For so many years, BL series, or “Boys Love series,” often highlight drama, cute scenes, and male-to-male love stories. But over time, it has become progressive with its plots and already depicts important societal issues. It makes people relate to their stories and characters and makes them aware of different issues. However, discussing societal issues is also something that people are not open to see it yet, especially on television. One of its examples is the Thai romantic drama fantasy BL series, The Miracle of Teddy Bear.
The Miracle of Teddy Bear follows Tofu, a big white teddy bear that has provided comfort to Nut for ten years. Unknown to Nut, the teddy bear was one day suddenly transformed into a young man, but has no memory of himself. When Tofu discovered that his past was tied to the dark family secrets of his owner, things became more difficult in his search for his past. Over time, Tofu developed feelings for Nut, but he must act soon because his time left as a human is running out.
But what makes the story of The Miracle of Teddy Bear different from other BL series is how it discusses important issues not only in Thailand but across the globe.
Things that make The Miracle of Teddy Bear stand out from other BL series:
It gives awareness about mental Health
In the story, Nut’s mother, Mathana, has been hallucinating. She is seeing the love of his life, even though he isn’t there. Because she has schizophrenia, a severe mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally. As a result of trauma, Mathana occasionally suffers auditory and visual hallucinations in which she sees unreal things. The actress gives the role justice, in fact, her acting was one of the best in the drama.
Furthermore, the series was sensitive to depicting schizophrenia and makes sure that it was informative and accurate for the audience. Other characters take care of Mathana to give awareness of what should do if they encounter someone with schizophrenia. Unlike in real life, she wasn’t viewed as a crazy, psychotic person. The series also included scenes of getting professional assistance, emphasizing that getting psychiatric support is normal.
Its reveals domestic abuse
Mathana also experienced domestic abuse by his late husband, who always abuse her whenever she meet his brother. She received verbal abuse and was accused of having an affair with his brother even before his spouse passed away. In addition, their kid did not avoid abuse from his father every time he was suspected of being gay. If looked carefully, the patriarchal mindset of Mathana’s husband was all the reason for these abuses. In fact, Mathana’s husband just wants her to prepare meals for him and not meet his brother.
Moreover, he shows his superiority in the household and takes control of everything. Also, because of his father’s yelling at his mother when he was a little boy, Nut also struggled with anger management. Although the series accurately depicted domestic abuse, it never resulted in jail time for Mathana’s husband. Some may view his death as a victory, but if he had been reported—which is actually a possibility—that would be a positive portrayal.
Its portrayal of homophobia
How The Miracle of Teddy Bear portrays homophobia really sets it apart from other BL series. It was seen on Nut’s father, who had been verbally berating and forbidding Nut from playing with paper dolls ever since he was a kid. Also when Nut entered high school and fell in love with Tathan, his father hurts him whenever they see each other. He even talks to the school’s principal to look after Nut and forbids him to see Tathan.
The way Nut’s father treats him reflects how homophobic view queers, who believe that being gay is immoral and shameful. In reality, Nut’s father represents the Thai public who shunned the Channel 3 broadcast of the series. Due to its big-budget format, being made by a mainstream production company, and airing in prime time on a mainstream channel, The Miracle of Teddy Bear is the first Thai boys’ love series to achieve mainstream status.
Since Channel 3 was the oldest network in Thailand, its viewers were primarily boomers. As a result, the show receives negative feedback from Channel 3’s devoted supporters. It is clear that Nut’s father embodied what some Thais thought of the LGBTQ+ community. I simply wish Nut’s father would embrace his son before he passed away to provide a happy ending. But in my perspective, the series takes a more realistic direction.
Hoping for a miraculous change
Channel 3 continued to run The Miracle of Teddy Bear despite negative reviews. Even if it is risky to do so, as they might not generate sufficient revenue from it. It was commendable that they used their exposure to raise awareness of important issues like mental health, domestic abuse, and homophobia. They ensure that The Miracle of Teddy Bear is a worthwhile series and that it serves to educate its audience.
I’m hoping that soon I’ll be able to watch this sort of television series in the Philippines. I hope our media, especially the mainstream, do this kind of series and represent the LGBTQ+ community. And when that day comes, I hope they do it genuinely to represent the queer community and depict societal issues rather than simply doing it for the money.