Teen TV series takes mask off Thai society

Teen TV series takes mask off Thai society

A girl emerges from the cubicle in her school's male loo after a quickie with another student. Boys bond over drags of cigarette in an unused classroom. On the streets near their school, rival teenage gangs pummel one another with fists and sticks.

Delinquents?

Not quite. These are scenes from Thailand's hit television series Hormones, about the life of middle-class students in a Bangkok high school.

The 13-part drama, which was aired on satellite TV from May to last month and is slated for a second series, has set Thai society abuzz with the frank portrayal of life as lived by Thai youth today.

Although the show has rankled some officials for alleged indecency, it was not censored. Instead, it gained such a huge following that GMM One channel, which initially made the episodes available on the Internet after they were screened, aired the latter half of the series simultaneously on both platforms. It has chalked up more than 87 million views online.

Firms from Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and even China have knocked on the doors of its distributor GMM Thai Hub, in the hope of bringing some of the Hormones action back home.

"It takes the mask off Thai society," says youth researcher Apinan Thammasena from the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre.

While mainstream TV dramas offer a blend of genteel protagonists and overwrought villains - often with a dash of sorcery thrown in - Hormones features a cast of identifiable characters negotiating the trials of adolescence and more.

There is Dao, a sheltered girl forced to buy an emergency contraceptive pill after being tricked into having sex with a boy. Phai is drawn over and over again into vicious fights with a rival school gang over a past grudge.

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