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I knew the basic plot of this series. Based on a Thai BL novel Nubsib Will Kiss, นับสิบจะจูบ by Wankling, the story involves a BL writer’s novel becoming a TV series. The TV station, producer, and director invite the author to observe and cast the characters. The author and main actor fall in love.

This show took a refreshingly brisk look into complex plot lines and unique characters not normally found in BL. I quickly immersed myself in the story, which led to binge-watching the entire series over a few days.

Lovely Writer is produced by Thai Lakorn veterans King Somching Srisupap and Chudapa Chantakett. The director of Lovely Writer is Tee Bundit Sintanaparadee, who’s best known for directing Tharn Type.

Plot (Source: My Drama List)

Gene is a professional writer whose publisher suggests he try writing a different and new genre-Boy Love. Accepting the challenge, he writes a Y novel that is both acclaimed and commercially successful. So successful that it gets adapted for television into a BL drama.

—Edited by TheFNGee

Characters & Actors

Gene

I am pleasantly surprised at the performance of Up Poompat Iam-Samang. A newcomer to the Thai BL scene, this was his first leading role. He previously worked as a supporting actor and guest on several tv series and dramas. His version of Gene, the BL writer, is a tsundere. A Japanese term for a specific character archetype. This archetype is defined as generally cold, grumpy, or unfriendly but has a soft side underneath that shows through when they get close to someone. After watching parts 1 and 2 of the first episode, that term popped into my head when describing Gene. Gene is the typical, isolated writer who keeps odd hours surrounded by haphazardly stacked books. He’s gruff, grumpy, and a little sarcastic, but I love that part of his personality.

Nubsib

Gene’s partner in the series is Nubsib, here performed by Kao Noppakao Dechaphatthanakun, who played opposite Earth Katsamonnat Namwirote in Until We Meet Again. I understood that Nubsib is softer, sweeter, and younger than Gene. Given Kao’s very masculine looks and the energy he exuded in his previous performance, I wasn’t sure he could pull it off.

His Nubsib captured me from the first episode. He showed a completely different side of his acting ability. I’m impressed by how different his character is and how “Uncle Kao,” which is what Earth and most UWMA fans called him, could play a soft, sweet young man. He had just the right amount of vocal change; the movements and smile all made him look and feel younger. Good job, Kao.

Hin

Hin is Gene’s keeper/editor and friend who makes sure Gene gets things done on time. He is portrayed by Kenji Wasin Panunaporn. Hin is a sweet guy who insures manuscripts are done, escorts Gene to various appointments, and takes care of him when he needs it. Hin is also an unpublished writer working on his own novel during his free time. He and Gene are also good friends.

Tum

There is Tum, Nubasib’s manager and friend of Gene’s, played by Ken Prarunyu Sooksamram. He is soft-spoken, dresses neatly, and we are to assume he’s gay. Spoiler – he’s not. He’s heterosexual, which goes to show you that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Stereotypes aren’t reality. Kudos on that stereotype being broken.

Aey or Aoey (both spellings were visible throughout the series)

Aey is the actor paired with Nubsib inside the BL show “Bad Engineer” they are producing. Here, Aey is portrayed by Bruce Sirikorn Kananurak. Aey as a character is problematic for me. He is manipulative, vindictive, and used to getting what he wants no matter who he hurts in the process. There is a backstory of the father who bought off the ex-lover to leave Aey alone. His dad and mom are disappointed in him; his sister outed him to their parents because she was jealous, and his childhood friend always shows up when things are bad for Aey. However, Aey never redeems himself in the series. Everyone can have a shitty childhood, but it doesn’t excuse his behavior as an adult. I think that at the end of the series, we are meant to sympathize with the man who’s alone with his fans and camcorder eating chocolates, but I feel nothing. Reap what you sow, so what you do comes back threefold to you. I believe in these. So, for me, that ending was his just desserts.

Tiffy

Tiffy is Aey’s manager. She’s beautiful and successful. She is portrayed by Zorzo Natharuetai Akkharakitwattanakul. Additionally, the character Tiffy can repair cars. She helps Tum out with car troubles, and when she rips her blouse, Tum proceeds to mend her shirt while they talk. I enjoyed this role reversal. Men don’t have to fix cars while women sew things. Tiffy is also bisexual and unapologetic about dating girls in the past. I enjoyed her acceptance of her sexuality.

Orn, Wat & Nueng

Nubsib’s family is a family of business. His mom is stern but loves her children. The older brother is kind. The dad is a successful businessman.

Run, Teep & Jap

The opposite of Sib’s family, Gene’s family is warm and kind. His older brother, played by Poppy Ratchapong Anakomati, lives at home and is a professional gamer/Twitch’r, I think. They know the type of books Gene writes. The dad doesn’t quite understand it but seems supportive.

