What a sparkling package. Broadcast Thai Production has brought to their channel 3 fans, a lakorn that will make them thank their lucky stars. It’s modern, it’s stylish, it’s oh so captivating: from its stylish cinematography, its unconventional premise, to its haunting soundtrack. Let’s hope that it doesn’t turn out to be a Monet, good to look at from afar, but a total mess up close. If episode one sets any tone or any indication of what’s to come, I’m totally on board. I can ride this Janie-Aum Atichart ship for as long as this show will take me. Did I mention a totally awesome song that rips you right in the guts? Yeah, Dao Kiaw Duen is simply my kind of lakorn.
For the OST: “Dao Kiaw Duen” by Pete Pol, my new, most current ear worm, which will probably take the award for best OST thus far this year! At least by me, here just take the award now Pete! Watch Here.
Rating: 11.9 in Bangkok, not a bad start at all.
Episode 1 Recap
We open with Prakai Dao (Janie Thienphosuwan), a fashion photographer, whose name means sparkling star. She’s currently at a photo shoot set for the suntan spray company, where the models are glistened up and hanging by the rope as they rock climb. Our badass girl, Dao, like a trapeze artist, extends herself from the rock climbing apparatus to snap photos of the models. Her stance is equally as beautiful as the models’ poses. She narrates that a photographer will often times go above and beyond their call of duty. Indeed.
From the outside, she further narrates that she appears to be a confident woman who is able to work in her dream field, and financially independent due to her inheritance, which makes her appear enviable. Yet there is one thing she needs the most, and it’s been a deep, seated desire that will fulfill her life.
We get a sense of what that is, as she helps her niece with her homework, and chatting with her older brother (Lift Supoj). She tells him that she is not possessive of her single life, but that she hasn’t met the right person- and she’s a firm believer that if she hasn’t met the right person, she would rather be single. Truer words.
In another home, or palace if you will, Mom Ratchawong Jantarapanu Noparat (Aum Atichart Chumnanon) is getting ready for the day, but even we can tell that his suit jacket is stretching at the seams. He questions his maid on her laundering skills (shrinking his clothes) when she retorts that her laundry skills are perfectly fine, but that he- Khun Chai Jan- has gotten buffer. He flexes his guns (we didn’t even need to buy a ticket to see that) and doesn’t say another word as he realizes that she’s right. Hee.
Khun Chai Jan gets into his Mercedes, with the backdrop of his beautiful palace, as he starts his day. I can’t think of a better way to introduce our hero and heroine, than to have them pensively drive through the city, with Dao Kiaw Duen playing front and center. So cool.
He makes his way to meet a blind date, unknowingly stealing a parking spot from a woman who is much in a rush to visit the birth of her friend’s child. The woman watches him walk away too suavely from her rearview mirror. Nan, a hand picked date by his mother, could not believe her good fortune (obviously in his good looks) and starts to laugh her head off. Chai Jan is not amused, but we see that this is not the first blind date he’s been to.
He is after all, a 35 year old bachelor, whose noble mother has been trying to match make him with well to do socialites. None of the blind dates thus far has worked because Chai Jan believes that love is not something you can buy, or someone you fall for at first sight. Love requires time to find the right person. But Nan obviously believes that just based on their social standing, they are perfect for each other.
Dao finally arrives at the café after finding a parking spot that hasn’t been taken (by you know who) and orders her drinks to go. She overhears a woman saying she wants to tag along so she could be introduced as his future wife. The man is perplexed, it’s their first meeting and he hasn’t even chosen her. In an attempt to leave, he bumps into Dao, who’s carrying three coffee cups in her hands, and the contents get dumped right into his crisp and newly cleaned white shirt.
As she apologizes, she gets a good look at his face. It’s the same man who rudely stole her parking spot! His date screams at her as Chai Jan takes the opportunity to high tail out of there.
