Clues, Hints, Irony, and Chemistry, by Rich Paschall
There is a lot to watch for in Bad Buddy. If you have not seen the series yet, what are you waiting for? We definitely have some clues for you to watch for but maybe a few spoilers too. (GMM TV 25, YouTube, WeTV)
“This guy with the fierce eyes is Pat.” – Pran, Ep. 1 and 12
“This guy with the dimples is Pran.” – Pat, Ep 12
If you are watching the hit Thai mini-series, Bad Buddy, for the second time, or perhaps the third or more, you will notice how artfully constructed the whole project had been. While the acting has been highly praised, the series would not have reached massive international success on that alone. It is a simple story of enemies to lovers in a university setting, after all. You will find quite a number of those if you search through the BL series of recent years (also known as Y-Series to some). It is the attention to detail and the consistent development of the characters at the hands of director Aof Noppharnach Chaiwimol and the crew that put this series a cut above the rest. Does it deserve the masterpiece status some would like to give it?
Right from the outset, the crew is dropping clues and subtle hints at us. The parents’ lies, as repeated by the boys at the very beginning, are meant to keep the boys apart but it never really worked that way. Except for the opening sequence, does it look like these guys are really enemies, or just trying to play the parts expected of them by their parents?
In Episode 1 there is a certain irony to Pat’s sister, Pa, telling Pat that his meeting Pran again after three years means they are “Soulmates.” She follows by telling Pat he is not to hurt Pran in the fights between Architecture and Engineering students. When he asks why, she says, “You know why.” We won’t find out until later, but you can see it written on Pat’s face. He knows. If you missed that, you certainly noticed the surprised look on Pat’s face when he looked across the way to see a shirtless Pran walking past his bedroom window.
Next door in Pran’s room he takes out a “treasure box” that holds an old wristwatch. This is a significant clue and the watch will get dropped into every episode along the way. When Pran thinks back to Pat returning the watch when they are children, we are only getting a part of the memory. Do we see a slight smile for that memory? The rest of that story will be revealed later. Pran will take that watch back to his dorm room with him. After the scene where Pat and Pran exchange Line IDs so they can chat to avoid running into one another, you will find Pran in his room winding the watch and putting it on. His time together with Pat has now started over. Notice not only that Pran wears it throughout, but that he looks at it at important moments. He looks at it before he goes out on the rooftop the first time. He looks at it again after Pat returns the guitar and goes back to his room. He even wakes up with it on in Episode 11 and has it across the years of Episode 12.
There was more in the box than a watch. If you looked closely you would have seen a cassette player and a couple of pictures of a very small boy. In one picture the boy is holding a microphone. The box held the memories that Pran also held close to his heart for years. When he tells Wai in Episode 1 that he quit playing music a long time ago, don’t believe him. You can see that it does not take much convincing to get Pran to join the “Freshy Day” music contest. Of course, Pat will follow him and join the contest too.
It is not just Pran who is keeping Pran’s dream of being a musician alive, Pat is too. After all Pat safeguarded Pran’s guitar for years after Pran’s mother transferred him to another school. When Pat returns the guitar to Pran (Episode 3) he jokes that he tried to sell it online, but we should not believe it. Moments later Pat will also claim that he does not know how they got reinstated in the music contest (after being kicked out for fighting), but it was Pat who went to the professor to plead their case. In Episode 4 when he is explaining his good qualities, Pat tells Pran “I kept the guitar for you.” In Episode 10 Pat will admit that when Pran got transferred out of their high school Pat ran after him with the guitar but did not catch him. In episodes 10 (at the high school) and 11 (at the “green village”) Pat encourages Pran to play. When Pat asks Pran what he wants to be after graduation (Ep. 11) Pran names an Interior designer and a musician. All through his life, he wanted to play and sing. When Pran asks Pat the same question, Pat says he will take on a family business AND “I want to listen to your music.” Soulmates, perhaps?
The guys may not be friends at the end of Episode one but they don’t exactly look like enemies either. They share their Line IDs (contact information) so they can work together to keep their school groups apart. Pran changes the ID name to “Just a Friend,” but is that all? It’s the major question of the series, of course. They will use the chat function often in the coming episodes. When Pran is walking down the hall at the end of the Episode and looking at his phone, is he smiling because he got Pat’s Line ID? You will notice the smiley face door hanger at the end of the episode. Pat will not notice it until Episode 2.
