6 Reasons Why Thai Gen-Z don’t prefer Thai Dramas?
“I just want you to know that the quality of Thai actors is not that bad, but we need to accept that the quality of our production process cannot be compared to those countries that have been successful in the media industry. We, as the actors, try our best under the limited budget, however, how much effort we put in, it still depends on the audiences that they choose to watch it or not. I feel hurt every time I hear people say I don’t watch Thai dramas or Thai movies.” (Thanapob Leeratanakajorn, Thai actor, 2022)
There are many factors that block the path to success in Thai entertainment apart from the limited budget and the quality of the production team. Let’s discover the real truth together.
When will dramas be able to really reflect the reality of society?
(Disclaimer : Not all Thai dramas need to be changed)
The issues in Thai drama
From the past until now, the majority plot of Thai dramas is still obsessed with family issues and toxic relationships, making men feel superior and women are under control. You can clearly see, time flies, season changes, but not for the theme for Thai dramas, they are predictable. Violence and patriarch still influence the dramas from the main TV channel. No wonder why the amount of the audience gradually drops nowadays, contrary to new generations which strictly concerned about avoiding violence in society.
Rang ngao (แรงเงา) 1986, 1988, 2001, 2012, 2019
This drama can be called as one of the most iconic dramas in the Thai entertainment industry. It has been re-produced several times by changing the actors, or even releasing season 2. Unfortunately, not for the plot, the moral of the story is still the same. If you ask why they keep re-produced same story many times, the answer is the target audiences still like this kind of story but maybe not for Gen-Z. Even Though, it can be predicted the direction of the story, some group of audiences still satisfied with the violence that has already been normalized as a normal event after watching several times.
Adding from the overall story, the plays themselves are also inappropriate and keep inserting wrong representation to people’s minds. The audience can see many conversations and acting show that women hold less power than men. For example, rape, a violence between women fighting for a man, physical and mental abuse, consent violation and so on.
Sawan biang สวรรค์เบี่ยง (2008)
Plerng Phra Nang เพลิงพระนาง (2017) and Mia Luang เมียหลวง (2017)
No matter what era, there is still a spanking.
Ran dok Ngew ร่านดอกงิ้ว (2022)
When the audience can directly see the wrong action, there are chances that people will finally get used to that particular action. It may lead to normalizing this kind of situation, even if they will follow it or not. Apart from distorted reality, these dramas’ plots can cultivate wrong values in adults which later be transferred to children generation to generation. We can see a lot of news about violence in family and school, which is the influence of those dramas as an example. On the other hand, some parents avoid watching it because they don’t want to give their children a bad example, so new generation minor may raised by ignoring Thai dramas on TV.
Would it be a chance for new screenwriters?
If not, we are still in the same loop.
Sick of old-fashion PC
PC, Political Correctness, is also the barrier to civilization, yes it can screen for inappropriate content such as violence, but some important issues are left behind because they are considered as an inappropriate act. Why should spanking be more relevant than other social issues such as gender diversity or politics? In fact, this generation is more open about any issues but we rarely have chances to watch them from TV, as well as the whole society that should have awareness. For example, Y-series are available mainly on online platforms, but when it can be on-air through TV channels, too bad it was censored, considered as an inappropriate act for society. We can see that long-established restriction from conservative in the past are the problem.
The coming of digital era
The problem is about the shift from mass media to the digital media era in this generation. The target audience who keep waiting for their soap opera still rely on mass media, so the producers keep presenting the same issues. The chances for something new are undeniably reduced. On the other hand, the internet can introduce them to something better on the internet, no need for content from mass media anymore. No more language barriers, something awesome is out there.
The dedication to production
RS, the top entertainment company in Thailand, revealed that Channel 8 invested 25-30 million baht in 1 drama, 14-16 episodes. Even channel 8 is not a main channel in Thailand, but now we can estimate the cost of production. Meanwhile, the result may not be worth it, as Mr. Tanapob said, we need to accept that the quality of the production process cannot be compared to those successful industries in other countries.
More than 50% of Thai dramas from mainstream channels are from romance novels, just a few were originally written from screenwriters, so the diversity in dramas from TV channels is not that wide.
While overseas, there was serious research work done before the script was written, not just writing it by referring to someone’s favorite romance novel. For example, in South Korea, one episode can be worth up to almost 20 million baht. Director Cha Young Hoon from Forecasting Love and Weather, mentioned that the screenwriters had been preparing for the project for a long time. It took about 2 years to study the data alone, and another 8 months to meet and collect data from people working directly in the Meteorological Department.
Also the technology, the ability of the Thai production team is still far behind. CG is also a key component in the post-production process that will be able to enhance the viewing experience of the audience.
It’s true that we cannot access the best technology with a high amount of cost that much right now, even if this is the best way they can do, we need to accept these flaws which can be the reason that the Gen-Z audiences prefer to watch something better from overseas.
We cannot beat K-Series
To mention one of the top class entertainment industries in the world, South Korea, there are many categories to discover starting from a variety of careers to something spectacular to see. They are deeply far away from us now. Even family issues and violence may exist in some dramas, but they can provide a variety of issues to consume for different preferences in the society. The audience has a choice. With the well-organized script, the high production cost and technology they can afford, the result of course comes with high quality as the cost they invested.
Conclusion and future possibilities
This long-lasting problem can stereotype all Thai drama to always be all in that way, later Gen-Z may turn their back for Thai production if they still cannot see the process. With the same structure and content that still exists despite the passage of time or how much society has changed, it remains as an unresolved issue. As the main reason, for business, they need to make sure that the same value content can suit some specific group of audience that have constant support.
While, making immediate changes may be difficult and socially constrained, but audience must have more choice to choose. Main TV channels should be able to make accessible drama content to all audiences both online and mass media, also give small production teams the opportunity to publish their work either on the their platform as well. All this does not mean that there are no valuable dramas in the past or now, just that they may not be promoted enough through main TV channels on prime time as they should. In fact, the proportion of relationship issues based dramas still being created continuously.
Speaking of one of Gen-Z, we hope that the old social structure will be modified and allow for new variations that may still be subject to regulation and PC. Hope that the production team can access quality technology and be able to create a variety of content more. The best is to replace what is currently available but just to expand the market for the audience is fairly enough. Mass audience should be able to see something new to adjust their aspect of society. No more toxic relationship problems, it’s time to move on, we need something new that can drive the society to be a better place, something educational or something that can make people feel more hyper reality, to escape from simple normal life.