We Don’t Always Do What’s Best for Us 

Disclaimer: Although the novel is mentioned, this opinion piece is based on the ongoing series adaptation.

The Thai BL Love Mechanics, starring actors War Wanarat and Yin Anan, always leaves me with a mix of complicated emotions. But it’s also highlighting an issue that isn’t new to BLs, especially Thai BLs: the villainization of female characters.

And it’s not always by the Thai BL industry itself.

Inspired by a novel, Love Mechanics offers a well-thought-out adaptation that remains loyal to the essence of the characters and the broken story that gave birth to it because the best way to define Love Mechanics is to call it broken.

With War and Yin’s off-screen popularity, it’s easy to latch onto the idea of YinWar and the excitement of seeing them together on screen. This leads many to forget that Love Mechanics is a cheating romance about two fictional young men that begins during a three-year, broken relationship between Vee and his girlfriend, Ploy, which means it comes with its own set of rules and complications. And a ton of broken promises. On all sides.

It also comes with much hate toward what many consider a female antagonist, even though she is never truly set up as a solo villain. The entire premise of Love Mechanics is the cheating Vee and Ploy do on each other.

Vee’s girlfriend, Ploy, is by no means an innocent character. She deceives Vee and breaks his heart, all while Vee also deceives her. Vee actually sleeps with Mark before Ploy leaves to see Ton. The difference is that, while Ploy’s guilty behavior makes it evident she knows she’s cheating, Vee has convinced himself that what he’s doing with Mark isn’t the same. In Vee’s mind, sleeping with Mark and pursuing him is somehow helping his best friend, Bar, while punishing Mark. And since Love Mechanics is told from Vee and Mark’s point-of-view, the viewers only experience their experiences and pain. We see a world colored by their emotions and their hurt. And for Vee, this means we see Ploy primarily from his POV, the POV of a cheating man who believes his cheating is justified while hers isn’t.

As easy as it is for many to hate Ploy, she and Vee are equally responsible for where their relationship went and how it affected the outcome. Both were good at making promises they couldn’t keep. Both wanted and needed more from the other they couldn’t give. And both had as much trouble letting go as they did holding on. In the end, both made tremendous mistakes. Neither are innately bad people. Ploy needs to love herself more. She needs to discover what she truly wants from herself and her future partner.

On the other hand, Vee finds his true soulmate in Mark while still involved with Ploy, but Vee’s left needing to prove he’s trustworthy. It would be hard to trust Vee even without his myriad of broken promises simply because he was okay pursuing Mark while tied to Ploy. But the true lack of trust between Mark and Vee becomes painfully more evident in Episode 7. At the resort, Vee has the opportunity to be the Vee with Mark he couldn’t before, but when they leave, he returns to a world filled with unresolved issues and ‘trust’-related difficulties.

“Everyone could do something wrong, but not everyone realizes it and corrects it.”

~ Vee’s mother

Vee’s parents offer a lot of wise advice in Episode 7. It speaks for all the characters, especially Vee and Ploy. A person shouldn’t be judged for what they’ve done. They should be seen for how they try to fix what they’ve done. No matter how impossible the fix seems.

Fixing Vee’s relationship with Mark feels impossible, but it isn’t.

Mark knowingly fell for someone in a relationship with someone else. Vee and Mark’s romance starts drunkenly toxic, builds into something intimate and potentially beautiful, and then breaks. Deep down, Mark knew this could happen. He even wanted to hate Vee. It’s why he tried as hard to push Vee away as he did to keep him close. Hence the title of the show. These characters are like shattered glass; they have a lot of broken pieces. There’s a lot these ‘love mechanics’ need to fix, but it’s also a good chance for them to learn more about themselves. Broken places are good starting points in life. Even flowers grow best out of manure.

This brokenness brings me back to Ploy and to some of the hate she receives as a character.

