Developing Real People, by Rich Paschall
There have been a lot of BL series in recent years from a long list of countries. Some are ongoing from season to season while others last only for a few episodes. They all feature handsome male couples. They all create a variety of situations for the protagonists. They all try to have memorable theme songs. What makes a series an international success while others just fade away in time?
For the viewer to become invested in the storyline and the main characters of the series, there must be character development. Without a good script, it is unlikely that cute performers can save the show. An interesting premise or a clever scene or two is not enough. The story must progress in a logical fashion and the relationship between the main characters must develop in a believable manner.
While some series of recent years did not live up to the hype, the Bad Buddy series exceeded all expectations. At first, it seemed like we would have a simple Romeo and Romeo-type story, but the director and the scriptwriters did not insult us with tired tropes and old cliches. In fact, they did pretty much the opposite in developing memorable characters.
We know from the very opening sequence that the rival sets of parents have filled their boys with stories meant to create hate between the families and keep the rivalries going. One of the boys may start off as a Bad Buddy, but we will soon learn that they were friends in high school where Pran quietly had a crush on Pat.
They are more conservative than Pat’s parents as we will learn in the first episode. Pran’s mother has a deep hatred for Pat’s father but the true story will not be revealed until episode 10. In the meantime, Pran is given a set of lies about the family next door. Pran’s mother is determined to keep him away from the family she hates. We learn in emotional flashbacks that Pran was taken out of high school and sent to a boarding school by his mother when she saw Pran playing in a school band with Pat. These flashback moments will make you feel sorry for both boys.
The attitude of Pran’s parents is exactly why Pran tries to keep his friendship with Pat a secret in later episodes. His fear of being discovered will be seen on his face at the dinner table when his parents are talking about it being ok for Pran to date anyone (Episode 7). Pran’s mother adds, however, she has just one request, “Please don’t be the kids next door.” Look at Pran’s face and you can see the conflict without any words being spoken. When the friends are outed in Episode 10, Pran’s mother wrongly assumes that Pat’s father is to blame for some of the lies being uncovered. This will lead to a confrontation at Pat’s house.
They are much more accepting of Pat’s bad behavior than Pran’s parents would have been. They are willing to overlook his rude table manners on display early in the first episode. From the outset, Pat’s father will be pressuring Pat to be like he is. When Pat says he has been elected class president, the father replies, “Get yourself a gold medal from the rugby game first and I will let you brag.” When he learns Pran is back and an Architecture student at the same university as Pat, the father encourages the student rivalry, “If we get hurt, they get hurt too!”
In the second Episode, Pat’s father will tell Pat he must win the Freshy Day music contest. Pat says “I don’t feel the pressure at all.” The father replies “I’m not putting pressure on you here…but I’m serious.” We will continue to see Pat’s father pressure Pat to play rugby and win medals. By Episode Eight Pat’s life and his father’s expectations collide when Pat’s father learns Pat has been skipping rugby practice for Architecture’s play rehearsal. The father incorrectly states, “Do you know why I don’t intervene in your life very much? It’s because I thought you knew your priorities.” Rugby was Pat’s father’s priority, not Pat’s. The play was Pat’s priority because he wanted to be close to Pran.
We are introduced to Wai (Jimmy Jitaraphol) in the opening moments of Episode 1. Wai is an Architecture student and he is running from Engineering students. Wai is Pran’s best friend as the story opens and Pran will run to join the fight to defend Wai. As the series progresses we will learn that Wai seems to have a chip on his shoulder and his quick temper will frequently cause problems for his friends. Pran will have his work cut out as he tries to keep Wai out of fights, but as we will see, it does not always work.
Wai’s character will drive a lot of the action in the series. In addition to instigating fights, he will encourage Pran to join the Freshy Day music contest. His dislike for Pat will become an increasing problem for Pran until the dramatic moment at the end of Episode 8. It may seem a bit ironic that Pran’s fear of being “outed” at school was realized when his best friend revealed his relationship with Pat at the Architecture play rehearsal. Many think Wai owed Pran an apology which we never really see. When Pran apologizes in Episode 9 for keeping his friendship with Pat a secret, Wai answers in typical Wai fashion, “I need to forgive you don’t I? Otherwise I am an asshole.” In an emotional confrontation, Wai explains he would have told Pran. “Because you’re my best friend. It really hurts.” Wai will remain mad for a while.
Even though the apology never comes, Wai steps up when it counts the most. When Pat is in trouble and only Wai knows the truth of Pat’s innocence, he ultimately hands over the proof to Pran. Why? Because he really is Pran’s best friend.
What Wai is to Pran, Korn (Drake Sattabut) is to Pat, or pretty close anyway. It is Korn who is leading the charge to catch Wai in the opening scene. Just as Wai leads his Architecture student friends into fights, Korn will do the same with his Engineering student friends. When Pat and Pran brokered a deal to have Wai apologize to Pat to end the problem we saw at the opening, Korn will upset the plan. “If you think you can end this with a sorry, you’re wrong. Get them!” The fight between the groups resumes.
