I’ve written about the Thai BL Not Me in the past, touching on the issues the drama raises and how valid and relatable it is to viewers.
All of that still stands today. The battle for justice, the focus on disability and corruption, the heartbreaks, love, the fight for self, fears of betrayal, complicated relationships, and guilt in this hits every emotional button.
This show does everything right.
But where Not Me gets particularly personal for me is in Gun Atthaphan’s portrayal of twins Black and White, especially in the most recent episodes.
I’ve seen the chatter online, the anger, frustration, and love shown toward each twin, depending on the viewer. And these discussions and posts tell me one thing: Gun is nailing these roles.
I am a twin. My sister and I were born one minute apart, and I am the older multiple. While a single minute doesn’t seem like it would make a big difference in our sibling dynamic, it does.
We’ve shared our lives from birth onward, and yet that one minute always held a lot of responsibility for me.
I see a lot of Black in myself, yet I empathize the most with White, especially when it comes to his relationship with Sean. From the beginning, Not Me hasn’t just been about a growing relationship between Sean and White; it’s been about the complicated relationship between Sean, White, and Black.
Despite the romance and shifting affections, Not Me is a story about twins that hasn’t forgotten that it’s a story about twins. It hasn’t discarded either twin for the sake of ease. It hasn’t forgotten that its original objective with the twins is to portray contradicting personalities that complement each other, creating a balance.
From the first episode, I understood Black and White’s role in the grander scheme of things, that they were meant to represent two very different viewpoints towards injustice. But I like that Not Me’s focus on what makes Black and White different hasn’t made the show forget about what makes them better together. They balance each other. Where one is hard, the other is soft. Where one is hot, the other is cold. The same goes for relationships, particularly with Sean. Where there is a significant lack of trust between Black and Sean, there is an innate sense of trust, confidence, and need between White and Sean.
It goes back to being twins.
My sister and I have dealt with stares, questions, and even unwanted spotlights for most of our lives simply because we were twins. As unique as being a multiple is, it’s also easy to lose one’s sense of self. It’s hard to grow as an individual when everyone in your life spends all their time focusing only on your twin-ness, from classmates to parents to strangers. Even now, when I run into people I knew in the past, the first thing they say is, “Oh, you’re one of the twins!”
Although Black and White are separated in Not Me when their parents divorce, their connection remains. Their responsibility and love for each other is the reason behind White’s choice to take on his brother’s identity and, in essence, lose part of what makes him White. Gun’s portrayal of White is incredibly eye-opening.
Not every twin will agree with me on this, but many will. Although it’s not always the case, twins generally depend on each other in a much deeper, unexplainable way than the average sibling. It’s easier to see this with White than with Black. White’s loss of self is much more prominent in this than Black’s because he chooses to take on his brother’s identity, but Black’s tearful “I can’t stop you, but I also can’t lose you” moments speak volumes, too. It may be harder to see with Black, but Black essentially loses his life to his brother. Although White does it to protect Black, he still walks into a life Black had forged for himself away from his twin. Therefore, Black also lost himself.
It’s easy for twins to lose themselves, especially if they tend to take on each other’s identities to fool others. My sister and I did it often in elementary school. I even spoke to her boyfriends on the phone because she was too shy to carry on the conversations.
One thing Not Me does differently from other dramas and films involving twins is portraying the responsibility and strain being a multiple puts on the twins themselves. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how honest, raw, and frustrating Not Me’s representation has been. I feel seen as a twin, and I think many other twins would agree.
The media mainly portrays the positive side of being a multiple. It doesn’t show the fights, the hardship, and the confusion looking exactly like someone else can cause. Looking in a mirror is one thing. Looking at someone standing in front of you is another, especially if they are sick or sad. To see someone with your features feeling lost, someone you’ve been mixed up with or even pretended to be most of your life, hits different.
Not Me goes the extra mile, portraying Black and White’s deep love for each other while never glossing over their individual flaws nor forgetting their individual strengths. While it may exaggerate their shared physical pain (though I can only speak for myself and my twin on this), it remains true to the essence of twinhood. I may not experience her physical pain, but I do know when she’s hurt. It’s an innate feeling rather than a physical one.
I am very much like Black. I tend to be impulsive and involved. My twin has always been much more of a team player, while I thrive on doing things independently. She’s shy and doesn’t often defend herself. I tend to defend myself too strongly. Because of this, I am also ultra-protective of her, sometimes going too far in trying to make sure she remains safe. When our parents died, I often pushed her too hard and involved myself too much in her decisions.
I’d like to think I’ve finally learned how to draw that fine line between responsibility and being too intrusive, but I relate to Black because of this. I relate to how hard it is for others to get close to him for the same reason. He loves, but he does so in an off-hand manner.
The reason I empathize so much with White in Not Me is because, when it comes to my relationship with my sister, I’m just like Black. I would do anything to protect her, even push her away. And I’ve often thought what a pain in the ass I must be when I get like that. I know from the expressions crossing Black’s face and the tears he insists he isn’t shedding that he empathizes with White, too. I know, because I’m THAT twin.
