Thai television soap opera
Soap operas are a popular genre of Thai television. They are known in Thai as ละครโทรทัศน์ (RTGS: lakhon thorathat, lit. "television play") or simply ละคร (lakhon, pronounced [la.kʰɔːn], also spelled lakorn). They are usually shown every night at primetime on Thai television channels and start at 20:30. An episode of a prime-time drama is usually two hours long (including commercials). Each series usually is a finished story, unlike Western "cliffhanger" dramas, but rather like Hispanic telenovelas.
A series will run for about three months. It may air two or three episodes a week, the pattern usually being Monday–Tuesday, Wednesday–Thursday or Friday–Sunday. A channel will air three soap operas simultaneously at any given time. Because they attract the most viewers, each channel competes for the most popular stars.
While the "best" series are shown at night right after the news, there are ones with smaller profiles (and shorter run time) evenings around 17:00–18:00. In some cases, primetime series are also shown on re-runs a couple of years after their initial release, in the afternoon. Soap operas are broadcast on channel 3, 5 and 7 in the same time of broadcasting.
Thai soap operas have very distinctive, though formulaic, characters and narrative conventions. Though some stray from these conventions, most adhere to them, especially ones that are very popular among Thai viewers.
- They are always about achieving a perfect ending in which the leading characters marry their soulmates and live happily ever after.
- The two main lovers are established at the beginning of the series. Viewers have no difficulties singling them out of the crowd for they tend to be the most popular soap opera stars of the moment. The male lead role usually called Phra Ek (พระเอก) as the main actress had named Nang Ek (นางเอก)
- The presence of one "bad" female character, sometimes more, is commonplace. This is the person who is totally in love with the male lead and will do all that is necessary to stop the two would-be lovers from fulfilling their destined ending. She tries everything to be the main actor's girlfriend and always tries to get rid of the main actress. She is often a stereotypical character who does not hesitate to do bad, bad things to the main actress including trying to steal her boyfriend before the wedding. She is often a rich girl or comes from a good family background, but has nasty behaviour and is manipulative. Few of these characters are kind. She is usually a living person, but a few of these characters can be evil, dead women who come back as ghosts. The most popular ones are Poot Mae Nam Khong or the remake of Pob Pee Fa. Nang Rai or Nang Itcha (นางอิจฉา) is a famous name for Thai viewers.
- "Katoei" (กะเทย – man dressed like a woman) are often used as comic relief. Sapai Look Tung is popular for this role.
- In the end, all conflicts in the story must be resolved. Everyone forgives each other. The "bad" guys receive their punishments and the "good" guys receive their rewards. However, some series end with unsolvable problems such as Poot Mae Nam Khong.
- Thai soap operas are often melodramatic to the point of becoming camp. Most productions are written and produced with the assumption that the more melodramatic it is, the better. This is why situations are grossly exaggerated, actions are overly theatrical, and screams and shrieks (from the bad female) numerous.
Because Thai soap operas present a melodramatic storyline featuring simple one-dimensional characterizations to capture the broadest viewership and commercial sponsorship, they generally do not foster critical insight, reasoning or problem-solving skills, nor a multi-perspective consideration of the human drama being viewed. They are simply an attempt to create dramatic tension and a "showdown" between the protagonist(s) and antagonist(s).
Several series adhere to this simple format which, over an extended period, may cause some viewers to develop a skewed view of reality. At least one critic[who?] contends that the recent[when?] political problems in Thailand may be at least partially attributable to the negative influence of soap operas, surmising that it is the disregard of common sense and common human wisdom that causes people to shy away from thinking critically and, as a result, becoming prone to manipulation.
In 2008, Thai Airways flight attendants urged the government to remove a prime-time TV drama (Songkhram Nang Fah) because it showed women flight attendants in short-skirted uniforms fighting while over a male pilot. They complained the soap opera portrayed their job in a negative light.
Most Thai soap operas portray the upper class of Thai society, usually through the male lead, but sometimes from both leads. The male lead is usually rich, like Phak in Dao pra sook. Early on, the male leads were nobility, usually junior princes, such as a Mom Chao, because, back then, these were the rich people in Thai society. The rich male has since evolved into businessmen from influential families. This change mirrors the change in Thai society with the upper class now filled with business people and not so much from the royal and noble classes.
