, and Gun reacting with surprise. Tay, as per expectations, made some very questionable papaya salad (which he took an hour to do and needed to call Mix in for consultation halfway), fed everyone copious amounts of lactasoy and honey-lemon tea, rammed into Phuwin during a game, and single-handedly won no games, Gun’s first place position to one of the last.
Even from a non-shipper lens, it was really heartwarming to watch the connections between the boys. Earth, for instance has his own unique dynamics with Tay, Gun and Mix, whom he has known for years. The FUTS boys – Neo, Pond and Phuwin – who often spend time teasing and laughing with each other. It was also really good to see how they worked to help Luke, who was the only non-Thai and had no real prior connections to anyone in the group, but grew close enough to all of them to break into spontaneous dance lessons with Pond every now and then.
One of the most triumphant moments, for me, was seeing how the usually shy and introverted Khaotung started behaving like an absolute cartoon character – a result, perhaps, of over-exposure to Neo – who, I must add, is probably the uncrowned MVP of the whole week, having won hearts (but no coins) all week. Khaotung, who also revealed himself to be a kind of game winning ninja, ended up as the overall winner who will get his desired item – a guitar, according to him. The last night ended with ‘awards’ for all the members (such as Pond getting one for his appreciation of the omelettes that Phuwin made) and two songs – one an impromptu one performed by Neo and Luke, and a cover of Potato’s Thank You for Loving Me.
People are still making edits and finding new things in SafeHouse footage even a full two weeks after it’s done airing. That one week had a lot of impact on fans, who still talk about missing the experience. And, if the fact that most of the actors seem to find time to hang out together or do the occasional IG live together is anything to go by, it that it’s not only the fans who’ve been completely changed by it.
If you still haven’t come across anything from SafeHouse but enjoy watching the GMMTV boys being their usual, chaotic, lovable selves, I recommend you do go check it out. I promise you will enjoy experiencing all of it – the chaos in the games, the cuddly warmth of their relationships, the mealtimes that will absolutely make you hungry, and of course, the completely unnecessary twerking.