The year in lakorns has been a pleasantly surprising year of good lakorns, featuring great actors in many great roles. This doesn’t always happen, sometimes I thank my lucky stars if I get to watch one spectacular lakorn a year. But 2018 production teams and channel elders have really stepped up their game, taking us through various parts of history, inviting us into the lives and homes of characters that have staying power, and a writing, directing and acting team so committed to the storytelling that it leaves us aching long after the credits roll.

My subjective list is not an exhaustive list, but a few things you may notice that is different from previous years: (1) MORE channel 7 lakorns (2) more lakorns in general. The last three years for me has been about babies and surviving, so personally 2018 was a good year for me in that I was able to focus more on me, which translates to having time to watch and write about lakorns. This lakornmommy needs her time with lakorns in order to stay sane. To that end, I’ve always steered clear of Channel 7, because I have a bias with Channel 3 – all my babies are from Channel 3 and I felt overall, they produce better shows. But boy did Channel 7 knocked my socks off this year, and my eyes are opened to more of their great and promising actors. This has encouraged me to view more of their offerings next year.

I’ll be honest, one of the reasons why I watch lakorns – or any dramas for that matter – is to see a great, swoony hero. There is a noticeable theme from this year’s unique offerings: it is a year of great heroes. How fortunate and coincidental. This list will attempt to stack them up, so let’s see if your favorite heroes made the cut.

10.) Phuree (Lek Theeradeth) of Sanae Rak Nang Cin (Ch3)

This show is truly a spinoff of Cinderella, and in any good Cinderella story, you need a charming prince. Phuree, though isn’t always clear about his intentions, always remained by Cinderella’s side.

Note: It’s a light and fluffy show, just enough to make you feel nice and warm inside.

9.) Peat (Pon Nawasch) of Trabab See Chompoo (Ch3)

Peat is more of an antihero, if you will. The reason why he beat Phuree (#10) is that he is just slightly more interesting, though loads more devilish. Peat is our resident punisher, seeking revenge against his own father (who turns out not to be his biological father), wants to hurt his step sister whom he has feelings for, betrayed his best friend by using her, and treat the rest of his good friends like hand puppets. The hero sounds bad and cruel, but he turned out this way because he has never been shown true love. He’s illogical, because he has never been taught to be logical. He’s very attuned to the animal instinct, but upon meeting Kiew, she taught him to be a decent human being. For that he gets some recognition for final, good effort. Besides, he has his very charming moments. This show put Pon Nawasch on the map for me.

Note: In general, this lakorn has great directing, but really suffered with the writing towards the latter half of the show. It appears that they are great at coming up with twists and conflicts but struggled on how to resolve them. The major win is the chemistry between Pon and Bua.

8.) Lieutenant Commander Dawin (Nadech Kugimiya) of The Crown Princess – Likit Rak (Ch3)

It is hard to be Lieutenant Commander Dawin when you’re assigned to protect a beautiful but dangerous Crown Princess, especially when everyone is out to get the Crown. LC Dawin takes it in stride, he tackles any issues like a toast he must polish off for breakfast. The biggest challenge of all is to stop himself from falling in love with the princess, knowing full well their love cannot transcend station. But it was an inevitable love story. Nadech nailed it as the hot and capable Lieutenant Commander.

Note: This show was trying to paint with broad strokes, the conflict had to do with everyone fighting for the crown and less to do with the love story between a princess and her protector (as the title had entailed). If they took out the political machinations and show more of the romance throughline – for instance, how the princess goes undercover as a civilian and live her pretend married life with Dawin- this show would be gravy! I’d be polishing this off for breakfast too!

7.) Nai (James Jirayu) of Game Sanaeha (Ch3)

Even though Nai grew up with the spoiled Khun Nu Nok, he has always been an outsider watching in. His greatest desire is to build a solid family, but instead, he gets challenged into a game of love with his longtime crush, Khun Nu Nok. Through it all, he maintained his dignity, and showed Nok that he is worthy of her love and can finally take a seat at the family table.

Note: It’s a slap and kiss lakorn that had more slapping than kissing, that I got a bit of a second-hand whiplash. James Ji and Taew has amazing chemistry together, and that was one thing that kept me going, even when Nok can be frustrating.

6.) Hia Hou/Suea (James Ma) of Chat Suea Pan Mungkorn (Ch3)

Having a debt of gratitude is worse than being a bad person, because the debt of gratitude can make you do unthinkable things. Though Hia Hou doesn’t believe he’s a good person, he really has a heart of gold, and when it counts, he always chooses to do the right thing. He takes in stray cats and even though our heroine believes she owes him her life, Hia Hou would be the first to say that she saved his. He’s swoony, he’s mature, and he’s doubly smart. James Ma did a believable and wonderful job of portraying Hia Hou.

Note: I wished we had more of the living together hijinks. Hia Hou is like a custodial/brother figure to Pinmook, he didn’t think anything of her until the feelings start to develop as she grows up. During that time, it would be nice to see how he fell in love, and the little things that triggered it.

5.) Kanthong (James Jirayu) of Neung Dao Fah Diew (Ch3)

Kanthong’s lonely and desperation was intoxicating. He would do anything to avenge his family’s death, including pretending to be a eunuch. He gets distracted by the smart and capable Mae Mangmao and realizes how much he wants the revenge to be over. So when she naturally figures out what he’s all about, and does her own unveiling, he surrenders. I like him as a eunuch, as Phor Kanthong, as the ninja in the night, James Ji can do no wrong.

