The Trainee 1×01 Review: “Ryan, The Intern”

Buckle up, folks. We’re going to see if Jamie is capable of reviewing two weekly shows at the same time. GMMTV has, on this last day of Pride Month, blessed us with yet another OffGun show. The Trainee started today, and I can already tell that this show is going to make my anxiety go through the roof.

I am one of those people who is always waiting for something to go wrong. A very unhealthy way to live your life, and one of the main reasons I tend to rewatch shows I’ve already seen instead of dipping my toes into something new. And with The Trainee, I just know that I’m going to be on pins and needles for at least the first few episodes.

In “Ryan, The Intern”, we meet our main protagonist, Ryan (Gun Attaphan), as well as four other students who will be interning at the same production house. Pie (View Benyapa), Pah (Poon Mitpakdee), Tae (Sea Tawinan), and Bamhee (Piploy Kanyarat) all seem to have some sense of direction, some idea of where they want their lives to go. Ryan only went to the interview to tag along with a friend, and due to a misunderstanding, he ended up interviewing – and being hired – for the wrong department. As such, he has no idea what he’s doing, and no real passion for the work in the first place.

Naturally, this causes issues right from the jump. He’s interning at a place where he doesn’t know the lingo (like that “AD” stands for “Assistant Director”), nor does he really understand what he’s being asked to do. His mentor, Jane (Off Jumpol), quickly dismisses him, telling him that if he doesn’t want to do the job, he should just go home.

I will say, however, as someone that actually trains newbies in her department, the “hands off” approach to interns is a big problem. For example, Jane asks the interns to film a clip, and tells them the deadline is 6pm. They spend all day filming and turn it in before 6pm, but Jane ends up not using it. As he explains to Ryan, when he says the deadline is 6pm, he means that’s when it’s due to the clients, so he actually needed it hours earlier. Listen, if you don’t give people clear instructions, mix-ups are bound to happen.

Not to get too far off topic and go all “late stage capitalism RAWR”, but I had an internship like this once. (And, actually, my first full-time job was like this, too.) I got very few instructions and was expected to figure everything out on my own. They were actually angry that they had to explain things to me. An internship is, by definition, a learning period. That means that you have to teach.

Anyway, I found Ryan to be incredibly relatable as a protagonist, perhaps one of the most relatable main characters in recent BL dramas. I identify so much with not having any idea of what you want to do with your life. It’s a feeling that I still have, even at 42 years old. Not everyone has a big dream, not everyone has a huge goal. Some people just want to find a job that will pay their bills and not make them dread each morning. There’s no shame in living a quiet life.

Ryan also seems to be someone who would rather go along with a situation than make waves. He tries several times to correct their misunderstanding during his interview, but he’s not assertive enough. Eventually, he just caves and starts answering their questions vaguely enough for them to make their own interpretations.

Jane is also incredibly relatable as a protagonist, as a person in their 40s who has been at their job for over a decade. He is very antagonistic in this first episode, but he also seems like a guy who takes too much on his plate and doesn’t like to delegate. I am also the kind of person who doesn’t suffer fools gladly, particularly at work, and particularly if I think they should know better. Jane isn’t necessarily wrong about being annoyed with someone who seems to lack such basic preparedness for the job.

That said, it’s Ryan’s first day, so you would expect a little bit of grace. My first day of work, I didn’t even have my own login for the computer.

I do hope that as the romance blossoms, he is able to approach criticism with a little more empathy. You can guide someone without being a jerk about it. Fingers crossed that he acknowledges that he was harsh on Ryan, and that maybe we get an explanation. Based on the trailer, Ryan does manage to impress Jane at some point, which causes Jane to begin to shift his perceptions.

But they really have got to stop making Gun 21 in shows. Please let this man be an adult. I don’t care that he hasn’t aged in 10 years. This man is in his 30s, just let him be in his 30s.

Ryan’s crop of fellow interns are definite characters.

First you have Pie, Ryan’s co-AD intern. She is extremely intense, and after watching 23.5, this kind of looks like Aylin in college. She’s extremely skilled, knowledgeable, and ambitious. She knows what she wants, and she knows that she’s qualified for it. I expect that she’ll clash a lot with Ryan as we go along, because she has a ton of experience in that particular job, while Ryan has no idea what he’s doing. Nonetheless, she was able to come together with her fellow interns to complete their assignment.

Next we have Tae and Bamhee, who will be grouped as a unit because that’s how they’re introduced. An established couple, Bamhee is only interning at the production house because that’s where Tae wanted to go, and she wanted to go with him. It appears that she is the clingier of the two, but that could just be because she has a louder personality and is more obvious about it. Based on the trailer, I suspect that their arc will involve a lot of them growing and developing as individuals, even if it means growing apart.

Last you have Pah, who seems to be proving that “sunshine” is Poon’s default setting. He is openly enthusiastic about his opportunity and very chatty with everyone. He dives headfirst into problems but doesn’t seem to be the best at coming up with solutions. As of right now, I can’t get a read on what his arc is likely to be. There are theories that he’ll be paired off with Pie based on the promo material; if so, I imagine it will be something like he gets her to loosen up and she helps him think outside the box. 

I really like that it seems like the job is going to actually be an important part of the show. Oftentimes the workplace is just a backdrop for shenanigans, but The Trainee goes to the trouble of showing the various departments and how different they are. We get to see the personalities and dynamics of the people employed in those departments, and how our interns either do or don’t fit in.

The production quality of this series is amazing. And with a slightly shortened episode count (only 10 instead of the usual 12), I anticipate a more tightly-paced narrative. As someone who also works in media production, this is a pretty accurate representation (particularly the complete lack of communication, for crying out loud, is it so hard to send an email). I have really high hopes for this series. 

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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