Only Friends 1×01 & 1×02 Review: Episode 1 & Episode 2

L-R: Mew (Book Kasidet), Ray (Khaotung Thanawat), Boston (Neo Trai), and Namchueam (Lookjun Bhasidi)

I actually hadn’t intended to review Only Friends when I first heard about it. In fact, I hadn’t anticipated that I would be watching it live at all. I figured I would binge it when it was done. But then I got sick last weekend and had to miss Flame Con, so I consoled myself by watching queer media, and the first episode had just dropped. And after the first two episodes of Only Friends, I have feelings and opinions and they need to go somewhere. So here I am to dump them all over you all.

Only Friends is one of the latest dramas to come out of Thai channel GMMTV, home of Bad Buddy and A Tale of Thousand Stars. And this show could not be further from my previous recommendations. (If you want a comparison with shows I’ve actually talked about before, I’d put this up with KinnPorsche, just in terms of messiness – and heat.) I mean, I can’t even watch this show on the YouTube app on my FireTV because it can’t verify my age, so that should tell you something. I believe it’s technically classified as a BL, but fans consider it to be more of an LGBTQ+ series due to the wlw side couple.

Anyway, Only Friends (no idea if the similarity to OnlyFans is meant to be intentional) centers around a group of friends – Mew (Book Kasidet Plookphol), Ray (Khaotung Thanawat Ratanakitpaisan), Boston (Neo Trai Nimtawat), and Namchueam (Lookjun Bhasidi Petchsutee) – who decide to open a hostel together as their final semester business school project. Between the four of them – as well as potential love interests Top (Force Jiratchapong Srisang), Sand (First Kanaphan Puitrakul), and Nick (Mark Pakin Kunaanuwit) – the lines between friendship and romance become blurred.

Episode 1 establishes the characters, the dynamics, and the premise. Mew is the seemingly mild-mannered one. He’s very studious, and his friends tease him about his virginal ways. He attracts the attention of Top, who is a bit of a player. We know this because it’s revealed that he previously hooked up with Boston aka Ton, who is also extremely promiscuous. Ton is less than enthusiastic about Top’s interest in Mew, as is Ray, who is probably an alcoholic.

Episode 2 begins the story in earnest, utilizing confessional-style cuts reminiscent of mock-docuseries like The Office. Work on the hostel begins, with Top acting as the designer. Ray becomes mildly obsessed with Sand after he “rescued” him when he was blackout drunk. Nick starts hinting that he wants more with Ton, who is throwing out some serious mixed signals. 

I’m going to mash the two episodes together rather than try and tackle them separately. The basic idea behind the series is that it will explore the different types of “friends” that the title hints at: boyfriends, bed friends (f— buddies), and friends with benefits (Top/Mew, Sand/Ray, and Ton/Nick, as indicated by the trailer). Ton even helpfully explains the difference between bed friends and friends with benefits because I’ll admit, I was curious myself.

What you thought you knew after Episode 1 seems undone by Episode 2. For example, I thought that Ton didn’t like Top’s interest in Mew because he knew what kind of person Top was and didn’t want Mew to get hurt, whereas it turns out that Ton likes Top himself. He even goes after Top while the friends are all out together, which in my opinion makes him a pretty crappy friend. There is some argument about whether or not Top is cheating, since Mew declared a “reset” on their relationship and is insisting that they aren’t boyfriends yet. And though Top does not look into Ton’s advances at all, he also doesn’t stop him.

Mew and Top (Force Jiratchapong)

And while Mew seemed very much inexperienced in Episode 1, which is why he put the brakes on when he and Top started getting intimate, this week’s episode makes him look much more aware of what’s going on. At one point, he makes the comment that he’s curious to see if Top will stay interested in him even if he puts off sex indefinitely, which is way more scheming than I expected of him at first. 

Of course, your first thought is that Top is playing Mew, just based on his past and some of his moves (my arms hurt, you have to feed me, etc.). But after this episode, people have been speculating that it’s Mew playing Top. Top seems genuinely interested in Mew (aside from the, um, slip with Ton), whereas Mew is kind of a tease. The scene where he puts a cookie in his mouth and challenges Top to come after it, only to barely let him kiss him, comes to mind. (What a waste of a cookie.) Plus, honestly, Mew does not seem that interested in Top. If he isn’t ready to have sex, they can still kiss and touch and cuddle.

The first episode ended with Top asking Mew to be his boyfriend publicly, in a bar using a microphone. My immediate thought was how manipulative an action that was (it’s like public proposals! You’re basically forcing the person to say yes due to external pressure), and I was absolutely certain that they wouldn’t address it. Actions like that are romantic staples at this point. Imagine my surprise when Mew actually called Top out for that, saying that he only said yes so that Top could save face.

As always, the characters have tragic backstories and emotional damage. The second time Top stays at Mew’s (on the couch), Mew catches him taking some pills. It turns out that Top has insomnia and has trouble sleeping when he’s alone, which probably explains why he has so many one-night stands. Ray’s poor relationship with alcohol likely stems from the untimely death of his mother; he’s wealthy but doesn’t really have anyone, and he’s obviously lonely, if he’s willing to pay Sand to hang out with him.

Sand (First Kanaphan) and Ray

Ray and Sand are my favorites so far. Someone had remarked that they went from “enemies to lovers” in record time, and that’s pretty accurate. But I think Sand is interested in Ray right from the beginning; you can tell by how tender he is when he takes care of Ray when he’s drunk. In the second episode, he pretty quickly blows off a girl in order to hang out with Ray. And Sand’s confessional at the end, when he talks about needing to be careful when you start a sexual relationship with a friend, indicates that he’s fully aware he’s setting himself up for disaster.

But out of the three main couples, I believe they have the best chance of coming out of this series happy – or at least as happy as possible. I have no idea why I believe that, I just do. They seem to genuinely enjoy each other’s company outside of their amorous activities.

(And look. Can I just say that I don’t like smoking at all, but that whole scene, starting from the intimate way Ray lit his cigarette off of Sand’s and how they almost shotgunned when they kissed, was fire. No pun intended.)

As for Ton and Nick, I believe Nick is in way over his head, and he’s going to get hurt. In Episode 1, he seemed to know what he was doing, the way he went after Ton. (The snooping on Ton’s phone? Not cool, bb. Not cool.) But in Episode 2, you can tell that he’s not used to this kind of dynamic at all. He is way too attached already, and he’s pushing Ton to define their relationship in a way that seems pretty clingy, even to perpetually single me.

I’m sure we’ll eventually get an explanation of sorts for why Ton is the way that he is. (Not that there’s anything wrong with sleeping around, but in a story like this, you know there’s probably a reason for it.) But until then, we have to ponder over the scene where he was in his darkroom developing a picture of Mew and Ray. The music and lighting used are typically done to indicate bad intentions or a potential villain. The fact that he’d go after a guy that one of his friends is interested in is something I won’t easily forget, and if he continues acting like that, it’s easy to see why many people are theorizing that Ton is the “true villain” of the series.

Oof. Messy messy messy! I’ve been mostly sticking to happy endings lately, but I’m actually excited to watch the train wreck.

New episodes of Only Friends drop on Saturdays and can be streamed from GMMTV’s official YouTube channel. Keep in mind that this is spicy spicy with at least one NC (age-restricted) scene every episode, so if that’s not your jam, this is not the show for you.

Author: Jamie Sugah

Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.

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