What makes a good drama? Lakorn stereotypes

So I’ve just finished multiple dramas in September, and now I’m in a bit of a drama slump. Without watching many dramas, I’ve little to blog about as my ideas usually come from what I’ve been watching. Hopefully that’ll change later in October!

But I have been thinking about what makes a good drama. Oftentimes, I’ve dropped lakorns I’ve considered ‘bad,’ but what are my criteria and why? So I thought I’ll start with looking at lakorn cliches or stereotypes. Usually, if a lakorn has these stereotypes, and don’t contribute anything new, like great couple chemistry or changing up the stereotypes to be a little different, it’s boring and I drop it.

Lakorn Stereotypes

Source: Bangkok Post 2013

For anyone who wants to learn more about the history of lakorns in Thailand, this is a great read in Bangkok Post from 2013 and it’s where I got the poster from.

  • There are 24 stereotypes discussed here. I thought it would be fun to compare/contrast two 2020 lakorns to see which one is less stereotypical.
  • But what makes a lakorn less stereotypical can also be about what changes are in it, as well as the stereotypes it has.
  • I’ve decided to divide this up into categories, namely people and actions.

Lakorn Comparison

Lakorn Stereotype (from poster)Marn Bang Jai (2020)Mia Archeep (2020)
1. Snoopy maidHeck yes. No maids really
2. Camp ladyboyNONO
3. Camp gay manNOYes?
4. 2 women fighting over manYesYes
5. Mia noi – MistressNONO
6. Mia luang – Main wifeNONO
7. Nang ek disguised as manNONO
8. Someone with evil eyeProbablyProbably
9. Mean mom-in-lawNONO
10. Maid sitting on floorYesNO
11. Man having more than 1 loverYesNO
12. Mansion with Roman columnsYesMaybe?
13. GossipingYes Yes YesYes Yes Yes
14. Someone being poisonedNONO
15. Villains saying evil plans out loudYesYes
16. Nang rai drugging pra’ekYesNO
17. Nang’ek sleeping in fake eyelashesYesYes
18. Nang rai screamingYesYes
19. Nang’ek disguising herself as manNONO
20. Someone being pushed down stairsNONO
21. A slap followed by a kissYesNO
22. RapeYes, not nang’ekNO
23. Snuggling under white sheetYesYes
24. Pra’ek with overseas education, naïve about life.NOUnsure

Marn Bang Jai (2020) got 10 or 11 no’s out of 24 stereotypes, while Mia Archeep (2020) got 14 strong negatives, with 3 maybes so Mia Archeep (2020) has less stereotypes based on this chart. Yet on mydramalist,com, Mia Archeep (2020) has a rating of 7.4 and Marn Bang Jai (2020) has 7.8 so more people liked it (and watched it).

Marn Bang Jai (2020)

Both had their strong points. I really liked how strong the bonds were of siblings in both lakorns, but Mia Archeep (2020) felt like an updated lakorn plot, complete with employees instead of maids and modern apartments, while Marn Bang Jai (2020) harkens back to older lakorns in most ways, I did like the fact that both the nang’ek and her sister had jobs in it. In Mia Archeep (2020), the nang’ek’s relationship with pra’ek matches more with modern norms.

Mia Archeep (2020)

Stereotypes (which aren’t necessarily bad) can be a start in determining how good a drama really is, but it is by no means the only criteria or even the most important criteria you should follow. After all, we haven’t even considered things such as writing, directing, acting, production values, and more. But it is a step in the right direction at taking a more critical look at what you watch.

What lakorns can you think of that match most of these stereotypes? Or match it the least?

Credits: mydramalist.com, asianfuse.net, asianfuse.wiki

Subbing Now

So we’re getting a number of new projects being subbed now. By the way, I don’t post about cable/digital dramas being released on GMM youtube channel, but they do English sub their lakorns on a regular basis, so I urge people to subscribe to their channel to keep up. With the fansubbers, it’s much more unclear which lakorns will be subbed and when, so I think it’s more important to focus on them.

NEKO

Some new projects on the horizon! Neko is finishing up Marn Bang Jai and continuing to slowly sub the lakorn, Baan Sila Dang (2015). She has picked up two new projects, Mia Archeep and Prom Pissawat (2020).

Prom Pissawat (2020)This is the story of God bringing two unlikely people from different parts of the world together. Plapol, a half Korean-half Thai man who grew up in Korea his whole life but chose to escape to Thailand sees his new step-mother as just another gold digger after his dad’s wealth. He pretty much thinks that of all women because his mother disappeared from his life since divorcing his dad when he was young. With hatred for his step-mother, Plapol decided to go to Thailand to find his mother.

