Written by Ryan Leyco Faura (reach me via Twitter @hisRyanHighness or @win_metawhipped)
Ryan Leyco Faura is a licensed professional teacher from Antipolo City and the author of Pun Intended: Collected Works under Hinabing Salita Publishing House. 2gether The Series is his first BL series -and possibly last- not unless season 2 comes along.
In the darkest days of the pandemic, when the only light comes from our mobile screens, resolution 1080, and what we only see are vistas of despair, people turned to the wonderment of the moving images. It’s a respite from a preconceived notion of the new normal which is a thing now, but everyone disapproves of.
Some in the technicolor montages of motion pictures while others in the polished aesthetics of Netflix etc. Some immersed in the deliciously tedious process of sourdough baking.
I, on the other hand, turned to GMMTV YouTube channel and just fangayed out.
The days B.C ( Before Corona) are hipster’s sacred ground. But in the age of pandemic, these hipsters stay at home, storm-troop Twitter, watch TV and crack phone screens until their sockets burn and eyes pop out. 2gether, the Thai BL (Boys Love) Series which aired on YouTube every Friday before its May 15th finale and now on IWant every day at 10:00 PM, is that show that can make these hipsters stay at home or storm-troop Twitter, even if, say, the ECQ is lifted.
It’s that one show that I don’t mind watching, even with the centripetal pull of good literature nearby, which freakishly runs, at least to me, for 5 minutes because it feels so short and sudden. The period of waiting from one week to the next is a sadomasochistic lull, an interlude of weeping for the uncalled-for spoilers that fans suffuse social media and celebrating the little victories of a perfectly-placed translation of behind-the-scenes videos.
In the grand traditions of other BL series that come before #2gether, the tools of the trade here seem to be contemplative to certain regularities.
It needs to have the right material albeit, not exactly groundbreaking but should work best through irresistible, all-too sudden episodes. In fact, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a BL series could run for 13 episodes tops or more but not as enduring as in the case of local teleseryes which may take several reincarnations.
Additionally, it could tackle the big issues which the characters go through in the course of the show but not as hard sell so it can still elicit the most appropriate escapist response. And most importantly as this can’t be denied, it should feature eye candies- fair-skinned, disarmingly charming, predominantly straight guys about to acclimatize naturally to the demands of the genre, or else it defeats the purpose of what a BL should be, so it can defy a possible alienation and reach out to its intended audience.
#2gether, my default favorite amongst the cornucopia of BL series, takes a grain of salt and tequila to go with it. It updates the genre paying homage to erstwhile hits and still checks the same boxes. It is the story of Tine and Sarawat, both criminally attractive, as they try to define and make sense of this attraction that consumes them. From their awkward first encounter where Tine asked Sarawat to pretend to be his fake boyfriend to deter a persistent admirer from pursuing him to Sarawat’s stolen kisses and constant head patting as feelings change but with a twist that you don’t see coming; to the most romantic episode 11 ender that wraps up as it should.
What is most admirable about #2gether is it does not romanticize the usual tropes that LBGT-themed series employ to its advantage: intimate scenes, as implied in its most tender moments, do not drive the show to move a frenetic pace.
As I was watching and re-watching the series in the comforts of my bed, there are instances that I have to pause a scenario because it can almost feel cartoonish. After all, I never had an instance where a man professes his admiration to me through songs and even dares to look me in the eyes in utter emotive surrender. 2gether effervescently supports a dream that I play over and over again, raptures all the could have beens and what-ifs in series of doe-eyed squeals and pulls everything inward to its blessed center.
I breezed through the 13 episodes the way I scarfed down riveting bestsellers: urgent, deliberate, goal-oriented. That of need to catch up with the narratives because it will end soon. I need to squeeze all the fleshed-out moments into my head so I can reach out to them when the world is falling apart. Those were the greatest instances that I spent on the medium- on my battered iPhone 6, under a data subscription that can end abruptly- even if I only met Tine and Sarawat for that briefest period of strategic boredom.
Bright and Win, the real names behind the characters, grow on me like a second skin.
Whenever I scroll a Facebook group or inadvertently follow the week’s official hashtag, I have to marvel on how my heart skips a beat when I see Bright’s deep-seated eyes, or Win’s winsome smile or the two of them goofing and guffawing together as they take a YouTube challenge together all for the fans.
This is probably what Alice in Wonderland might have felt when she fell down the rabbit hole: there are many chances to get out of it, but I choose to stay. Also, I never had this burning-hot desire to learn another language apart from the ones that I wielded ever since Bright sang the series OST at the show end credits which I admittedly watched only once because it spoils the next montages. The official video as of press time has racked 23 million views after 3 months it was released and I might have contributed half of it. To say that I am obsessed with it is putting it bluntly.
2gether is far from perfect and it does not try to be.
But who cares about perfection when the show could be this light and fluffy and therapeutic and a solitary episode like a shot of dopamine? It just feels good to be lost in their smoldering stares reserved only to themselves but us raging fans can have a front-row seat advantage.
We wish we all could be Tine or Sarawat at one point but we won’t trade this chance for anything in the world. We wish we have this kind of show growing up so all the free-falling and the ground bursting colors cannot be invalidated.
This is a version of a love story we like to play over and over again because even if it’s just a concept, we are radiated from within, lit with the show’s fire and ember until we all glow luminous and incandescent.
In each episode cut to four uneven parts, I am always anxious and breathy and expectant like I’m going on labor. It’s not hormones but it is very likely that I will cry again in the episode’s unguarded moments because this how I roll with the show’s punches. This isn’t in 2gether The Series’s genetic blueprint of course whose rom-com proclivities are brought to the fore.
But time’s rough at the moment, we all seek comfort even if that means unabashedly reacting differently to what is perceived to be as light viewing experience and I don’t see wrong with it. I am an emotional person that even if I can’t understand the lyrics of the songs featured prominently by a real Thai band, Scrubb, I still hug the pillow I go to bed every night. I think of rose-colored days ahead all while remembering how it feels to love and be loved in return, which 2gether The series plays out incessantly until it becomes solid, touchable truth.
The May 15 finale could have ended differently, but the afterglow of the show was in its most piercing.
Interestingly, it spawned top trending domination, hilarious memes. Endings are crucial and as nerve-wracking as the first few scenes. It could be subtle, or could take the high road, or mess things up. But for whichever twist and turn it took, only time will tell if the flame will hold up on its own.
When the 5 special episodes, #Still2gether, were announced that was when I lost it: I weeped. I missed them like crazy. The show, at least to me, has grown fonder despite its absence from our lives for that time being. I am certified whipped.
In arguably one of the show’s dramatic revelations in Episode 7, where earlier Tine told Sarawat to quit with the fake flirting, the transcript of their conversation encapsulates the seismic impact of the show to me when this is all over:
Sarawat: But when I saw you with someone else, I don’t think I can stop my feeling anymore.
Tine: And do you think I can? From the day you disappeared, my life was never the same. Whatever I did, or wherever I went, you caught up with me. Even in my dreams, you were there teasing me. Are you going to take responsibility for what you did?
The month or so after it ended, and now Tagalized I still sigh. Same Tine. Same.