Most, if not all, Thai soap operas are based upon novels. Romance abounds in Thai literature scenes and most have the perfect boy-meets-girl scenario. The ever famous, Dao pra sook, is also a novel while another 1994's Silamanee was clearly inspired by the novel of the same name.
Thai television soap operas have contributed to popularize the spirits and legends of the folklore of Thailand. Some soap operas, such as "Raeng Ngao", include the popular ghosts in Thai culture interacting with the living, while others are based on traditional Thai legends and folk tales such as "Nang Sib Song", "Kaki" and "Thep Sarm Rudoo".
Actors and actresses, referred to in Thai language as dara (stars) ดารา, are usually cast in the same roles over and over again. An actress who plays the lead female would assume the same role.
Suvanant Kongying still plays the female lead. The same goes for other roles, such as the friend of the main leads, the bad characters, the servant characters, the mother characters, and others. An "upgrade" or "downgrade" does occur, such as when a female lead assumes the role of the mother, but this is quite rare. Num Sornram Theppitak still plays the leading male character. Kob Suvanant Kongying and Num Sornram Theppitak were the highest paid TV actress and actor in Thailand in the 1990s. However in the past 10 years a new actress has reigned as highest paid in Thailand, Pachrapa Chaichua of Ch. 7 and Ann Thongprasom of Ch. 3.
This trend causes problems for the female actors in the leading roles as they age. Thai audiences seem to like their leads young and beautiful and many past female daras have disappeared from the screen once they reach the age of 30 or so. A few defy this norm, such as Marsha Wattanapanich, and even then, she is gradually disappearing. Her latest TV series was 2002's Baung Ban Ja Torn (The Enchanted Bed), which became top rated.
This problem is not as bad for male actors, as can be seen in the prolific career of veteran actor Chatchai Plengpanich. His wife, the once famous Sinjai Plengpanich, has all but disappeared, except for the few commercials seen in primetime.
Among the younger crowd are leading actress's such as Kwan Usamanee and Pancake Khemanit who have continued to grab ratings despite their Ongoing Feud Both Kwan and Pancake have come out numerous of times to deny that there is any feuding, but actions prove otherwise. Due to their improper behavior it is rumored that executive's for Ch. 7 such as Khun Daeng has called both girls in to be disciplined. Both Kwan and Pancake although are young have been given high spotlight due to their feuds and their romantic links to other celebrities such as Golf, a famous singer from the duo better known as Golf Mike. Pancake has been linked to romantic interests such as leading actor Weir Sukollwat Pra'ek best known from his role in the series Pleng Ruk Rim Farng Korng.
Thailand has strict censorship laws on films containing nudity, sexual intercourse, smoking opium, or which might offend religious sensibilities. There are no classifications to rate films for different ages so censors often obscure scenes by scratching the celluloid or smudging it with a translucent gel. When actors are playing cards in TV series, a sentence displays that playing cards with money is forbidden by the law.
On Thai television, Chinese, Japanese, American, and Indian films are broadcast. No sex is shown on Thai television, but violence is not uncommon.
Some series are subject to a rating. Most of BBTV Channel 7 programs are usually rated as G-18 (children under 18 should seek parental guidance).
Thai TV soap operas are popular overseas in countries such as Cambodia and Laos. Several Cambodian television channels air Thai soap operas instead of their local ones. Dao Pra Sook was the most popular series for Khmer viewers. However, to release lakorn had banned at the early of 2003 but released back in the same years.[clarification needed] The sale of Thai soap operas is still allowed in Cambodia, but television stations do not air them.
Thai TV soap operas have begun to become popular in Singapore as Nang Tard released well in that country. They are broadcast in Singapore one or two weeks after airing in Thailand. Malaysia used to broadcast some Thai soaps with considerable success, but currently Thai soap operas are almost absent on local television, but are sold on DVDs 2–3 months after the broadcast on Thai television. Vietnam's VTV1 broadcasts Thai soap operas one day after showing in Thailand, usually not dubbed or subtitled.
The popularity of Thai soap operas in European and the US markets is on the rise.
Thai soap operas were also broadcast in the Philippines for a short while in 1998, but were cancelled due to low ratings.
Each series incorporates various dramatic elements such as horror or comedic sub-plots. However, due to the popularity of love stories, all series feature a love story. None do not.