Dao rushes to her friend Jid’s side who’s in labor (this is her fourth baby) and volunteers to be in the labor room, unfortunately it’s only reserved for spouses. (In the US, one can enter if the patient permits.) Jid has her baby boy successfully, and we can tell that she has an adorably funny marriage to her husband who’s currently in China on business. He keeps asking over the phone to talk to the baby when we know that babies can’t talk yet. It’s just funny because Jid is highly annoyed with all of his questions. It also just so happens that it’s Dao’s birthday on the same day and they plan on celebrating together.
Back at the palace, noble mom admits that the hope of Chai Jan marrying is wishful thinking, but she’s still holding out hope because she desperately wants to carry a grandchild. Much to her chagrin, she learns his date didn’t turn out so well, since he arrived home with his shirt covered in coffee stain. Chai Jan mutters that he better not see her face again, and tosses his soiled shirt into the hamper.
Ha, already, our duo does NOT like each other. I can watch a dislike/hate at first sight any day.
At their perspective homes, the two work into the night, the score indicating their lonely worlds. And during this time, we get a glimpse into their “romantic” pasts. Starting with Chai Jan, he once had a first love (dated her for 7 years) and we see why he’s the romantic one and doesn’t lose hope with the prospect of love. We don’t know what had transpired in that relationship or why it ended, but he still has a photo of his ex tucked in between his old books.
While Prakai Dao thinks about her failed relationships. The first one was throughout college where she dated a man named Siwa. After graduation they have the “marriage” discussion with his mother, who believes she should be a housewife despite her desire to pursue a career. Dao storms out of there, and Siwa chastises her for arguing with his mother. It’s been a long endurance for Dao, who ends their relationship, because she knows that it won’t work. Fundamentally they don’t see eye to eye, and she has seen him for the momma’s boy that he is. Soon enough, Siwa gets married to a woman of his mother’s choice.
A slew of boyfriends come and go in Dao’s life, but none has lasted very long, because the older Dao got, the more wise she is and the more she is aware of what she wants. The men were simply not the right fit, and she breaks up with each one of them. Her failed love life explains her perspective/prejudice towards men today.
At the grand opening of a high end shop belonging to a distant cousin Khun Ying Nim, noble mom asks for her niece’s help in convincing Chai Jan to open his eyes to woman. She wants Nan to end up with him because she’s a good match and she’s persistent. Ha.
At an orphan institution, Dao and friends volunteer their services to feed the kids. Perhaps it’s her birthday, perhaps the orphans has inspired her, whatever the reason may be, Dao blurts out that she wants to adopt a child. Her friends reason with her, that no matter what, she’s not going to love an adopted child as much as her own child. (To which I personally don’t agree.) And Dao persists that it won’t happen to her, because she will not marry and thus the only way to be a mother, is to adopt a child.
Jid’s husband is like a child himself, always playing with his girls, and Dao observes that maybe it’s better to have a child to annoy you than to have your husband to annoy you.
Nan appears at the grand opening party and feigns a fall on his lap (the paparazzi’s snap their cameras fervently.) I’ve changed my mind, I think I would like to be a supporting actress instead if I get to “fall” on Aum’s lap! Ha. He hisses at her to get up and excuses himself to the restroom. Noble mom gives her a word of advice and promises to find a way to get them a dinner date together.
She starts by telling him that when she first married his noble father, she didn’t love the man either. But she grew to love him throughout their marriage. Chai Jan tells her that he doesn’t even like Nan but his mother orders him to at least go on a dinner date. With a big sigh, he tells his cousin Ying Nim that he will never end up with a woman his mother selected. He asks her for a favor.
Dao makes her birthday wish and not even shortly after that, they spot Dao’s ex-boyfriend and his wife walking to the institution. He finds a moment alone with Dao while she’s going over the list of adoptable kids. He follows her down the hallway and confesses that even though he’s married, he’s still in love with her. Yuck. His bitchy wife shows up right when he’s grabbing her hand.
