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Henson
29th Nov 2006, 10:51
Was interested to find this guide to Thai soap operas for farangs on another site (http://www.thai-blogs.com/index.php?blog=8&title=understanding_thai_soap_operas_revised&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1):


Since a lot of the non-Thai speaking foreigners who have been in Thailand for long are completely perplexed to what actually goes on in local TV dramas, I have decided to put together - here today, some guidelines for: Understanding Thai TV Soap Operas.

Since most of the TV soap operas’ characters are more-or-less all the same, here below is a list of some examples:

1. A stunningly milky-skinned leading actress with a big fancy nose-job. Please be assured that even though she is as thick as your copy of the yellow pages and has the acting qualities of an ostrich, that is not the point – she has the looks.

2. A squeaky-clean leading actor. This is Thailand, so no muscle-tanned Florida qualities here. Thai TV prefers star actors who have skin as smooth and white as a baby’s bottom, use For-Men Beauty Lotions and have the latest Korean-style haircut. He might be as hunky as a hedgehog but he is extremely rich.

3. An awfully jealous elder sister. She is as wonderfully good-looking as the leading actress but throws tantrums every time she can’t pull the man of her dreams. Not just a pretty face, she also has the evilest eyes, meanest grin and the angriest voice around.

4. An extremely dangerous ex-boyfriend/admirer of the star girl. Unlike the leading actor this guy is squeaky bad, even richer, a filthy womanizer, addicted-gambler and a complete delinquent.

5. A totally nasty ex-girlfriend/admirer of the star guy. Siding with the leading actress’ elder sister she is also an entirely loathsome type. Spends here time spreading gossip, stealing money and getting stupidly-drunk every time she’s the slightest bit upset.

6. A powerful and possessive father-in-law. Linked to local corrupt politicians, he is constantly involved in illegal business. He waltzes around with an Al Pacino look and is surrounded by a squad of beefy bodyguards who all wear identical black sunglasses.

7. A despicable minor-wife. A true horror of a woman, she meticulously plans the downfall of the merciful common-in-law wife. More ambitious than just than just winning her husband’s signature in righteous marriage, she is also dreaming of knocking him off and seizing his millions.

8. A not-so-smart ladyboy. As a comedian of the series, she doesn’t do that much but fall over chairs and plaster herself in make-up. Actually, she performs all the classic slap-stick Thai comedy stereotype stuff you can imagine.

9. An uneducated Isarn maid. Just like the ladyboy’s, the maid’s role is funny and family-friendly. She spends her days in the house waddling around whistling local folk tunes while wearing a kinky-looking French chambermaid uniform.

10. A daft-looking ghost. No Thai TV Drama would be perfect without a corny ghost of some kind. The ghost either looks like a freaky black-eyed witch with a severe hangover or an odd replica of Kermit the Frog.

Next, there is the plot. Most of the stories are more or less all the darned same from beginning to end, so lets’ have a brief look at a classic example of ‘Lakhorn Nam Nao’ (Insanely-depressing tear jerking drama)

Our leading actress, a pure damsel in distress, has been subjected to a horrific life locked up in the house by her biological mother and her mother’s new lover - a former hated enemy of her dad’s. Beaten and abused since a small child, she finally falls in love with the man of her dreams – a wickedly handsome fruit farmer. Now, the fruit farmer may be a bit of a stunner, but what he lacks is the financial status desired by mum and crooked dad-in-law. Anyway, the couple secretly elope and have a darling baby, sadly for the toddler and happy mom and dad however, the leading actress has been forced into an arranged marriage with the local gun-toting gangster, the first son of an ever-mighty popular politician. Heartbreaks all around – the love-child has been sold for adoption, the star acting fruit farmer has been forced into army service and the leading actress leads a complete life of misery in the arms of a scoundrel.

A complete tear-jerker beyond words and the audience just lap it up. Gladly, in the final episode however, the dreaded gangster husband gets arrested and sent to life imprisonment and the fateful couple and their beloved child are reunited and everyone lives happily ever after.

The viewers just love a ‘rags to riches’ tale and the more emotionally moving, the better. What is compulsory however, is a happy ending, and nothing like any disastrous finale as in Romeo and Juliet. As in accordance to the laws of ‘Buddhist Khamma’, ‘goodness’ always wins over ‘badness’. Thai TV Soap Operas for the viewers are quite obviously a distraction from the usual burdens of every day reality just like the fortnightly media story of ‘Govt. Lottery Jackpot Winner!’ Such stories truly are a heavenly hope for those born into either economic or/and loveless misery - actually, not that much different from such dramas in the Western world.

