2022 was a clandestine affair of well-written scripts being orchestrated by talented actors. Surprisingly, Thailand was at the forefront of fielding these meaningful dramas that have elevated the art of storytelling. In today’s feature, our authors will be sharing their personal favorites- memorable shows with a nuanced edge!
Krishna Naidu’s Favorites
180 Degree Longitude Passes Through Us
It’s been a long time since I was serenaded by a drama. Even the subtle enhances in this show were praiseworthy and symbolic. Shot entirely with a theatrical effect, 180 Degree Longitude Passes Through Us portray a young man’s journey as he struggles against homophobia and societal mindset. This show depicts the hatred and atypical nature of the society as the LGBTQ community fight for the right to survival. And even though he loses the fight in the end; 180 Degree Longitude Passes Through Us leaves you with a deep sense of foreboding. It makes you think and question the traditional values. Love cannot be imprisoned by shackles that follow reverent customs; it’s a new age and as such, it calls for gender equality and diversity!
Gap The Series
Admittedly, the first Thai GL on the block, Gap The Series became a global phenomenon because of the sensual chemistry between main leads, Freen Sarocha and Becky Armstrong. A temperamental, grumpy boss falling for her sweet, adorable employee is nothing new. So what gave this drama an edge over others? Freen and Becky literally embody their character’s uniqueness. Freen portrays Lady Sam with a naivete that is equal parts annoying and endearing. Becky levels the act by portraying Mon’s loyalty and honest emotions. These two carry the entire show on their shoulders and their performance is awe-inspiring. Literally a “Match Made in Heaven”!
My School President
I never thought that I would fall in love with a typical gang of school teenagers. But then My School President happened and I could never be the same again. Apart from the mass hysteria that follows Chinzilla, My School President is a soft and unassuming romance about a whipped School President vying for the attention of the Music Club Leader. They are polar opposites with nothing in common; except for Tinn’s unrequited feelings for Gun. By the end of this show, even though there are thousands of reasons for their breakup; Tinn and Gun venture into the impossible as their love grows strong. Bonus point- secondary couples SoundWin and ThiwPor are equally adorable and you can’t get enough of this quirky, crazy gang. Fingers crossed as we wait for Our Skyy 2!
To Sir, With Love
A Thai Lakorn with a gay twist, To Sir, With Love gave us the popular new pairing of Jam Rachata and Film Thanapat. While this show had all the makings of a typical Lakorn (family drama, murder, mystery and suspense), homophobia remains the focal point. The entire plot revolves around this trope as the main leads Tian and Jiu face various struggles to stay together. Set in the Republican Era, this was a difficult subject to handle and yet the show won accolades because of the nuanced performances by its talented actors. JamFilm are currently in talks for a second project with One31 and I’m certainly looking forward to the new romance (which might have a modern setting).
My Only 12%
2022 was undoubtedly the “Year of School Romances” and My Only 12% is obviously the next choice. Based on the typical “Friends to Lovers” trope, this show chronicles the close relationship between two childhood friends who discover that their feelings for each other are beyond friendship. Delving deeper into the sufferings of unrequited love, this show also deals with major issues like identity crisis and self acceptance. Santa and Earth make an ethereal pair and their chemistry is topnotch. If you are looking for an angsty affair, then this show should be on your watchlist!
The Miracle of Teddy Bear
A delicate romance with a fantasy elements, The Miracle of Teddy Bear addresses the societal mindset towards homosexuality. Despite being an adaptation, the script was brilliantly rewritten and delves into the struggles faced by the LGBTQ community- their fears, tribulations were adequately portrayed and the lead actors had a believable chemistry. Especially Job Thuchapon must be commended for portraying the difficult emotions experienced by his character Nut. Beautiful In Sarin Ronnakiat enhances the experience with his somber performance, as Taohu tries his level best to cement Nut’s relationship with his forlorn mother.
KINNPORSCHE, THE GAME CHANGER
While Thailand may not be the birthplace of the Boys’ Love genre, it has definitely turned it into a lucrative and worldwide phenomenon. In fact, Thailand has become a BL series machine, with everything good and bad that comes along with it. The country produced about 63 Boys’ Love stories in 2022! And 2023 won’t be any different. With so many BLs to choose from, it is hard to pick a favourite. It is even harder when that favourite is KinnPorsche.
