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As Long as the Sky has the Sun – A Review

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Trab Fah Mee Tawan – As Long as the Sky has the Sun recently completed its airing on Channel 3, by Sonix Boom Production, the same production team that brought us Thong Ake and Game Sanaeha, and in a sense, brought the combination of excellent comedic timing of Thong Ake and the heavier drama aspect of Game Sanaeha to The Sky Has the Sun. As a result, this show is well-paced and well-scripted, with a great directorial hand. Don’t let the English title fool you, “My Forever Sunshine” is anything but a fluffy show, it’s a show about mistakes, loss, finding happiness, and the all-encompassing love (whether that is love directed to a person or self-love).

We start with Wan Fahmai aka Paeng played by Kao Supassara, our heroine, whose name means “the sky” in our story. When we first meet Paeng, she’s got a bit of a bad rap, in that she gets in fights with her schoolmates and inevitably changes high school often. She doesn’t care to have friends, because having her parents is good enough for her, and we see an almost obsession to get time from them, especially attention from her mom. This makes it interesting to see why she is this way, because there has to be more to her character than a spoiled, attention seeking child right? Right. Her mother is a socialite who likes to frequent parties, so when Paeng finds out her mother is attending a so-and-so event, Paeng never fails to draw attention to herself – even bad attention to stop her mother. Interesting, turns out there is context to this. The show keeps it suspenseful and interesting without telling us everything at first, so we’re left to generalizing Paeng at first impression. Until we get to know her more.

Meanwhile “the sun” in our story is Arthit, who literally means the sun, played by Mark Prin. Who, funny enough, also played the sun in an older lakorn called “The Boiling Sun (Tawan Duerd). In this story, Arthit is a bright and promising college student. He has everything going for him; he’s athletic, popular (has 3 best friends), kind, an all-around good boy. He’s also very dutiful to his parents who run The Sunshine Farm (Rai Saeng Tawan), speaking of which, can I move there? The Sunshine Farm is stunning and is also an important character in this story. However, Arthit’s family almost lost possession of the farm when Arthit’s dad got swindled, but his best friend came to the rescue and lend him money to pay off the debt. Arthit’s family feels indebted to the friend, who turns out to be Paeng’s dad. Arthit doesn’t bat an eyelash when Paeng’s dad asks him to lookout for Paeng in the city while Arthit is attending college. Arthit comes to adore Paeng like a little sister and the two bond over their newly found friendship.

Out of nowhere though, Paeng’s dad mysteriously drops her off at The Sunshine Farm with nothing more than he had business to settle and will pick her up after. Due to Paeng’s harsh personality (in that she gives it as good as she gets), Arthit’s mom and household servants all detest her. Not feeling welcomed, and with her father’s sketchy disappearance, Paeng sneaks back to her house in the city to get to the bottom of this, only what she finds, changes her life forever. Paeng witnesses her dad committing suicide, and shortly after, her mother dead in a hotel room. Arthit’s dad came looking for Paeng and sees the tragic deaths of her parents, he notes what this all looks like: dad shot mom and then killed himself after. Due to Paeng’s state of shock, Arthit’s dad makes a decision to lie to everyone that Paeng’s parents got into a traffic accident and loss their lives. He takes Paeng back to the farm and is determined to raise her there, not thinking that that environment is the worse environment for Paeng to heal. It’s so painful to watch Paeng, now an orphan, put up a fight with people who have no idea what she is going through. Also, Arthit wasn’t around those first few days of her trauma since he was studying for his final exams. Dad keeps hoping that people would be kind to her when he gives them no context to her behavior, not even to his own wife! The mom is left to chalk up Paeng’s behavior to ill-temper and bad manners. But instead of being the adult or the bigger person, mom goes head to head with Paeng.

When Arthit finally shows up at the farm, he was the last light and hope for Paeng. Naturally she latches on to him and gives him the 100% obsession that she had reserved only for her parents. Paeng doesn’t entertain the idea of moving back home because it brought terrible memories and she never wants to step foot in there again (she is still traumatized by the sound of a gunshot). Arthit thinks only of being there for her and helping her through a tough time, not realizing that his attention and adoration seems like love to Paeng. Soon her obsession becomes problematic, the unhealthy environment escalates, and Paeng turns more and more into a troublesome teenager than anyone signed up for. All of this culminates to one moment where Paeng and Arthit overhears that Arthit’s dad made a promise to Paeng’s dad that Paeng and Arthit would marry each other. Paeng is elated of course, because she fancies loving Arthit, while Arthit is horrified because (1) he doesn’t love Paeng (2) he has a crush on Ling who is his best friend (3) he refuses to be forced to marry anyone.

Arthit’s frustration with Paeng grows until he sees her “true colors”. Afraid to lose Arthit, Paeng contrives to be compromised by Arthit. Mind you, he’s drunk and Paeng sets out to seduce him. The parents catch them in bed and Arthit’s dad declares that Arthit must marry Paeng. Arthit couldn’t believe his ears, Paeng betrayed him and his dad is ordering him to marry her. Angry, Arthit storms out of the house, gets into his truck, and proceeds to drunk drive himself into a tree. The accident nearly took his life, thus saying goodbye to being the star athlete and to his crush who moved back to London, Arthit only has one person to blame. He’s going to remember how Paeng ruined his life forever.

This is a wakeup call for both Paeng and Arthit’s dad. He owns up to making a mistake of bringing Paeng to the farm and forcing Arthit to marry her. He moves Paeng back to the city and tries to find her a healthier environment to heal and grow up. With the right help and opportunity, Paeng indeed matures and learns that you don’t need to fight everybody. She even manages to make some friends, graduate in the field that she wants, and built a good life as an orphan. Still, in the back of her mind, she would never forget the biggest mistake of her life: ruining Arthit.

