Episode 1 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 8 -| Review Score – 4.5/5
With tons and tons of dramas cropping up every other week, we tend to gravitate towards those that are of shorter duration and quicker to finish. Gone are the days of hungrily waiting for 20-24 episode shows spanning over a year. And in our drive for such short yet intriguing shows, Moonlight Chicken arrives just in time to give us everything from love and angst to suspense and friendship in 8 short episodes.
A mini Thai BL (boy love) drama, it focuses on Jim and his diner in Pattaya. While everyone is suffering from the economic crisis, he not only sticks to the old rates to keep his customers well-fed and satisfied but he also has unlimited service for customers at midnight. One night, he runs into a drunken customer, Wen and as sparks fly, they end up having a one-night stand.
But things are not that easy as Wen continues to pursue him and goes as far as joining the diner as the new help. It doesn’t help that he is in a complicated and toxic relationship with Alan, while Jim who had his heart broken by his ex is afraid of commitment and hates extramarital affairs.
Elsewhere, Jim’s nephew Li Ming helps around the diner, is not too good at studies and dreams of working and travelling the world. A mishap with Heart, the deaf son of the powerful Officer Supoch has him halting his dreams to pay off his debt to them by working in their house. While the mischievous Heart constantly annoys him, Li Ming starts to understand him and befriend him.
Moonlight Chicken is the drama we didn’t know we needed as it gives us a realistic and relatable portrayal of those being affected by the economic recession, struggling to make ends meet yet finding happiness in the little things in life such as working with family and loved ones.
All the characters are well-fleshed out with their own problems and life stories. Khaotung as the brave Gaipa definitely steals the spotlight in the second half with his heart-wrenching portrayal of having his heart broken by his crush and losing someone close at the same time. And you all know that the first half of the show belongs to Li Ming and Heart with their adorable romance.
With a well-paced structure, it allows us to get to know the characters, start relating with them and root for them. It shows that everyone has flaws – while Jim’s ex, Beam and Alan may be the annoying exes, we still understand them, there is no dark, evil villain or goody-two-shoes, righteousness-personified hero.
And while all romantic dramas have the dreaded love triangle, Moonlight Chicken tried to give us a fresh angle to add dimension to this slice-of-life drama that prefers happiness over too much melodrama and angst. It may not have worked for everyone with the writers baiting us with the red herring of Wen and Alan’s confusing relationship, but it is definitely new.
As for the visual aesthetics, while we already loved the story, the characters and the romance, the colour, cinematography and music sealed the deal, making Moonlight Chicken easily one of the best dramas of 2023.
Cinephiles and literature buffs can consider it a treat with all the symbolism and metaphors that are peppered throughout the show from the moon symbolizing Wen and Jim’s love to the physical touch initially being used to overcome communication barriers between Heart and Li Ming.
If that wasn’t enough, the drama also makes a statement as it talks about important topics like homophobia, love, polyamory, poverty, single parent, teenage angst, misconceptions about disability and extramarital affairs.
Moonlight Chicken also explores the different shades of love such as young love, toxic love, dutiful love, gratitude, unrequited love, forbidden love, love at first sight, slow burn and more making it a show through which viewers can experience such emotions.
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Verdict - 9/10