While in Thailand, Plapol goes to a bar and meets a young woman named Pantawan, a sexy singer who’s popular among the men there. He views her in the same light as the other women he has come across in his life. However, Pantawan is not that type of woman and doesn’t take insult from anyone especially from a misogynistic man like him. The two always get in a fight but eventually they came to an understanding and fell in love. But after love blossomed, all is not rosy for Plapol and Pantawan because of one truth that gets revealed: Pantawan’s mother is Plapol’s new step-mother. (Source: NinjaKKN)

(Source: MyDramaList)

THIPPY

Thippy is still working on currently airing lakorn Por Mai Lek Tai Song Tua (2020) which looks like it will have 30 episodes and Prao (2014) or Proud in English. She just finished English subbing Tawan Arb Dao (2020).

Por Mai Lek Tai Song Tua (2020) – When Panu’s twin children Oley & Nene wants Karaked, a teacher, to be their step mom, the two starts to play cupid. But their obstacles are General Samurjai, Karaked’s father who tries every way to intervene between Panu and Karaked and the twin’s maternal grandmother Khun Nuankae, who wants to take custody of the two children. So Panu must use his love and sincerity to prove to everyone.

(Source: OhSweetHaven)

MUSE

Muse is still working on English subbing a number of lakorns like Leh Game Rak (2020), Raeng Tian (2019) and Payakorn Sorn Ruk (2020). They have picked up a number of new projects though, including Fai Sin Chua (2020) and Mia Archeep.

Mia Archeep (2020)The Plan is a business that turns women into perfect ladies for a man, which is managed by Mr. Robert. He calls these women the “Ideal Wife”. Chollada is from a middle-class family who became a perfect and educated lady by The Plan. She was considered to be a great product from the company. Mr. Robert thinks she’s perfect for Kasidit and tries to invite him for this service many times. Kasidit starts to think of this as a fun game, so he accepts it and meets Chollada. It’s no longer a game for him when he falls in love with her, but he doesn’t know if she truly likes him or if it’s a set up by The Plan.

(Source: MyDramaList)

Credits: mydramalist.com, asianfuse.net, asianfuse.wiki

Music Monday

Listening to the soundtrack of Marn Bang Jai (2020) after listening to It’s Okay to Not Be Okay is like listening to someone playing Chopsticks on the piano as opposed to Beethoven’s Symphony. Like how when you went to a fancy restaurant and the quality of the food there makes you dissatisfied with fast food places for a bit?

Honestly, I like Marn Bang Jai (2020) and the music, but the soundtrack is sooo lazy. They play the exact same song in every episode, like textbook. I know the budget of It’s Okay to Not Be Okay (2020) must be way superior, but you could still make interesting music choices on a lower budget if you cared. I remember some older lakorns like the 1999 version of Ngao Asoke had really fun music choices I remember to this day. At any rate, more music from MBJ and IOTNBO.

Here’s another song released from It’s Okay to Not Be Okay ost. Waiting for the rest.
They play this at any romantic moment or contemplative moment where you’re thinking of other person. Every time!
A male singer this time.

Watching Now – 4 Mini-reviews!

It’s now the month of July and I’m watching a number of airing dramas all at the same time! That never happens with me! But currently I’m watching It’s Okay to Not Be Okay (2020), Marn Bang Jai (2020), Payakorn Sorn Ruk (2020) and My Husband in Law (2020) and liking them all to various degrees! Keep reading for more thoughts on these dramas! Spoilers ahead!

Four Mini-Reviews

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay Synopsis: The story of a community health worker at a psychiatric ward who lives on 1.8 million won (approximately $1,520) a month and a storybook writer suffering from an antisocial personality disorder. A man who denies love and a woman who doesn’t know love defy fate and fall in love, finding their souls and identities in the process. Moon Kang Tae is a community health worker at a psychiatric ward who was blessed with everything including a great body, smarts, ability to sympathize with others, patience, ability to react quickly, stamina, and more. Meanwhile, Go Moon Young is a popular writer of children’s literature, but she is extremely selfish, arrogant, and rude. (Source: Soompi & Koreandrama.org)

Have you ever enjoyed a book or movie or tv show so much that you’re reluctant to move on, wanting to savor the magic? Two episodes in, I’m feeling strangely reluctant to continue watching IOTNBO. IOTNBO surprised me on so many different levels. There were visual surprises by the director, as well as surprises in how characters reacted to something or what they did and it is good. Marvelous. Awesome. Stupendous. I’ve written a recap of the 1st episode here and am expecting to continue the recaps. This is the masterpiece drama I was thinking The King: Eternal Monarch would be. I’m already dreading the end of this drama. On Netflix.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Payakorn Sorn Ruk

Payakorn Sorn Ruk Synopsis: Rosita gets into a car accident and suddenly gets a talent where she sees the future when she touches a rose. She becomes a famous fortune teller. One day, she makes a prediction in public to reporters that Theeruth, a famous actor, will make a woman pregnant and have a secret child. That prediction gets Theeruth into trouble and their relationship becomes antagonistic from that day.

