‘My School President’ Is a Pitch-Perfect High School Romcom
Feb 2, 2023   •   Eli Magsaysay
8List.ph is published by ID8, Inc.
Feb 2, 2023   •   Eli Magsaysay
When the BL lineup for 2022 was announced, it was My School President that excited me the least. After all, what’s another BL about guitar-playing high schoolers in a line-up of fresher, multiverse-hopping, allegorical, anti-fascist plots? Fast-forward to December, however, and I was tired of more inventive plots that don’t manage to reach their premise’s full potential. And what revived my excitement for BL? The one about guitar-playing high schoolers.
And here’s why:
(Caution: Mild spoilers ahead!)
After the new principal decrees that poorly performing clubs are to be terminated, Gun, the vocalist of the school’s resident band must lead his band to victory in the nationwide Hot Wave Music Festival to save it. To do so, he must gain the favor of Tinn, the student council president/principal’s son who he’s certain is just as hellbent as his mother on making sure his club is canceled. What Gun doesn’t know, however, is that Tinn has harbored a secret crush on him for two years.
Groundbreaking? Hell no. But after a year of BLs trying to do new things but coming up short, it’s completely refreshing.
MSP has many elements rehashed from many previous BL romcoms: the secret admirer “forced to help” his object of affection (2gether), the “enemy” who’s actually been secretly helping the lead through a dummy social media account (Fish Upon the Sky), singing to your crush is a BL trope as old as Love of Siam itself, and falling in love with your archnemesis is so recently explored in Bad Buddy.
And yet, it works. It feels fresh. It’s as if MSP took notes of where a lot of its predecessors went wrong and made a revised musical version – and without the toxic macho energy that plagues most of its kind! It doesn’t drag out its issues for episodes; it finds new, meatier arcs to explore, each one aptly contributing to its two main arcs: the band’s road to Hot Wave and the fruition of Tinn and Gun’s romance.
Similar BLs almost feel like they’re told from the first person; we don’t really know how exactly the other party really feels until halfway through the show. They’d dump all of it in one episode and, sometimes, when its charm and mystery had already expired. My School President, however, pulls a Flipped after the first episode and makes sure the audience knows immediately that we are not just watching one character through another’s eyes. It smartly reveals context through flashbacks at the ripest time.
There is no mystery for us to take weeks to solve. We become omniscient. We become equally invested in the leads because we know them both. We root for them to figure out what we have long known. We are frustrated over their miscommunications because we know the truth. We love them both because we see how they love the other, even when they’re too young to know that what they’ve been doing is exactly that.
MSP’s energy feels updated but at the same time familiar. Familiar, perhaps, because besides that it’s formulaic, I at one point was a silly high schooler who passed love notes in the classroom. I thought every heartbreak meant the end of days, too. I was in a clique of mathematically-challenged kids with silly little quirks and stupid ideas. All these scenes feel familiar because I’ve lived them but the show feels updated because this is a generation that speaks a different language now.
This cast is young. This show is by a younger director, too. Together they offer a flavor that is true to the genre’s brand but packaged in a refreshing energy inherent in the young, a blend of nostalgia and newness, familiar and updated, that creates a viewing experience that lets one feel safe with the formula, but with room left for surprises.
I was prepared for bubblegum escapism when I started MSP but what struck me later on in the series is how it managed to ground its narrative to real-world concerns. Most BLs tend to be so middle class and there’s hardly ever any issue about its characters’ material conditions. But after solidifying its fantasy world of kilig and well-meaning singing boys, My School President drops a sudden but important reality check for the characters: the financial sustainability and the rejection of a career in the arts.
This can be a huge downer, especially when tackled in an episode that also discusses losing a parent and rejections, but MSP’s snappy humor manages to take the show into deeper waters whilst staying afloat. Its taste of reality doesn’t kill its romanticism. In the same way, one falls more deeply once they see their beloved vulnerable, it just makes me love the show more.
Aside from an effective rom-com, this show is also a great introduction to Thai pop music. The show sometimes enters Glee territory, to be honest, but because there’s usually just one song per episode, it doesn’t feel exhausting as every musical sequence still feels like an event. It is impossible to watch it without any of these songs getting stuck in your head, so do yourself a favor and just add their songs to your playlist – both the originals and their covers – because trust: you need a little bit of Three Man Down and Tilly Birds in your life.
It’s just inconceivable for this show to exist without its stars and GMMTV definitely struck gold with Gemini Norawit and Fourth Nattawat, whose performances feature nuances typically absent in the genre’s earlier days.
While the archetypal campus heartthrob is usually snobbish and untouchable, Gemini’s Tinn is grounded and silly with a pureness that’s impossible to not root for. Meanwhile, Fourth’s Gun contrasts his character’s verve and mischievousness with a vulnerability that not only surprises but arrests.
Gemini and Fourth are surely stars in their own right, but together they are simply magic. Their chemistry and performance deliver kilig that equals that of Mario Maurer and Baifern Pimchanok in the classic Crazy Little Thing Called Love, their offscreen charm reminiscent of their seniors, TayNew, with vocals that at one point only Billkin and PP Kritt could serve.
My School President still has a handful of episodes to go. TinnGun aren’t official yet and the band’s journey toward the Hot Wave Music Festival trophy is far from over. But while there’s only dreaming now that the show never drops the ball, some things I already know to be true. On the way to the dream, love has been found. And it’s enough to keep us singing – in victory or in strife.
My School President is available to stream on GMMTV’s Official YouTube account, with new episodes every Friday, 830PM Thailand time.
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