Besides the ever-loved modern-day ‘Lakhorn Nam Nao’ there is also the early evening super family-favourite ‘Ancient Fable Drama’, again another rags to riches tale of some beautiful country bumpkin who marries an shockingly good-looking lad with absolutely stacks of cash. Here below is a typical ‘ancient fable’ plot.

Our leading actor is a Prince from the past, residing in a spectacularly huge castle. Feeling distraught at the prospect of having to marry into an extremely boring posh family of ’Hi-Society’ orders instead, his servants to find him a fine prospective down-to-earth bride from the local village. Meanwhile, ( just as in ‘Cinderella’) the leading actress has been abused by her hatefully angry elder step-sisters who do everything in their power to potentially ruin any possible understanding between the handsome Prince and the stunning poor leading actress. Adding a bit of distinctive Thai flavour to the story however, there are plenty of sordid castle insights into common-in-laws wives feuding and fighting with jealous minor wives. Then, for an extra splash of humour there is a one-legged nine-foot giant and a platoon of three-foot real-life dwarves running around Snow-White-style. Of course in the end, the perfect ‘Prince’ and the country-beauty are united, married, have two lovely kids and live happily ever after.

Thankfully, Thailand is a country that loves ‘Beauty’ and the land’s soap operas has plenty of that on show. The locations, houses and especially female stars are quite splendid. None of the locations suffer from air-pollution, none of the houses suffer from frequent power-cuts and all the actresses are constantly dressed and dolled-up to the heavens as if they were off to some fancy ball.

Just in case you were wondering about the lack of love scenes in Thai Soap Operas, then please be advised that such awful Western influence is banned from Thai TV. A quick cuddle between the leading actress and actor is perfectly all right but as for any scenes of the couple actually kissing, such filming is strictly prohibited unless the couple has been married in part. This is due to the country’s Ministry of Culture, who after much timely and costly research have deciphered that such intimacies do not occur in Thailand outside of marriage. So, if you want to see any filthy un-Thai stuff like that you had better go back to watching soap operas in Farangland.


Soap operas reflect society to some extent which is why South American, North American and Britsh soap operas are wildly different. How reflective are Thai soap operas of Thailand?

Henson
29th Nov 2006, 10:51
Was interested to find this guide to Thai soap operas for farangs on another site (http://www.thai-blogs.com/index.php?blog=8&title=understanding_thai_soap_operas_revised&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1):


Since a lot of the non-Thai speaking foreigners who have been in Thailand for long are completely perplexed to what actually goes on in local TV dramas, I have decided to put together - here today, some guidelines for: Understanding Thai TV Soap Operas.

Since most of the TV soap operas’ characters are more-or-less all the same, here below is a list of some examples:

1. A stunningly milky-skinned leading actress with a big fancy nose-job. Please be assured that even though she is as thick as your copy of the yellow pages and has the acting qualities of an ostrich, that is not the point – she has the looks.

2. A squeaky-clean leading actor. This is Thailand, so no muscle-tanned Florida qualities here. Thai TV prefers star actors who have skin as smooth and white as a baby’s bottom, use For-Men Beauty Lotions and have the latest Korean-style haircut. He might be as hunky as a hedgehog but he is extremely rich.

3. An awfully jealous elder sister. She is as wonderfully good-looking as the leading actress but throws tantrums every time she can’t pull the man of her dreams. Not just a pretty face, she also has the evilest eyes, meanest grin and the angriest voice around.

4. An extremely dangerous ex-boyfriend/admirer of the star girl. Unlike the leading actor this guy is squeaky bad, even richer, a filthy womanizer, addicted-gambler and a complete delinquent.

5. A totally nasty ex-girlfriend/admirer of the star guy. Siding with the leading actress’ elder sister she is also an entirely loathsome type. Spends here time spreading gossip, stealing money and getting stupidly-drunk every time she’s the slightest bit upset.

6. A powerful and possessive father-in-law. Linked to local corrupt politicians, he is constantly involved in illegal business. He waltzes around with an Al Pacino look and is surrounded by a squad of beefy bodyguards who all wear identical black sunglasses.

7. A despicable minor-wife. A true horror of a woman, she meticulously plans the downfall of the merciful common-in-law wife. More ambitious than just than just winning her husband’s signature in righteous marriage, she is also dreaming of knocking him off and seizing his millions.