She immediately jumps into accusations that Dao wants to take her man. To which Dao doesn’t back down and tells her that she doesn’t want what she had already thrown away, so wifey shouldn’t act trashy in such a clean institution. Ha. A catfight is about to ensue when Dao’s girlfriend returns to back her up. I love their friendship, loyal to a fault. They advise Dao to watch more channel 3 lakorns such as Rang Ngao if she wants to learn from trashy, bitch slap scenes. Lol.
Chai Jan dines with Nan uncomfortably. She makes her move and with the touch of her hand, Chai Jan does an automatic disgusted shake. LOL. She wonders why he abhors it and he explains that it’s reflex, his body does this when someone tries to touch him. Heh. Then he receives a rescue call from Ying Nim who lies that she’s in an accident and he must come save her now.
This favor from Ying Nim causes him to owe her in return, and she asks him to go karaoke-ing with her. Little did he know that she came with three other girlfriends in tow. Ha, someone also wants to match make him!
Karaoke looks like so much fun, especially singing ‘Too much so much very much’ by P’Bird! I’d rather be in Dao’s room than in Chai Jan’s room, where he’s so quiet and reserved against all of those eyes staring at him. Lol. The kids are exceptionally good at dancing.
And our pair meets again for the second, more explosive time. Dao’s walking out of the restroom and literally crashes into Chai Jan, but he catches her before she falls. The moment he gets a good look at her face though, he lets go. Ha. She falls to the ground.
“Why’d you let go?!” she exclaims, rubbing her bottom.
“Consider it even,” he says, “you spilt coffee on me.”
“You’re bringing up something that happened a long time ago! Vindictive. Are you gay?” heh.
“You’re crossing the line!” he exclaims.
“Not for someone who isn’t a gentleman.”
“How am I not a gentleman?” he questions.
She starts listing that he’s rude and doesn’t obey the traffic laws, etc, but she doesn’t want to bring them up.
Jid’s husband peers at their argument from the karaoke room and calls out to Lin.
Chai Jan continues accusing her for being a drunkie because she’s not watching where she was walking. He wants to know if she has a boyfriend so he could tell him to break up with her. Lol. Chai Jan, you’ve got a mouth on you.
Her friend Lin comes to make peace and apologizes on her friend’s behalf- apparently Lin is a social columnist and is quite aware of Chai Jan. Dao is shocked at her friend’s display of groveling, but she soon learns how entitled this man is: he’s a Mom Ratchawong, he’s rich, he owns malls, hotels, and he’s real popular among the society. Lin elaborates on Chai Jan’s dating habits and how he turns them all down. And gosh, Aum is so hot in every darn shot! Dao presumes this makes him heartless and uncaring. Jid’s husband admonishes that maybe he’s afraid of love and doesn’t want a relationship.
That night Dao dreams of a beautiful little girl who calls her mom and runs to her. Suddenly the little girl turns and calls out daddy.. that’s when Chai Jan appears. Ha. Dao wakes with irritation.
Having a baby is top of her mind as she attends a conference about artificial inseminations via IVF. She questions the doctor whether he has had patients who are interested in the process but are not married. The doctor indicates that most of them are foreigners who request to freeze their eggs. It takes time to select their sperm donors so they would freeze their eggs to help eliminate any adverse effects of age etc.
The first person Dao decides to tell is her older brother, but he flips out at the sound that she wants to have a baby, thinking that she’s already pregnant. Lol. But she explains the revelation that she can be a mother without a husband. He pales (I love Lift.) She wants to have her very own child, she will purchase sperm from men who are handsome and the doctor will take care of the rest. Her brother questions her on what she will tell the child when it grows up and wants to know where it came from. Dao simply says she will tell the child the truth, that she loves him/her very much and wanted a baby. She’s got it all planned out, she doesn’t want to marry and besides, she has a huge inheritance to pay for the IVF. Her brother realizes he’s fighting a losing battle.
Dao tells her best friends next, who all think she’s crazy. Lin is married and childless and admits that she’s starting to be okay with the fact that they don’t have kids. Jin explains that having a kid is a huge responsibility and that if she wants her blessing, she should babysit her kids for a day. Dao agrees immediately. There weren’t anything that could change her mind or stop her.