The Story

I went in expecting fluff, and while it delivered fluff, it also gave us significantly more emotional substance. Showcasing some problematic areas of the BL industry, this series added to my already growing concerns about fandom/shipping culture in BL. Other issues handled like “coming out,” societal pressure on actors, and stereotyping.

So, the story progresses over 12 episodes. They introduce many side characters and plot lines. I worried we would have loose threads dangling at the end of the show. However, they managed to give each side-pair or character enough screen time and story that you feel added value to the main pair’s story line.

The Good

Let’s talk about societal pressure put on actors and celebrities. Everywhere Nubsib went, he was recognized by someone. Sometimes they would stare, and sometimes they would ask for a selfie, but mostly Nubsib and Gene were under the watchful eyes of fans. I understand it’s part of being in their business, but I would feel nervous coming up to them when they are out with friends or family to ask for a picture.

There is a scene where two girls at a cafe attempt to take photos of Gene surreptitiously when Nubsib interferes and reminds them gently that it’s not polite to take pictures without asking. The girls apologize and ask Gene for a picture. Then they ask for a picture of Gene and Nubsib with them. The final picture is a solo picture of Gene and Nubsib, which ends up on social media and starts a trend of “shipping” Gene and Nubsib. We will get more into that later. However, I wanted to point out that they, like us, deserve to have downtime that is not being recorded every minute.

Whether it’s hanging out with friends or going out with family, the privacy of their lives should be respected. They do a job, so when not at work they are in their free time. I realize you trade a certain amount of that when you become a celebrity, but we need to remember that they are just people like we are at the end of the day. I’ll point out here that sometime during this time, Up shows his acting true acting creds after his character has discovered that Nubsib lied to him about who he is. Gene ends up pulling over to the side of the road and just loses it.

Nubsib continues to pursue Gene, and despite obstacles in their path, the two of them fall in love. Next, it’s time to tell their families who are neighbors and friends. At dinner, when discussing Gene and Nubsib’s writing and acting in BL, Gene’s dad makes clear it’s not OK for two men to be in a relationship. The mothers explain that this is all just a fantasy and that times are different now. Then the moment of truth comes for Gene and Nubsib to reveal the nature of their relationship. Nubsib’s parents are upset, and Gene’s dad is furious. The evening ends quietly and very quickly. They part ways, with Nubsib walking behind his parents to go home.

At this moment, Gene’s Dad is not willing to discuss it and commands Gene to go to his room. Gene, not willing to be silenced so easily, throws back to his dad, but you “dated boys before you met Mom.” That moment shook me. As he storms off to his room, his mom and dad are upset. Then we see everyone crying. We see Dad looking at a couple’s bracelet & letter he had from his previous same-sex relationship.

Gene’s dad is bisexual, and his family knows about his past relationships with men. If this is true, why is he so against Gene being gay? This plotline confused me more until later when the dad leans on Gene’s mom. He’s afraid for his son to face the same treatment he went through. He wants to protect him from the hurt that might come his way. At the same time, part of him feels sad for his lost love of the same sex. When Gene’s mom holds the dad tenderly in her arms as he cries, we see this hurts her heart too, but she loves both these men, so she does what she can to help them. The entire sequence was beautifully done.

We come to another issue I don’t understand in BL’s. Why do Gene and Nubsib let their parents have a say in whether they are “allowed” to be together? They are both working adults who pay their bills and live independently. It happens in almost all BL’s that they need their parent’s permission to go forward in a relationship. I know in Thai culture, the parent-child bond is strong, and of course, you want your parent’s approval, but I would just say, “We love you, and we hope you love us. Call us when you want to talk about this.” And my happy ass would have gotten up, held my lover’s hand, and walked out the door together. Instead, they retreat to their childhood bedrooms to cry, holding pillows and stuffed animals. It’s a cultural difference, I’m sure. But it’s frustrating to watch.

In this show, there were two bisexual characters: Tiffy, who shares her story of dating girls with Tum, and Gene’s father, Teep. When Gene’s dad is asked about his experience and why he is with Gene’s mom, he answers I can love them both. I thought this was a beautiful sentiment. OTOH, Tiffy ends up falling for Tum, whom she assumes is gay. It turns out he’s not gay. He’s just himself. He knows how to sew and prefers to dress well and take care of himself. Another stereotype is broken. I enjoyed that aspect of the series. I’m happy to see one well-adjusted bisexual character and another who still struggles because of societal norms and discrimination. The characters also represent two different time periods, proving that this current generation has more acceptance of people in the LGBTQ+ community than 20 or 30 years ago.

I found it refreshing to look at the BL industry from multiple perspectives. We have a BL writer, an editor, and a publishing house. Then we have the BL actors, producers, directors, actor’s agents, agencies, and the channel on which the series will be broadcast. In reality, there are many other people behind the scenes and part of the production staff. It’s well established that what happens in this multitude of lives has a profound effect on the lives of each other. People depend on them.