A few years later, there is a charity event and the host invites Theeruth and four celebrities as special guests, and also invites Rosita to tell their fortunes. Five celebrities choose different roses and give them to her to read. Once Rosita touches those roses, she sees sweet scenes of Theeruth and herself hugging, kissing and loving each other very much. She is so shocked. Her reaction is so strange and the five celebrities are very curious about what she saw. Rosita does not tell anyone and claims that she saw nothing. But all the guests do not believe her.

After that day, something strange happens to her. She is attacked by someone and the suspect is one of the five celebrities whose fortunes she had read. The biggest suspect is Theeruth who had always been her opponent. But one day, he coincidentally saves her from the criminal and also offers to let her live with him as it is the safest place for her since everyone thinks that they are opponents. Their relationship improves little by little from that day through many dangerous situations to find the real criminal who wants to kill Rosita. (Source: James Ji Fansub)


James Jirayu is wonderful as Theeruth, coming off as strong, caring and compassionate. Ice Preechaya as Rosita also does a good job, but I think this is really James’ lakorn. This is a pretty solid production in terms of story, directing, acting, but also doesn’t really stand out outside of James so it leaves me little to say. The first two or so episodes were setup, and then we started to learn more about the story of the celebrities that Rosita told the fortunes about. We get more background about these celebrities and their motives. Minor spoilers ahead for episodes 1-6.

In just about every episode, Rosita is attacked and rescued at least once, if not more than once, although the methods and means vary. We’ve also been whittling down the list of suspects so after 6 episodes, with 3 suspects left, I wonder how they’re going to fill in the time for the remaining 7 episodes. Hopefully they’ll have some surprises left, because it feels like I know pretty much all there is to know about who’s trying to kill Rosita and why.

Another facet of this lakorn that I’m enjoying is the slow burn relationship between Rosita and Theeruth. They first start off as enemies, then reluctant allies, and finally we’re beginning to see a growing relationship between the two. Theeruth becomes more and more protective of Rosita, so much so that there’s some rivalry between him and Rosita’s boyfriend. Looking forward to seeing more of their relationship and this lakorn! Subbed by Muse

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Marn Bang Jai

Marn Bang Jai (2020) Synopsis: Fuenglada studies at a boarding school and her father lives with his new wife Soithong and stepdaughter Soisoun. One day on the way to see Fuenglada, her father had an accident with Taen’s car and passes away. Taen is a rich widower with one daughter and lives with his brother Tai. On knowing that Soithong is trying to sell Fuenglada to an old Chinese man, he offers to marry her himself and thus begins their marriage life. Path to a peaceful love is not easy with Tai being suspicious of Fuenglada’s family and Soithong trying to make Soun closer to Taen

Marn Bang Jai (2020) should be around 15 episodes and it has one of my favorite tropes, marriage of convenience, which I love along with Weir Sukollawat as Taen and Mookda Narinrak as Fuenglada. I’m on ep 7, so I’ve seen a little less then half. So far, episodes 1-6 have only been the setup for the marriage, which is a bummer. During that time, they’ve introduced the villain who causes the marriage because he’s owed money by the Fuenglada’s stepmom and he wants Fuenglada as the payment. There’s also another woman, Montira, a friend of the family who’s after Taen and uses his daughter to try to get to him. But like most pra’eks in lakorns, Taen remains oblivious to her scheming and Montira has free rein of his house.

Taen also has a younger brother who’s a cop, Tai (played by Yotsawat Tawapee) and Fuenglada has a stepsister Soisoun (Noey Paphada Klinsuman) she is close to, as well as a trouble making stepmom who’s always on the lookout for more money. Before watching the show, I assumed that I would like it for all the reasons I mentioned above, the marriage, Weir. But the marriage isn’t here yet and Weir as Taen is pretty much sleepwalking through this, plus the relationship between him and Fuenglada have been mostly adversarial on her part and him treating her like a kid (yet having a lot of undue interest in her at the same time 😁). So I’ve been enjoying this show for different reasons, namely the growing relationship between Tai and Soisoun. SPOILERS BELOW!