Din broods about the prospect that his stubborn sister would have her own baby at all cost. He reminisces with his wife that after their parents passed away, he had promised to take care of her. Dao is the type to follow through with anything that she puts her mind to.
Chai Jan does charity work at the same orphanage as Dao. The two have another run in as they are leaving the institution. It’s a small world. They bicker on who’s fault it is but at the end, Dao has the last word and jumps into her car.
It’s never a good day for Chai Jan every time he sees Dao.
Meanwhile Siwa’s wife wants to teach Dao a lesson, not to mess with her or try to steal her husband. They decide to stir up trouble with her through the media. (And on a side note, Arn is always disappointed in the fact that her husband doesn’t turn out to be the way that she wants him to be. And he can’t seem to stand her because she’s always yelling at him. So far, we’ve not a marriage institute that convinces the viewers it’s a good marriage. Siwa is also cheating on his wife with her so-called best friend!)
And the test to see whether Dao would want children after babysitting Jid’s commences- she starts with watching all three daughters at once. It’s hectic and a little crazy as the girls want her to blow them balloons. We watch Dao asking for Jid’s advice several times to stop fights and all around craziness. Then Jid has a bright idea to discourage Dao, how about taking all three kids to have ice cream? Heh.
Dao takes them to a busy mall, where Arn happens to alert the reporters about the new scandal regarding Dao. With kids in tow, Dao gets microphone shoved in her face and asked whether the news is true: that Siwa has bought her a condo (implying that she’s his mistress.) During the questioning, the two girls take off, looking for an escalator that will take them to the lower floor, to the kid’s toy store. Dao says the information is nuts and she spots the girls heading for the escalator, leaving one of the child behind.
Once she catches up to them, the youngest one wanders to danger zone. Luckily, Chai Jan lifts the girl into his arms and saves her. She thanks him but he scolds her not to allow her kids to wander the mall alone. I love how she doesn’t explain that they are not her kids. She doesn’t do so either to the reporters, who are relentless.
To rush away from the paparazzis, Dao decides to take the same elevator as Chai Jan. Just as he mutters that it’s never a lucky day when he sees her, the elevator suddenly stops. She tells him to blame it on the owner of the mall instead of her (not realizing that she’s staring at the owner in the face.)
“Are we going to die?” the kids ask. Lol. Dao assures them no, as long as there’s still air to breathe. Which is no reassurance as they’re in a stuffy box.
Chai Jan is not impressed with her parenting skills. She’s not impressed at his need to introduce his full name when he’s talking into the elevator speaker.
Then the funniest thing happened.
The youngest: “I need to pee.”
Dao: “You need to pee? Um.. well, you can pee in your diaper then.”
The two sisters: “She’s not wearing a diaper.”
Dao: “Shoot.” She squats down, “then can you hold it?”
The little girl nods her head but one second later: “I need to peeeee!”
Chai Jan to Dao: “What’s the matter with you? She’s not wearing a diaper and what kid can hold in their pee?”
Kid: “I need to peee!”
Dao: “Just pee here then-“
Chai Jan: “WTH. NO. It’s going to smell. We can’t get it out.”
Dao: “But you just said that a kid can’t hold it in.”
She turns to the little one: “Pee here.”
Chai Jan: “Hold on, the employees are working on getting us out. They are fast here.”
Dao: “How do you know that they’re fast? She can’t hold it.”
Dao starts undressing the little girl’s undies and Chai Jan is telling the little girl to hold it on for a bit.
And the next thing we know, the little girl squats and pisses on the elevator floor. The little girl smiles in relief, then the elevator door opens. Hilarious.
Chai Jan orders his employees to examine the elevators well and ensure it’s safe to operate (he didn’t want a certain someone to think that he’s not caring for the safety of his patrons.)
