“What Zabb Man!” First Impressions (Ep. 1 & 2)

Food porn BL’s seem to be trending within the industry, and the latest edition in the list is What Zabb Man!, starring Peter Chonpachara Jeepetch as Poon and Boss Thawatchanin Darayon as Athip/Tian.

I’ve written in earlier reviews that I didn’t know what to make of my first impressions of the series because the first two episodes did not provide enough background for me to make sense of the plot. That is absolutely not the case here, but I don’t know if I should be happy about that or not.

The plot is pretty straightforward. Poon makes papaya salads for a living in order to pay his rent and send his younger brother to college. He is looking for a better paying job and asks his friend Mayom (played by Bank Toranin Manosudprasit), who happens to work at Athip’s restaurant.

Athip loves Poon’s food but is too stubborn to admit it, and this kicks off their banter, which has so far comprised most of their interactions. They bicker like kindergarten kids (with a bit more sexual tension). There isn’t much to say about them till now, other than the fact that the actors seem to be making the best of their dialogues and direction, and seem to have pretty decent chemistry with one another. While I am excited to see how their relationship pans out, this brings me to my biggest gripe with the show so far- the very dialogues and direction.

From the first scene itself, the dialogue is filled with exposition. I don’t exaggerate when I say that they really take the ‘telling, not showing’ mode of direction too far. When any character got introduced, the dialogue immediately after that would directly tell the viewer who that character is, what they do, and how they are relevant to the plot. It felt more like an ice breaking session at a corporate retreat than the natural progression of a show.

Because of this, the dialogue got stunted at places and did not flow very well. I did not think I was getting a glimpse into the lives of what could be actual people, but actors who were very obviously acting out what their characters are supposed to be. It does not make a lot of sense when I write it like this, so I would urge everyone to watch the show and decide for themselves.

The first two episodes were funny at times; some of which was intentional humour, such as the fourth wall breaking, and parts of it were funny to me because of my very palpable puzzlement with what I was supposed to make of the scene. Ultimately, I was left confused, not because I did not know what was happening, but because I knew too much (they really exposition-ed everything). Writing this review, I am wondering if perhaps the show was in fact completely self-aware and if it was just me who did not get the meta humour? I’ll have to see more to find out.

It’s not an entirely bad first impression, but I would recommend everyone not to watch it with too much scrutiny and enjoy the ride.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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