Pran’s room is full of smiley face images. This image will be important to Pat as well as Pran throughout the series. When Pa brings Pat’s laundry in Episode 1 she leaves him the basket to put away the items himself. When he looks down at it he sees a t-shirt with a smiley face on top of the pile. This triggers the memory of just why Pa makes Pat promise not to hurt Pran. If you remember this shirt, you might notice when Pat actually wears it (Episode 12).
The smiley face door hanger will become a symbol of when Pran is happy, sad, or upset. When Pat learns the meaning, he will be ready to act accordingly. It is a happy face at the end of Episodes 1 and 3. Pat sees a sad face after their fight in Episode 5 and before he goes up onto the roof. Did you notice the door hanger at the very end of the series?
Some of the hints are given to us through what will prove to be rather ironic statements later on. In episode 2 when Pat uses the Line ID to check where Pran is, Pran replies “What are you, my boyfriend?” The “boyfriend joke” will get tossed around a few times before the competition begins (end of Ep. 6) for each to try to win over the other. Pat replies, “The only thing left to do is we sleep in the same bed.” Pran sends him “yuck” (puking emoticon). This exchange is the same scene as the food delivery mix-up. Each does not know the identity of the one across the hall but Pat starts courting who he thinks is a girl. Pran is receiving the gifts and Wai jokingly says, “You like him don’t you?” At that moment Pran glances out the window and who does he see?
The food mix-up and Pat inviting the unknown person across the hall to meet him to see the moon at night leads to the first of 4 rooftop scenes (Episode 2). When the mix-up is revealed, the boys take the opportunity to trade some insults rather than immediately leave. They discovered they are “next door” neighbors, just like at home. The other rooftop scenes will be even more important to the storyline. Reviewers have noted the climactic moment of the rooftop scene at the end of Episode 5 in terms of “iconic” and “legendary.” It came unexpectedly early in the series and may have been one of the longest kiss scenes in GMM TV BL history. I likely do not have to sell you on the idea that everything about that scene came off perfectly. Would any two others on the list of regular GMM actors have been able to pull this off so effectively? By the way, there is a fifth rooftop scene where the guys are eating on top of a different roof because they are afraid of being seen at a restaurant.
We also receive an important clue to the question of who liked whom first when Wai tried to assist Pran to write his new song. “Have you not had a secret crush on anyone before?” At that suggestion, Pran immediately thinks back to the music room in high school with Pat and the guitar pick Pat made for Pran from his student ID. Despite us seeing a couple more attempts by Pran to write the song, it will not be possible for him to finish it for the Freshy Day contest. After all, the song is “Our Song” (Pran and Pat). Pran will not find the right words to complete it until after the “honeymoon” night with Pat. That song will lead us to the emotional ending of Episode 11.
“Just Friend?” is also Pran and Pat’s song. That is why Pat is hurt and jealous that Pran would choose to play it with others, especially Wai. Despite the harsh comments they exchange at the fight and on the rooftop, the playing of the song in the Freshy Day contest was not “a little thing” to Pat or “insignificant.” It is their song, just like the one that will come later in the series.
The music used throughout the series perfectly matches the scenes. Notice when the themes of “Just Friend?” and “Secret” are used along the way. The repeating background music is carefully chosen to tell you the type of mood displayed. The selections used for the rooftop scenes to close episodes 5 and 10 are a perfect match for the intensity of the moments. At no point was the music a distraction from the story.
There are a lot more clues, hints, and symbols along the way, but none of it would have worked so well without the chemistry on display, especially between the two principal performers. Ohm Pawat (Pat) and Nanon Korapat (Pran) were at the right point in their careers for this series. They are both experienced actors. They were both university students at the time. They are real-life best friends. The combination of all these things was pure magic. Notice in the second half of Episode 11 when Pat asks Pran if he wants to join the performer at the seaside cafe and Pran says “No. He’s great.” For the next 30 seconds, Pran looks longingly at the performer as Pat looks at Pran. Without saying a word, these two can speak volumes. That is just one reason why people have watched these 12 episodes over and over.
Some feared that such established stars as Ohm and Nanon would overpower the material, but you do not watch it and think, “There’s Ohm and Nanon acting out their parts.” They became Pat and Pran and you loved each of the characters equally. From the beginning, you hoped the two students would overcome the family hate and become more than “Just Friends” and that is exactly what happened. Now go watch it again.
See Also: “Giving It Your All,” ON Friend CIty, SERENDIPITY, August 27, 2022.
“Who We Are Now,” ON Friend City finale, SERENDIPITY, August 15, 2022.
“The Bad Buddy Phenomenon,” SERENDIPITY, September 2, 2022
“So How Does It End?” Bad Buddy Review, SERENDIPITY, January 27, 2022.
