As a long time lakorn viewer, I like to go into every new year with optimism. 2016 felt especially promising based on the teasers and offerings from lakorn makers, but unfortunately, as we get ready to close out the year, I am realizing how many misses we’ve had. There is also the month long (for other shows several months long) mandatory break from lakorns due to the King’s passing. Yet after it is all said and done, this years’ lakorns brought out only a few winners, several disappointments, and some waylaid lakorns that are preempted until the following year. Needless to say, I am left wanting so much more from 2016 that will have to be appeased next year.

When I sit down to think about my favorite shows this year, I am taken back to the two shows that stood out above the rest: Padiwarada and Tarm Ruk Keun Jai. The common denominator is the excellent writing, directing and acting, but also how they made me feel at the end of the day. It isn’t entirely fair to compare the two shows because they are so different in mood, plot and genre, but Padiwarada and Tarm Ruk Keun Jai has managed to take me into their world and get lost with the story. I felt every depression, confusion, and then renewed love of Palad Saran in Padiwarada, and I was taken by the yearning for her father and love lost felt by Noona in Tarm Ruk Keun Jai. Those whole hosts of emotions, along with the genuine romance sold me, and sets the tone and standard for the rest of the lakorns this year.

When A Man Loves A Woman came along, it started out very promising, but unfortunately fell back into the groove of standard lakorn clichés and misunderstandings. I came out of this lakorn with less hair than I started, after all of the hair pulling I did. Even though husband and wife have their weaknesses, I felt Dr. Sattawat was a bigger pain in the rear because even though he kept rationalizing that she fell in love with him because of his inherently nice trait, that doesn’t mean that when he took the “niceness” to another level she must bear it. Weak sauce hero, if you ask me.

Another “hero”, or anti-hero if you will, had me wanting some therapy after the show’s debacle ended. Rang Tawan presented a PTSD hero with a traumatic childhood experience to a functional adult who keeps everyone at arm’s length. He has been abandoned by everyone he loved that he questioned anyone’s motive when they get near. Even though he slowly wanted to be on the mend, this hero needed so much work that wasn’t allowed within the framework of the show, which in the end, resulted in a whiplash for the viewers.

But then a kickass hero comes along, by the name of Daniel Wong, and I thought to myself, the best hero might be resuscitated after all. Once Upon a Time in My Heart was mostly great, the hero was so hot (inside and out) that we all fell madly in love and became quite obsessed with the story. But the latter third of the show truly went downhill for me. Suddenly, I found our charming hero, not so charming anymore. He lost a lot of the traits that made him stand out- he was no longer THE Daniel that we all came to love which makes us wonder, what the hell happened? I can’t ignore when a show goes south in the end, no matter how amazing the beginning or middle was. The ending was rushed, resolutions pieced together in seconds, and the hero never really redeemed himself in my eyes. Although it was the crack show until the very end (and it introduced me to Mik), it left me a little bitter and disappointed that it just couldn’t be perfect. Because it could! It had everything! Dammit.

The middle and rest of the year had promised to give us Kluen Cheewit which never materialized. This is the only lakorn that I’ve followed that has taken over a year and a half to produce. I mean, that just puts more pressure on the show to be good, because of all of the time to edit?  Then, I’ve seen at least 1-2 episodes of the airing lakorns throughout the year but none really compelled me to continue/finish. I’ve given some of these lakorns a chance: Fai Lung Fai, Plap Pleung See Chompoo, Chat Payak, Wimarn Mekkela, Pirun Pram Ruk, Nang Tard, Buang Athitarn, Kong Krapan Naree, Lueat Rak Torranong, Sai Lap Rak Puan, Nang Ay, Tayat Asoon, Dao Long Fah Phupah See Ngern, Kularp Tud Petch, Duang Jai Pisut. There were some that I’ve ignored entirely: Gam Lai Mat, Dok Mai Tai Mek, Wai Saeb Saraek Kard, Bussaba Rae Fan.

Which brings us back to the first two lakorns that aired the beginning of the year, Padiwarada and Tarm Ruk Keun Jai. If I could award the best lakorn of the year (which sucks to do because James Ji and Nadech are both my babies), I would give it to Padiwarada on an unbiased level. The writing and directing has elevated this story, and it also helps that James Ji pairs so lovely with Bella Ranee. The sparks flew through the screen as our once rich boy becomes a Palad, thinks he has settled with his “kind“ yet learns that his wife is actually very rich. We journeyed with Saran as he overcame his inferiority complex, his pride and realization that home is really where your heart is. Not only is Padiwarada heartwarming, but it gave us a sense of Saran and Rin as standalone characters and that they may be alright separately, but they’re just stronger and better together.

Tarm Ruk Keun Jai is just plain sweet. I loved watching Khun Singh root for Noona and couldn’t get enough of his adorable suspicion of her yet commitment to help her. But what captured my heart was Noona’s longing to find her dad, but upon meeting him, she just loathe to confront the truth in case her mother was right and her father really didn’t want anything to do with her. And when she got her cake and ate it too, we all cried.

It is very hard to come by a lakorn that just knocks your socks off. We are lucky to have two this year. Let’s hope the “promise” of new lakorns such as the return of Yadech (Leh Lub Salub Rarng, The Crown Princess), James Ji’s two lakorns (Kim and Taew), along with some anticipated “older” actors’ lakorns such as Ken Theeradeth in 2017 will have us swooning and falling in love with a story once again. My goal this coming year is to expand my lakorn viewing to other channels as well. I usually prefer to stay within Channel 3 because they churn out quality lakorns year after year, but nowadays, there are great cable channels and maybe even Channel 7 (depending on the availability) that I would love to dabble into.

Thanks for hanging out here to chat about lakorns through the year, I hope you found some (or two) that you enjoyed and let’s anticipate some good offerings for next year. Cheers!