Only Friends Season 1 Review – A fun and messy drama that leaves you wanting more

only friends

Season 1

 

 

Episode Guide

Episode 1 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 9 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 10 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 11 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 12 – | Review Score – 4/5

Thai BL dramas are taking over by storm and the standard just keeps rising every year. There’ve been several iconic shows in 2023 and now Only Friends is one of them. This one, of course, caught everyone’s eye with its casting choice as it roped in several popular GMMTV actors like Book, Force, Khaotung, First, Neo and Mark.

Then there’s the story which is pretty surprising and quite different from the usual romantic fluff that the network usually puts out. Looks like they have been branching out and Only Friends is one of them. The Thai BL drama starts as a romantic story in which friendship and sexual interests start blurring when a new guy enters the fray.

Mew, Ray and Boston, along with their friend Cheum open up a hostel with Boston bringing in his friend Top as the interior designer. It starts getting messy when Top targets Mew, the innocent and goody-two-shoes guy. Then there is Ray who is in love with Mew but starts something with the bar singer Sand who wants more.

Not to be outdone, Boston is a playboy who becomes friends with benefits with the hopeless romantic Nick while having something going on with Top. By the way, Nick is roommates with Sand who has some unpleasant history with Top. And it is about to get even more complicated.

However, the fun and messy plot is not the only thing that keeps the show going. Only Friends is an all-rounder with rock-tinged soundtracks, gritty cinematography and visually stunning aesthetics filled with smoke and neon lights perfect for highlighting the lust and rage-filled haze of teenagers trying to find love without losing themselves.

With a structure that is constantly moving and furthering the plot, get ready for a rollercoaster of a ride with some wild drama in every episode. This doesn’t slow down even in the final two episodes as it ties up all the loose ends without getting boring, sappy or domestic.

The actors all commit, something necessary for such a story, giving us fully-realised characters to love, hate and root for. They are all complex and three-dimensional, toxic and human which makes their actions unpredictable and amusing to anticipate.

Just from teasers and memes, people either look down on Only Friends for being hypersexual or watch it because it is explicit (fetishizing gay content will have to be a whole other article). But it is so much more than that and it wouldn’t even be an exaggeration to speak it in the same breath as some other immaculate GMMTV BLs with mature themes like Not Me, Moonlight Chicken and The Eclipse.

Hear us out, mature as in real-life problems and cracking the rose-tinted glasses of romance. Sure, there are tons and tons and tons of feel-good romances, especially with the likes of 2gether and Heartstopper pioneering mainstream LGBT+ content. But now that we are getting such representations, it is time to populate them with various other topics and discourses. And that is what Only Friends does.

On the surface level, we have a wild, messy melodrama of friends vs. partners. And of course, there is nothing wrong with enjoying a show for the visuals. But if you actually watch Only Friends, there is a different kind of satisfaction to unpacking the connections and symbolisms as there are layers to every plot twist and every decision. Ray is the poster boy for loneliness with self-deprecating humour who turns to alcohol and drugs to fill an empty void.

Mew proves to us why we should not judge a book by its cover while the ‘evil’ Boston just wants his friends to give him a chance. In the end, all the questions put out are answered, explained and dissected. In an adrenaline and drug-induced stupor, you can do as you please, but when that fog clears, you have to take responsibility for your actions or drown – that is the bottom line of Only Friends. Put in the work or lose your friends. 

Of course, it is by no means perfect, there are a couple of flaws like sidelining the female characters, especially poor Cheum who could have added more to the plot if she had been given a chance. And why did the interview format disappear midway? While it isn’t jarring as such, the concept is pretty cool and wish it had culminated into something that would have added more to the drama.

Oh and let’s be honest, Mew has no chemistry with Top in the beginning. The first half does him no favours as he comes off as boring. However, he does his baddie era so well that he has us rooting for him, hating him and feeling confused about him. The same goes for Top who goes from the biggest red flag to a pretty decent guy. This is how complex characters are written!

However, no matter how fun Boston makes the show, he feels flat and one note once we reach the finale. Sure, he is the crux of the main conflict and has the most important role. But his character arc seems incomplete, there is no backstory or explanation. One can say that it adds to the realistic aspect that someone like Boston can’t easily change his ways, but they should have gone about it differently.

But if you step back and look at the final picture, Only Friends is a fun and exciting watch that will have you crying and laughing. Full of introspective as well as jaw-dropping moments, the show is a fine amalgam of what a group of friends may have to face with a realistic and happy ending.


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  • Verdict - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
8.5/10

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