Their story is breaking me. I’d do anything for my sister. As much as I struggled to find myself away from her growing up, I also could not handle losing her.
This determination I have to never lose her, to both push her away and protect her while also finding my own identity separate from her, brings me to Sean. Off’s portrayal of Sean is incredible, not just because his character deals with many internal conflicts but because he’s caught between Black and White’s sibling love, their polar opposite ways of fighting, and their responsibility to each other. My partner and my sister’s partner would agree that being in a relationship with a twin isn’t easy. It’s messy.
Exes have told us they believe we’d choose each other over them. The truth is, they’d be right.
In Not Me, White chose Black, and I never once blamed him or got angry at him for it. Instead, I applauded how the drama portrayed White’s dilemma over Sean and his twin and how he resolved it. Although he falls in love with Sean, he initially chooses his relationship with his twin over love. He then uses the link through the pain he shares with Black to reach out to his twin by jumping into the river. It’s the only thing he knows to do to get Black to understand his confusion, fears, and desperation.
The thing is, Black already understands it. The river jump is like a metaphorical bowl of water in the face.
The scene where White reveals his name to Sean hurts. At that moment, White breaks free of his brother’s identity while choosing between the two people he cares about the most: his soulmate and his wombmate. No choice feels right.
In the end, White remains loyal to Black but then confronts his brother in an equally heartbreaking and healing moment for both of them. Black and White needed the opportunity to reassure each other, to break away from the chains of responsibility that kept them from walking their individual paths in life. They needed this moment before either of them could move forward.
This responsibility brings me to Black. He breaks me. Everything that happens to Black in Not Me feels like it is happening to me, especially his loneliness. Although I realize his personality isn’t as likable as his brother’s, it hurts seeing him told time and again that his twin is better than him. It hurts knowing how deeply he feels without being able to express that depth of emotion as easily as White does.
Maybe I’m only speaking for my twin and me, but being compared has always been a significant issue for us. From teachers to friends, there hasn’t been a time in our lives when someone hasn’t used one of us against the other in some way, shape, or form. Simply because we shared a womb and a face. From our personalities to our brains, no one could understand why we were not essentially the same person. Why I wasn’t sweeter (I’m not an awful person, just a loner) and why she wasn’t better at school (she isn’t unintelligent, she just never cared for studying).
I didn’t want to be her. She didn’t want to be me. But we needed each other. Not Me goes above and beyond in portraying this.
There are no words to describe how great Off and Gun are as actors. The complicated relationship between Black, White, and Sean isn’t easy to navigate, yet they make it look effortless. They are delivering award-winning performances.
I have cried in every single episode.
I don’t know how this show will end, but I’m not sure my heart will survive if anyone is hurt, especially if something happens to one of the twins. I can’t even argue with my sister without feeling like a part of me is missing.
But it’s the final moment in Episode 12 between Sean and White that dug itself into my soul. While facing each other, White asks, “Which version of me do you prefer? Me as White? Or me as Black?”
Sean replies, “I don’t know. It doesn’t matter how you look. All I know is that I don’t want the person in front of me to disappear again. Stay with me.”
It may seem like a simple moment, but it says everything about them in this series. White’s need to maintain his own identity despite looking like someone else, and Sean’s need to keep the twin he fell in love with next to him.
There is a part of White Sean will never understand, a part that belongs only to Black. But there is now also a part of White Black will never be able to touch that belongs to Sean. Gun manages to portray this. Without being a twin himself, this takes powerful acting. As for Off, facing two different characters while being confused about who you’re facing also takes powerful acting. They are on another level, and I hope this drama expresses this to the world.
For those who haven’t watched, please do. Not only does this show shine a spotlight on a lot of important political and societal issues, but it also handles them in an honest, relatable way. It delves into complicated relationships without holding back, and it never once feels unrealistic, even when Black and White are gasping for air. Seriously, the drowning has to stop now. I have a fear of drowning.
Most importantly, it takes a show whose central plot revolves around a set of twins, and it makes it incredibly relatable to twins (and non-twins). For multiples, it’s a raw experience that is sometimes hard to face. It’s made me think about my relationship with my twin and with the loved ones we’ve brought into our lives, like Sean.
I don’t envy Sean and the hell he’s gone through having his heart trapped between loving someone so closely linked to someone else.
However, I do envy the person Black eventually falls deeply in love with. He may seem less likable in a face-to-face moment than his twin, but when he loves, he loves hard. The protector in him will become the passion that drives that forward.
Gun Atthaphan and Off Jumpol deserve more recognition for this. The entire cast and crew does, especially the director. Not Me is one of the most relevant dramas airing right now. It’s an underrated player inside a saturated playing field, and it’s tackling all the other players.
From one twin to another, I live every second of every episode inside Black and White’s pain and love. I need them both to have a happy ending as brothers and with the people they love.
From one twin to another, I bow in respect to the multi-faceted way this drama has represented being a multiple while never losing its way.