Thai Soap Opera’s

It's 1pm do you know where your Thai girl is?

Soap Opera’s, or serials if you like,  are a unique American invention of story telling that took the world by storm and no place loves their soaps more than Thailand. Originally serials started on the radio and would be a nightly or weekly productions that lasted anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.

Pattaya day 10 2009 019After the advent of television they really found a home. By the 1950’s every American television station had one or more being broadcast everyday to those lonely housewives who, incidentally, were in charge of the household expenses. Marketers seeing money signs saw a very susceptible audience in those housewives and television ads really took off.

The nickname “soap opera” comes from the fact that the first real advertisers to the television serial were soap manufacturers and the fact that they were clean wholesome entertainment. I don’t think they ever expected them to be what they are today.

In Thailand they have to be multi billion baht operations because I swear every channel has at least 3 or 4 running daily and well into the night. The old joke has it that the Thai’s have 3 favorite pastimes…eating, sleeping and watching Thai soaps. I can tell you from experience there really is no joke there.

When I’m in Thailand it doesn’t matter what is going on because at the appointed times of 1pm, 2pm and 8pm Pookie’s favorite soaps are on. Alright, that might not be totally true but when there isn’t something important going on she will be in front of the television at those times for sure. She has even gone as far as to make sure if we are going out to lunch to steer me towards a restaurant that has a television and female waitresses…becauce they all watch the same soaps.

Thai soap 2When We were in Bangkok this past April I wanted to hit a lot of the sights I hadn’t seen before and since this was a mini vacation for Pookie you can imagine that sight seeing wasn’t on her agenda. I would get funny looks whenever the 1 o’clock hour approached but being resourceful as she is we usually were headed to a restaurant around that time and damned if they didn’t all have televisions!

Going to Wat Arun or the Grand Palace? No problem, there is a restaurant on that pier just as you disembark the water taxi and they have a nice big T.V.  Chinatown, MBK, the floating market? Doesn’t matter where you go there is a T.V. and you can bet at the appointed hour there will be Thai women around it watching the soaps. My favorite was out in the rice fields in Nakhon Phanom there are little huts or covered platforms to take a break in from the hot sun. I noticed that one of these tiny platforms had electricity fed to it and when I asked my girl she said it was for many things. Her brother laughed and told me it was so the women wouldn’t miss their soaps while working in the fields.

Thai Soap 3If you are a Falang in a relationship with a Thai woman then this isn’t news to you, you’ve seen all the same ones I have. It isn’t so bad though, they can actually help with learning Thai.  I’ve found that even the parts where I’m not sure what they are saying I can still figure out what is going on. And I get that quality time with my lady…as long as I don’t make fun of whats going on and I’m relatively quiet. You can bet I get dirty looks throughout the hour especially when an actress is crying, which is every 3.2 minutes on the dot.

And nothing has changed much from the marketers standpoint, they still know their audience and instead of soap they sell whitening cream and shampoo. Trust me the marketing works and as far as my girl is concerned she would be coal black if it weren’t for whitening cream.

I have to admit though I have become kinda hooked on the one Thai soap that is pictured throughout this post although I’m not sure why. I’m sure Pavlov’s dog never knew why he was hungry every time he heard a bell either.

Extra points if you can name the soap pictured…

sig1 Thai Soap Operas

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Comment by CatherineNo Gravatar
2009-06-23 22:52:16

I didn’t realise the bit about TVs being everywhere, but you are SO right! I first came across a TV running Thai shows in Brunei of all places. It was in my favourite Thai restaurant, over by the Istana (Palace).

It was also my first peek at reality TV – Thai news (ugh… during dinner?)

My favourite Thai soap has already finished – ????????????? /ma?e krua kon ma?i (The new cook) but I can find it on YouTube if I want. It’s the one with the girl with the black mole that keeps moving around her face…. I won’t ruin it for you by saying more :-)
Catherine´s last blog ..Habits of Highly Effective Expats My ComLuv Profile

Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2009-06-24 01:27:59

That would be Pookie’s second favorite Thai soap. I love how the mole always moves and her friend that is always freaking out.

Comment by MikeNo Gravatar
2009-06-24 00:21:06

Talen love them or hate them they are a part of my Thai lifestyle.

I can’t help but laugh sometimes which of course upsets MTF! They are a good language resources and I sort of like to watch them if only to see how much I can understand.

