The Thai BL Not Me doesn’t know how to do anything halfway, and we’re all benefiting from their need to relay a well-rounded, genuinely emotional story.
As if having twins Black and White represent two sides of justice wasn’t enough, Not Me said let’s give audiences two opposite sides of two types of power with Todd and Black.
I feel like I’m going to get all Todd apologist on people at some point, so I will apologize ahead of time. I’m sorry.
One of the most interesting dynamics in Not Me is Black’s (actor Gun Atthaphan) relationship with his former friend, Todd (actor Sing Harit)
The entire plot of Not Me has centered around power—people with too much of it and people with too little. There is a clear divide in society. As much as we’d like to pretend we all have a fair shot at life, we don’t. Money, power, and greed are dangerous friends to make. They ask for too much, and they never bargain. But they do love.
Although justice seeker Black has little power, he did grow up in a family with money. Like his childhood friend, Todd, Black had advantages in life that other people didn’t have simply because of his mother’s position and salary. The difference is that Black didn’t want it. He’d rather exchange the advantages he was born with for the greater good.
But is he much different than Todd?
Yes and no.
Black likes to be in a position of authority, even while fighting the good fight. It’s evident in the way he carries himself, how he’d sacrifice some for the whole, that he cares about making a change but is willing to knock over a few people along the way. A clear example is a flashback where Black left Sean to fend for himself when the police came after them.
Black isn’t a bad person. He sees the bigger picture, and in his bigger picture, sacrifices happen.
Todd would agree, only Todd believes that exchanging the hands of power can also make a difference. There will always be someone in authority who influences those below them. Todd believes that replacing a dangerous force with a less risky power will give the people what they need and want while retaining the balance. With Todd being the one in control.
In another write-up about Not Me, I mentioned that this drama doesn’t expect viewers to forgive or even defend the characters in the show; it asks us to think about our lives because of these characters. And in life, sometimes there is no right choice.
Not one single person would have the same opinion about power. In Not Me, even the gang’s opinions differ despite wanting the same end game: equality.
Twitter threads and social media frenzies happen because people need to spout their truth. Opposing and agreeable responses to these truths occur because people agree or disagree, but no response mirrors someone else’s.
Even twins Black and White, as closely connected as they are, share different viewpoints on justice.
This brings me to Black and Todd. As a viewer, I know Todd is the villain, the man who would do anything to get power. His ideals mimic Black’s, but his greed makes him a dangerous partner. For him, the key to making change happen is to have the power to do it. Even so, I find myself empathizing with him. There is no doubt that Todd loves Black, that he sees a part of himself in his old friend.
I’ve seen some of the uproars online, especially from those who hoped for a Black and Gram endgame, but I find it more plausible with how this show was adapted to suit the message that Black’s bigger connection is actually with Todd. Not as a couple (though don’t get me started on redeemed villains as lovers because I’m all in for those kinds of plots), but as kindred spirits who walked the same path but ended up taking a different direction. Where Todd took the path of power to make change, Black defended the less advantaged, believing that people with no control also have the ability to change things.
Power is a lonely bedmate for both of them. Being in a position of authority can strip a person of their relationships. Todd is sacrificing the friendships he could have had for power, and Black has become disconnected from his gang members in his pursuit of leadership amongst them.
The difference between Black and Todd is that Black has White, a twin brother who understands him in a way no one else ever will, a twin brother who will listen to Black without also pushing him away.
I like that Not Me has this dynamic, that it embraces the idea that people can save people, but people can also break people. Every character in the show is a clear example of this, from Dan and Yok’s relationship to Black, White, and Sean’s to Gram and Eugene’s to Black and Todd.
Even though I think the title of this show and the story it’s inspired by is meant to represent White taking on Black’s identity, it also says a lot about the show itself.
Every day, we often say to ourselves, “Not me. It’s not going to happen to me. Or not me. I wouldn’t do that.”
But it can happen to you. And yes, you would.
No one knows how someone else would react until placed in certain situations. No one has lived the same life or had the same experiences. In truth, if we’re being honest, we’re all a little dangerous.
In Not Me, Black and Todd represent that danger inside of us. Both of them are trying to take down the same man: Tawi. But both of them want something different out of it.
Poet Robert Frost once wrote,
“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Todd is a well-traveled road. Black is the overgrown path that’s scarier to embark on. At some point, their lives diverged, but power kept them on their separate routes.
Not Me said, “Let’s give people a show that celebrates our differences but still brings everyone together.”
And they did.