We can see Soisoun is attracted to Tai from their first meeting, though it’s less obvious on Tai’s part as he has a girlfriend already. Soisoun gets on about her life and they meet again through different situations and become friends. Soisoun tries to play it cool, and even helps Tai in his relationship troubles, but it’s obvious she has a thing for him. As the series continues, we see they have a lot more in common than Tai does with his girlfriend, and he starts seeking her out more and more, and Tai hasn’t yet realized that he sees her as more than just a friend. This relationship is nuanced and realistic and the main reason for my score, as the rest of the lakorn is pretty cliched and trite. I am also enjoying some of the humor in the lakorn, as well as the relationship between the sensible, nice Soisoun and her selfish mom, who’s always exclaiming, are you really my child? because they think so differently. Subbed by Neko

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My Husband in Law

My Husband in Law (2020) Synopsis: Muey is a young girl who lived with her mother, who has a very close friend. Muey also has a crush on Thien who is the son of her mother’s close friend. Although Muey loves him, Thien never seems to love Muey, instead, he always teases her, messes with her, and sometimes bullies her. Muey never got angry or responded to Thien when she got bullied because she loved him too much. One day, Thien was forced to marry Muey just to get rid of the wife of a powerful man. As Thien never looked at Muey as his life partner, he was not really okay with the marriage. In addition, Thien wanted a perfect woman as his wife, but Muey was never perfect in his eye. Will Thien fall in love with Muey at the end? Will Muey be the perfect wife for him? (Source: Collin Hypercuz at MyDramaList)

My Husband in Law (2020) is a 15 episode lakorn told from the pov of Muey, who’s been in love with Thien since they first met. I wrote a recap of episode 1 here, and was impressed by it as it seemed like the beginning of a beautiful marriage of convenience story as Muey marries Thien to save his life (literally). Then ep 2 changed the lakorn to a workplace setting and I thought, whoa, so it’s a workplace romance? Then ep 3 happened to leave a bad taste in my mouth and I don’t know if I want to continue recapping this. Spoiler ahead so highlight it to read:

In ep 3, Muey gets drunk and attempts to rape Thien and the whole thing is played for laughs. Now mind you, I love Sawan Biang which contained multiple rapes (and has the same director by the way), but I didn’t expect to see this in a romantic comedy and worse, played for laughs as if it’s not important. Why even go there? This seemed like such a throwback to older lakorns that it felt out of place. The whole scene seemed sooo unnecessary and stupid.

Muey’s look at Thien.

Then I went on to watch episode 4. And it took off into an entirely different direction from the previous episodes. Now I’m thinking I have to watch the whole series before I review anything, because honestly I don’t know what’s going on, what’s real or not. Maybe I missed something? Part of the problem is it seems to want to incorporate different genres and that’s hard to do.

By the way, there are things I very much like about this lakorn. The humor can be spot on, the way Muey looks at Thien, and moments of surprising impact, like when Muey and Thien are at the beach. So for now… Available at Muse, dimsum.my.

A big reason to continue the show.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

What Next?

July Goal: My goal is to continue watching these dramas and I have a few more I want to look out for Duang Baeb Nee Mai Mee Ju and Train (2020).

What are you watching now?

Credits: mydramalist.com, asianfuse.net, asianfuse.wiki

Subbing Now

Looks like a number of lakorns airing next week, such as Payakorn Sorn Ruk (2020) and Leh Game Rak (2020), so right now not that many new lakorns being subbed to talk about.

Marn Bang Jai just started May 26 and Neko has already subbed the 1st episode. I love Weir and the marriage of convenience genre so this is a must see for me, but I do want to wait until more episodes are subbed. Neko is also finishing up historical lakorn Dong Poo Dee (2019) which has 28 episodes (and lots of angst, judging by the teaser). Neko is also working on an older lakorn, Baan Sila Dang (2015) which is notable as one of the few twin lakorns that actually feature twin actresses!

Marn Bang Jai (2020)

Fuenglada studies at a boarding school and her father lives with his new wife Soithong and stepdaughter Soisoun. One day on the way to see Fuenglada, her father had an accident with Taen’s car and passes away. Taen is a rich widower with two children and lives with his brother Tai. On knowing that Soithong is trying to sell Fuenglada to an old Chinese man, he offers to marry her himself and thus begins their marriage life. Path to a peaceful love is not easy with Tai being suspicious of Fuenglada’s family and Soithong trying to make Soun closer to Taen.

(Source: MyDramaList)

Thippy is working on currently airing Suay Sorn Kom (2019). She just finished subbing Pom Arthun (2020) and Rabam Mek (2020).

Suay Sorn Kom (2019)

“I will come back and get vengeance. You guys will not die pretty.” Were the words of Jia Ing, who was filled with vengeance and anger, as fire consumed her soul. Jia Ing was forced out of the house with her mother and another mistress of Jao Sua Sian, when they did nothing wrong. Jia Ing would later return as Ping the eldest daughter of Jao Sua and the main wife. She has returned to get her vengeance as she once uttered.

(Source: asianfuse.net)

Credits: mydramalist.com, asianfuse.net, asianfuse.wiki