While many might know Thailand for its beautiful temples, beaches, and (of course) food, Thai shows have been gaining a lot of popularity from other Asian countries over the past few years. Once you fall down the rabbit hole that is Thai drama, there’s no going back, but hey who’s complaining?
Mainly inspired by Japanese culture, Thailand’s most famous series genre is romance, with many falling under the subgenre of boy love (BL). Here’s some history behind this: before, it was considered controversial for big Thai entertainment companies to pair up two guys in romance genres, however, Thailand has become one of Asia’s most LGBTQ+-friendly countries. This quality is highlighted through the many BL shows that Thailand is known for.
Disclaimer: Please be aware that some of the shows mentioned deal with mature and/or dark topics and might not be fit for all audiences.
2gether: The Series
(Wikipedia Contributors, 2022)
Just like many popular Thai shows and movies, this show was adapted from a novel by JittiRain. Starring Win Metawin and Bright Vachirawit, this show has gained immense popularity within Thailand as well as internationally. It was so well received that it got added to Netflix, and continued with a second season and even a movie!
The show starts with Tine, played by Win, trying to get rid of an overbearing admirer. With the help of his friends, they come up with a plan to get Sawarat (Bright) to be his pretend boyfriend. Sarawat being a popular yet mysterious guy plays hard to get. As things get intense, the two grow attached and maybe develop feelings for one another. So, when it’s over, do they just go their separate ways and forget they ever knew each other?
Overall, it’s a very sweet show filled with comedic and heart-wrenching moments all in one. It’s got everything to make you want to keep watching. So, when Netflix asks, ‘Are you still watching?’ you won’t even think twice about answering ‘Yes!’.
F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers
(F4 Thailand: Boys over Flowers, 2018)
After the rising fame of Thai shows, Thailand became one of the Asian countries to follow and make their own modern version (2021) of the original Boys Over Flowers manga. The manga became well-known from its first adapted show Meteor Garden (2001), produced in Taiwan. Then followed many different remakes from different Asian countries, the most popular being Boys Over Flowers (2009), which was produced in South Korea. Different from all the other versions, F4 Thailand took a completely modern take on the “rich boy falls for poor girl” trope.
Just like the other F4 shows, the story follows a young girl, Gorya (played by Tu Tontawan) from a poor family getting a scholarship to an elite high school. This elite school is known for how students get extremely bullied. First, red cards show up in the student’s lockers, indicating that all other students may bully them until they find their way into an empty gymnasium for ‘Mr. Popular’ Thyme (Bright Vachirawit) and his friends to give the victim a final push. One day, Gorya tries to defend her new friend from being bullied by Thyme and ends up getting the treatment her friend was supposed to get. However, she doesn’t comply easily with everything. Thyme takes this as a challenge. But as they fight back and forth, feelings may start to grow. This is only the beginning of their story, with many twists and turns, you are bound to fall in love with their relationship (and maybe other relationships in the show 🤫).
Not only is the story charming, but you’ll have a tough time figuring out who your favorite character is. Each character has their own unique individual personality that the director and actors do a tremendous job at showing (and bonus, the entire cast is incredibly good-looking!).
(Bad Buddy, 2021)
If you love a good Romeo and Juliet trope, this show is the one for you! Bad Buddy is a 12-episode series, revolving around two friends (sort of…) Pran (played by Nanon Korapat), and Prat (Ohm Pawat). Their families have always had a sort of rivalry after bad history between their parents, who also don’t allow the two to be friends. Due to this, the two have also grown to fight back and forth. Unbeknownst to them, they would meet again in university after Pat, so suddenly, left their high school in the middle of Grade 10. Studying under feuding departments (Architecture and Engineering), the two never get to rest from having to fight or ‘hate’ each other. However, in secret, the two become close friends when fixing a problem caused by the two departments.
Will they be able to keep their friendship under wraps? What will happen when their families find out about them being friends? And are they really friends or is there more to it? With their water-and-fire-like personalities, the show gained immense popularity. It even became the most-watched Thai show of the year when the episodes started gaining over a million views in under 24 hours! This was a huge deal for them. It was all done through their efforts though. The director and actors worked closely together to figure out the different emotions that had to be portrayed in each episode. This work ethic granted many tear-jerking heart-breaking moments. I won’t say why though because that would be a spoiler. The only way to find out what these painful scenes were all about is to watch it yourself (which you can do on YouTube)!
Girl from Nowhere
(Girl from Nowhere, 2018)
You might find this show’s name or poster familiar. The show came out with its first season in 2018 but didn’t gain international recognition until the second season came out in 2021 on Netflix.
Starring Chicha Amatayakul (who plays Nanno), Kunchanuj Kengkarnka, and Morakot Liu, the story revolves around a clever girl, Nanno, who transfers to different schools, exposing the lies and scandals that arise within the institution. If you like horror or thriller stories, this show would be the best fit for you. Watch as she exposes scandals from predatory teachers to abusive students. Some sources say that the story is actually based on a real-life event of the exploitation of girls from 13 schools. So, for those who are into dark mysteries with heart stopping action, multiple twists and turns, and bits and pieces of romance here and there, we’ve found the perfect show for you!
P.S. If you’ve seen ‘One of Us Is Lying’ (on Netflix) and loved it, you would feel the same about Girl from Nowhere!