On another subject, let me say I find the “shipping” culture strange. I’ve gotten used to it, but as a newcomer to BL in 2017, I had no idea what it was. I followed shows and actors, but not as a couple, just as acting partners. I thought they were very comfortable with each other. I think Love By Chance was my first real exposure to shippers. Shippers are people who pair actors together as a fantasy romantic pairing. It is related to only BL and not heterosexual movies or shows. In Thailand, they call them Imaginary Couple. And it’s big business. Actors play up the flirtation between themselves outside of work. Not as their characters, but the actors who portray them. I know it’s a selling point for companies. They can get fan meetings, couple merchandising, fan club branding, and other revenue-generating ventures. However, why do they have to pretend to be a couple to sell a piece of work? BL’s target audience seems to be young women who are enamored at the idea of boys loving other boys. Therein lies the problem. Many of these women are heterosexual but enjoy watching men fall in love. Historically, they have not cared about accurate representation of the actual LGBTQ+ community.

As related to this story, shipping involved a Nubsib/Aey pairing and a Nubsib/Gene pairing. These two factions of fans go to war about their imaginary couples’ real relationships. The NA (Nubsib Aey) fans believe that Gene is causing their couple not to be together and is making Aey sad – a fact that Aey plays up by appearing tearfully in a Live. On the other side, NG (Nubsib Gene) fans are infuriated at the attack on Gene, and they begin attacking Aey, claiming he is manipulating the situation. This feud leads to a massive conflict between fandoms, which causes issues not only for the actors’ personal lives but also for their professional lives. With the biggest financial stake in the show, the production company has to go to extraordinary efforts to spin the story and do damage control to protect the financials of everyone else involved, including the publishing house, the airing network, and so on. It’s all about:

…the MONEY.

And not just about Gene and ‘Sib, as other peoples’ livelihood depends on the two of them maintaining the false illusion of “Sib & Aey” in real life, or that livelihood and even the careers of all involved with the series will be negatively affected. The root issue is the creation of and maintenance of “fan service.” It’s the ultimate evil, but it is the culture.

Continuing with our story, Nubsib is young and wants to declare his love to the world and say damn the consequences. But Gene understands. Sometimes it’s about something bigger than just the two of them. So Gene accepts the terms, no contact on social media, No being seen together, no talking about the other, basically tell them to put their relationship on hold until his contract was up and the work was completed. Then the agency head suggested they buy a house quietly where they could be together like most people in the industry do. There is a press conference where people are assured they are brothers. If that solution sounds familiar to you, it should. There have been BL partners who have exhibited these same behaviors. And those people seem sad for a while.

Then we come to a resolution. The time apart and the mourning of Gene and ‘Sib’s relationship will end for them. Nubsib has signed with a new agency of Tiffy and Tum. Gene has been working on trying to finish his novel. After talking to his brother, Gene goes to the place where they met as kids. Nubsib arrives to sweep Gene off his feet. Move forward in time, and we see the pair going to a restaurant together. They are stopped and asked for autographs. The pair look relaxed and friendly, but they don’t look like lovers. This facade is theirs to protect their true relationship from public scrutiny and backlash.

I did enjoy seeing the actual author typing the ending when they get a phone call to announce the novel had been chosen to create the series around. It was a nice touch.

The Bad

I disliked the toilet humor in the first episode. Yes, it’s only one episode, but why do most of these shows feel that it adds humor? We aren’t eight-year-olds.  So what is the value-added to the episode? It’s not funny. I find it annoying, but I acknowledge it may be part of Thai TV culture.

Also, the attempt to put a redemption or pity arc for Aey didn’t work for me. Aey had a rough family life with a father who despised him for being gay. Yet, he constantly manipulated people and situations for his gain without caring about others.  The scene with Aey’s childhood friend stands out in my mind. Aey asserts that no one cares about him or loves him. The friend does, but why should anyone else? He shows no genuine remorse about his actions. He only feels regretful when he realizes his manager will leave him for what he’s done. I never viewed Aey with pity, even in the end. So the attempt to make him more sympathetic fell flat for me. 

The ending didn’t work for me either. I don’t know why the show chose to end it the way it did. When you have Gene and Nubsib dress up and role-play each possible ending, it detracts from the satisfying conclusion of having their happily ever after ride off into the sunset moment. They could have handled Gene’s writer’s block differently. It didn’t fit for me in terms of tone or content.

The Meh

Not much was meh in this series. I wish we would have seen more from the two older brothers of Nubsib and Gene. They could have been onscreen more, taking on the big brother role of helping their siblings navigate their relationship. I enjoyed Poppy as Gene’s brother. His acting has come so far since WhyRU days. He is talented, and I hope to see more roles for him in the future.