I was over the moon when I heard that the KinnPorsche novel, a mafia BL, was going to be turned into a series. The mafia theme is not new to yaoi fans – there are many amazing mangas on the subject such as Under the Greenlight, by Jaxx; The Dangerous Convenience Store, by 954; and Twittering Birds Never Fly, by Kou Yoneda. These are dark stories full of action, intrigue, and lots of sex. It is the very opposite of what we normally have in a Thai BL series. Thai BL usually follows a certain pattern. They are mainly set at a university. The boys are either studying to be engineers or doctors. The pacing is slow with lots of empty dialogues and extra scenes that are not really needed. The characters tend to have some sort of skinship by episode 7, and kissing and touching are usually chaste and awkward. There are exceptions for sure, but that’s usually the gist. So after a while, it feels like you are watching the same stories over and over, and it all comes down to the boys themselves. Are they good together? Do they sell? Is the fan service ok?
KinnPorsche, however, came as a game changer – at least for me. I realise that a lot of things about KinnPorsche are controversial, from the story itself to its authors and their relationship with the cast. But if there is something I like in a story is controversy. I believe art should never be censored. And BL in particular should not be contained in a box of righteousness and “good rep”. Of course, it is important to create things that are educational and everyone is great and friendly and polite and never jealous or obsessed. But that’s also not what real life is about. Real life is messy. It’s chaotic. Art is supposed to be explosive and provocative – though not necessarily. And that’s what KinnPorsche the series was for me. It was different from every other BL I had seen from Thailand – and in general. It was unique. It placed gay men in what is normally a straight-man setting. They had guns, kickboxing abilities, and organized crime. Plus, they had great characters and brilliant acting.
Porsche (played by Apo) and Kinn (played by Mile) come from very different backgrounds. Porsche is someone who is struggling to keep his brother Porchay (played by Barcode) in school and send him to college. Kinn is the heir to the Theerapanyakun mafia family and is no stranger to violence and shady businesses. They meet one night under dire circumstances. Kinn is fighting for his life and asks – more like buys – Porsche to help him. Kinn’s dad, the cunning Korn (played by Songsit Roongnophakunsri), takes a keen interest in Porsche after watching the CCTV of Porsche fighting. Porsche is then hired to be Kinn’s bodyguard, but not before a lot of coercion and bribing. Soon we realise there is a lot more to Porsche joining the Theerapanyakun family than just a coincidence. There is danger afoot, and as the bullets fly over Kinn’s and Porsche’s heads, their relationship goes from strangers who cannot stand each other to lovers who have a lot of trust issues.
Kinn and Porsche are not the only couples in the show worth praising. We also have Vegas (played by Bible) and Pete (played by Build), working on opposite sides and getting into a much darker kind of love that not everyone approves of and is sold as BDSM but not really. The VegasPete relationship is one of the reasons a lot of people dislike KinnPorsche to this day, a situation that got even worse because the actor who plays Pete has recently been the subject of serious accusations by one of the authors of KinnPorsche, Poi, a case that has now been taken to court. Vegas and Pete’s love story is the most divisive part of the show for sure. For me, though, it is fascinating to watch, particularly because Bible, who plays Vegas, nailed the character’s dark side to perfection. You could never tell this was his first acting job at all.
Then we have Kim (played by Jeff Satur) and Porchay on the side. Since Kim is Kinn’s younger brother and Porchay is Porsche’s younger brother, they were bound to meet at some point. Porchay being all roses and sunshine falls deeply in love with a broody and mysterious Kim. But Kim, having grown up as the son of a mafia boss, is a lot more down-to-earth and refuses to accept Porchay’s love for their own protection. It is heartbreaking to watch.
The whole story is fast-pacing with great action and fighting scenes as well as emotional ones. It will keep you on your toes. All of the actors brought something special and unique to their parts, and the chemistry between them is superb. Apo and Mile gave their all to show the passion between Kinn and Porsche in hot love-making scenes that had never been done before in a BL – at least not in a Thai BL. It is the same for Build and Bible, who had to deliver a lot in order to show how intense and dangerous the love between Vegas and Pete truly is.
