I was going through a Sean and Esther withdrawal after Leh Ratree and decided to check out Boy’s Paradise specifically to help ease the withdrawal pains. I think most of us can say that after we’ve seen one lakorn with our favorite pairing, it’s only natural to want to see everything that they’ve been in together. Sometimes I wish they can be in every lakorn together forever, because yunno, they’re meant to be.
And lucky me, I think these two are in a real relationship, which is like a dream come true. I love that lakorn world likes to play Cupid, shooting their arrows at our favorite pairings. Well, except for Jiranee, the pairing I wish Cupid would’ve paid a little more attention to, but I digress.
The 60-minute format for Grammy’s Ugly Duckling Series is a little different than your average lakorn series. This had been aired every Sunday with a total of 9 episodes for Boy’s Paradise and 31 total for Ugly Duckling. I have not seen the others so won’t be able to offer much insight into those – but I will say that the Ugly Duckling Series itself FEELS like a social perspective of what different students may struggle within society – whether the struggle is getting downgraded from pretty to ugly or vice versa, or experiencing lesbian conundrums – and how they change or overcome these issues.
The tone for Boy’s Paradise is done with a romantic comedy twist, which I appreciate, because I find myself laughing throughout the show. I wanted an easy going, fun jaunt into HD quality, Grammy and Sean-Esther euphoria, and I certainly got that out of the show. Especially when the plot centers on Sean and Esther’s character playing a fake relationship and are roommates (again!) I was immediately on board. I could watch them pretending to be a couple all day, any day. Smooches and hijinks galore, what is not to love? However, the story itself has glaring issues and flaws which we will get into shortly. I mean, it’s not a review unless we point out the good, the bad and the ugly right?
Esther plays Mami, a third year college student who owns almost like a sorority home called Girl’s Paradise. LOL. She’s popular, hysterical (funny), giving and kind – most importantly – she prefers to surround herself with females only, men need not apply. In fact, she’s kind of in love with her best friend, Namsom (Bifern Anchasa), who has her wrapped around her pretty pinky. Mami would be willing to do anything for her. The day after her birthday party, Mami wakes up to find that her home is now “Boy’s Paradise” with three men knocking at her door. Her two female roommates and bestie have apparently disappeared overnight with a kryptic letter stating that they’re sorry and they’ll be gone for a while. The three men include Sean (who is CU), her cousin LJ from America, and superstar Rayji. Wealthy Mom has arranged for these three men to cohabitate with her and there is very little Mami could do about it. And so commence the hijinks!
Mom threatens Mami that she would not be able to see Namsom or have her move back in unless she could find a boyfriend and convince Mom that she’s not a lesbian. So Mami sets off to impress Rayji and CU, since LJ is her cousin and to her he doesn’t count, but he begs to differ. She hilariously dresses as a maid (you know the seductive Halloween costume kind) and proceeds to play capable cook in front of Rayji and cleaning maid in front of CU. Her fellow Ugly Duckling sisters advise that she should try to make one of them her boyfriend and the best way to impress a guy is to show that she’s a good housewife. It’s hilarious to watch her pretending to be girlie when she could care less about these guys. Ultimately she just wants her girl back.
BUT she meets another cute girl named GiGi who is Rayji’s girlfriend/exgirlfriend. Mami is immediately smitten by this female who appears at her Boy Paradise, kind of like a light at the end of the tunnel for her. She realizes that GiGi and Rayji had gone through a tough breakup, and Rayji tells GiGi that Mami is his new girlfriend as to keep the girl at bay. Not wanting to hurt GiGi’s feelings – or any female feelings for that matter – Mami tells GiGi that she actually already has a boyfriend. Guess WHO? It’s Sean! I mean, CU. She begs CU in private to pretend to be her boyfriend and the cheeky man eventually agrees, but bargains that she would have to be his model since he’s working on a project for his Communications Arts program. The two have to do a lot of convincing that they’re a real couple not only to GiGi, but to her mother as well, so smooches galore *smiles*. I die every time Sean calls her “babe” and ends it with a wink. What a scoundrel. An adorably, silly, endearing scoundrel.
