Friends, while we all know my love for Thai movies (see: Bad Genius being one of the best movies of 2017) and especially Thai LGBT movies (Ever seen Love, Love Me??? SO GOOD!) but I’ve never actually watch a Thai drama before I fell down a hole of link-clicking and stumbled upon something absolutely magical:
Love Sick is a Thai teen drama that centers around a group of kids who all know each other through various connections and the events and relationships in their lives. The series focuses mainly on Noh and Phun, two boys who go to the school the boys in this series go to. What starts with Phun needing a fake-boyfriend ends up being a series full of drama, twists and turns, and a dozen different story-lines going on between the various kids involved.
Season 1 is what I recently binged in every spare moment I had over the past week. Lunch break from work? Get in an episode! Doing cardio at the gym? EPISODE! Season 1 is 12 episodes long (with a season 2 that I think I read is 36) all of them approx 40 minutes run-time. Since I binged season 1, I’m going to do basically a list of the important people then a review of the season.
Here are the cast of main characters:
Noh: The most central character of all, Noh attends the boys school that most of the teen boys in this series attend. He’s the president of the music club at school and the whole series begins with him needing more funding for their club.
Phun: His father wants him to date a family friend’s daughter and he needs his little sister’s help to get out of it. The catch is that his sister is obsessed with BL (boys love) and he thinks she will only help if he has a boyfriend instead of his actual girlfriend. He offers to get Noh more funding if he pretends to be his boyfriend in front of his sister.
Pang: Phun’s baby sister who, with all her other 14 year old friends, ship all the hot and popular boys they know.
Aim: Phun’s girlfriend who attends school with Noh’s best friend/sort-of girlfriend.
Yuri (also called Yu often): Noh’s best friend who decides to start telling people they’re a couple and he just goes along with it, even though he has no feelings for her.
Jeed: A new girl at the girls school who is poor and therefore not very popular.
Khom: A boy who likes Jeed and becomes her boyfriend even though he’s also poor and pretending not to be.
Grace: A mean girl who tries to set the other girls against Jeed.
Mo: A girl attending the girls school who lives with her boyfriend, Moan, who is a cheating asshat.
The Angels: Hyper-femme gay boys at the boys school who are supported by many but bullied by a few.
(Obviously, there are a lot more characters, many of whom are important, but these are the most central ones for season 1)
To be honest, the first episode is a hot mess. I almost didn’t continue the series after this. I see what they were trying to do now that I’ve seen the whole season, and that is introduce all the main characters. They try to start it out with everybody important on the screen for Aim’s birthday party, but the real take-away from this episode is, “Why does it feel like I’ve missed a lot???” You have fights and friendships and conversations that make no sense without context. If the synopsis didn’t include the talk about two teen boys who fake-date then fall in love, I would have had on clue who was supposed to be in my focus. If anything, Jeed seems like the main character in this episode. If you can muscle through this beginning, however, you start to get into the real story: The music club needs more funding and when Noh goes to the student council, he runs into Phun who offers him an opportunity. DUM DUM DUUUUM! It’s not the best beginning, and it took me a while to warm up to Noh, but it gets better after episode 1.
What we end up with through the series is a set of storylines that interweave that we follow along with. There’s the drama with Mo and Moan, but also with the introduction of Golf, a family friend of Mo’s that there is some tension with that never fully get explored in season 1. There’s Jeed and Khom and all the other girls around Jeed, including Mo. There’s Yuri, who is classmates with Jeed and Mo and Grace and all those girls, but is also Noh’s not-really-girlfriend. She calls herself that, and he agrees with her, but their dates are largely one-sided. Then there’s Phun and Aim and their relationship, there’s the music club, there’s Earn who is in the music club and has feelings for Noh so he’s jealous of Phun and Phun is jealous of him. Then beyond relationship drama, there’s the Angels and the struggle between those who bully them and those who support them.
And while this sounds like your typical teen soap opera, it’s actually really full of moving story lines, very realistic issues, and some pretty great acting. The girl who plays Jeed is really good. Jeed isn’t the most likeable character, but you still feel like she’s REAL the whole time. Noh is harder to get into, honestly, than Jeed is. Noh isn’t poorly acted, and the character isn’t flat, but there’s just this thing Noh has where the actor plays him as not one to put his emotions out there. You have one scene in particular that’s so gut-wrenching because Phun wears his heart on his sleeve, and when he’s upset you see it straight away, but Noh seems to be fully cool and collected until suddenly he’s crying and you’re reminded, ‘oh yeah, Noh feels just as confused and conflicted as Phun does’. It is effective and unique of a performance, but it’s harder to connect to.
I love that this series doesn’t shy away from things. It is a more realistic depiction of teens in girls schools and boys schools and the way that girls aren’t so very different from boys and vice versa. There’s a lot of emphasis on the individuality of the characters. Even in the ‘mean girls’ group, the different girls aren’t just mirrors of one another, but seem like real-life girls. The Angels group are particularly great for this because you have a couple of sets of really femme boys set alongside a good handful of other boys who are also obviously queer but not stereotypical femme like the Angels. And the Angels aren’t the butts of every joke, either. Most of the students at the school accept them as just another clique and even defend them against the guy who doesn’t want to rock the boat with the teachers and parents.
What I love most of all, however, is Phun and Noh’s relationship and how it develops over season 1. It goes from not-even-friends to friends to something more, and though they come to an understanding (I won’t spoiler it, but let’s say it’s very mature but kinda questionable how they choose to handle their feelings), they’re never shown having a gay panic over one another. They don’t let their friends know they feel that way about each other, but it’s not because of that. Their relationship drama is based on girlfriends already in their lives, not the fact they’ve never been gay before. HOWEVER, that isn’t glossed over. I love that there is a depiction of fear of homophobia (and real homophobia for other characters), but these kids are mature enough to have more serious issues to face than just ‘I’m gay, oh god’. It’s very developed and nuanced of a relationship.
Honestly, I would say this is like the Thai Degrassi except I never liked Degrassi. The feeling is the same, but it’s just far more enjoyable of a series. Also way less depressing. I cannot WAIT to get into season 2, and I really hope someone checks this one out after reading this post!
So let me know what you guys think. Do you know this series? Do you like it? Have you heard of it but not seen it? If you have seen it, do you agree with my points on season 1? As always, you can hit me up here or over at Twitter. Feel free to come chat Love Sick with me any time!