Thai Drama Review: Ngao Asoke 2008
Dramaland is known for remakes and spinoffs and dramas inspired by other dramas (unofficial versions, etc.) and I swear no other drama market explodes with remakes like Thailand. Ngao Asoke [Ngao means shadow and Asoke is a type of flowering tree whose blossom is supposed to symbolize happiness] was originally done in 1999, remade in 2008, and then again in 2016. Why did I watch this drama? The premise sounded interesting and I liked Pong ever since seeing him as the second male lead in the original(?) Leh Ratree starring Pepper and Ann as the main couple.
Ngao Asoke is a heavy melodrama that has its cute moments, but its mainly melodrama in its most frustrating form. The Mahataweit family is a well-off, noble family. Khun Ying Tuptim [the awesome Karnjana Jindawat] believes in social distinction and fears her son will follow in his father’s footsteps and sleep around with servants producing illegitimate children like Nucha [Oak Smith]. This leads Tuptim to unjustly bully and punish young servant Lakkana [Fang Pitchaya Srithep] for supposedly trying to seduce Tuptim’s only son Monthai [Pong Nawat Kulrattanarak]. This also makes Khun Ying urge Monthai to become engaged to his longtime love Wiyada [Pei Panward Hemanee]. While Monthai wishes to marry Wiyada, he doesn’t want to under such circumstances causing strain in his relationship to both Wiyada and his mother.
During this stressful time, Monthai comes across a young girl name Beeyachat [younger version played by Pear Nattatida] who is stealing Asoke flowers from a tree on his family’s property. Wiyada takes an instant dislike to the child, but Monthai is very caring to the younger girl and helps her pick the flowers and leaves so she and her poor ailing grandmother have food to eat. He also gives the child money as well that she uses to buy food and medicine. Alas, her grandmother ends up passing away and she is “adopted” by Wiyada’s family (which really means they just take her in as a servant, not a daughter). At this time, the only other person young Bee loves, Monthai, goes to study abroad as planned. Only he doesn’t plan on coming home again as he and his mother have a falling out after Lakkana commits suicide to prove she wasn’t the awful seductress Tuptim thought she was.
Fast forward to 8 years later. Monthai’s father passes away, his mother’s physical and mental health declines, his long-time girlfriend is out catting around behind his back, his half-brother Nu has broken off his relationship with Wiyada’s sister Pa [Kalaya Jirachaisakdecha who also starred in Leh Ratree btw] because of their class difference, and little Bee grows up into a sweet young woman [Peung Kunya Leenuttapong] who has been writing to Monthai for the past 8 years posing as Wiyada (on Wiyada’s command).Crazy things get crazier. Wiyada goes after the wealthy Pong In [M Apinun Prasertwattanakul] who is hung up on his girlfriend (who also went to study abroad in Australia like Monthai) who left several years ago to finish her education [Jieb Pijitra] and ends up becoming the bedmate of the wealthy, yet low status, Kadechai [Tuk Boriboon Junreurng]. She then learns Monthai has returned and jumps ship to escape Kadechai and chase after her man that has wealth and status. Oh, and let’s not forget that Bee has been sent in Wiyada’s place when the ill Khun Ying requests for her future daughter-in-law to come take care of her. Khun Ying at first thinks Bee is Wi, but overhears that Wi refused to come to care for a crazy old lady and Bee was sent in her place. This makes Khun Ying sad and angry. The loving Bee, not knowing her cover is blown, promises to stay by Khun Ying’s side in sickness and in health and Khun Ying gets better. Until Monthai arrives and learns Wi isn’t there, but Bee. And then Wi arrives to make things even worse.
Let’s add in side stories, shall we? We have Pong In trying to win back Manwatt who has a much younger rich man also courting her and we have Pa and Nu trying to overcome social barriers to be together.
