[pandemic diaries] In Family We Trust

I’m still in my Thai phase so I’ve been looking for films and dramas that could feed this current interest. I’m not really new to Thai films because I used to watch them at their ultra modern cinemas (English subtitles available) and Thais are good with rom-coms (and horror, though this is not my preferred genre). Dramas–not so much. When I was still new in Bangkok, I’d watch random dramas on TV when I get home from work, though I never understood what was going on and didn’t really follow a specific one.

So it’s rather ironic that I’ve been hooked on a lakorn just when I don’t live there anymore. But so many things have changed since then and many of Thai lakorn and films are available now with English subtitles. Plus, thanks to “2gether: The Series,” there is an explosion of interest for T-pop.

My search for lakorn brought me to “In Family We Trust” on Netflix. It’s a 16-episode drama about a Thai-Chinese family. There’s melodrama, mystery, suspense and a lot of eye candy (nine of them in fact since they’re apparently part of a talent group or something). The older cast is composed of some of the industry’s best including national artist Patravadi Mejudhon, who plays the matriarch.

For someone who gets bored and abuses the fast-forward button, I faithfully watched all episodes of IFWT without skipping even a second. Sure, there were the usual overdrawn scenes with music playing in the background while the camera slowly focuses on a character/characters–and I sat through all that. And despite the sheer number of characters (it involves the intertwined stories of four families in a clan after all) and subplots, I found the narrative very fascinating. I was also specially interested in the neighborhood where the families lived. The production wasn’t bad at all either (in fact, a review I read stated that the ratings did not quite match the expectations and the scale of production). There were comments too about the authenticity of the traditions and practices of the Thai-Chinese community, which is a very important thread in the fabric of Thai society (a lot of the big businesses are owned by Thai-Chinese families). I had one or two quibble about the execution of some scenes (such as that major confrontation scene set in Hong Kong, which was over-the-top and bordering on makjang) but overall, it was a very interesting drama to watch.

My favorite character was Pete–he had the most character development from being a spoiled, rich son to someone who was forced to grow up due to his father’s mysterious death and apply his own sense of moral justice in a family that was mired in tradition even if it was a difficult process.

I managed to watch the entire thing in about four nights (gone are the days I can marathon a drama overnight or two) and was so absorbed in the story that I’d even wonder about the characters in the middle of the day (I didn’t read spoilers because I truly wanted to follow the story without knowing the ending). In the end, it is the first lakorn I watched from start to finish, even completing it ahead of the finale of 2gether.

Since then though, it has been difficult to find a lakorn that could match the scale of IFWT.

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