I actually quite enjoy the Real X programme (not a soap) for the same reason and also because it deals a lot with Thai culture and superstitions.
Mike´s last blog ..Thai names My ComLuv Profile

Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2009-06-24 03:31:41

Mike, They are part of all our Thai lifestyles lol. I get the evil looks when I laugh which is usually every 5 minutes when the same woman starts crying again for 20th time that episode.

Comment by CatherineNo Gravatar
2009-06-24 03:08:10

It is also the Thai soap with the least amount of screaming. I can’t take the screaming…
Catherine´s last blog ..Habits of Highly Effective Expats My ComLuv Profile

Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2009-06-24 03:33:40

The screaming and crying drives me nuts…the girl in the first picture above screams for half the show and cries for the second half and every show is her planning the breakup of this other womans relationship so she can get the man.

I do have to say I like your soap much better when she gets out of the fake mole …she’s hot!

Comment by Nice is ThaiNo Gravatar
2009-06-24 06:19:59

My mom is a housewife and really love watching soaps.
I enjoy watching some soaps on 8:30 pm too.

My 3 favorite pastime are also eating, sleeping and watching TV. No joke (I don’t understand why this is a joke in the first place huh?. :P )

hah, I can regconize the soap on the pics, Rahat Rissaya (The jealousy code )
It used to onair at the primetime (8:30 pm) and now re-run in the afternoon, right?

Some Thai people like Japanese and Korean series moe than Thai soaps. They complain about repeatative plot and characters.

Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2009-06-25 16:20:37

I believe you are correct about that soap being the jealousy code.

My favorite pastimes are eating, and sleeping but my Thai lady takes eating, sleeping and watching tv to new levels.

When I talked to her the other day it was raining but she told me she had a very busy schedule that day.

8-8:30am eating
8:30-10:30 watching tv
10:30-12pm nap
12-1pm eating
1-3pm Thai soaps
3-7pm cleaning and eating
7-9pm watching tv
9pm sleeping because she worked too hard

She also loves the Japanese and Korean soaps

Comment by CatherineNo Gravatar
2009-06-25 03:11:08

Well, as a gal I can’t say she’s hot. But how about, ’she cleans up well’? :-D
Catherine´s last blog ..Habits of Highly Effective Expats My ComLuv Profile

Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2009-06-25 16:22:17

You know you wanna say she’s hot…it’s ok I won’t tell anyone cept maybe Martyn and Pete…

Comment by NattaNo Gravatar
2009-06-25 06:12:55

I haven’t watched a single Thai soap opera in 5 years, no make it 10.

From what I’ve heard from friends (Of course, I can’t avoid it), the plot hasn’t changed much in the past 5 years. There’s always a high-pitched voice BAD girl who is trying to steal a guy from a pitiful young lady or something. Her voice sounds like some sort of noise pollution to me and it seems like many Thai actresses have this hidden talent of creating such voice!

But I haven’t realized we have TVs everywhere in Thailand. Wow.

Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2009-06-25 16:24:43

You are definitely right about the voices of the Thai actresses Natta…like fingernails on a chalkboard at times.

So far the best place I saw a T.V. in Thailand was in a temple in Mukdahan when we went to get a blessing :) I don’t think the monks were watching soaps though…

Comment by MartynNo Gravatar
2009-06-25 16:59:49

Nice one…I’ve been planning a post on Thai soaps for a while now, just haven’t got round to it, when I do it’s going to be an assassination that Lee Harvey Oswald would have been proud of.

Wilai is not quite up to Pookie’s levels of soap euphoria but she comes pretty close. Many a time in the past whilst staying at a hotel we have finished our meal at about 8-15 in the evening and she has then said to me “Hus…band, me tired I think I go room first, maybe I come back down later,”…and she’s off like a rocket to watch the soaps.

Nowadays she’s a little more upfront with it and we quite often sit in a hotel bar watching the soaps…well she watches them but I find clocking her happy as Larry facial expressions a lot more entertaining than watching the TV. At our village house she can actually follow 3 soaps at one time by switching channels during the commercials and slightly boring bits…bloody confusing for me, I pop outside for a smoke watching some Bangkok drama and return to see two jealous sisters fighting over the same bloke on some island. Amazing Thailand.
Martyn´s last blog ..The Ghosts Of Kamchanod My ComLuv Profile

Comment by CatherineNo Gravatar
2009-06-25 20:01:59

‘it’s ok I won’t tell anyone cept maybe Martyn and Pete…’

Well, then that’s ok then… :-D

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