Since the late 1990s, Thai soap operas are often remakes of old series but with new actors and minor modifications in the scenario. To have new variations on the same themes, producers add supplementary sex, violence and vulgarity. The tradition of the remake in Thai soap opera Society begin with the famous series. The introduction of remakes refer to 1995's Sai Lohit (Bloodline) with famous Sornram Teppitak and Suvanant Kongying which then followed by Prissana which produced in 2000. Dao Pra Sook also had a remake in 2002.
Another recent remake, Poot Pee Saward, Poot Mae Nam Khong and Susan Khon Pen, the both love story and ghost story including Pob Pee Fa and Dome Tong remake are begin announce. But the too much remake required by audience to disappoint in reason of its too much special effect and unbelievable if compared to the original.
However, a 2008 remake from 1994's series, Silamanee, rather became a hit and received positive response from audiences in spite of the first disappointing of the horror remake. The attraction of this remake was due to the new costume design and the actress lead was Suvanant Kongying. It was noted as the most beautiful series of the year.
All soap opera series do not have another season but may be followed by sequel. The Thai hit series, Girl in The Glass Lamp, based on Indian legend Aladdin, had a sequel but with different casting. This series found as only sequel until 2000's hit, Angkor, released its sequel in the late of 2006. Meanwhile, a remake of Poot Mae Nam Khong is planning to produce a sequel after the question for audience appeared on its ending. One of the highest rating series of all time, Kom Faek now announced its sequel as well. Sawan Biang is one of the two series with the highest rating of all time. The lakorn's leads were played by the talented Ann Thongprasom and Ken Theeradeth, although no sequel is in sight.
- Dao Pra Sook became the most popular series in 1990s and one of the first of leading the Thai soap opera reputation into aboard screen within the highest rate drama at 1994 including several foreign release. The highest rated country after Thailand, is Cambodia with giving the nickname for Suvanant Kongying as the morning star as well as the title of the series.
- Susan Khon Pen is a series which mostly remake as at least three times just in only one channel.
- Sisa Marn is noted the scariest series along with Pob Pee Fa and Tayat Asoon.
- In 2008, Kom Faek set the record for the highest rated Thai soap opera in history as well as for BBTV Channel 7, with almost 15 million viewers.
- Kaew Tah Pee has proved to be one of the most beloved series amongst international fans.
List of Thai TV soap operas
- Prissana (1987) - Chatchai Plengpanich and Lalita Panyopas
- Koo Kum (1990) - Bird McIntyre and Komolchanok Komolthiti
- Wanida (1991) - Sarunyu Wongkrajang and Lalita Panyopas
- Nai Fun (1992) - Chatchai Plengpanich, Warut, Sinjai, and Lalita Panyopas
- Pai Lod Gor (1992) - Ann Thongprason and Bpop Ponrath
- One Nee Tee Raw Koy (1993) - Bird Thongchai McIntyre and Siriam Pakdeedumrongrit
- Tawipob (1994) - Sarunyu Wongkrajang and Siriam Pakdeedumrongrit
- Yam Mur Lom Pat Huan (1994) - Jay Jetrin Wattanasin and Lalita Panyopas
- Took Ka Ta Lung Labum (1994) - Joe Wattanasin and Lalita Panyopas
