Upcoming prime-time Thai drama, Are We Alright?, deals with love across age lines. “We would like to show that love is beautiful regardless of age or gender,” say programmers from Thailand’s Channel 3. ContentAsia speaks to producer/director Somching “King” Srisupap and BEC World’s president of TV business unit, Surin Krittayaphongphun about the new series.
An older woman. A younger man, with a mother who is less than impressed at her son’s romantic choice. As a vein of comic situations to tap and recreate on screen, what could go wrong?
“The story makes you feel happy... gives you hope,” says veteran producer/director, Somching “King” Srisupap, who was also behind Thai dramas Toong Sanaeha (2020), love triangle fantasy drama Plerng Prang Tian (Candle in the Sun, 2019) and Duang Jai Nai Fai Nhao (Cold Heart, 2018).
The new series, Are We Alright? (Carat Ruk), premieres on Thai free TV channel, Channel 3, in November.
Anne Thongprasom, who says she is much more familiar starring opposite actors her own age, plays a successful businesswoman. James Jirayu is an intern with a crush on her and the nerve to act on it. The furthest thought in his mind is that he’s too young. She first meets him when her clothes get caught in a car door, rain is pouring and he appears with an umbrella.
The Are We Alright? story was created by Ploychuen & Good Feeling, and the screenplay was written by Ping Lumpraplerng and the Good Feeling team.
The older-woman-younger-man situation is not a first for Channel 3 or its owner, listed entertainment company BEC World. Are We Alright? is the third show this year that involves a romance between an older woman and a younger man.
Currently airing is May-December Romance, about the 52-year-old owner of a bookstore recently dumped by her lover of 30 years. Refusing to succumb to the reality of aging, she embarks on a mission to regain the look she had when she was 20. Along the way, she develops a crush on a young table tennis player old enough to be her son.
May-December Romance followed Dare to Love, starring Bella Ranee as an enthusiastic lawyer who works 24/7 to become her law firm’s first female partner, and new actor, Kongthap Peak, who plays a young intern at the firm.
Channel 3 says while themes that highlight love regardless of gender are popular, the older-woman-younger-man theme is under-exploited in Thailand.
“Are We Alright? is a love story crossing social boundaries set by society. We want to tell a love story regardless of sex or age. More Boy Love (BL) stories are being told in Thailand, but there aren’t many love stories between an older woman and a younger man,” says BEC World’s president of TV business unit, Surin Krittayaphongphun.
“Society often frowns upon it, but we would like to show that love is beautiful regardless of age or gender. We design each character to reflect a cross-section of today’s society. We want it to be relatable. The female lead is intelligent but not annoying. While the male lead, though young, knows what he wants and is not afraid to go for it,” he adds.
Srisupap says Are We Alright? was not derailed in a major way by Covid-19 production pauses or protocols.
“We were fortunate that we managed to finish shooting before Thailand entered its second restricted wave. During the restriction, we were locked-in in post-production work,” he says.
Channel 3’s other productions weren’t quite as lucky, scrambling to follow rules set by Thailand’s Office of National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) and the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration. Production crews were limited to 50 people on the set, resulting in release delays for the last quarter of this year and the first quarter of next year.
“The pandemic has had a significant impact on our production... it was challenging to complete shooting,” Krittayaphongphun says.
Like others around the world, the channel scheduled some reruns instead of all-new content in its prime-time 8.30pm-10.30pm slots. During Covid, Channel 3 is showing two new series and one rerun a week instead of three fresh dramas.
In addition to Are We Alright?, new series for the rest of this year and 2022 include Help Me! Oh My Ghost (Help me Khun Phee Chuay Duay), about a famous blogger and an obsessive male ghost; action series Game of Outlaws (Game Lah Torrachon), starring ContentAsia’s Best Male Lead 2020, Mark Prin, about sisters in love with the same man who end up on opposite sides of the law; and romantic drama Bad Romeo, starring Yaya Urassaya and Mario Maurer in the story of two people who manage to overcome social differences thanks to modern technology.
Are We Alright? is the first time Thongprasom and Jirayu have been cast together.
Srisupap says he had no doubts about their on-screen chemistry. “When you have talented artists, it makes the work so much easier,” he says, emphasising that the show targets audiences of all age groups.
The one thing he would like audiences to take away with them? “I would be pleased if the series could touch and change a couple’s life, to tell them that it’s okay to be in love and to shout it out to your family and friends,” he says.
Channel 3 dramas drive a key goal – international expansion – for Channel 3 parent, BEC World, for the next 12 months at least.
“After the third pandemic wave, our TV business has been impacted by aggressive competition among digital terrestrial (DTT) broadcasters, the decline in advertising spending, and Covid-19-related restrictions on production, which resulted in increased costs,” Krittayaphongphun says.
“Fortunately, TV is still a critical mass medium, and drama series are Channel 3’s core competency. We are supplementing our decrease in ad-sales revenue with international business, and we are confident that our stories, artists and productions can travel further than Southeast Asia,” he says, adding: “Now that Thai dramas have traveled well in Asia, our intention is to move forward and bring Thai content that comes with attractive casts, beautiful locations, good values, and cultures to more eyeballs in the global market.”
Published in ContentAsia October 2021 Magazine