8. A not-so-smart ladyboy. As a comedian of the series, she doesn’t do that much but fall over chairs and plaster herself in make-up. Actually, she performs all the classic slap-stick Thai comedy stereotype stuff you can imagine.

9. An uneducated Isarn maid. Just like the ladyboy’s, the maid’s role is funny and family-friendly. She spends her days in the house waddling around whistling local folk tunes while wearing a kinky-looking French chambermaid uniform.

10. A daft-looking ghost. No Thai TV Drama would be perfect without a corny ghost of some kind. The ghost either looks like a freaky black-eyed witch with a severe hangover or an odd replica of Kermit the Frog.

Next, there is the plot. Most of the stories are more or less all the darned same from beginning to end, so lets’ have a brief look at a classic example of ‘Lakhorn Nam Nao’ (Insanely-depressing tear jerking drama)

Our leading actress, a pure damsel in distress, has been subjected to a horrific life locked up in the house by her biological mother and her mother’s new lover - a former hated enemy of her dad’s. Beaten and abused since a small child, she finally falls in love with the man of her dreams – a wickedly handsome fruit farmer. Now, the fruit farmer may be a bit of a stunner, but what he lacks is the financial status desired by mum and crooked dad-in-law. Anyway, the couple secretly elope and have a darling baby, sadly for the toddler and happy mom and dad however, the leading actress has been forced into an arranged marriage with the local gun-toting gangster, the first son of an ever-mighty popular politician. Heartbreaks all around – the love-child has been sold for adoption, the star acting fruit farmer has been forced into army service and the leading actress leads a complete life of misery in the arms of a scoundrel.

A complete tear-jerker beyond words and the audience just lap it up. Gladly, in the final episode however, the dreaded gangster husband gets arrested and sent to life imprisonment and the fateful couple and their beloved child are reunited and everyone lives happily ever after.

The viewers just love a ‘rags to riches’ tale and the more emotionally moving, the better. What is compulsory however, is a happy ending, and nothing like any disastrous finale as in Romeo and Juliet. As in accordance to the laws of ‘Buddhist Khamma’, ‘goodness’ always wins over ‘badness’. Thai TV Soap Operas for the viewers are quite obviously a distraction from the usual burdens of every day reality just like the fortnightly media story of ‘Govt. Lottery Jackpot Winner!’ Such stories truly are a heavenly hope for those born into either economic or/and loveless misery - actually, not that much different from such dramas in the Western world.

Besides the ever-loved modern-day ‘Lakhorn Nam Nao’ there is also the early evening super family-favourite ‘Ancient Fable Drama’, again another rags to riches tale of some beautiful country bumpkin who marries an shockingly good-looking lad with absolutely stacks of cash. Here below is a typical ‘ancient fable’ plot.

Our leading actor is a Prince from the past, residing in a spectacularly huge castle. Feeling distraught at the prospect of having to marry into an extremely boring posh family of ’Hi-Society’ orders instead, his servants to find him a fine prospective down-to-earth bride from the local village. Meanwhile, ( just as in ‘Cinderella’) the leading actress has been abused by her hatefully angry elder step-sisters who do everything in their power to potentially ruin any possible understanding between the handsome Prince and the stunning poor leading actress. Adding a bit of distinctive Thai flavour to the story however, there are plenty of sordid castle insights into common-in-laws wives feuding and fighting with jealous minor wives. Then, for an extra splash of humour there is a one-legged nine-foot giant and a platoon of three-foot real-life dwarves running around Snow-White-style. Of course in the end, the perfect ‘Prince’ and the country-beauty are united, married, have two lovely kids and live happily ever after.

Thankfully, Thailand is a country that loves ‘Beauty’ and the land’s soap operas has plenty of that on show. The locations, houses and especially female stars are quite splendid. None of the locations suffer from air-pollution, none of the houses suffer from frequent power-cuts and all the actresses are constantly dressed and dolled-up to the heavens as if they were off to some fancy ball.

Just in case you were wondering about the lack of love scenes in Thai Soap Operas, then please be advised that such awful Western influence is banned from Thai TV. A quick cuddle between the leading actress and actor is perfectly all right but as for any scenes of the couple actually kissing, such filming is strictly prohibited unless the couple has been married in part. This is due to the country’s Ministry of Culture, who after much timely and costly research have deciphered that such intimacies do not occur in Thailand outside of marriage. So, if you want to see any filthy un-Thai stuff like that you had better go back to watching soap operas in Farangland.


