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A Secretly Love thai drama review
Ongoing 1/10
A Secretly Love
0 people found this review helpful
by ariel alba
1 hour ago
1 of 10 episodes seen
Overall 9.5
Story 9.5
Acting/Cast 9.5
Music 9.5
Rewatch Value 9.5

The cliché of engineering students in BL series: from 'Sotus' to 'Secretly Love'

University environment? A university in Bangkok? Faculty of Engineering? Hazing boss? A secret love between two boys? A boy in love with a sundere, that is, a person whose initial behavior is cold and reserved, but who gradually transforms into someone warm, sensitive and friendly? One of them who from hostile and unfriendly after a while becomes an individual whose behavior is recognized with a word derived from the terms tsun tsun (ツンツン?), which means to turn away in disgust, and dere dere (デレデレ?) What does it mean to become affectionate? Is one of them from a year older than the other? One called Khonprot, a name very similar to Kongphob? All this in a Thai BL?
This is how I reflected while reading the synopsis of 'A Secretly Love', produced by Maximon Entertainment. At that moment, I only managed to open my eyes as I suppose a fawn does when standing in the middle of a wooded road when, from the darkness of the night, it sees a car coming at it at full speed with its lights on. Then, other recurring questions would arise: By some chance one of the boys gives the other a "gear", that small toothed wheel, symbol of the Faculty of Engineering? Are you sure it's not SOTUS?
With this idea I immersed myself in the first episode of the series that tells the romance between Khonprot (Favorite Person), a role assumed by Kut-Thanawat Sukfuengfueng (Chains of Heart), a third-year hazing leader at the Faculty of Engineering, and Pluem (Hero), played by actor Kimmon-Warodom Khemmontha ('Gen Y' The Series', '2Moons').
Khonprot has witnessed Pluem's affairs with various girlfriends for years. From afar, he has developed feelings for the fourth-year sundere of his same college. When Soi (Bam-Kankanit Mangmee), his latest girlfriend, publicly breaks up with Pluem, Khonprot believes the time has come to declare his secret love for her. “How to win him over if I don't dare tell him that I would like to be his “khon prot”? Although the possibility is small, it is possible that one day I will become your 'favorite person,'” is the idea that fills Khonprot with courage and enthusiasm.
Since I started watching BL dramas, several years ago, I have found that if you ask any fan of the genre what the biggest cliché is in this type of productions, they will undoubtedly answer that placing the plot in the Faculty of Engineering and its protagonists are future engineers. It turns out that including characters within this faculty in the plot has been something increasingly common with each series broadcast and for many years.
I don't consider it bad to repeat the same cliché over and over again, especially if it is developed well. But this requirement is rarely met, which undermines the success of the drama.
Shouldn't the premise of considering university engineering students in the stories generate in the public the expression of "another one"? and with this statement provoke a shower of negative criticism of the series, especially taking into account that its objective is to entertain the public and gain followers in any country in the world, often becoming the favorite of many.
The main problem with these series is not the use of the much-questioned cliché ad nauseum, but the fact that it is not even made good use of.
To begin with, for some reason, perhaps without any logic to support it, it has been thought that students in Engineering faculties coexist in a sexist environment or environment, exalting masculinity and even homophobic. “They are tough guys who move large and heavy pieces with their strength, while working with a face that cannot fit another particle of oil, grease and petroleum,” is a cliché within a cliché.
The same BL series have taken on the task of suggesting and even pointing out that while engineers, much more “manly” than their fellow students from other faculties, such as Medicine, Computer Science or Media, are “adequate ” to achieve better results in soccer, swimming or basketball, climbing mountains or achieving success in other much more “masculine” facets of life, the latter are only indicated, and I repeat, only, to win awards in inter-faculty beauty festivals, being the Sun and the Moon of their respective faculties and the University, the only ones who can win singing, painting and theater contests, or being members of school music, plastic arts and acting clubs, labeling them, incidentally, as “less men.”
Therefore, the interest in representing engineering students in romances with other boys of the same sex is striking and, above all, if they all dream of training as engineers.
