TW: This show contains sex, graphic violence, torture, sexual assault, dubious consent, and substance abuse.
To say that the release of KinnPorsche was highly anticipated would be an understatement, considering that trailers for the show have been out for nearly two years. Since then, it has undergone several changes starting with almost an entirely new cast and shifting production companies (now Be On Cloud). The show already garnered fans due to it being an adaptation of an already popular novel of the same name, but the hype around it has mostly been for its clear departure from the norm of the genre.
KinnPorsche is a Thai BL series about an up-and-coming mafia don (Kinn) who, after a scuffle, gets acquainted with a bartender/street fighter (Porsche). This interaction results in Kinn’s family becoming mysteriously intent on having Porsche as his bodyguard who, due to familial debts, eventually agrees to the arrangement. The question of why this happens and the frequent assassination attempts behind Kinn’s life are the running plots that guide the show.
The simple fact that the show is based on a mafia plot in itself is fairly novel though was narrowly beaten by the show “Not Me” that released earlier this year, but what really sets the show apart is its willingness or perhaps eagerness to present topics that BLs often skirt around.
The chemistry of the lead actors Mile (Kinn) and Apo (Porsche) is undeniable and at times electric. They are completely convincing in their roles of reluctant allies to lovers. At times, their relationship seems rushed and built on precarious ground but the show goes to great lengths to show character and relationship progression which prevents it from seeming implausible.
The other leads, Vegas and Pete, are another story entirely. While I can certainly see what has led fans to be interested in this relationship, it is without a doubt one of the most problematic relationships I have seen in a BL. To the show’s credit, they don’t gloss over the horrible circumstances and behaviour that lead to the relationship, but that does little to detract from how hard it was to watch some of their scenes. The actors play their parts fairly well and any misgivings I had about the relationship had little to do with their chemistry. However, most of the development happens during the final five episodes, which leaves little room to really justify the love that they profess for each other by the show’s end.
This takes us to sexual assault as a plot line. BL is not a stranger to this and more often than not, it is glossed over and seen as nothing but a temporary hurdle. A lot said about the topic but I believe KinnPorsche tried harder than many shows before it to give the topic the weight it deserves. There seems to be an underlying awareness that SA should not be presented romantically, but is it entirely successful in avoiding those tropes? No.
As for the tone, it is a little all over the place. Sincere scenes and wonderfully romantic dialogue are at times interspersed with ineffective comedy which is not helped by the editing, which puts these shifts into sharp focus. While this could be intentional, it happens far too often to delve into either completely. In one section of the show, romantic scenes are contrasted with literal graphic torture, a shift so stark that it almost becomes comedic, which, if that is the intention, seems poorly conceived.
Having said that, the comedy is not entirely a let-down. I admit to initially being slightly nervous each time one of the designated comedic characters entered the scene, particularly Tong (Thankun) who plays Kinn’s flamboyantly unhinged older brother. But, over time they do build on most characters to the point where I was honestly looking forward to them. But, only at times.
Apart from the main cast, there are a plethora of other characters who work mainly to progress the storylines of the main cast. These characters are not entirely one-dimensional but they miss out on being as interesting as they could be which leaves you wanting more. There is an entire third couple that is brushed aside due to the constraints of the series.
Being an adaptation of a novel of much greater length, there are, without a doubt, many events and subplots that are removed for the sake of streamlining the series. This would be fine if these gaps weren’t clearly visible. At several points, the direction makes it clear that events are taking place that are not addressed at all in the series, leaving the audience with many questions that do not get answered. There has been a clear demand for a sequel and these questions might find their answers if that is to occur, however, taken as a standalone project, the gaps are hard to ignore.
In one word the show is, without a doubt, graphic. While most BLs rarely dwell on sex, focusing instead on courtship, KinnPorsche has numerous sex scenes that are occasionally startling in their length and detail. This is a refreshing change from the chaste romance that is a staple of the genre but can at times feel overdone simply for shock value. Similarly, the violence and action while directed beautifully, are relished to a degree that can be, at times, discomfiting. For all its flaws, the show is non-stop entertainment from start to finish and there is something for everyone to enjoy. From the outset, it is clear that Be On Cloud, is setting out to make a BL like no other that has come before it and, for better or worse, it certainly succeeds.
What is to like: wonderful lighting, luxurious locations, sparkling chemistry, intricate though at times comfortingly predictable plot, a large cast of attractive and expressive actors.
What’s not to like: Glaring consent issues, a plot that is at times drawn out and at others rushed, comedy that is more miss than hit.