Soap operas reflect society to some extent which is why South American, North American and Britsh soap operas are wildly different. How reflective are Thai soap operas of Thailand?

maokaang
29th Nov 2006, 11:06
They reflect the appallingly low budgets they're produced with. That's about it. :shrug:

Zohak
29th Nov 2006, 11:35
Agree about the budgets!

essentially all thai series are exactly the same, run for 1 season or 2, must have the hottest young actors for that year and exactly the same storyline.

you cannot compare them to the rubbish we have as these are only meant for short runs, most thai tv is made up of this and games shows

Noi & Nick
30th Nov 2006, 00:25
Originally posted by Henson:
Soap operas reflect society to some extent which is why South American, North American and British soap operas are wildly different. How reflective are Thai soap operas of Thailand? Henson,
You cannot seriously believe that Coronation Street shows real life in Manchester, Eastenders reflects how it is in London, Emmerdale shows life in the Dales? :crazy:

Thai soaps reflect as much real life as any other nationalities soaps; none at all!

Liked the article, though. Very amusing! :lol: :thumb:

Rich & Orasa
30th Nov 2006, 01:08
I read in a book about former PM Thaksin that, due to his control / influence over media output, the plots of these family sagas were written to re-enforce the values espoused by TRT e.g. villains who were involved with drugs would invariably be killed in a shootout with heroic police officers.

Rich

austen
30th Nov 2006, 01:38
Emmerdale shows life in the Dales?


What you mean it's not like this ?

What do our Yorkshire experts have to say about this ?

Austen

ash
30th Nov 2006, 02:10
Soaps really do show life as it is especially in the UK :confused: or should it be that life in the UK takes its cue from the soaps.

ash

-Keith-
30th Nov 2006, 04:46
The really annoying thing about Thai soaps is the music. They play the same two minute tune in a loop throughout the whole show. Even worse is that they often recycle the music, so two or three different soaps will have the same background music. It drives me ting tong sometimes :crazy:

GTG
30th Nov 2006, 04:52
Originally posted by ash:
Soaps really do show life as it is especially in the UK :confused: or should it be that life in the UK takes its cue from the soaps.


I do think that that is true of Thailand too. While desperately trying to avoid any stereotyping and generalisations, I have seen a lot of behaviour, particularly by Thai women, which seems to have been 'learned' from the 'Thai movie', particularly of the hysterical, emotional over-reaction to problems type.

rolyshark
30th Nov 2006, 05:15
I have seen a lot of behaviour, particularly by Thai women, which seems to have been 'learned' from the 'Thai movie', particularly of the hysterical, emotional over-reaction to problems type.

This is also sadly true of many farangs,who believe that "soap" behaviour a la Coronation St/Eastenders/Emmerdale ilk is the norm.

Henson
30th Nov 2006, 05:40
Originally posted by Noi & Nick:

Originally posted by Henson:
Soap operas reflect society to some extent which is why South American, North American and British soap operas are wildly different. How reflective are Thai soap operas of Thailand? Henson,
You cannot seriously believe that Coronation Street shows real life in Manchester, Eastenders reflects how it is in London, Emmerdale shows life in the Dales? :crazy:

Thai soaps reflect as much real life as any other nationalities soaps; none at all!

Liked the article, though. Very amusing! :lol: :thumb:

When I wrote the OP I was more thinking about the values shown in certain national soap operas as being the values of that society. I was not so much thinking that Thai soaps reflect exactly how everyday day life is.

The big 1980s US soap such as Dynasty and Dallas reflected American preoccupation with careers and success in business.

The prolific South American soaps reflect rags to riches stories (like Thai soaps it seems)

British soaps are the most realistic. "We" (I consider myself British in this sense) seem to prefer soaps that somehow reflect gritty reality while at the same time having enough exaggerated plots to keep people interested.

American soaps seem to take place in "high society" whereas British soaps seem to go in the opposite direction. As this applies to virtually all soaps from each respective country it reflects the values of that country believe.

I am no expert on Thai soaps. I just wondered if people thought they reflected certain prejudices/values etc. that Thai people may hold . . .

ash
30th Nov 2006, 06:02
British soaps reflect british culture and culture quite closely and if you look at historical episodes they also move with the times.

In terms of whether Emmerdale is a true representaion of life in the Dales , certainly the characters in the earlier part of the series could be found in pubs throughout the region until quite recently.

With few exceptions the events in East Enders happen to some people in real life but normally not to the same person quite so often.

Ash

-Keith-
30th Nov 2006, 06:33
With few exceptions the events in East Enders happen to some people in real life but normally not to the same person quite so often.