- Dao pra sook Morning Star (1994) - Sornram Teppitak and Suvanant Kongying
- Prasard Mued (1994) - Willy McIntosh and Lalita Panyopas
- Prik Key Noo Kub Moo Ham - Saharat Sangkapreecha and Lalita Panyopas
- Krasue (1994-1995)
- Fai Tang See (1995) - Willy McIntosh and Lalita Panyopas
- Sai Lohit Bloodline(1995) - Sornram Teppitak and Suvanant Kongying
- Sai See Pleng (1996) - Willy McIntosh and Lalita Panyopas
- Torfun Kub Marvin(1996) Krekpon Mussayawanich and Phiyada Akkraseranee
- Pob Pee Fa (1997) - Woranut Wongsawan and Usamanee Waitayanon
- Tam Hua Jai Pai Sood Lah (1997) - Willy McIntosh and Lalita Panyopas
- Fai Luong (1998) - Willy McIntosh and Tao Sarocha
- Jaosao Prisana (1999) - Ann Thongprasom and Nok Chatchai
- Hong Neu Mangkorn (2000) - Marsha Wattanapanich and Saksit Tangtong
- Rarknakara (2000) - Pachrapa Chaichua and Woranuch Wongsawan
- Mae Nak (2000) - Pachrapa Chaichua and Pete Thongjeur
- Jao Kum Nai Waen (2001) - Lalita Panyopas and Pip Ravit
- Pet Thut Pet (2001) - Pachrapa Chaichua and Jetrin Wattanasin
- Keb Pandin (2001) Phutanate Hongmanop and Phiyada Akkraseranee
- Ruk Kerd Nai Tarad Sod (2001) Andrew Gregson and Phiyada Akkraseranee
- Sapai jow (2002) - Saharat Sangkapreecha and Sunisa Jett
- Seur See Fuune (2002) - Ann Thongprasom and Chai Chatayodom
- Roy lae sanae rai (2002) - Jesdaporn Pholdee and Phiyada Akkraseranee
- Kammtape Tua Noy (2003) - Pachrapa Chaichua and Shakrit Yamnam
- Muang Dala (2003) - Phutanate Hongmanop and Phiyada Akkraseranee
- Leurd kuttiya (2003) - Jesdaporn Pholdee and Phiyada Akkraseranee
- Nang Fah Rai Peak Angel with no wings (2004) - Ann Thongprasom and Andy Wantsharat
- Nang Sao Jingjai Gup Nai Sandee (2004) - Pachrapa Chaichua and Jesdaporn Pholdee
- Mae ai sa eun (2005) - Veeraparb Suparbpaiboon and Woranut Wongsawan
- Pleung Payu (2000) - Pachrapa Chaichua and Tana Suttikhamol
- Saung sanaeha (2005) - Veeraparb Suparbpaiboon and Pachrapa Chaichua
- Gularb see dum (2005) - Chakrit Yamngam and Lalita Panyopas
- Song Rao Nirund Dom(2005) Teeradeth Wongpuapun and Phiyada Akkraseranee
- Duang Jai Patiharn Miracle of the Heart (2005)- Sornram Teppitak and Suvanant Kongying
- Hua Jai Chocolate (2005) Patiparn Pataweekarn and Phiyada Akkraseranee
- Oum Ruk Chain of Love (2006) - Teeradeth Wongpuapun and Ann Thongprasom
- Pinmook (2006) - Pachrapa Chaichua and Cee Seewat
- Kaew Tah Pee (2006) - Tik Jesdaporn Pholdee and Cherry Khemupsorn Sirisukha
- Sai Leud Hang Ruk (2006) - Paul Pattrapon and Pachrapa Chaichua
- Lady Maha-chon (2006) - Paula Taylor and Erich Fleshman
- Bua prim num (2007) - Tiksadee Sahawong and Rujira Chuaykuer
- Theptida kon nok (2007) - Janie Tienphosuwan Pornchita Na Songkla Tai Natapon
- Rangrit Pisawad (2007) - Pachrapa Chaichua and Stephan Santi
- Ruk Tur Took Wan(2007) Teeradeth Wongpuapun and Phiyada Akkraseranee
- Likit Gammatheap (2007) - Ann Thongprasom and Kritsada Pornwaerod
- Ram Pissawad (2007) - Pattarapol Silpajarn and Napapa Tuntrakul
- Pleng Ruk Rim Fung Kong (2007)- Alexandra Bounxouei and Sukollawat Kanaros
- Rahut Risaya (2007) - Pattarapol Silpajarn and Woranut Wongsawan
- Fah Mee Tawun Hua Jai Chun Mee Tur (2007) - Sornram Teppitak and Warattaya Nilkuha
- Bu Peh Leh Ruk (2007) - Pachrapa Chaichua and Nattawut Skidjai
- Nong Miew Kearl Petch (2007) - Savika Chaiyadej and Siwat Chotcharin