Mami starts to fall for CU slowly, while CU seems to have already liked her in the first place. He makes her laugh and they are so naturally happy together. More importantly, he’s always there for her in her time of need. In the midst of it all, Rayji also comes to “like” her although he’s still in “love” with GiGi, while LJ can’t get a time of day with his cousin. At first LJ is a comedic relief, being left in the dust by both CU and Rayji, but he still remains a character I don’t care for, even until the very end. His actions kinda made me throw up in my mouth a little. More on that later. But I did enjoy the bromance between him and Sean.
There’s the whole mystery of why these three men even moved in with Mami to begin with and how the love triangle, four way love story plays out. I like that we start the story off right in the thick of things without any exposition as to why things happen, it’s more fun to figure things out on our own than to have it fed to us. It turns out, Mom contrived for the three men that she knows to move in with Mami in order to change her mind about being a lesbian. She wanted to open her daughter’s world to meeting men and giving them a chance. From what we know, Mami hates men, she thinks they are untrustworthy. The flaw with this character reveal is that we don’t know when, why or how that came about. We know that Mami wasn’t born a lesbian, since when she was little, CU was actually her first boyfriend (and first kiss). She doesn’t remember him at all though, much to CU’s dismay. So how did she develop a severe distrust in men? Did something happen? Or did she develop a preference for women the older she got? It would be nice to have been provided with an explanation so that her behavior is more sympathetic, at least to me. Because once she figures out that she is attracted to a man (namely CU) her lesbian tendency got switched off. I understand you can’t label a person, whether she’s a lesbian or bisexual or a duck, but Show keeps mentioning that something did happen to her to make her hate men, but Show didn’t provide us a reason why. Thus, we are left to our own devices. And your guess is as good as mine.
Things take a dark turn (although the funny is still always there) when Namsom resurfaces in Mami’s life. I just want to slap the shit out of Namsom. She’s lovey and doting to Mami on the surface, but right underneath that very thin surface, she’s a snake – manipulative and cunning. She knows Mami would and could do anything for her, she’s just a great friend like that, and holds onto the girl code like nobody’s business. Sisters before misters. Much like the guy code, bros before hoes. So Namsom takes advantage of this, knowing that Mami and CU are in a fake relationship, and she asks Mami for a favor. She wants CU for herself, therefore Mami needs to breakup with him. But you know she pours in her request like she’s oozing with honey.
Mami is a tightlipped one too, and she’s supposed to be disinterested in men, so she readily agrees. Right before this, Mami misunderstands that CU leaked a picture of her and Rayji to the media, so she loses trust in him. CU was beyond hurt and furious that she could think he was capable of that, his mantra during the accusation was pretty great: I’m the last man on Earth who would hurt you. One day you will know and you will regret this! Nothing like a mysterious confession, right? Who the hell ARE you sir?
Their breakup scene was pretty sad, being that Sean is such a drama queen, complete with tears and puppy dog hurt eyes. She came to breakup with him but he came to make up with her, so when he hears her pawning him off to her best friend, and she refuses to admit to her own feelings, he eventually agrees to date her best friend- because he could never come to hurt her. WTH Show. It’s SO frustrating to watch Mami sometimes. I get that she’s trying to be considerate of her friend, but she’s such a DOORMAT. At least she knows it? When Namsom keeps asking her for favors after favors, always taking and never giving, Mami knows she’s being taken advantage of, but she lets it happen. During that breakup scene, I was hoping that one of them become sensible, like maybe CU, who is in the position to say no. We find out later that when it comes to Mami, he can’t say no, he simply cannot resist her. Which is quite cute and romantic, BUT we’re talking about you dating someone else here and being a noble idiot!
Thankfully CU is not THAT noble nor idiotic, as we see after the breakup that he’s just doing everything to be with her. He’s such a spazzy, goofy, and adorable guy. Don’t make me show you my watermelon! OMG, watch that scene, you may bust a gut. So during the sequence of CU dating Namsom and Mami dating Rayji (that one came out of left field!), the media caught wind of Mami being Rayji’s potential girlfriend so they swarmed her house. CU rescues her once again by coming up with the idea that HE will be her only boyfriend in the media. He’s in his robe and like a perve, reveals his boxer and tank top just to get a funny rise out of her. He always tries to make her laugh whenever she’s stressed out. His boxer is a colorful (pink and red) decor of watermelon – he says he has more cheesy boxers where that came from LOL. So when they have to prove to the media that they are indeed an item, aside from the kiss (which was great), she reveals that she knows exactly what he’s wearing underneath those pants, and he’s forced to strip in front of the media Buahahaha. These two, they crack me up.
