The Naked Truth 

I’m holding tight to my DanYok agenda.

As I’m writing this piece, I’m holding my heart in my hands and putting my faith in Dan not to break it. He promised to win it together with Yok while also asking Yok to wait.

Every character in the Thai BL Not Me is crucial, each of their stories reflecting the times we live in and the truths we find hard to face. If you’re confused about why I’m placing my broken heart into a fictional character’s hands, then I highly recommend watching Not Me to find out.

Very rarely is there a BL where every single character is valid, where none of the characters play second fiddle to someone else. Not Me is one of these rare gems.

Although Dan and Yok, portrayed splendidly by Thai actors Fluke Gawin (Dan) and First Kanaphan (Yok), get less screen time than Black, White, and Sean, their impact makes up all the difference.

I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for Dan from the beginning. It was evident from his deep, exhausted eyes that he was carrying a burden on his shoulders, that his faith in himself and the system he wanted to believe in had been shaken.

Justice is a funny thing. It’s hard for justice to exist when in human hands. No human is without flaws. No person shares the same ideals. This diversity in opinion makes it hard for everyone to come together, especially in a struggle for power.

Dan and Yok are symbolic representations of a broken system, yet they also represent a light at the end of the tunnel. I am so incredibly impressed by how Yok’s story illustrates the obstacles the disabled have to overcome regarding employment and equal rights. Being the son of a mute mother who depends on sign language to communicate, it’s apparent to Yok (and to us) how hard it is for his mother to find work in a prejudiced society. Despite that, she pushes forward. Yok’s love and support give her the motivation to do so. From the braille bracelet Yok wears on his wrist to the ardent way he protects her, he symbolizes the fight those of us with disabled family members are willing to take up to make their standard of living better.

Yok is a natural caregiver and an incredibly compassionate person who sees beneath the surface of others. His chosen art project to break down people to their naked inner emotions by displaying their scars is a prime example of his ability to understand others. The nude sketch scene between him and street artist/cop UNAR/Dan is a vivid, intimate moment that visibly tears down Dan’s emotional walls. Fluke Gawin broke hearts in the sketch scene, his eyes and body language taking all of us on a personal journey that opened our souls.

Only to break us later.

Dan and Yok’s hurdles as a couple and their individual scars seem ridiculously impossible to overcome, especially Dan’s.

I want to take a moment to thank the screenwriter and director for how carefully and gracefully they’ve navigated us through a story that touches on police brutality and redemption. Considering the rocky relationship that people in many countries have with their local police at the moment, Dan’s story is a delicate one. Whatever one’s dream may be, the reality is often very different from what one may imagine. Dan wanted to save the world, and he ended up feeling like he broke it. The guilt of knowing you are responsible for someone else’s death is not something people come back from. My father was a marine who served during a war. Until the day he died, he suffered horrible post-traumatic stress and guilt from his time in the service that affected him and his family. We lived with his night terrors and his long alcoholic binges. In the end, he couldn’t escape the guilt.

There’s a lot of me represented in Not Me, and I think that’s intentional because there’s a lot of everyone represented in this series. My older sister is married to a man whose mother is deaf, and I see much of my brother-in-law in Yok. My twin sister is a lot like White, and she is also the mother of a disabled daughter. Growing up with my father reminds me of Dan. Seeing Sean suffer from his own father’s unfair death reminds me of my mother’s unexpected death and how it affected us.

There’s nothing I don’t relate to, and I think every viewer can say the same.

After Episode 13, I don’t know what will happen to Dan and Yok. I’m not even sure they will overcome it, but I know I want and need them to.

For me and all of us who have struggled to overcome overwhelming guilt or seen someone who has, I need them to push through. For all of us who have overcome dark thoughts that sent us to the edge of no return, and for those of us who found a way to back away from that same edge because of someone else or because of our inner strength, I need them to endure.

In Episode 13, Dan chose to save his parents by betraying the one he loves in a moment that broke everyone’s hearts before saving the gang in the same heated moment. I don’t even want to think about where his decision leaves Dan now and what he’ll have to do to redeem himself and keep his family safe. He’s stuck between a rock and a hard place, and he’s lost the only person who was willing to accept what he’d done and forgive him for it. His past hangs like a heavy, suffocating cloak over his head, and the responsibility he feels to his parents, to Yok, and to Sean hangs just as heavy. Dan is one of the loneliest characters in this series, and my heart hurts for him. When the elevator door closed in the final scene, it closed on the one bright path to happiness he had with Yok.

Not Me doesn’t expect viewers to forgive or even defend the characters in the show; it’s asking us to think about our own lives because of these characters. It’s making people realize that sometimes there is no right choice.

What Not Me has done is adapt a story to suit today’s society and issues. It’s taken unforgettable characters and given them real-world problems to deal with.

I left my heart with Dan and Yok, and I know, without a doubt, I won’t get it back until the final episode. If even then.

Fluke Gawin and First Kanaphan stepped up to the plate with these two characters. They have delivered emotional performances that have stripped bare the guilt and need two people can feel. The tears are real. They weren’t pretty tears that slid delicately down the cheeks; they were severe, ‘can’t breathe’ kind of tears that stripped the viewers as bare as it did them.

Thank you, First and Fluke, for those performances. Dan and Yok are making me think and cry. May these performances carry you both to much higher places in the industry.

Dan and Yok aren’t a secondary couple. They are the backbone of a much larger story. Yok is the heart of the gang, and the gang’s heart was broken in Episode 13, which broke the rest of us. I hope they find their way back to each other. Like the people Yok strips bare in his paintings, life often strips us of everything before it builds us back up. I don’t know if a happy ending is possible, but the hope is there.

Thank you, Not Me, for doing you every week and for doing it so incredibly well.

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