Watching F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers: Episode 1 (spoilers)

Monday, May 23, 2022

F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers

Episode 1 

Country: Thailand

Year: 2021 

Read my post about episode 2.

The Boys Over Flowers franchise (or Hana Yori Dango) is my most hated franchise in Asian entertainment.

But I wanted to give F4 Thailand a chance since I've heard that it takes the story in a less toxic direction (although I didn't really see that in episode 1). From what I recall, the basics of the story remain the same, with a bit of modern updating since it's been a long time since the original manga. Like, cell phones exist now, as does social media and all that that insanity entails.

Anyway, let's get started.

Gorya is way out of her depth. Attending a prestigious high school on a scholarship, she's just trying to survive and not make any critical mistakes. Which is hard because the school is run by a group of oligarch elitist boys that everyone lovingly calls F4, because each of them reminds you of a different flower. When Gorya stands up for a friend, she suddenly finds herself on the wrong side of F4, especially the leader, Thyme, a boy with some serious anger management issues. He issues a free-for-all permission to the entire school to put Gorya in their crosshairs if they want (a red letter kind of thing), and she has to decide if fighting to stay at the school is worth the abuse she's receiving.

Bullying and cyberbullying are a main theme here. The bullying isn't sugar-coated or laughed off, so that's a plus. But it is still nasty to watch, especially since the "hero" of the story is the primary bully. There's an eat or be eaten mentality that I don't like, but is also very much a part of the reality we live in. So I'm fighting against a never ending tide.

Gorya's family is a vibrant presence in her life, and she does have a couple of important conversations with them during episode 1, including the gifting of a pair of shoes since her school shoes are so old. Her mother does need to realize that people are allowed to have crappy days and feel weak. It never helps to tell someone "you can't be like this because you've never been like this."

Attempted rape, it's a thing. If that's a trigger for you, be warned. And the F4 group don't treat it nearly seriously enough. But that's probably part of the point. They're elevated to a level where they can't always feel what other people feel anymore.

Speaking of, that's a pretty true statement, and is used as a means of urging empathy towards Thyme and his hot temper. Don't excuse Thyme's behavior, but maybe try to explain it. I'm not sure if I agree with the approach since I know it urges me to empathize with him, when I really don't want to.

Ren, the "nice" member of F4. I'm supposed to like him. Because he saves Gorya a couple of times and he has a cute smile. But I view Ren the same way that I view Lupin in Harry Potter. He's weak and a pushover and even when he does something nice, it's not going to be at the jeopardy of his status. So while I know I'm supposed to like Ren, I just don't want to. Because he's a part of the problem too.

I hate being manipulated. And that's what the creator of Boys Over Flowers wanted to do, manipulate her audience to empathize with the male lead and all of his emotional hang-ups and sorrows. But I'm not somebody to excuse bullying, especially if that bullying puts a girl in so much danger that she could be raped. I'm not cool with that.

Acquaintances have said that there some real heart changes happen to Thyme in F4 Thailand so I'm holding out hope that it's true. I'm supposed to forgive those who trespass against me because I was first forgiven. But I still can't wrap my head around ending up in a relationship with an abusive bully.

So yes, the production quality of F4 Thailand is very high. This surprises some people, but not me since I'm really getting into Thai Lakorns and so far they're brilliant. So I have no complaints about the production quality at all. I just want to see some genuine change and self-reflection happen in Thyme's life. But I suspect it gets worse before it gets better, like so many things.

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