“What Zabb Man!” Series Review (Ep.3 to 8)

The food porn BL remained true to its food porn theme, giving us a cute if not too deep relationship surrounded by a lot of Thai food and a cute but also not too deeply characterised supporting cast.

What Zabb Man! is best to see if you go into it with the idea that you won’t take it too seriously. It delves into fourth wall breaking and slapstick comedy at the randomest of times, and while that is a little distracting, it can be taken in stride as the overall carefree vibe of the show.

At times the characters behaved really bizarrely, and I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to think of their actions or motivations (do people really apologise to their partners using fifth-grade craft supplies?), but because I was intent on not taking it very seriously, their childlike bickering and scenarios were refreshing compared to series where immature behaviour is the root cause of very serious conflicts, and it all comes across as draining more than anything. While partaking in childish antics throughout, the characters (most of them anyway, looking at you Amy) were mature when they needed to be, and didn’t have unnecessary misunderstandings near the end to pad the runtime.

The main relationship in the series, between Poon and Athip, was true to the show’s characteristic style of bickering, both in the way they fought and in the way they made up. You never really get to find out how they fell for each other, but if you think from the beginning that this is going to be a show not about the process of them falling in love, but how they skirt around their feelings after falling in the beginning, the plot is easier to comprehend. This is true for Mayom and Tengnueng’s relationship too- they didn’t have feelings for each other until Mayom suddenly did, and the show picked up from there.

Food was both couples’ love language, as well as the thread that ran through the show, connecting everyone. Despite the titular competition being slightly underwhelming in terms of its gravity for the show’s plot, other scenes were solidly food-inclined. I came out of this show a fan of papaya salad without ever having tasted it, and I want nothing more than to have some right now.

One of the only problems I had with the show really, even though I was set on taking it in stride without employing too much critical thinking, was how Amy’s character was stereotypically villainised, and given a two-dimensional immaturity that stood out in stark contrast when the other characters were behaving like real human beings (most of the time at least). It’s 2022, we need better, more grounded and realistic depiction of women; they can be funny and not take themselves seriously while still having depth as characters.

Overall, it is not the greatest show to come out this year, but is still worth a watch, if only to give yourself a break from too-serious series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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