- Dang Duang Harutai (2007) - Sukollawat Kanaros and Usamanee Waitayanon
- Rak Nee Hua Jai Rao Jong This Love Belongs to Our Heart (2007)- Teeradeth Wongpuapun and Janie Tienphosuwan
- Jam Loey Rak Defendant of Love (2008)- Aum Atichart and Aff Takasorn
- Yuy Fah Ta Din (2008) - Pachrapa Chaichua and Weir Sukkolawat
- Sawan Biang Paridise Diversion (2008) - Teeradeth Wongpuapun and Ann Thongprasom
- Tueng Rai Kor Ruk (2008) - Paul Pattarapon and Namfon Patcharin
- Ba Darn Jai Nether Heart (2008) - Aum Atichart and Margie Rasee
- Sud Daen Hua Jai (2008) - Num Sornram Teppitak and Yardthip
- Botun Gleep Sudtai (2008) - Aum Atichart and Aff Takasorn
- Nang Tard (2008)- Suvanant Kongying and Vee Veerapat
- Silamanee (2008) - Suvanant Kongying and Paul Pattarapon
- Ngao Asoke (2008) - Pong Nawat and Pueng Kanya
- Mia Luang (2009) - Pachrapa Chaichua and Teerapat Sajakhul
- Jaew Jai Rai (2009) - Pachrapa Chaichua and Pae Airak
- Kwarm Rub Korng Superstar (2008) - Mos Pattiparn, Bee Namthip, Captain Puthanate, and Best Aticha
- Porp Pee Faa (2009) - Oil Thana, Sammie Bunthitha, and Yui Chiranan
- Sood Sanae Ha (2009) - Teeradeth Wongpuapun and Ann Thongprasom
- Kom Faek II (2009) - Poh Nattawut, Noon Worranuch, Oh Anuchyd, Cheer Thikumporn, Cee Siwat, Benz Punyapon, Kelly Rattapong, Pang Ornjira
- Kularb Neua Mek (2010) - Pachrapa Chaichua and Woranuch Wongsawan
- Prajun Lai Payuk (2010) - Pachrapa Chaichua and Weir Sukollawat
- Phaw Nu Bpen Superstar (2010) - Sukollawat Kanaros, Jakajaan Akumsiri
- Taddao Bussaya (2010) - Thrisadee Sahawong and Worakarn Rojanawat
- Koo Kan San Ruk (2010) - Pachrapa Chaichua and Shakrit Yamnam
- 365 Wan Haeng Ruk (2010) - Teeradeth Wongpuapun and Ann Thongprasom
- Sao Chai Hi-Tech (2010) - Om Akapan and Warattaya Nilkuha
- Suay Rerd Cherd Sode (2010) - Rattapoom Tokongsub and Janie Tienphosuwan
- Kha Khong Khun (2011) - Pong Nawat and Woranut Wongsawan
- Kularb Rai Glay Ruk (2011) - Grate Warinton and Peeranee Kongthai
- Bundai Dok Ruk (2011) - Om Akapan and Min Peechaya Wattanamontree
- Raeng Ngao (2012) - The latest of four remakes of the same story; the earliest work aired in 1986
- Fai Huan (2013) - A story of murder and revenge. BBTV Channel 7
- Cubic (2014) - Mobster falls in love with clever girl. Chalida Vijitvongthong and Tanin Manoonsilp
List of classic/folk-style series
- Thep Sung Warn (1985)
- Thep Sarm Rudoo (1987)
- Ban Deang Nang Ay (1987)
- Jaoying Khuntong (1987)
- Kaew Na Mah (1987)
- Pi Khun Tong (1987–1988)
- Nang Sib Song (1988)
- Prasuton-Manora (1988)
- Tida Dao Dum (1988)
- Gomin (1989)
- Sung Singh Chai (1990)
- Malaithon (1991–1992)
- Janthakorop (1993)
- Bua Kaew Bua Tong (1993–1994)
- Bla Boo Tong (1994)
- Gro Pid Jid See (1995)
- Kraitong (1995)
- Mane Nope Gaow(1996)
- Nam Jai Mae (1997)
- Pra Rodthasen (1998)
- Laksanawong (1999)
- Nang Paya Prai (1999)
- Nang Sib Song (2000)
- Si Yod Kumon (2001)
- Kaew Na Mah (2001)
- Prasuton Manorah (2002)
- Uttai Tawee (2003)
- Thep Sarm Rudoo (2003)
- Singha Krai Phob (2004)
- Gomin (2006)
- Bua Kaew Juk Krod (2006)
- Pra Tinawong (2007)
- Sung Tung(2008)
- Bla Boo Tong (2009)
- Tuk Ka Tah Tong (2010)
- Darb 7 See Manee 7 Sang (2011)
- Thai TV Drama at eThaiCD
- Sarn World
- Thai TV on Thai World View
- Iheart Lakorn
- Darkness Lakorns (lakorn translations)