CROSSING THE PARENTAL BOUNDARY

Bad Buddy Series Revisited, by Rich Paschall

All parents set boundaries for their children. We would expect nothing less. In some cases, the boundaries may be too extreme. This could cause family conflict between the parents and children. Such is the case for Pat and Pran in the award-winning Thai television series, Bad Buddy.

Right from the outset we see the parents laying down the expectations and boundary lines. In fact, the symbol of those lines is depicted in episode one when we see the dads agreeing to paint a line on the pavement that is not to be crossed. The red and yellow trash cans, symbolizing parental expectations, are to stay on their own side of the line. Pat and Pran meet at the trash cans late in the episode. In that scene, each puts his foot on the trash can to keep it in place in a battle for position. It ends with Pat knocking his own trash can over. This would fit the symbolism as Pat will be the first one to cross the boundary line in his efforts to become friends with Pran.

When Pat and Pran meet unexpectedly at college at the beginning of the series, we not only see their conflict as small children, we even flashback to before they were born. The mothers are praying for handsome sons and that their sons have pretty girlfriends. The expectations and the false premises for the parental boundaries have all been laid out when we see Pat and Pran staring at one another for the first time in years.

“I wouldn’t have transferred you here if I knew you two would meet again,” Pran’s mother told him. After all, she sent Pran away when he was to play in a high school band with Pat. The boundary line was clear. Pran was not to be friends with Pat. We also see Pat’s dad talking trash about Architecture students. “People from his faculty are foul-mouthed.” Pat was not to be friends with Pran.

As early as Episode 3 we see Pat helping Pran with the bus stop project. When Pat finds Pran at the destroyed bus stop trying to imagine the new design, he is already pushing the boundary line by considering himself a friend of Pran. “Are you as hard on your other friends as you are on me?” Pran is not ready for that. He indicates Pat is not his friend. “Sorry I am not your friend,” Pat replies. There have been indications that Pran likes Pat but he dares not cross the line at this point. When they playfully chase one another after the role-playing to consider a bus stop design, perhaps you noticed that they ran right past red and yellow trash cans. Another symbol?

Pat returns Pran’s guitar

Late in that same episode, we find Pran pacing in the dorm hallway. He wants to thank Pat for getting the Engineering students to help with the bus stop project. Finally, he works up the courage to knock on Pat’s door. After thanking Pat, we see Pat about to return to his room when Pran works up more courage to ask “Have you eaten?” Pat has and that boundary against eating together will not be crossed yet.

What follows is Pat’s returning Pran’s guitar in an iconic moment from the series. We will learn later how Pat unsuccessfully tried to return the guitar when Pran was transferred out of their high school. Pat kept track of Pran’s guitar for years. It is only Episode 3 of 12 but we can see how much each cares for the other. But there are parental boundary lines to consider.

In episode 4 Pran asks Ink, “Do you like Pat?”  Why does he want to know? It is for the same reason Pat wants to know if Wai has ever stayed overnight in Pran’s dorm room. Each is a bit jealous of the other but not yet ready to speak up. In a high school flashback in Ep. 5 Pran asks “Have you ever had a secret crush on anyone?” Is he asking because he has a secret crush on Pat? “You always end up with the one you like,” he tells Pat. If that is his hope, he is going to have to cross his parents’ boundary line to get there.

THE rooftop scene, Episode 5

By the end of Episode, 5 Pat is ready to be more than friends with Pran, but Pran can not do it. Not only does he walk away from Pat at the end of the episode following the surprising and memorable kiss, but he also tries to shut out Pat at the start of the next episode. He does not have the courage to accept the one he loves. He fears his mother and the repercussions of crossing the line. Many teenagers can not move forward with friendships for the same reason. That is just one reason the back-and-forth struggle between Pat and Pran was widely embraced by viewers. Many can identify with them.

When Pran leaves his guitar with Wai early in Episode 6, Wai asks “Seriously, if your mom finds out you still play, is she going to transfer you again?”

Pran answers, “If she knows, she might.”

