A Non-Paradoxical Moment of Accepting Oneself While Falling in Love with a Best Friend
A review of the Thai short series, I Told Sunset About You.
Set in Phuket, a beautiful large island in southern Thailand, I Told Sunset About You already wins the Best Picture category. The island is magnificent on its own — blessed with emerald clear water, bed of white sand, quiet calm breeze, but the island also has the charm of its old town scenery. Every shot feels like it was shot in a new world. The combination of laid-back island life with culturally rich town is visually pleasing.
Aside from its excellent choice of set, the storyline is the true gem here. In the peaceful island of Phuket, we’re brought into the not-so-quiet lives of our two male protagonists, Teh (Billkin Assaratanakul) and Oh-aew (PP Amnuaydechkorn). From the start we know that these two best friends are about to be involved in something that’s bigger than themselves, something that’s uncontrollable and something that will change their lives forever.
It won’t be a 10/10 series if the actors can’t bring the golden storyline to live. The actors who play our male protagonists apparently have been friends since they were teenagers, making every scene they act on-screen believable. The chemistry can be seen clearly with a dash of improvisation here and there by the actors themselves and the magical direction by Boss Kuno, the director of the series.
I can’t really wrap up my introductory of the series without mentioning the amazing soundtrack and scoring. We only have three songs as soundtrack (with different versions) sung by our male protagonists, but the quality is top-notch, you’ll fall for it!
OK, I’m done with my introductory piece. Now, let me gush about this series. To me, I Told Sunset About You has become a coming-of-age story that left a permanent dent in my heart. It’s everything I ask for in a series; a beautiful set, excellent story, magical chemistry, and incredibly fitting soundtrack. Sadly, the series is almost always lumped into BL category, which I find insulting to the series to be honest.
Although I don’t identify myself as a part of LGBTQ+ community, I relate to the series more than I initially thought. Let me be honest, I am INVESTED in this series. Let me just write down the things that I think make this series is in a whole another league.
Self-acceptance in the middle of everything else
The series is great at delivering the moment of being a teenager who’s in the middle of self-discovery, starting to think about the future (the protagonists are in 12th grade), falling in love (hard) for the first time (on top of that, with your very own best friend!), seeking acceptance and validation, and trying to stay afloat at the same time. The topic seems to be nothing out of ordinary, but its ordinariness that brings up its own charm when it’s combined with excellent character development.
We all go through self-discovery and we all try to accept who we are when we’re teenagers — how crazy it was, restless, tiring, but also exhilarating it was. That’s why I think the series will resonate with most people.
I love how the process of the protagonists discovering and accepting themselves also answers the dilemma of falling in love with the best friend. Personally, I believe that I need to love myself first to love another person (note: if you want it to work and if you want the relationship to be a healthy one).
Thanks to this series I had a pleasure of reliving the experience of self-discovery and self-acceptance once again. No kidding, after I watched the series, I did a bit of self-reflection.
I think the first emotion that the series successfully portrayed is the impulsiveness of hot-blooded teens. I love how chaotic and erratic Teh and Oh-aew can be. One day they’re best friend, tomorrow? Who knows. Everything is a mess and everything is truly a collection of fleeting temporary moments.
Nobody in the series got their shit together and it’s supposed to be like that. Nobody figures out shit when they are in 12th grade. Everyone in the series is scattered, explosive, tortured, yet sensitive and delicate at the same time. It really reminds me of my own 12th grade moments!
Most of teens would act out of their gut reactions and that’s exactly what the characters do in this series. They’re not perfectly groomed and planned. So if you’re no longer in your teenage years or maybe if you’re in your 30s, you may find some of their actions to be silly and atrocious even. Tip: try to remember your teenage years. Try to remember all the stupid things you did in 12th grade. It helps you understand the characters.
Jealousy among friends is real and valid
I rarely see a show can realistically execute the side story of jealousy in friendship or even rivalry. Sometimes it’s too mean, sometimes it’s not even brought up (mostly being avoided in a story). I Told Sunset About You portrays jealousy in the most relatable way, through microexpressions. Through Oh-aew’s subtle glance at Teh and Ma or through Teh’s smile when talking to Oh-aew. Really, kudos to the whole team!
Naivety that leads to boldness
I think we can all agree that we’re much bolder when we’re younger, no? That’s because we have this naivety vested in us. Like trying to learn how to ride a bike for the first time, we don’t think much about the risk, we just want to have fun with the bike. We think adults will catch us when we fall anyway.
It’s another thing from the series that makes me fall in love with it. These flawed characters, probably in their 17 or 18, think that everything will be sorted out eventually. While, we adult know that most of the time, we clean our own mess. You’ll know what I’m talking about in episode 4.
Everyone got their own idea of first love
I think love is a complex, hard-to-understand feeling for everyone in every age, let alone for a bunch of 12th graders. Deeply impressed with how the series handles the tenderness and also the chaos of first love. How the series shows different outcomes of loving romantically for the first time is also admirable.
Teh stole my heart. At first, he was so certain about his feeling. He was calm, loving, and patient, the best you could be when you’re in love. But later when he’s in turmoil with himself, he becomes petty, awkward, and impulsive. He thought he loved, but turned out, it wasn’t even the kind of love he’d imagined.
I’m the main character
No character in this series is a filler. Everyone got their own dream and ambitions. Tarn, the female character isn’t just an obstacle between our protagonists. She’s a fully-developed character, an independent woman that works hard for her dream and a dynamic person. Bas, a male character, a good friend of Oh-aew has his own likings and dream. He’s good at some things. He acts on his own. Everyone is the main character in their own world and it’s evident in the series.
Symbolism and color theory
This wouldn’t be one of my favorite series without hidden meanings, symbolism, and color theory. Almost every scene and every material placement is intentional in this series. I won’t talk about it much because it’ll spoil the fun of you finding them.
I had fun watching, crying, smiling, and laughing throughout the episodes the way they are. Aside from warmth and the feeling of awe, maybe the production crew doesn’t realize that it also makes me feeling nostalgic.
It reminds me of how futile and just fragile some of the moments from my youth were. They looked like big deals when I was in my 17, but now they are just dust. They really don’t matter in the next 5 years.
It reminds me of how insanely good falling in love felt like. It was intense yet tender, messy yet everything fell into pieces perfectly. The feeling that you want to give the person the world, but sometimes that world isn’t what the other person wants or needs. The feeling that you can almost do anything for this person. The suffocating feeling of not knowing what to do, but want to do everything for the other person. The liberating feeling of falling into the abyss. The feeling of surrender… completely.
The series makes me remember how exciting and scary it was when I realized I fell in love with one of my best friends, how confusing it was to even talk to him the next day after the realization. I just wanted to be with him ever since. Nobody could take that away from me and everything just didn’t make sense anymore in my head, just like how Teh and Oh-aew felt.
As you can see, I only have good words for the series. I hope, after watching the series, you’ll feel various emotions but hopefully… they’re all good and warm, because that’s how I felt. I also think that the production crew tried really hard to deliver a heartwarming series (please watch the documentaries/their behind the scene videos, it’s amazing!). I hope this series can be a newfound joy for you.