Dao wonders how he can order people about- and learns that he actually owns the mall. Ha. With the last word, Chai Jan tells her that if she intends on having this many kids, she ought to buy a book that will instruct her on how to be a good mom. Dao seethes, but she doesn’t follow him to yell at him like most clichéd nang’eks.
Back at Jid’s home, Dao brought the girls back in one piece.
Jid: “Now do you understand why having children is a burden (a lot of responsibility.) Today you’re single, you won’t have to be tired.
Dao: “I agree with everything you say, kids are a heavy burden.”
Jid smiles, pleased.
Dao: “But it’s a rewarding burden, isn’t it? Today I’ve learned such great things.”
Jid: “Such as?”
Dao: “It makes me realize that I have the ability to be a mom. I’m proud that I can protect them and it gives me pleasure to see them come home safe.”
Jid: “So you’re still adamant about having a baby?”
Dao: “Yep. It’s the most rightful decision I’ve ever made in my life.”
Lin arrives to share with them the scandal that’s spreading. Luckily, she’s able to intercept the pictures and articles that is about to be posted. But not lucky enough that the tv is releasing news with Arn who’s crying and saying that she must be a bad wife if her husband went to have a mistress.
Dao wants to give her side of the story, but Lin, who’s in the industry advises her to lay low because the media and society eat these stories up, they love it, so if she comes out, she will only perpetuate the matter.
Her brother Din pays a visit to her condo, newspaper in hand. She clears it with him that she’s not the type of person to create such rotten news. At the end of the day, she knows he came because he’s concerned about her. Caught, he flushes. Dao gives him a hug, I love how she has such good friends and family to support her. Dao assures him that she can handle this rumor on her own, but the housekeeper storms into the living room and announces that the media has swarmed the entrance to her condo. So this little girl still needs her big brother, eh? Din to the rescue! They pack her bags and sneaks her out of her condo, unbeknownst to the reporters.
Her sister in law welcomes her to stay for awhile or forever. So cute. Din decides to tackle the IVF matter again.
Din: “You’re really going for it?”
Din: “Where you going to find this ‘sperm.’”
Dao: “From the sperm bank- I would have to go abroad.”
Din: “And how are you sure that the sperm is really the sperm that they say it is? And is that person nice? When it comes to personality, it’s important to take the time to evaluate it, not from some data that you collect.”
After a beat. Din: “And do you want your child to be a look kreung (mixed blood)?”
That gives her pause.
Dao: “Right. Then I would have to look for a Thai person. He must be a handsome person.”
Din: “Think carefully. You can’t return your child.”
Din: “And I’d like to remind you about one other thing. You said you love kids. But this kid would one day grow up, and when that day occurs, would you still love the grown up?”
Dao: “That child is my blood, there is no mother out there who wouldn’t love her own child.”
Din sighs. “Looks like I can’t talk you out of it?”
He turns away sheepishly. Din: “Then look carefully. Take your time.”
Dao: “I’m in no rush. I have two years.”
She explains that she’s 32 now, in two years, she would be at a healthy age to still be pregnant. (As 35 has a high risk.) She would have the time to find the right sperm donor.
Bro just nods his head, taking it all in. I love him.
The next step is to find said sperm donor. At the gym, of all places, the girls sit about and discuss what attributes an ideal sperm donor would have.
They turn to google with the following key words:
- Handsome (Korean actors pop up. They decide they want Thai.
- Well educated (Doctors pop up, namely Khun Chai Mor from Khun Chai Putthipat. But Dao decides that she doesn’t want her baby daddy to be a doctor because her kid would be too stressed out.)
It just so happens, Chai Jan is also at the same gym, pumping iron. Nan stops by and asks him to train her, he does so reluctantly, but he spies Dao from across the weight room and decides to make a beeline for her (so he could escape Nan.)
The girls are at number, 3: generous. 4. rich. AND much to their surprise, Khun Chai Jan shows up as the number one result on google.