And Nubsib’s stern, stoic mother I didn’t understand. She never felt maternal to me. So I could see what Nubsib was always hiding from her. Even after accepting the relationship, she didn’t warm much, but I think it was the character design or director’s choice, not the actress.

Final Thoughts

All in all, Lovely Writer was a quite enjoyable series with excellent ensemble performances. I feel it tackled many different issues while still maintaining its fluffy romance between the two main characters. I enjoyed the inside look at the BL Industry, from the writers to the series producers. It gave me a lot to ponder when watching a BL. I hope some people use the takeaway messages this show gave us, that their job is to act and promote the show. But their real-life relationships are their own. Fans and companies don’t own the artists, so there should be boundaries between fantasy and reality that should not be crossed.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars. [See our Review Guide]

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Daring to Dream says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful response as always:)
    I will try GooGooLaLa on Chrome and see if that does the trick lol.
    I believe you also like animated seres and an interesting one I came across is No 6 (Japanese anime). If you haven’t seen it and have the time- I definitely recommend it!

    • jenhg says:

      I adore No. 6. I have the manga, read the light novel and have the series on DVD. I think I should review it because it has a non binary character that I adore and the relationship between Shion and Nezumi. It’s nuanced and so well done and the commentary on society is powerful. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • Daring to Dream says:

    This is up there as a near great series for me.
    The goods I noticed that weren’t mentioned: the kids playing young Gene/Nubsib were good. Young Nubsib was amazing in capturing the older Nubsib actor’s gestures and way of reacting.
    Bruce as Aey was really good- horrible character though- but at least unlike with most Bls (TharnType, Together With Me, Tonhon Choclatee, etc etc) the villian didn’t get excused- he did not get a happy coupling and sail off into the sunset.

    Two bads you didn’t mention: 1 the Editing- was often strange and strained- I could have cut many scenes down where the poor actors were left in silence for 10 or 20 seconds or longer—- CUT already!
    2 the sound effects- particularly in the first three eps were jarring and so over the top. Again I felt the director didn’t know what the overall purpose was – make the over the top sound effects to send up BLs in 1 scene- trust the fans to get it and move on.

    The ambition of this series is fantastic- I liked the storybook endings and the meta meta meta constant breaking of the 4th wall in final episode. The first time I watched with another author “cameo” I was pissed- but the next time I had to admit the careful thought put into this. It created a multiverse like the classic US movie Groundhog Day. What is real- what isn’t?
    The irony that fans are shipping Up-Kao points out the ingrained effects of shippers. The numbers of viewers for silly, enjoyable trifle Fish Upon the Sky over Lovely Writer show that a big part of the fandom does not want to be challenged.

    I am so happy this was made. And there is a special episode with horror movie overtones that looks potentially fantastic. It drops next week:)

    • jenhg says:

      You are right, the young kids were excellent. It was very sweet. You see how stubborn Sib is as a small child. He did capture the nuance of character in age appropriate form. Bruce as Aey was masterfully done. I am also glad he wasn’t given a redemption arc. It was refreshing that karma came back to roost as he manipulated everyone and ended up alone with only his fans.
      For me, I like a good dramatic pause. It gives more weight to the scene. And sometimes in BL there is a tendency to rush the scenes along in order to get the characters into a relationship. This took it’s time, which I was glad for. The sound effects I’ve gotten so used to I don’t even notice anymore. Whenever I watch with my husband he comments how strange they are. But most Thai BL’s tend to use them. I will go back to see how they were used in the first episodes.
      Ah, the storybook ending, for me, felt incongruous. But that could be due to my own preconceived notions of how the story should wrap up. Also the idea that one has to be the princess in this scenario is strange. Why can’t they be two princes? But that is thinking too deeply. They wanted a wink and nod to the audience. The fourth wall breaking was an interesting choice to end on. Now that I’m looking back upon it, the parallels from the first to the last scene were well done. A nice loop effect. A writer whose novel is made into a series about a writer whose novel is made into a series. I loved Groundhogs Day. Good Morning Camper’s on an endless loop.
      As for the shipping of Up Kao I did find that very strange. The whole series seems to be about the perils of shipping culture and the bl industry. Yet i have noticed in promoting this series they too have had to do some fanservice moments. You think they would have used this chance to expose viewers to a different dynamic between colleagues and friends as they promote the show.
      If you want another side of the industry please watch Call It What You Want on GagaOOLala. Directed by Aam Anusorn, it too peels away at the shiny surface of the BL world to show you some of the more toxic issues faced by people in the industry.
      I can’t wait for the special episode as well. Looks fun. Thanks so much for sharing your opinion. I love to get into the heart of these shows and discuss particulars. 🥰💕 – Jen

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