(The Gifted, 2018)
Following the genre of mystery, The Gifted takes place at “Ritdha Wittayakom High School”, wherein only a handful of special or gifted students were chosen to join their “Gifted Program”. Somehow, 10th-grader Pang from the lowest-ranking class passed the Gifted Program placement test and got in. His placement in the gifted class gave way to a lot of confusion around the class. Pang and his friends started feeling strange things about the class and tried to seek the truth behind it. After some time, they found out that the “Gifted Program” was designed to awaken their potential that pertains to some sort of special powers. As they discover their potential, everything in their lives changes. With adventure and trouble coming their way, their special gifts reveal a secret that the school was trying to hide.
Being more on the supernatural side, some might think the show is too out there or too childish. But I’m telling you, this show is something else! It’s filled with drama, romance, heart-stopping action, and a great cast too (😉). The show came out with one season in 2018, and then a sequel called “Gifted: Graduation” came out in 2021. So, if you end up falling for the series, you’ll have something else with its amazing cast in it to watch!
A Tale of Thousand Stars
(A Tale of Thousand Stars, 2021)
A Tale of Thousand Stars, just like many other shows, was based on a novel. The show is mainly about the romance between Phupha (played by Earth Pirapat) and Tian (played by Mix Sahaphap Wongratch). The story begins when a car accident causes a young woman, Torfun, to pass away. At the same time, Tian gets a sudden heart problem and miraculously, Torfun’s heart was transplanted into Tian. Feeling extremely grateful for his second chance at life, he finds an interest in Torfun’s life, goals, and dreams she had for herself. Tian decides to follow in her footsteps of being a volunteer teacher in a faraway city and makes a promise to fulfill her wish of counting one thousand stars with a certain Chief Phupha. Once in the provincial village, Tian meets this so-called Chief Phupha, who appears to be rather quiet and reserved. However, after a few awkward first encounters, Tian and Phupha get to know each other better. After some time, Tian’s heart starts to beat fast around Phupha, just like it did for Torfun.
With Tian catching sudden feelings for Phupha, much happens in the small provincial village. Much like the heart’s previous owner, Tian cannot help but fall for Phupha. Now the question is: can he still go through with the thousand-star promise? The show includes all sorts of scenes that cater to different people such as action-filled scenes and sweet and endearing moments with the two main characters as well as with the villagers. I guarantee that you are sure to fall in love with the incredibly beautiful story and cast of A Tale of Thousand Stars!
These shows are a great start to getting into the world of Thai shows and Thailand. I swear once you start watching you will definitely fall in love with the entertainment industry in Thailand as well as the culture and the country in general.
Article by Lea F. & Feature Image by Anya C. (G12)
Reviews are uncommissioned, unpaid, and represent the personal views of the authors. They should not be taken to represent the views of Dragon’s Print and Cebu International School.
Kinori, C. (2022, August 26). The Rise of Thailand’s Boy Love Series. The Review Geek. https://www.thereviewgeek.com/rise-of-thailands-boy-love-series/
Top Koaysomboon. (2020, June 10). Everything you need to know about Thailand’s thriving Boys Love culture. Time out Bangkok; Time Out. https://www.timeout.com/bangkok/lgbtq/thai-boys-love-culture
F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers. (2018). Boys over Flowers Wiki. https://boysoverflowers.fandom.com/wiki/F4_Thailand:_Boys_Over_Flowers#Summary
“F4 Thailand” Review: When A Story Gets One Too Many Versions | TheBeauLife. (2022). TheBeauLife. https://thebeaulife.co/art-entertainment-reviews/f4-thailand-boys-over-flowers-review#:~:text=The%20story%20is%20about%20Gorya,by%20Thyme%20(Bright%20Vachirawit)
Wheeler, G. (2022, January 14). Bad Buddy Episode 12 Preview: Release Date, Time & Where To Watch. The Review Geek. https://www.thereviewgeek.com/badbuddy-e12releasedate/#:~:text=Bad%20Buddy%20revolves%20around%20two,and%20one%2Dup%20the%20other
BL Watcher. (2022, February 14). Bad Buddy – Series Review & Ending Explained. Best BL Dramas and Anime Recommendations – BL Watcher; BL Watcher. https://blwatcher.com/bl-series/bad-buddy-drama-review/
Here’s Why the Internet Can’t Stop Talking About Netflix’s “Girl from Nowhere.” (2020). Preview.ph. https://www.preview.ph/culture/everything-you-need-to-know-girl-from-nowhere-netflix-a00268-20200709
Girl from Nowhere: The Series. (2018). Drama Wiki. https://drama.fandom.com/wiki/Girl_from_Nowhere:_The_Series#Synopsis
The Gifted. (2018). Drama Wiki. https://drama.fandom.com/wiki/The_Gifted#Synopsis
A Tale of Thousand Stars. (2021). Drama Wiki. https://drama.fandom.com/wiki/A_Tale_of_Thousand_Stars
ABS-CBN Corporation. (2021). Newest boys’ love tandem gives all the feels in Thai series “A Tale of Thousand Stars” on iWantTFC. Abs-Cbn.com. https://www.abs-cbn.com/newsroom/news-releases/2021/1/20/a-tale-of-thousand-stars-iwanttfc?lang=en