I suddenly had this sort of epiphany and I remembered this wonderful series I watched last year, and I just needed to write a post about it.
Hormones is a Thai series, in fact, and therefore it has nothing to do with Korea or Korean entertainment but it doesn't really matter because this is my blog and I decide what goes on it. It's still Asian though, so I guess there's some relevancy.
I have never watched a Thai series before, actually I've never experienced anything within the Thai entertainment industry prior to this, so I can't really make any assumptions about how the culture or industry is different from the Korean one. However, I can tell you that this TV-series is something different, something way out of the ordinary. This series has not only been revolutionary in the Thai TV-industry, but it has also made people react, both in positive and negative ways.
Now, there's been quite a while since I last saw this so this review isn't written with a fresh memory, but my opinions on it remains the same. I was pretty hooked right from the beginning, to be honest, and there are several reasons why.
Years ago, a little British show named Skins made headlines in its home country, mainly for showing teenagers in a less than glorifying light. The show was about a gang of high school students, and their experiences and conflicts with love, friendship, sexuality, school and family. Also, there is quite a lot of graphic scenes involved, as well as the use of drugs, sex, violence and rough language. I personally still think Skins is one of the best series ever, because it's so relatable and realistic, and it really handled all the issues so well.
Hormones is, you could say, the Thai version of Skins. It also centers around a bunch of high school students, and we get to follow their journeys as they learn about themselves, each other, and what it's like to grow up. Each episode revolves around one character, just like in Skins, so we get to know them one by one. What do they think about love and friendship? How do they get along with their family? What do they want in the future? A lot of these characters' storylines intertwine and cross paths, obviously, as relationships form and break as the series goes on.
We meet a lot of characters, and in the beginning it might be hard to keep track on who's who (the language doesn't make it any easier either), but after a while you get the hang of it. I like that there's such a variety of personalities and that none of them really are "better" than the others. They all have their good and bad sides and they all have troubles, even if some of them to pretend they don't. The show does a great job in showing the complexity of a teenager, that not everything's black and white. Sure, they do some stupid stuff and make mistakes, but that what makes them so realistic. You learn from your missteps, you become better people, and that's what these characters go through. We get to see them as they mess up, break hearts and have their own broken, fight with their families and struggle with identities, but we also get to see them laugh, smile, love and be loved. It's wonderful and it's so engaging, you find yourself rooting for them and wanting them to have their happy endings.
The cast is absolutely great as well, having great chemistry and putting on splendid performances. Most of them are very young (or at least they look like it but you never know with Asians), but I think they are all school age appropriate anyway. I find that the age is usually something that can be quite off-putting when it's so obvious that the actors are way older than their characters, but that problem is non-existent here. I truly believe everything, I believe their thoughts, their feelings and actions and I relate to them. A lot of this is thanks to the amazing writing of course, that has really stirred up some controversy.
The reason this series has been so talked about is because of its frank and honest nature. Thailand, as far as I know, is like a lot of other Asian countries. With that I mean that it's still very conservative in many ways, and a lot of the issues that are brought up in this TV-show is not subjects that are discussed otherwise. In fact, a lot of them are actually quite taboo, like homosexuality and teenage pregnancy. It also shows common problems like bullying, smoking and underage sex and tells the audience that this what the reality looks like. That's just the way the world is for a lot of teenagers, and so it makes sense to involve that. The thing is, in Thailand, these subjects are difficult to talk about and easier to just shove under the carpet and pretend they don't exist.
This show has definitely been an eye-opener to a lot of Thai adults, parents especially, in getting a peak of what teenage life can actually be like. Some really appreciate it, saying they can understand their children better now, whereas others claim that it's inappropriate and will have a bad influence on teenagers.
I think the shattered opinions are good, because they invite to a real discussion. As long as people at least talk, there is a chance of improvement and development in how to deal with these different subjects.
If I were to end this review with just three words, it would probably be: Watch it now!
I'm being completely honest when I say this series is absolutely phenomenal, it grabs you and moves you just like a really good show should do. A lot of series nowadays, both Korean and Western, can feel really overdramatic, predictable and unrealistic and they don't really connect to you on a deeper level. It doesn't make them bad shows, but once in a while you want to see something like this, something that you feel is actually true and real. I could go on for days about how spectacular Hormones is, but the best way for you to see with your own eyes. So please, do yourself a favor and watch this, you will not regret it.
PS. I've read that a second season is supposed to come out this spring, and I could not be happier!