Fast forward six years, Paeng gets an opportunity to redeem herself to Arthit. As she wants to create her own rose farm and build a business around rose products, Arthit’s dad proposes that she work at The Sunshine Farm for two years as an apprentice and then she could open her own business. Paeng reluctantly agrees, half of her is terrified to face everyone at the farm, and the other half just wants to be forgiven. All of this happens in the first five episodes! The trauma (the drama!), the loss, and the heightened sense of hatred takes us into the next five episodes where Paeng reunites with Arthit after they’ve been able to build their lives back up. This is also where the fun happens, as we watch Paeng being the secure adult now, go neck to neck with the whole farm, and trying not to get scorched by the burning sun, that is Arthit. I think it is remarkable to watch Paeng becoming a sensible grownup and picking her battles. I remember thinking when I was watching the lost and confused young Paeng, that I was wishing for her independence. Then as I watch her undergo the overworking and condescension, I was thinking again to myself that I hope she gets some good treatment before the story ends. Like the former, I also got my wish granted. While Paeng thinks Arthit caring for her is out of the blue – when he has always punished her every chance he gets – it is certainly obvious to us that Arthit’s true nature isn’t the burning sun. He has always been a kindhearted person, so being a bully goes against his nature and he’s conflicted whenever he had to be mean.

When he first reunites with her again, he tries to do anything to make her leave. First, he shocks her by showing up in a wheelchair (I was shocked too!), and then he tries to overwork her so that she could hightail back to the city. But no matter what he did, she always maintained her cool, making him seem almost uncool, and over time, his anger towards her resolves itself. When he reaches a point where he can no longer deny that he’s growing fond of her or that she is indeed a good person who’s doing everything to make amends, Arthit becomes true to himself again and we see that he’s really the warm sunset.

I really liked that about this show. The buildup of the love for each other, the independent growth of the individual, and the trust that they have in each other. One of my favorite sequence of scenes was episode 15 where Arthit learns from his best friend Ling that all a girl wants is to be heard and to be with people who understands her. Arthit had saved Paeng from a kidnapping attempt and was shot because of that, so he attempts to remove Paeng from situations that may endanger her – all of course without telling her why and who they’re running from. Paeng dislikes being pulled in different directions without explanations, she had only agreed to stay with Arthit so she could tend to his wounds. Arthit takes her to her former housekeeper’s home, so instead of staying at an unfamiliar condo, she gets to see her housekeeper again. In this episode, Paeng falls a little more in love with Arthit as she feels that the old Arthit is back, her warm P’Arthit. I am grateful that this show has a lot of the main leads screen time, and the other characters in the story supplement nicely.

I like to think of Dad as the kerosene, he goes into a situation and throws kerosene and walks away, admiring his damage from afar. What with bringing Paeng to the farm after her parents death, knowing that she won’t have the support from his wife, and then bringing her back 6 years later but has to go on a business trip for 3 days so Arthit could punish her. I know his heart is in the right place, and he has this “omg what have I done” expression when he realizes how he royally fucked up, but I forgive him because at the end of the day, he has always been there for everyone, whether he’s withholding important information or not.

His wife, the mom, she’s probably the most worthless character in this show. I mean, what does she do all day besides bitching? Not only does she bully a child, but she also throws her tantrums and then expects Arthit to do what she says. Not only is she out of touch with reality, but she’s the epitome of a parent who thinks a child owes her because she’s the mom. She mainly serves as a deterrent between any hope of a happily ever after between the main leads, even as everything is resolved, we still got mom making things hard on them.

The suspense surrounding her parent’s death finally came to light when Paeng decides to reopen her mother’s case, proving to everyone that her father didn’t in fact killed her mother. We all know who the culprit is, a certain someone who suddenly appears in her life, Mark. His introduction was the weakest part of the story to me. It is as if the show wants to create a new theme in the second half of the story. Mark introduces himself as an orphan too and wants to do business with her. But he has ulterior motives, we see how sketchy he is from the getgo, and then learn that he was Paeng’s mom’s lover, and also the killer. His reason behind wanting Paeng? It’s because he couldn’t have Paeng’s mom. As we spend too much time unraveling that he is indeed the culprit and incriminating him at court, Paeng drives home the message: that even though they are orphans, they can still choose to be good people and make good choices. She says she forgives him and that once he does his time in jail, she hopes he will make good choices. It fell on death ears to me because Mark wasn’t a character we even knew about or even cared for, and they had entirely different circumstances. To lump them in the same pool was not effective, and his motive was weak. He has an affinity to kill and no jailtime or pep talk from Paeng is going to change him.

If I could reason why this resolution helps Paeng and Arthit’s relationship, is that it showed us Arthit’s growth, in that he is okay taking a step back and play supporting boyfriend so she could do her thing (when most of the time he tries to fix everything for her). Paeng manages to contrive (on her own) that Mark was the culprit behind her mother’s death and clear her father’s name. As Paeng and Arthit go through their trial of separation, we know that they don’t need each other but that they want to be in each other’s life. As the former housekeeper once asked Paeng, what is the happiest moment in life? Paeng initially had said her childhood was happiest. The housekeeper begs to differ, because happiness is living for today, you can’t fix the past and you don’t know what will happen in the future, but you can choose to be happy today. The housekeeper was trying to tell her that even though she is afraid to like Arthit, that she should give it her best shot anyway. Today is precious. I couldn’t agree more.

I thoroughly enjoyed the journey, even though it can be painful. But the story also brought great chemistry between Mark and Kao who played the sun and the sky respectively, as well as the friendships, relationships and stunning cinematography. It wasn’t easy to get that happy ending, but nothing easy is worth fighting for.

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