We can see in this type of series within the genre (other BL dramas also reproduce this cliché) a certain homophobia and misogyny. For example, when the protagonist, an engineering student who has believed he is heterosexual his entire life, only when he meets and gets close to another boy of the same sex does he manage to feel happy and fulfilled. It is also very common to find characters who justify their “new” sexual orientation based on their dislike of women after having been deceived by them, or when they break up with him and, in pain, seek comfort in the arms of another boy.
On the other hand, since practically the very birth of Thai BL dramas, when the cliché of showing Engineering students as protagonists was incorporated, they have been shown from different perspectives, with various personalities or diverse objectives. And although they manage to obtain results by often adding other resources (read other clichés), the well-worn cliché falls to such a secondary level that it fails to justify its use.
This shows that, whether it is an adaptation of a previous literary work or an unpublished creation, choosing the Faculty of Engineering to locate characters and plots is simply an easy and even unoriginal solution.
All of the above would change if the premise were better supported within the script. It can get tiring, due to oversaturation, that creators want us to believe over and over again, that engineers, so “masculine”, can also love other boys, especially when in most cases they represent to these not so masculine.
'A Secretly Love' shows that it is not necessary to place the protagonists like a student in the Faculty of Engineering. In the series, as in other previous ones, this fact has no relevance within the plot. Apart from using the faculty as a setting for various scenes, the interest in demonstrating a supposed superiority of some students over others depending on the faculty in which they study, or the much-used gear as a symbol that represents the official acceptance of the student at the faculty, or the representation of the actors proudly wearing the blue shirt that becomes another symbol of future Thai engineers, do not seem to have greater importance than the role they play in the story.
The series repeats the same mistake of its predecessors determined to place the story and the characters in an Engineering faculty, by attempting to show the great importance that this career has, when this circumstance collides with the little value that it truly represents in the plot line.
As is the case in other Thai BL productions, such as 'My Engineer' (Tencent-WeTV-2020), 'En of Love' (Line TV-2020), '2moons' (GMM One, Mello Thailand- 2017), 'Love by Chance', or the most recent 'Future The Series' ('The Handsome Engineer Asks the Doctor to be His Wife'), from Channel 9, from 2023, among many others, 'A Secretly Love' confirms that it would not suffer any alteration in its plot if the protagonists were placed in any other faculty other than Engineering.
At the opposite extreme, stands SOTUS: The Series and SOTUS S: The Series (2016-2017), by director Pongpisit Sri, based on a BL novel by BitterSweet, a pioneering work par excellence within this type of series of this Thai genre. .
Sotus is the perfect demonstration of the evolution and development of the plot, subplots and characters, both main and secondary, in an environment of students from the Faculty of Engineering. The entire cast manages to cope and develop within this reality in such a deep and emotional way, as has never been seen before or since in a BL, by achieving a good balance between romance and the everyday life of engineering students.
Meritorious would go to Odd Ramet Ruangpratum, the director of the television adaptation of Avery Pie's novel of the same name, and whom we have admired directing the film 'The Perfect Couple' (2021), and the dramas 'Mae Nak Phra Khanong' (2021) and 'Love Through Time' (2022), if it managed, without repeating Sotus, to show us in a more profound and convincing way than its predecessors within these BL-themed series, a romance between engineering students, renewing formulas and ignoring clichés.
I only hope that Khonprot, the noble boy who keeps his word and has leadership qualities, the one who tries to act strong all the time, although inside he is a very sensitive person, and Pluem, the young athlete who speaks little, but hits strong and likes to be pretentious, but deep down he is a sensitive person with a fragile heart, easy to love and difficult to forget, manage to live up to Arthit and Kongphob, the two heroes of Sotus, by convincingly showing us situations like the hazing, the upper-year student-lower year hierarchy relationship, the effort involved in obtaining the long-awaited gear, or achieving the degree of engineer, while their romantic relationship matures, grows and becomes as strong as metal with the which the small toothed wheel, symbol of the Faculty of Engineering, is made.
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