The aforementioned man appears before them, and he’s all nice this time, asking her how she’s doing. Ha. As he sees Nan getting closer to them, he takes Dao’s hand and says he would buy her a drink.
Clear of Nan, Dao tells him to let her hand go. He does so slowly and walks away, leaving Dao wondering about his change in demeanor.
But this sets a seed in her mind, the number one result on google, eh?
Meanwhile Arn is disappointed at the lack of response from Dao. She and evil friend decide to do something more drastic.
Chai Jan reads the morning gossip paper (much to Ying Nim’s surprise) and learns another misconception about Dao: a home wrecker.
The girls sit around the porch, talking about the top two results on google. The first is Khun Chai Jan and secondly is a hi so man named Pongjan Pipithimonkon who is a playboy (and runs a business that translate to 69, totally dirty stuff, ha.) Lin is the specialist in all of these biographies of hiso people, she wonders who her friend is going to choose.
We have Chai Jan who has a spotless pedigree, well educated, rich and his family owns several charity foundations. They even have a family temple in Chiang Mai. Pongjan is also a contender, educated, rich and his family builds Buddhist temples abroad to help spread their belief.
Chai Jan loves children like she does, while Pongjan loves doing adventurous things, also a similar hobby to hers. And the best way to find out which men would be her sperm donor or future baby daddy? Well, at the 30th anniversary for Chai Jan’s mall where Khun Pongjan is the event planner, and she will have the opportunity to evaluate both men. Stone, meet two birds!
The day of the event arrives and Dao pretends to be a newspaper firm’s photographer. She starts her mental tally of the score for Chai Jan versus Pongjan.
But just because one of them is her future sperm donor, it doesn’t mean she couldn’t give him a piece of her mind. Pongjan decides to flirt with her, but he comes off being to arrogant, so she puts him in his place. Now Lin is concerned on whether she needs to give her a muzzle when it comes to Chai Jan. Ha.
And Khun Chai Jan. He certainly knows how to make an entrance!
I just love the vibe of this lakorn. It’s mature, it’s modern, it’s different. We also get to appreciate another Khun Chai, but in such modern, more sleak times, and with a sharper tongue to boot. And to think that a lakorn is about a 30 something couple played by 30 something actors? Amazing. It’s a feat.
Besides, who’s tired of seeing nang’ek and pr’ek always bickering for no good reason? It’s refreshing to see that the nang’ek has a level head and doesn’t provoke matters, or bring up old issues to perpetuate the situation. She’s focused and she has a bigger issue to tackle: the desire to be a mother than a wife. With this day and age, as well as science and technology, that’s going to be a prospect and issue that woman without the desire to marry or have a partner can still achieve alone. I love the idea or the attempt that this lakorn and production team is bringing to the forefront of Thai society.
More importantly though, is how this initial premise, will play out in the end. Are we going to have a commentary that beats us over the heads that an ultimate family is between a man and woman? That the best thing for a child is his parents? Therefore I am very curious to find out the argument from the director, whether he would argue that a woman can do this independently or whether she succumbs to society’s expectations? Or is the argument that she has the option to do so independently, but that along the way, she falls in love with her ideal baby daddy and will not be stubborn enough to pursue raising the baby alone? Ah, decisions modern women face. And I love the opportunity to explore that.
Not to mention, along this very decision to have a baby alone or not, Prakai Dao certainly has the support system in her friends and brother. They back her up no matter what, but aren’t afraid to give her a reality check and force her to evaluate the stigma and the consequences. The cast is amazing, and we only have a catfight in the aspect of Dao’s shameless ex boyfriend’s wife. Nan, despite her persistence, just seems like an easy fly to swat away. And I love that Chai Jan, even though respecting and loving his noble mother, he still stands his ground and will systematically find a way to get out of her desire to match make him. To which I must say, isn’t the blind dates, and being an owner of a mall reminiscent of Secret Garden’s pr’ek? Minus the shrink? I don’t care. I love it, especially Aum’s swagger.
And I’ll repeat myself again, isn’t the OST just awesome?