Boys’ Love, BL, male for male, the fandom has many names and colors for this genre and the actors who play out these fictions.
But lately with scandals surrounding various shows; we love pull on the curtain, revealing that everything isn’t as cute or steamy as we would like it to be. Instead, it’s quiet messy and sinister as we have seen with “2Moons2” and so on. Gagaoolala first attempted showcasing this travesty with “Call It What You Want” and now they are on it again with “War of Y”. While most show seems like a feature length film stretched over 6 episodes, “War of Y” is an anthology series taking five episodes to tell 4 separate stories. Directed by Cheewin Thanamin, who has directed some of the more popular Y series “Lovesick”, “Make It Right” and “Why R U”, I can only imagine how the series feels both sensational and realistic . The first block of episodes titled “New Ship” deals with the trappings of popularly shipped couple who fall prey to the trappings of staying on the top. Here are my thoughts:
“Be careful what you wish for” should be the tag line for this overdramtic hot mess. Creating dramatized versions of popular award shows sets the stage for the introduction to Pan (Seng Wichai) and his onscreen/secretly off screen lover Nott (Billy Patachon), as they face off against yesteryears’ best couple “P” (Lay Talay) and Bew (Korn Kornaarat). Like any good catty showdown, the actors show poise and happiness, but privately Pan glares or looks dismissive like a child. And like a child, he spends predominate amounts of the show glaring.
Ironically, Pan is the main character, and it is his story, but we see the effects of his actions in the eyes of the variable characters who surround him. After his loss at the awards function, we see the awful way, he treats his fellow actors who he lives with. His manager Koon, whom he should respect, he treats her like a servant. But their relationship is very codependent and emotionally abusive. The older woman is played perfectly as she balances her level of acting with Seng’s in various scenes where their back-and-forth dialogue pops with their chemistry. You can tell all the actors were given good workshops or, at best, time to be around each other. Nothing felt forced or artificial, instead it all felt very calculated.
Moving through the daily life of a BL actor shows the level of attention given to Pan by everyone. But his character doesn’t appreciate any of it, which made me strongly dislike him, but again that is the point. Nott’s role as the seme, for their character pairing, their roles on “Mafia Baby” (Nott-Pan’s on-air series) and in real life balances out Pan’s audacious attitude quite well. He smooths over issues that Pan creates on sets while never feeling wooden. Often times, the dominant males always seem wooden. But in this series Nott is very caring and warm: hiding that behind a sense of apathy. Nott always portrays his sense of concern for Pan as he begins to spiral out of control. Adding to this dynamic is their hot and heavy secret sex moments and assholish words for each other in public. But in private, they have more of a friendly conversation even though they are naked.
As the series continues it becomes clear that the two have different opinions of each other. Nott has genuine feelings for Pan, while Pan believes that Nott is using him in the same way as Pan is using Nott. For press, for roles, and sex is a bonus. When Nott asks him to be exclusive with him, Pan dismisses it. He doesn’t say why, but as the progression of his character is shown in glimpses with executives for TV networks or visiting big name directors, it becomes clear. Koon pimps him out to men for the acclaim he gains. As the company he works for pushes for heavier NC scenes, his PTSD becomes evident. I adored the way this is portrayed and it becomes clear he desperately needs Nott, even if he treats the man like a dog.
The rest of his personal life disapates as a new couple rises to prominence before his eyes. Add to the stress is the fact that a popular network is picking actors to get exclusive contracts with them and he isn’t chosen, but Nott is. Pan self destructs, it was only a matter of time. Something the show portrays well, but it also is where the series implodes in my opinion. The focus on Nott and Pan’s relationship takes center stage while the way Pan treats others becomes a subplot. When he breaks ties with Koon, who was instrumental in selling Nott to the network over him, the plot goes off the rails.
But none of this matters, as Pan does the cliche trip back home to see the parents who sold him to Koon (why? Because the show needs DRAMA, there really isn’t a reason that makes sense because the series didn’t portray any familial closeness between Pan and his family). The drama comes in the form of Nott and Pan growing closer as Nott takes Pan home to his empty house. His father is doing poorly health wise and his mother doesn’t care enough about it to inform him. The pair are greeted by a neighbor who instantly assumes Nott is Pan’s “faggot boyfriend”. Nott’s offense is well acted, while Pan’s muted response shows the treatment is normal for him. They learn about Pan’s father and together they see Pan’s mother’s abhorrent treatment and lack of love for her son. The pair bond over the scene and Nott’s feelings are laid out for Pan, who readily accepts them. The two commit to one another.
Just as the announcement about Nott getting signed is shown on the news. Here the show really loses all sense of pacing, unfortunately. The acting by Pan remains top notch as he spirals from being happy in love to getting justifiably hurt. The script would actually make sense if we got answers to these questions- A) Did Nott want to be together with Pan as more than a CP or B) was it his duplicitous plan to collude with Koon, so he could get the contract. But since the latter didn’t happen on screen and all we saw was Koon gifting gold boxes (which better have had checks in them for hush money and bribery) since apparently everyone knew about this but Pan. When the news airs, I was dumbfounded. These are examples of bad screen writing and pacing. They could have cut Koon being extra creepy to a teenager at a fan meet and added more scenes with Pharoah and Nott.
Later, Pan sells his body to his friend Song (Boss Charu) for information on Koon. While Koon promotes Pharoah (Heng Asavarid) but spends barely any time with him the whole series. So her preference for Pharoah made no sense. My guess was that we were supposed to be psychic enough to notice at some point off screen Nott and Pharoah had sex, which again makes no sense, since Nott is the one asking for exclusivity.
Pan lashes out at everyone but by the end of his mini tirades I was disappointedly done with this show. Alas, there was one more episode to go, which would have been fine if it added to the story. But outside of Pan’s Pity Party being interrupted by fans wanting a photo with him now that he’s not famous; then making a point to say he is cuter now that he isn’t whoring himself for likes (very subtle War of Y, subtle, right?); there wasn’t much in the way of substance to it. It was nice seeing the cameos I won’t spoil. But when Nott appears to take Pan away from the world of BL, it was the most shallow make up scene ever. Nothing was resolved between them, not much was said about Nott choosing to taking him back and they rode off into the wherever, on a motorcycle, in a high school hallway. Let that sit with you for a moment.
I did love episodes 3 & 4 but ultimately this was a shallow attempt at cashing in on the “what’s wrong in the world of Thai BL” craze happening in shows. If people want to view it as a cautionary tale for fresh young faces that makes some sense, then they will be disappointed. Since even as Pan sold his body to atleast 5 people, it didn’t make him mean. The show was all about him and due to the improper pacing, we didn’t get enough screen time with anyone much to care about them. It’s really an expensive waste of time that showcases what putting something out without taking the time needed to make you feel anything for the characters can do. The music was good and fit the scenes. The sets look real and did a great job of showcasing what we should feel when looking at the BL show versus real life. But the script did these actors a disservice. A lot of them are really talented and would do well in better written shows.
Rating- 2 out of 5 stars
One thought on ““War of Y-New Ship” Series Review (Ep.1 to 5)”
I finished three episodes yesterday and dropped by to find your review. Some of the actors are wonderful eye candy. Beyond that I was more confused than ever as to where this series was going. The constant interruptions by the managers was out to lunch. I guess I was expecting the series to show at least in part sex scenes between other people. Somehow I thought this was an expose of the antics of the BL world.