When Pat is outed at school, Korn will deny him a seat at the lunch table. He will quickly apologize and add he was being pressured by Seniors. When there is trouble, Korn will defend Pat.
Pa, Pat’s sister
Pa (Love Pattranite Limpatiyakorn) will be the voice of reason in her family. She will balance out Pat’s rude behavior and push him to do the right thing. In the first episode when Pat is showing his rude table manners and eating loudly, Pa remarks “Why don’t you just eat that spoon too?” She will often call out Pat for anything he may be doing wrong. It is important that she is the one who asks Pat not to hurt Pran in the fights between the Architecture and Engineering students. In fact, she thinks Pat and Pran are brought together because they are “soulmates,” as odd as that may seem for two rival families.
When Korn and then Pat’s father disturb Pran’s dorm life in Episode two, Pat goes to see Pa at the high school. She correctly points out, “You came to see me because you feel guilty. You feel bad about what Korn and papa did.” Until Pat finally has Pran in his life, it will be Pa who will keep Pat’s behavior in check. In the latter episodes when Pa goes to the university too, a new element will be introduced that is uncommon to a BL series.
When Ink (Milk Pansa Vosbein) enters early in Episode 4 as the photographer, she brings a new dynamic to the story. It is revealed in a flashback that she was at the same high school as Pat and Pran. Pat quickly pulls Ink aside so she does not reveal to the others that Pat and Pran actually know one another from before the university. She pledges to keep their secret but Pat must ultimately promise to be a model for a photo shoot.
While there is no rival in the Pat and Pran storyline, Pran will see Pat with Ink a number of times which causes him concerns. We will also see flashbacks where Pran may have misunderstood what is going on between Pat and Ink. When Pat sees Ink give Pran a bracelet like his after the rugby match (Episode 4), he is worried that Pran could be a rival for Ink. The misunderstandings are all in the boys’ minds. For a while, Pat will think he should date Ink until he learns for whom he really has feelings.
In the second year, when Pa goes to university too, we see the development of the Pa/Ink relationship. It may seem like Ink is just a peer mentor for Pa, but Pat’s sister will grow to have romantic feelings for Ink. Pat will jokingly add “The brother can’t make it, but the sister can.” Pat is not upset when Pa tells him because he never really dated Ink. The introduction of a GL storyline is unique and something you do not see in a BL series.
Unlike many BL series, there is no “side BL couple” as a second storyline. There is no third person trying to win the affection of Pat or Pran. Aside from Wai and Korn, we do not learn much about the other students. Many of the supporting characters are necessary to reveal certain elements of the plot, but we will remain focused on the relationship between Pat and Pran throughout. This leads to a bit of an “in-joke” in Episode 9. When the guys are celebrating at the bar after the rugby game, Korn says “Here’s to Pat, our hero.” Pat says to the other engineering students, “Yes, I am a hero. You guys are supporting actors.” Korn’s replay? “What an ass.” It’s not the only exchange in the series that’s made with a “wink” at the audience. Did you catch any others?
Next time: Pat and Pran.
See also: “THE ART OF BAD BUDDY SERIES,” Clues, Hints, Irony and Chemistry, SERENDIPITY, October 16, 2022.
“THE BAD BUDDY PHENOMENON,” SERENDIPITY, September 2, 2022.
“GIVING IT YOUR ALL,” ON Friend CIity review, SERENDIPITY. August 22, 2022.
“WHO WE ARE NOW,” And Who We Are Not, SERENDIPITY, August 15, 2022.
“SO HOW DOES IT END?” Bad Buddy Series, SERENDIPITY, January 27, 2022.
“FIVE FOR PRIDE,” SERENDIPITY, June 27, 2022.
Categories: Entertainment, Rich Paschall, Television, Television Review
These articles of yours were made at the right time and I have to say I’m a bit late to reply. However, the recent GMMTV 2023 presentation made me realize that – indeed – GMMTV is listening to fans’ clamor, especially with Bad Buddy fans. I know that the Our Skyy 2 series will continue the Bad Buddy narrative, but I wanted something more meaty and substantial. But hey, a new project is a new project however anyone sees it.
The production crew and director could have made the parents more ‘animalistic’ and confrontational, but I think he mixed plenty of scenes to make it more dramatic and impactful. In a way, I sometimes dread seeing Pat and Pran with their parents. It ruins my romantic mood. LOL
There is no other BL series like Bad Buddy. It’s not completely original but inspired by other, previous series. But one thing that makes it a standout is the character development, which you have made it even clearer for all to read and appreciate.
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Thanks. I think the writers and crew found a way to strike a good balance. I think the parents not welcoming the other boy but having a grudging acceptance of their relationship is more relaistic, considering how things were before. I think we would never have liked to see the boys at home if the parents were more confrontational.
This is the first I’d ever heard the term “BL series.” You taught me something.
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It is also known as Y-series in some countries.