Of course, it was never about the guitar per se, it was about Pat. Pran’s mother could not accept Pat or even anything that reminded her of Pat. Playing guitar might mean Pran has gone beyond what his mother expects of him.

Up next for Pran, Wai, and the Architecture students is a trip to the Green Village. Pat surprises everyone by signing on to the Architecture students’ camp trip. He is barely hiding his desire to be friends with Pran, something unpopular with the other students and forbidden by his parents. During Episode 6 Louis, an Architecture student, says of Pat, “I heard from seniors the Engineering students never joined our camp before. He has crossed the line.” 

Little did they know just how far over the line he came or why he was willing to risk his personal safety to be there. Pran finds himself having to protect Pat against the wrath of the others through lies and deception. By the end of Episode 6, Pat and Pran finally recognize how the other feels.

“Why can’t you just admit it?” Pran asks.

Pat responds “You like me already. Just say it.”

Each decides he can easily win over the other. In a moment of irony, Pran says something to Pat that sounds a lot like Pat’s father’s response when Pat was elected class president. His father wanted a rugby trophy. “Make it happen first and you can brag later,” Pran says. Pran is almost at that boundary line.

“Why can’t you just admit it?”

With the challenge set in motion, Pat continued to pursue Pran on the Architecture student’s turf. He auditions for the Architecture students’ play and surprises everyone by playing the “ranat thum” (traditional Thai xylophone). In his audition speech that we see in a flashback later, Pat expresses how he feels about Pran. “I’m Tired. Tired of pretending I hate you while your face has taken over my heart. Let’s stop it.” His audition indicates he is ready to be the boyfriend, but is Pran brave enough to come out?

In Episode 8 we see Pa and Ink eating at a restaurant followed by Pat and Pran eating from “takeaway boxes” on the roof so they will not be seen together. When Pat pretends he is taking a selfie kissing Pran, the phone is accidentally knocked from Pat’s hands. Pran is not ready to be outed. Not only does he not want his parents to know he is dating Pat, but Pran also does not want the other students to know.

At Architecture play rehearsal near the end of Ep 8, Pat asks Pran, “Don’t you feel uncomfortable hiding it?”

Pran responds “Just because I’m not telling people doesn’t mean I don’t like you.” Pran inches closer to the line and tells Pat he can continue to post hints to his Instagram.

“I’m your boyfriend. If I can’t handle this little thing, how can we make this relationship work?” Finally, he said it, but their conversation is being heard in the sound room. When Pat is hugging Pran with his shirt pulled over Pran’s head, the curtain is dropped and they are outed at school. One line is crossed and another will soon follow.

Early in Episode 9, we see that crossing the line dividing the Architecture and Engineering students has cost them their friends. Pran has lost Wai who was his best friend. At a picnic table outside and away from everyone, Pran meets Pat. They have no friends to sit with at lunch. In one of the most touching moments of the series, Pat offers to make things better. “Do you want me to post a status saying we broke up? I can say you dumped me if that gets Wai to talk to you.” Pran tells him not to be ridiculous but Pat says “I can say I am the heartbroken one.”  As Pat goes to post the status, Pran pulls his hand away from the phone. They have come too far. For the next few moments, Ohm Pawat (Pat) and Nanon Korapat (Pran) do what they do best. Without words, their expressions tell their emotions. We know exactly how Pat and Pran are feeling.

Pat (L) and Pran. Outed and alone?

The story takes a dramatic turn in the second half of Episode 9 when a fight with opposing rugby players ends with Pat being shot. When Pran learns of this he rushes to the hospital to be with Pat. While the injury is minor, Pat finds himself accused of illegally bringing the gun found at the scene of the fight. It turns out the fight was a result of Pat standing up for Wai at the bar after the rugby match. Ironically the only one who can save Pat from legal trouble is the one who hates him the most in the Architecture faculty, Wai.

