“If you were the taste, then I would be your Ingredient”
We aren’t having contrasting opinions here, because I’m sure that there are a lot of viewers who have mixed feelings about this gastronome romance. While the adaptation leaned heavily on the somber chemistry between the main lead couple, I must admit the aesthetically pleasing gourmet was an added advantage. Whilst I’m unaware about the original storyline in the novel by author Sammon Scene; the show obviously pales in comparison because of various reasons. Uncertainty and odd pacing might be the topmost factors for the abysmal ratings for this show. I did enjoy watching this drama, despite its flaws and oddities. We are going to sit down and address the intricacies of this Thai BL, that ended last week!
What I Liked
We are talking about my favorite moments first, because they are few and far between. The following are the reasons for sticking to this show, despite its lackadaisical performance and awful storytelling.
☆ Brilliant Pairing and Natural Chemistry
One of the very things that actually worked in the favor of this show is the casting. Zung Kidakarn and Mark Siwat make a stunning couple and their chemistry flows naturally (despite the stilted long stares and lack of actual conversations). Aek and Aue probably have the most softly alluded love story in the entire Thai BL universe, but the lack of sensual undertones sets them apart. I’m sure the viewers were supremely annoyed with their total lack of communication, which was replaced with extended periods of long staring, but Zung Kidakarn really has expressive eyes; so stare as much as you want. I’m especially enjoyed watching their camaraderie when Aue rushes to Aek’s hometown to reconcile with his miffed love interest. Their chemistry seems palpable, realistic and believable.
☆ Concept of Found Family and True Friendships
I really enjoyed watching Aue and Aek’s respective interactions with their colleagues and college friends. Aue has gathered this odd motley of colleagues who seem more like his family members, than co-workers. They are entirely supportive of his life choices and stand by him throughout his tough times. The concept of “Found Family” shines through and I really enjoyed watching their hearty interactions. Especially Nuna (Zani Nipaporn) who comes across as a strong woman with her own opinions; someone who can’t be bullied into submission. Women are always portrayed in a negative light in most BL dramas, so Nuna’s act was class apart and inspiring. Similarly, Aue’s friendship with Prem is endearing and their sweet bonding was truly enviable. On the other hand, Aek’s friends are his lifeline. Especially Vich (Toon Atirootj) who doesn’t mince words while pointing out Aek’s idiocracies or advises him whenever Aek is suffering from self-doubt. They have close ties and they celebrate Aek’s success like it is their own. Aek is truly blessed to have such understanding friends!
☆ Familial Acceptance
Aue is majorly portrayed as an introvert, so his close familial ties were surprising. His Mother understands and accepts his choices easily; when he introduces her to Aek. You feel overjoyed watching their banter, as Aek stands there, unaware that he has already got the stamp of approval from Aue’s Mother. Similarly, Aue’s older brother has no qualms accepting his sexuality and feelings for the same sex. We need more depictions of easy familial acceptance in BL dramas, because that would ultimately pave the way for teenagers who are struggling to accept their alternate realities. This thought aligns with Aek’s state of mind in the penultimate episodes, where he struggles to accept his feelings for Aue. The most plausible reason being his Mother’s disapproval. Rudklao Amratisha must be applauded for portraying Nuan [Aek’s mother] with a begrudging honesty. Nuan seems like a majorly misunderstood character. Because Aek spends alot of time second guessing her reactions; while obviously she loves and accepts him, just the way he is. She wants what most mothers wish for; that her child should pursue his dreams, beside the person who loves him wholeheartedly.
What I didn’t Like
I’m going to write an entire sonnet related to this part, because grudgingly there’s lots to talk about.
☆ The Pacing
This show was supposed to be an epic saga of gourmet dishes coupled with an effervescent chemistry between our handsome main leads. That’s what the trailer promised; to some extent they achieved the impossible. The cinematography is fantastic; the food is mouthwatering and leaves you salivating for authentic Thai cuisine and the background music is pleasing. Yet the storytelling is borderline regressive and the pacing is so slow, that it will leave you frustrated. Since we don’t know much about the original content; it becomes difficult to understand if the odd pacing is the author’s fault or was it at the Director and Screenwriter’s discretion? I don’t know where they went wrong, but the main couple suffers from miscommunications that could be solved with simple conversations. Were they trying to create conflicts to undermine this relationship or they didn’t have relevant subjects to streamline this project?
☆ Slowest Relationship Development Ever
I understand that the show was banking on the premise of a slow burn chemistry between the main and side couples. It’s actually funny because the supportive couple had more understanding than the main leads. However, the distinctive lack of chemistry was certainly a downer. Vich and Prem (Paam Setthanan) make a handsome couple, depict healthy relationship goals and are adorably sweet. But this pairing suffers from the same “Staring Contest” that eludes logic and you are left wondering where this relationship is going. Aek and Aue on the other hand spend so much time staring at each other, that they seem incapable of having actual conversations. It gets increasingly frustrated, when Aue’s classic confession inevitably leads to Aek’s breakdown. You fail to understand the reason behind his sudden denial (because obviously both seemed in love when they were in Aek’s hometown). The show spends two episodes on Aek’s hesitancy to accept his feelings for Aue, which is conveniently bracketed as “Nuan’s Disappointment”. I really feel sorry for her, because Aek’s inability to decide for himself is mostly huddled onto her shoulders. Starting from his indecision to join Aue’s restaurant to accepting their relationship, Aek mostly acts like his Mother wouldn’t approve of his choices. I really wanted him to sit down and have an honest conversation with his Mother or Aue, instead of making dramatic exits during a heavy downpour. The chemistry between both couples seems stifling at times and leaves you exasperated. Mark Siwat is a seasoned BL actor and his acting talents weren’t utilized to the fullest. His undeniable chemistry with Zung was left unexploited and that is truly disappointing.
This show would a huge test of your patience, because the storyline suddenly devolves into a major catastrophe that make no sense. But despite the several disadvantages that work against this drama; Bite Me has an alluring sense of romance, that’s it if you are in the market for slow burn chemistry. Zung Kidakarn and Mark Siwat make a compatible couple; frankly they are the only saving grace of this unusually odd paced romance. Unfortunately, I kept comparing this drama to Gameplay Garnpaphon popular miniseries “Ingredients” and found it sorely lacking. As against Ingredients which had an intriguing storyline and palatable chemistry between the main leads, Bite Me suffers from a bad script and undermined acting talents. This could have been a great series, because of its promising premise. Sadly, this show is a “One Time Watch”, totally overrated but utterly disappointing!
Rating- 3 out of 5