“Getaway” Series Review (Ep.1 to 5)

Dear Straight People’s Boys’ Love series “Getaway” is a refreshing take on the “Coming out” phase for a 20 something beautifully average man. Told in 5 short but poignant episodes, we watch Sam (Sean Foo) as he solemnly reveals his sexuality in front of his homophobic father over dinner; with an urgency that couldn’t wait.

To say it doesn’t go well is an understatement. The lavish home the father and son live in is a testament to their status in life and with it comes the cultural relevance that there is a certain way things are done here. Eating meals amongst family is considered sacred; the time they sit together at the table is something that should be respected. Sam appearing in an under shirt looking like he just rolled out of bed does seem a bit confusing. His hesitancy to be outright honest is seemingly in line with his father’s worst-case scenarios, which oddly makes sense. When Sam comes out, his father’s shocked verbal attack of “You couldn’t let me finish my dinner” might be comical to some, but the resonant message is rather “Your coming out ruined my peace”.

It’s interesting that this miniseries is almost entirely in English, which is the most spoken language in the world. But I think it’s because the production team wanted it to be internationally understood. The moment Sam is struck by his father’s slap, the damage is irrevocable and Sam sneaks away as his father processes the information. Beautifully shot as the camera pans across the contrasting emotions on their faces; set against the splendor of their life in that posh mansion. This scene was indeed a good introduction to the series. I do question Sean Foo’s dialogue delivery. Was he supposed to seem out of it? Pausing so much, looking as if he hadn’t slept. Had the decision to come out been that stressful?

From his home in Singapore he runs away to Bangkok and his life truly begins (sort of).

Now it’s clear that the series is a living advertisement for the companies that sponsored it and at times it feels that way. In the left-hand corner are the names of the places the characters are set, songs have full title credits like you would see in a music video. But these never take away the cinematic experience but instead work to show you how this man, this Sam Lim had, the means to fund an impromptu “Getaway”. Though we never learn what his job is or where the money comes from (details, details), the POV abruptly switches to Top.

Out and proud, this lothario character is played by the amazing Paween Naliang. Top is an enigma, truly a fresh breath of air. He takes those 10 minute episodes and makes each his own. It’s very topical how he asks blunt questions to his old friend Jom (Ohm Songput), as beautiful food is presented to them (yes I know it’s an advertisement and delicious food porn: get used to it, there is a lot of that). Jom gives equally blunt responses. I like the tongue in cheek way these two discuss the fact that Jom is cheating on his long-distance boyfriend with men he meets via apps (such a fun cliche) and asks if Top wants to have sex. This exchange punctuates the fact that Jom doesn’t care about Top’s obvious judgement. Soon the two are rolling in the sheets and there it is; the distinct reality that “Out & Proud” actors playing gay roles just hits differently. Especially, the sex scene because they are well enacted, without the abject fish kisses we all loathe. They are caught in the midst of the act by Hilmi (Hirzi Zulkiflie), Jom’s boyfriend. Hilmi’s hysterical behavior is so funny, simply because the creators chose the most out of mood music for it. Sounding like a messy carnival, Hilmi hisses in frustration since this is not the first time he caught his boyfriend cheating on him.

My assumption is that in order to keep it funny and bitchy, Hilmi seems the least bit bothered that his lover cheated on him. But ironically is more offended that Top is “sexy, like the last one was ugly”. Were the scriptwriters intentionally calling out gays for their vanity or shallowness? We don’t know the answer to this question, but when asked by Top to handover his phone; Hilmi solemnly just hands it to him as opposed to breaking it. It’s like the man resigned to his fate of having a cheater for a boyfriend. Clad only in his underwear, Top escapes only to bump into Sam (who I forgot the show was about. Look, Top in his colorful underwear with that butt distracted me. I apologize).

He brings Top back to his hotel room because roaming half naked can get you arrested. From the moment they meet, the mood of the series changes. The attraction is instantaneous as Top befriends Sam and leads him through the bright and colorful side of Bangkok. Starting at a drag show and then proceeding to a high profile gay pool party. It was dizzying watching Sam surf through the streets of Bangkok (the notifications at the bottom of the screen become necessary) as they get to know each other. Unfortunately, the series recycle scenes for emotional weight, but with each episode clocking in at roughly 10 minutes, it isn’t always necessary. The search for Sam’s “Black Sheep” gay uncle Alex feels more like an afterthought. After a long winding search operation, Sam is informed by the host of the pool party that Alex is her neighbor (I facepalmed so hard).

The gay uncle should have been the prime focus since that was Sam’s reason for traveling to Thailand, but with the limited screen time, it almost made sense that the story focused on Sam’s journey with Top. Their romance fast forwards to voiceless montages that were beautifully shot. The story was further fleshed out by the addition of Top’s ex-boyfriend, Dr. Big (Sean Cholvibool), which adds emotional weight to the storyline. But it also brought up flaws in the overall plot. [Why did Top choose to put suntan lotion on Dr. Big and not be with Sam, who knows no one at the party besides him and Dave (Philips Loh) Top’s friend?]. When finally Alex Lim, the gay uncle, is introduced, the reality of Sam’s situation is back into focus.

He has spent too much time focusing on Top and the idea of being in love, that there is literally no scope for character growth. The life affirming speech from his uncle and even Top’s sincere love declarations don’t seem to make any difference to his resolute heart. His overtly cautious nature takes over, and the ending is bittersweet.

Beautiful. Well made. Polished!

“Getaway” is an almost perfect slice of cupcake, a BL show made to showcase that there is more to life than hooking up. With a sequel in the making, hopefully via crowdfunding, maybe we get to see what could have been. But honestly, even if it doesn’t happen, the story was good enough to make me feel something, and that means it was a success in my eyes.

Rating- 3.5 out of 5

Krishna’s Sidenote-

So, we had a talk with Mr. Sean Foo (who portrays the character Sam) about the possibility of a sequel and this was what he had to say!

Q- The sequel for Getaway was announced in the finale episode. The audiences are eagerly awaiting news about the premise. Please share updates about the potential storyline?

Whether we produce a second season ultimately depends on the results of our crowdfunding campaign.

If we manage to hit our crowdfunding goal of SGD $250,000, we will be able to produce a second season comprising 5 episodes with an average runtime of 20 minutes per episode.

With that budget and runtime, we will be able to explore 3 potential storylines:

☆ Continuing Top and Sam’s story following the cliffhanger in the post credits scene

☆ Exploring Sam’s relationship with his dad to illustrate just how complicated the coming out process and family acceptance often is (It’s certainly not an overnight process often portrayed in films and tv show)

☆ Telling a brand new storyline of a gay Malay male through Hirzi’s character

If we are unable to hit the crowdfunding goal, it would mean fewer or shorter episodes. This would mean we may have to cut some of the storylines. If the amount raised is too little, we will not proceed with a second season at all. So we need all the help we can get!

Here’s hoping that the “Getaway” team achieve their crowdfunding goals!!

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