Back to Namsom and CU. It’s strange that Namsom could fall for CU so fast, she literally reappears in the show and then tells Mami that she wants CU. So weird. Anyway, I love that CU only uses her to make Mami jealous, I mean, it’s not nice to do that, but when we find out in the end that Namsom is a two faced snake, I kinda didn’t mind. And CU was the one to reveal her true colors. Case in point, the bedroom scene between CU and Namsom. He recently discovered that Namsom had been framing him about the photo leak, she was responsible for leaking it to the media. She also lied to LJ that Mami feels the same way about him, which caused him to almost rape Mami at the hospital (I could never forgive him for that) and Namsom is basically responsible for anything unfortunate in Mami’s life. That night Namsom sidles up to him, having effectively cleared the house of everyone so she could seduce him, not knowing that CU knows her game. With hot tears scalding his face, he tells her that she is the WORST friend ever. Mami loved her unconditionally but yet Namsom would go behind her back and destroy her friend this way. Namsom is jealous that Mami is getting all of the love and attention from the boys (and everyone). CU explains that it’s because Mami is sincere with everyone, while Namsom may think she’s prettier and more deserving, she just doesn’t possess that trait. Awesome. I think it’s so sweet that he’s crying for Mami. As if her pain is his pain.
Finally they were able to report Namsom to the police since she was responsible for throwing a rock at a cab, whereby causing it to overturn and Mami admitted to the hospital. Mami realizes her friend’s true colors and it’s just so sad. She surrounds herself with women, thinking that they are trustworthy and gives them everything: her loyalty and love. Yet none of her good friends actually stood up for her, they just use and abuse her. To think that women in this world can’t build each other up, but only spite and envy, it’s just sad and depressing. I know Show is trying to show Mami that men can be trusted, and not all are terrible, but do we have to do that in detriment to the female population?
I really do like Mom’s realization though. She plotted to have the three men move in with her daughter, thinking that it will allow Mami to get to know men for once – and it worked in the end. However, I love it when Mom makes a decision to cancel all agreements when her daughter was laying on the hospital bed. At the end of the day, she just wants her daughter to be happy. If that means she dates a woman, then so be it. Mom’s so great.
Mami is frustrating to watch from the middle to the end of the show because she just doesn’t care about her own happiness. I know that means she’s unselfish and kind and blah blah blah. But sometimes it’s nice to have a heroine who is at least honest with her own feelings. She denies that she has any feelings for CU until the very end, when WE know she likes him. I know she doesn’t fully trust CU because he seems to be hiding something from her, but when the big reveal happened, it felt a little lackluster. CU is the boy from her childhood- her first boyfriend. When Mom came to him about Mami and asking him to try and make her like and trust men again, he agreed. Firstly because he’s curious about Mami and how much she has grown, and secondly, she was his first love. He didn’t reveal his identity to her because he wants her to love him for him. Ok my Dear Prince aka Drama Queen, you ain’t got no throne to ascend here. The conflict was mysterious at first but when we find out that that was it.. kinda makes all of this angst unsubstantial.
But whatever, CU’s character is endearing and the things he say is swoon worthy. He even dances to Tata Young’s old catchy song, “Oh Oy..” just to make Mami smile. What a keeper.
Boy’s Paradise could have taken this premise to a great many levels, such as showing more of the gender confusion for Mami and its resolution. But Show does well in bringing us laughter, the joy of watching Sean and Esther pretend to date but fall in love in the midst of it, and even though Show skates right above the surface level of real issues, we do walk away with some valuable lessons. Sometimes you have to be confronted with things you are afraid of and give yourself a chance to experience something new. And at the end of the day, sincerity wins.
Oh, and Sean’s wink. This babe always wins in my heart.