Viewers have gotten so used to seeing Thai BLs villainize women that many don’t realize when a woman isn’t being villainized. In the drama, Ploy is Vee’s girlfriend. She’s been an integral part of his life for three years, and he’s been an integral part of hers. They’re growing apart, the distance forming between them opening doors of temptation for both that isn’t easily closed. Ploy is caught up in the same situation as Vee.

By Episode 7, both openly cheat on each other despite never officially having broken up. At their final meet-up, Ploy wishes Vee happiness with his new partner. Although the large sunglasses covering her eyes and the uneasy body language speaks volumes about her current situation, she pushes Vee to leave.

But he doesn’t.

While Vee has found his future in Mark, Ploy has found pain in Ton. She’s stuck in a messy abusive situation, and she’s desperate. Vee and Ploy’s love for each other has changed, but their shared three years created a mutual understanding and a sense of responsibility. Ploy wants Vee to be happy, but she also wants to cling to the safety and comfort he provides. This safety makes her reckless, but it’s important to remember that, despite the recklessness, she instantly regrets the kiss she gives Vee and even offers to make it right.

This moment is where it becomes painfully apparent that it isn’t always Thai BLs that villainize women. Sometimes it’s the viewers. Some BL watchers find women in BLs uncomfortable. This discomfort is especially apparent when a female character is placed in the middle of an already messy situation between two men people ship.

I find it sad how many find Ploy despicable for kissing Vee after he rejects her but openly defends Vee for raping Mark. I say this as a viewer who loves Mark and Vee and the book, but also as a viewer who reads many forbidden love tropes and is well aware of each character’s decisions. It feels contradictory to support someone for a crime committed and then turn around and hate someone else for pushing the envelope. Love Mechanics doesn’t villainize Ploy. We, as viewers, do. Because this is a BL series told from Vee’s point of view, people find themselves more apt to forgive the male main character for his sins over the female for her indiscretions. However, Ploy and Vee both brought new people into their relationship. Both hoped to find new happiness with these new partners after they separated. Vee did. Ploy didn’t, and that feels more tragic to me than deserved.

If you look at Love Mechanics objectively, Ploy is a positive addition rather than a negative one. And much of that has to do with her acceptance of Vee. When Ploy discovers the person Vee is seeing is Mark, she doesn’t act upset about his choice, nor does she act discriminatory over the fact that Vee is seeing a man. Her last willful act of defiance (the kiss) was due to her fear of losing the safety Vee gives her, not because she truly wants to be with him or because she resents her ex for being with a male partner. She openly accepts Vee’s bisexuality by never making a big deal out of his choice in partner.

And yet, she’s villainized.

I enjoy Love Mechanics for what it is, a forbidden romance that shakes up the standard moral code of conduct. Fiction is a safe place to live out fantasies and stories that would not be acceptable in reality.

From the mature trigger warning that flashes on the screen before each episode, the show never pretends to be anything other than what it is, a fictional romance born from drastic decisions and cheating. And with each new episode, I fall more in love with each flawed person on screen, from Mark and his penchant for falling for essentially unavailable people to Vee and his misguided notion of justice to Bar and the sage advice he gives but doesn’t follow himself to Yeewah and the wall she unintentionally created while trying to protect Mark to Ploy and the pain her desperate need to be someone’s center of attention later brings her.

I should also point out that Vee is my favorite character in Love Mechanics. I tend to fall for complicated people in dramas. But what I love so much about Vee is that he’s super flawed, and it’s evident that Ploy is as well. So, although viewers and the show seem to push Ploy into a corner, it’s being with Ploy that draws people to the “excitement” of Mark and Vee’s cheating relationship and their clandestine love for each other.

All of them are flawed. All of them aren’t making good decisions. All of them are hurting each other, with the exception thus far of a few. But no one, outside of Ton, has been truly villainized. They’re all caught inside a cheating web they are trying to make their way outside of with the hopes that, once they make it out, there will be a new type of trust to cling onto.

And I look forward to seeing what they all find outside that web.

Advertisement

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s