Note: It is a war-revenge lakorn, but it wouldn’t hurt to focus a little more on Kanthong and Mae Mangmao. They could be holed up in the temple and try to decipher clues, whatever it may be, but couldn’t they just be joined at the hip? Please?

4.) Kaytdaen (Mik Thongraya) of Jao Sao JomYorm (Ch7)

Sigh, Kaytdaen. What a man. What a sexy hero. But moreso than that, he’s a smart character who figures out Maysarin even before she knows it herself. He’s patient, he’s kind, he kicks ass. Even though Maysarin went into the marriage reluctantly, Kaytdaen showed her exactly the kind of man we all want and need.

Note: Prepare tissues for your drool.

3.) Khun Krai (Porsche Saran) of Sai Lohit (Ch7)

Khun Krai will keep you safe, ladies! Well unless he meets his demise first.. But even so, you’ll be a stronger person for it! This warrior is a lot to handle, because he’ll want to go to the battlefield and protect the country before he would climb into bed with you, however good things come to those who wait, and when the battle is over, you may find yourself barefoot and pregnant five times. He’s a rare one in the era because he will only have one wife, one love. In all honesty, he’s one of the greatest heroes.

Note: Though we talk about the romantic hero, this show also tackles the strength of the women these heroes leave behind. Prepare tissues for the flood of tears. 

2.) Ai Joi (Kem Hussawee) of Hi-so Sa Orn (Ch7)

Ai Joi! It is a name we all want to shout because he’s that amazing. This is a guy who pined after his first love for 15 years. Upon meeting her again, would do anything and everything for her. Though what makes a difference in this storytelling is that the writing really takes the time to show us and the heroine the length he would go through to make her happy. We get to see screen by screen, time after time, what a magnificent creature he is. Sure, any lakorn can let us imagine a wonderful pr’ek, but seeing it unfolding before our eyes makes all the difference.

Note: This romance works because of the chemistry between Kem and Maggi. But the story makes it second on the list because it has a solid direction, excellent writing, and a great cast.

1.) Phor Daed/Khun P’ (Pope Thanawat) of Buppae Sanniwas (Ch3) 

The most striking thing about this particular boran hero, is that we don’t know everything about him or the type of person he is at first glance. In fact, I was a bit skeptical, I love that Show isn’t afraid to cast him in a darker light at first. We are all Karakade, stepping into a time machine, where we are introduced to a new world and meet a fiancé who doesn’t really like us. He appears to be a stickler to rules, he’s a well to do man in the era and wiles away his time day drinking, betting on chicken fights, and well, responsible for trying to kill us (Karakade). By calling on a prayer to find the guilty party, he inadvertently cursed Karakade. So her spirit dies, calling on her twin sister from a modern time to be reborn in her grown body and redeem herself.

By meeting this new Karakade, who says strange things, who is clever, witty, and loyal to a fault, Phor Daed shows us, and her, what a bright and adorable fellow he is. Through love, he became a hero all his own, so much so, he casts his own future fate. Phor Daed vows he would only love Karakade, that he would never love another, thus making her his “buppae sanniwas” (fated couple). We have two universes existing what feels like at the same time. There’s the modern-day universe where Katesurang dies in a car accident. Phor Daed is the reincarnated best friend who had driven the car. He ordained for life so he could send her spirit back to his past self (second universe), where Karakade and Phor Daed can live their lives as buppae sanniwas. That is powerful stuff. I still get goosebumps thinking about it. Phor Daed is one of the swooniest heroes I’ve ever seen, willing to sacrifice his next lifetime just to be with his love.

Note: This show has the whole package, fast forward button need not apply. We are immersed with the whole story, and if you haven’t read the book, that twist and shocker, will have you reeling. It will blow your mind. The chemistry between Pope and Bella is next level. Also, this lakorn has the highest ratings for Channel 3, inspiring the love for Thai history, traditional fashion, and love for Thai authentic food. Buppae Sanniwas has become a household name, and a very well-deserved place at the top of the list.

But keep in mind, that the heroes listed here would be nothing without their heroine counterpart, the “it” factor that seals the deal for fan devotion. Namely, Bella, Maggi, Bua, Taew, and Yaya.

2018 has been a great year for lakorns. The breadth of good lakorns has me hopeful and optimistic for what 2019 will bring (I will have my anticipated 2019 list by the beginning of the year). As I peruse through the list of aired lakorns of 2018, I noticed a couple of shows that I’ve missed and still very curious about. I’ve heard great things about them and wondered that if I did tune in, where they would place on this list. I will tackle these (Sampatan Hua Jai, Khun Mae Suam Roy) as we wait for new lakorns to air.

What have you been impressed with in 2018 and what are you looking forward to in 2019? I hope to tune into more lakorns from all channels (most devotedly Ch3 and Ch7, especially all my new puppies!). As always, thank you for your support, for fangirling along with me as we journeyed through history, through time, and through our heroes’ undying love. Let’s welcome 2019 with an e-hug and cheek kisses. Happy New Year, lovelies!