There's one big problem with Eastenders, you won't find anywhere in the East End with such a large percentage of white people.

-Keith-
30th Nov 2006, 06:34
American soaps seem to take place in "high society" whereas British soaps seem to go in the opposite direction.

Well the ones that British TV have bought. I'm sure there must be many lo-so US soaps that we just don't see over here.

siamsteve
30th Nov 2006, 07:34
Henson you have far to much time on your hands to keep posting rubbish like this. Do they have a Danish soap opera that bores everyone to death with endless postings on a website.....mmmmmmmmm

Marcus
30th Nov 2006, 08:19
Well, Pauline's gone too far this time I must say. But, to be honest, I'd stop at nothing either to prevent Sonia getting back with Martin and getting near Rebecca.

Pity Dot didn't open things up when she could have, it would have saved a lot of bother.

And I don't like the way things are going with Phil and this new woman. Ian was quite right (if for all the wrong motives) to try to warn her off. I wouldn't trust phil as far as I could throw him - and that's not far.

Talking of Ian - what will happen tonight?

(I'm a purist - no sneaking read up of plot developments ahead of time for me!)

Nothing wrong with Soap Operas!

GTG
30th Nov 2006, 08:22
Originally posted by Keith&Mol:

American soaps seem to take place in "high society" whereas British soaps seem to go in the opposite direction.

Well the ones that British TV have bought. I'm sure there must be many lo-so US soaps that we just don't see over here.

I really don't think there are, Keith, I don't think there is an audience for them.

It's the same with American sitcoms. Those which have been exported have been radically changed, gentrified or whatever, before they were let loose on the US public. I'm thinking about the American translations of Steptoe and Son, Till Death Us Do Part et al, almost unrecognisable.

Look at the sorts of apartments US sitcoms are set in, the jobs the characters do, the way they are dressed

GTG
30th Nov 2006, 08:30
Originally posted by Keith&Mol:
There's one big problem with Eastenders, you won't find anywhere in the East End with such a large percentage of white people.

They do seem to have managed to integrate several black characters successfully, some have been in the cast for ages now, but they have a continuing problem with working in Asian characters, whole families have come and gone in a very short space of time.

I'm very interested in this because Preeti, the new Asian character, is played by an ex-student of mine but there doesn't really seem to be much that is Asian about her character. Just seems to be another young smiley female with dubious morals - she has already been called a 'slag' after kipping with Sean after their first drink.

She comes from a quite traditional Indian family, Manchester roots but long-term Bangkok residents. I've been trying to imagine how her parents would feel seeing her portraying this character and found myself reading some soap forums where her character was the subject of some very animated discussions, largely to do with her Asian-ness, or otherwise.

Henson
30th Nov 2006, 09:15
Originally posted by Siam Steve:
Henson you have far to much time on your hands to keep posting rubbish like this. Do they have a Danish soap opera that bores everyone to death with endless postings on a website.....mmmmmmmmm

I don't think there is a Danish soap opera like that, but maybe you could write the script for one? Since you follow my postings so much you should have enough material for the first few episodes . . . Take care,mate. ;)

-Keith-
1st Dec 2006, 02:05
They do seem to have managed to integrate several black characters successfully

About 5% of the cast are non-white.

If they made a true representation of the East End ie: Newham, Hackney, Waltham Forest the mix would be something like:

Bangladeshi/Pakistani 40%
Afro-Caribbean 20%
Turks/Albanians 10%
Polish/Latvian 10%
White British 20%

Nearly all of the market stall holders would be Pakistani's and Poles and the Queen Vic would have about three people in it on a busy saturday night.

Henson
1st Dec 2006, 05:47
Originally posted by Keith&Mol:

They do seem to have managed to integrate several black characters successfully

About 5% of the cast are non-white.

If they made a true representation of the East End ie: Newham, Hackney, Waltham Forest the mix would be something like:

Bangladeshi/Pakistani 40%
Afro-Caribbean 20%
Turks/Albanians 10%
Polish/Latvian 10%
White British 20%

Nearly all of the market stall holders would be Pakistani's and Poles and the Queen Vic would have about three people in it on a busy saturday night.

EastEnders is probably a reflection of how the UK population as a whole looks and how they would like to see "East End" values portrayed - eg. everyone goes to the pub and family is of great importance. Eastenders is probably portraying a lifestyle that was there 30 or 40 years ago, but with modern characters . . . :shrug:

Thai soaps seem to stress different values - they have a lot in common with South American soaps I suppose in reflecting the dreams and aspirations of the poor.