Of course, Wai will come forward with the proof regarding the gun. Why? He does it because Pran is his best friend. The line between Architecture and Engineering students is wiped out. Wai accepts Pat because Pran loves Pat. We will see a blending together of the two student groups in Episode 10. Episode 9 will end with Pat’s parents discovering Pran leaving Pat’s hospital room. Pat’s father will be surprised to learn that Pran helped Pat with the police matter. It will not be enough to soften the father’s position against being friends with the boy next door.

Episode 10 – Crossing the Line

When Pat is called to bring a work file to Pran at school, he is trapped by Architecture students and brought in front of a group and made to declare his feelings for Pran. “I’m just bringing you the work file. Why does it look like an engagement procession?” Pat asks. Everyone in the Architecture students knows it. He shouted it to the world. Pat loves Pran.

Afterward, Wai tells Pran, “You are now accepted by everyone in our faculty.” Pran then asks Wai, “And do you accept him now?” Wai responds “I have no hard feelings for Pat anymore.” Pran was actually asking Wai about Korn, Pat’s best friend. Lines were crossed, friendships were made, and all is well at school, for now.

Pat and Pran will be discovered at the hospital by Chai, who works for Pran’s parents but formerly worked for Pat’s dad. The boys will learn that the boundary lines set down for them were based on lies. They will then search for the truth. There were reasons the parents did not like one another, but it was never what the boys were told.

Episode 10 climax – Pat comforts Pran

Late in the episode when Pat’s parents find Pat and Pran together at a supermarket, Pat says they are just friends. When Pat’s father pushes Pran aside and knocks him down, it is too much for Pat. “You want to know the truth? We are boyfriends.” He repeats, “We are boyfriends. Hear that?”  The line is crossed. It would seem there is no going back now.

When Pran returns home his mother is waiting. At first, Pran denies there is anything going on with Pat, but Pran’s time has come. He must cross the line too. “We are boyfriends.”  For telling the truth, Pran is slapped and leaves home.

Episode 11 – Together 

The boys run away to the Green Village. You may recall Pat referring to their encounter in Episode 9 at the Architecture faculty as an “Engagement procession.” He will come to refer to this time away as their honeymoon trip. They have committed themselves to one another. It is only fitting that their courtship brought them back to the place where the original challenge to fall in love took place.

Pat takes care of Pran

At the end of the episode, they realized they had to return home. It was the best thing for their future. With the sounds of “Our Song” in the background, the two boys stood in front of their homes. Tears rolled down Pat’s face as Pran looked across at him and said “Good luck, buddy.” It was another emotional climax to an episode.

Episode 12 – What happened?

If you have read this far, you probably know what happened. The four-year time gap to open the final episode likely had you yelling at your television set or computer screen. If their parents still found it hard to accept, the guys would nevertheless find a way to succeed in life. You will have to wait until the second half of the last episode to learn how they did it.

The boundary was built on lies and all things with a weak foundation must crumple. Friendship and love were waiting on the other side of the line. The boys finally had the courage to cross the parental boundary and embrace each other.

Postscript: What happened to Pat and Pran during the four-year jump between Episodes 11 and 12? What happened to the guys after the end of the Bad Buddy Series? We may soon get the answer to one or both of those questions as Pat and Pran will return in two episodes of the anthology series Our Skyy2.

Bad Buddy Series is still available on YouTube with English captions and on other streaming platforms.

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
The Character of Bad Buddy,” Developing Real People, SERENDIPITY, November 13, 2022.
The Character of Bad Buddy, Part 2,” The Main Characters, SERENDIPITY, November 20, 2022.
Giving It Your All,” ON Friend CIty, SERENDIPITY, August 27, 2022.
Who We Are Now,” ON Friend City finale, SERENDIPITY, August 15, 2022.
TheShipThat Sailed,” The Curious Case of Red and Green, SERENDIPITY, April 30,2023.



Categories: Entertainment, Family, Rich Paschall, Television Review

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

7 replies

  1. Crossing that line is mandatory for teens. You just do it because that’s how you grow up. Those who don’t, no matter how successful, are still kids.

    Liked by 2 people

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