I was invested from beginning to end. Some fans were disgruntled by the fact that the script didn’t follow what was in the novel. A lot of changes were made so the story would be more “palatable” to the audience. My personal view on the matter is that changes were made for the best, even if I disagree with some of them. All in all, I love what was delivered in the end.
KinnPorsche will probably remain my favourite Thai BL for years to come. It is intriguing, political, emotional, dramatic, erotic, and funny. Most of all, though, what truly stands out is the cast. It is a brilliant cast full of actors who gave their very best to the parts they were playing, and Mile, Apo, Bible, Build, Jeff, Barcode, Tong, and so many others deserve all the hype.
So, to sum up, KinnPorsche is my five-star Thai BL.
Bad Buddy is an enemies-to-lovers BL with a twist. As I tuned in fully expecting the whole hate-to-love experience, what I got was a Romeo and Juliet romance – luckily without the tragedy.
Pran (Nanon Korapat) and Pat (Ohm Pawat) have been neighbours since they were kids. Unfortunately, they cannot be friends thanks to a family feud. Due to mysterious circumstances, their parents hate each other, so the boys become rivals in everything. Fast forward to the present and we find Pran and Pat also enrolled in courses that are natural enemies: architecture and engineering. To make matters worse – but more interesting for us – Pat and Pran are complete opposites. It seems like they truly cannot stand the sight of the other until we learn that it is all just an act. They pretend to be enemies in order to please their parents and their friends.
The love between them is slow-burn and beautiful to watch. It was clear from the beginning that Pran had been in love with Pat for a long time. Pat, however, just realises much later when they start living in the same building and across from each other. Many funny shenanigans happen while they fall in love. But it is the moment of Pran’s confession to Pat that really stands out from everything else. For me, it is probably the best confession scene in a BL. Pran lets his heart bleed out in front of Pat as Pat quietly takes it all in, and the boys end up sharing such an emotional and unbelievably sweet kiss that shatters and puts in check the world of façade they have to live in. Their love-making scenes are sweet but sizzling all the same. This was also the first BL – to my knowledge – that broke the pattern of top/bottom dynamics by implying they liked to switch.
The only thing that bothered me a bit was the last few episodes. I felt they were rushed and not as carefully edited as the previous ones. This feeling got even stronger in the last episode. There was not enough time for their family to come to terms with them being together and all that it implied for everyone involved. In the end, they have to fake being enemies again just to please their parents. I suppose it was a more realistic approach to things. Yet, I still feel that the pace was all wrong for a story that had kept a nice rhythm until episode 9 at least. Does it mean I think any less of this BL? Not at all, and the reason is Nanon and Ohm. They brought so much life to their characters. They truly lived as Pat and Pran. Chemistry for me is a key factor when it comes to a good romantic story, and they had it in bulks. It is one of the best BLs to be produced in Thailand for sure.
This mafia Boy’s Love saga that had people on the edge of their seats for months is a favorite of mine. The love scenes alone are something I rarely see in a Thai BL. Going to extreme lengths to justify their character’s relationship, Mile and Apo’s performance was exemplary. Actors often playing gay roles in these shows are usually very straight. Thus, their portrayals often don’t seem very genuine. But these two give 110 percent of themselves to the roles. Apo as Porsche was perfection. He’s so silly and does all the cringe inducing mistakes a fish out of water is bound to make. A poor man thrust into a world of opulent wealth and danger, there are a lot of rules and he breaks everyone of them. Mile as Kinn does in fact cringe at most of Porsche’s antics and has no problem yelling, cursing, and sometimes even hitting him. The body guard who one day wins his heart.
21 Days Theory
The story of Q and X is a well-trodden story of boy meets boy. But it’s told so well that I loved every episode of this short series. Q is an ordinary boy who hates his good looks and his mother’s bakery. The boy wants to be an actor to break away from that ordinary life, but his chance is ruined by his schoolmate, X. X simply enjoys annoying Q and goes out of his way to do so. He tricks the boy into a bet that defines the series. As the 21 days leading up to the conclusion of the bet draw closer, the two boys do as well. It’s just so sweet and innocent watching the pair interact and when the conflict on trust and self acceptance occurs, I shed a few tears myself.
We will be back with an exciting new feature next weekend. Till then, keep watching this space as we bring you updates from the BL world!