Okay. So…this isn’t the worst drama in the world. The episodes go fast enough, although the plot does get old quickly. Characters disappear for several episodes to resurface again later with the same old issues. The most frustrating thing about this drama is the leading couple. If we’re honest, Bee is beholden to both Monthai and Wiyada’s family. Since Wiyada’s family is the one that takes her in, she puts more stress on being loyal to Wiyada. Of course, in her little heart, Bee wants nothing but Khun Mon’s happiness. The only problem is, she wants him to be together with the Evil Wiyada (even though little Bee has outgrown hero worship and her affection has turned into romantic love). Bee is essentially blind to just how bad Wi really is even though Wi has only ever treated her like dirt. This, I don’t get. So much drama and bad things happening could have been stopped if Bee did not try to hide Wi’s shortcomings and remained blind to Wi’s major faults.
I’m sorry, but to let Monthai believe that harpy was a good woman in order for him to be happy…what the what? No. In the end if Monthai ever did marry Wi, he would be miserable for his entire life because I highly doubt there would be a way for her to keep her crazy, conniving ways under wraps. And since Bee wrote to Monthai all of these years (long after Wi had given up on him), he is led to believe she is the only one for him when really it is Bee who is made for him and has loved him and supported him for all of these years.
Now, since Bee joined in Wi’s play, you can’t 100% blame Mon for his stupid loyalty and inability to see the truth, but at the same time, despite how suspicious Bee could be, I never got why he was so hung up on her trying to be Wiyada and couldn’t see just how good this young woman was. Little Bee loathed Wi and wasn’t happy having to treat her nicely as a child, so I don’t know why Monthai seemed to think Bee had always wanted Wi’s life and thus why she tricked his mother. It gets frustrating and since Bee never tells the truth in regards to Wi, Monthai is always misunderstanding things. And why is it that Bee can talk back to Monthai and no one else? I didn’t get that either, but whatever. I also didn’t get how Mon could believe how little Bee could change so drastically from the innocent child of 8 years ago to a supposedly money-hungry seductress when there really wasn’t enough proof of that, either.
I will say that Khun Ying was detestable for the first four or five episodes. Lakkana’s suicide was her punishment and she did deserve to get knocked down a peg. Her character was redeemable, though. While she originally supported the evil Wi, when she learns that Wi is not a woman who possesses breeding and manners, she learns that it isn’t status that counts. Instead of wanting Monthai with Wi, she wants Monthai with Bee who is essentially just a servant (what she didn’t want 8 years ago when she imagined a relationship between Mon and Lak that never existed) because while Bee has nothing, she is honestly good and loving. Khun Ying spends the rest of her life trying to force Mon to realize the truth and to get together with the young woman she came to feel was her daughter.
Wi…Wi was evil until the bitter end. She was given so many chances, but ignored them all. The girl playing Wiyada was pretty, but with her facial expressions and evilness, she was the ugliest girl in the word. Not only did she set out to destroy Kadechai, Bee, and Khun Ying, she also threated Pa and Nu’s relationship because she didn’t approve of her sister marrying a servant. The thing is, especially in a lot of Lakorn’s, the evil woman’s actions are so forced and fake that it doesn’t make any sense that people believe they are normal. Well…most people realize just how bad Wi is after awhile, except for Monthai, but her nice act was so fake while her evilness that came out from time to time was so (sadly) natural, that it just doesn’t make sense how anyone could fall for her and not realize she’s a crazy social climbing psycho.
The other side stories with Watt and Pong In and Nu and Pa weren’t bad and gave some relief, but they weren’t without typical drama that made them a little tedious. Pong In has to feign falling into a coma to get Watt to come around to her senses, and Nu has to nearly die before Pa’s family will accept him (we get a lot of scenes of Pa’s parents belittling and beating Nu). The overall theme is that money and background aren’t everything—it’s a person’s insides that count and we saw this with Khun Ying’s change of heart over the course of 8 years as well as Wiyada’s and Pa’s parents’ change of heart at the end of the drama.
Even with its shortcomings, I don’t feel I wasted time with this drama. Pong’s acting was good. Peung’s was mostly good (this was only her second drama) and I feel some of the awkwardness came from how the character was written. If you can handle heavy melodrama and leads that make you frustrated, it’s worth a watch. There’s a cute love story buried in there…although…there isn’t enough weight behind it. Mon, somewhere in his prejudice, falls for Bee’s goodness…but given how he deliberately refuses to believe in her, it doesn’t quite make sense that he starts to love her even before he realized it was her caring for him all these years and not Wi.