Categories: Celebrities, Entertainment, Music, Rich Paschall, Television Review
This was great! I generally don’t post responses on articles, but this was very well written about a show I truly love. Didn’t notice half of those clues lol so I’ll be watching Bad Buddy again for the nth time. Their acting was just so effortless & natural. The whole cast did great. I’ve watched countless more BLs since Bad Buddy & honestly, Ohm & Nanon either need to teach a masterclass on ‘Acting’ or these companies need better acting coaches. I digress. Thanks for your article, great work indeed.
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Thanks for your comments. There are even more clues and symbols dropped along the way. Ohm, Nanon and the creative team behind BBS have done a wonderful job.
If someone asks me if I know a writer/reviewer who is good at investigative reporting, and can also write wonderful essays, then it should be you. And yes, I watched Bad Buddy for the nth time, could not remember exactly. I have to rewind many scenes because it truly resonates with me.
Those clues and hints. I could only come up with half of what you have put in detail. Does it mean, I have to watch it again? I think I just got a good excuse to do so.
The guitar which Pat kept and Pran gave to that kid (forgot his name), made me upset. I felt for Pat’s emotions like “how could you?”
And yes, the wristwatch which Pran kept and which he sometimes look over and remember the details. That’s one of the sweetest scenes ever.
I know this gem has to be celebrated many times over, and without being arrogant I have to say – experience taught us that as we grew older, we tend to be pickier and more qualified to judge because we’ve been there – done that. While kids love to critique, I think the older writers/bloggers have more authority since they have amassed tons of materials that are taken into perspective to judge a show.
In this age of everyone’s a critic (esp. at Twitter), sometimes we STILL have to look at the reputation of the writer, and how is he qualified to do a piece.
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I truly appreciate your perspective on this piece. When I watched it a third time, now that I have the DVDs, I took careful notes. Then I rewatched some things to make sure I got it right.
There are more clues along the way which speaks to the genius of the team that put this together. This sort of attention to detail is rare and likely the work of P’Aof.
In Episode one you may notice the lighted smiley faces around the board over Pran’s desk are all frowning, but in the final episode you will see the display Pat take Pran to see have all smiling faces. That’s how things have changed for them.
I have so many more notes that I am considering one more article on character development for all of the main characters. I have been disappointed in other series that create a number of forced scenarios between the main chacters and near the end they end up pressing their faces together in what we are supposed to think is a kiss. Ohm and Nanon bring real emotions to their scenes. I think that must be enhanced by how close they are as frriends.
Yes, go watch again and marvel at all of the attention to detail. Everything drives the storyline along.
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Yup! Before I head over to YouTube, let me just say. I think that writing a piece on Bad Buddy on a regular basis – like a monthly spotlight piece would be great. You can even make it a weekly sort of thing. But it’s up to you depending on schedules and activities. I know many people appreciate the article, and it kept the interest in the series at a high level.
The real Ohm-Nanon fans will keep on coming back for me, while the new readers and those interested to watch, may be compelled to actually watch it and invest their time.
A Tweet or a FB like is temporary and it becomes invisible unless you are keen to do research. Depending on how many you follow and the time you spent there. In the case of an article on a WordPress site, I think it remains a highly visible part.
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I can not offer Bad Buddy here every week. I could certainly review episode by episode, but you are doing that already. I would like to do a deep dive into the characters, but that might take a few weeks. I have to add my regular Sunday spot as well.
Items on Twitter and Facebook disappear over time unless you pin them to the top. There is a lot on SERENDIPITY and I sometimes think my articles will get lost over time, then someone comments on an older article.
You can rerun them too, you know. You already rerun stuff and so do I. I rerun everybody’s stuff when it seems relevant. I try to keep track of the pieces I think “said something” so I know what to run and sometimes, when someone goes back and comments on an older piece that reminds me that it might be time to rerun it. You can also make a post sticky so it will linger at the top of the blog and not get buried. AND you don’t have to wait for Sunday. In fact, I appreciate any extra material I get.
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I may look at the review I did in January as the current rerun series get near the end. I love the series but don’t think I can offer much more. It is current, however, so I may look over previous articles.
It just seems to take longer to do everything. I want to add in a few more things but it is hard. I don’t know how you do it.
Endless years of practice. I don’t even think about it anymore. I go into “automatic” mode. I really think it’s writing for a living that has made it so easy. It’s like any work you did for a long time. After a while, you just do it and you don’t have to think about it. It gets “normal.”
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