She’s Thai He’s English: Reading Versus Television

In our house there is very rarely a dispute over what television programs to watch of an evening, as my wife is the sole owner of the remote control and she has it with my blessing. A combination of English and American reality Television programs combined with Thai soaps has me running for my study and the comfort of some inspiring, continued learning reading material.

An unfortunate thing happened about four months ago as my wife’s Thai digital Television box died meaning the end of Thai Television or more to the point the end of Thai soaps in our house, or so I had hoped. However misfortune struck again last week as a friend of the family (now former friend) put in another Thai digital box at my wife’s request with more Thai channels ” oh no she has upgraded”.

Don’t get me wrong my wife (as do most Thai women) works very hard and is entitled to a bit of light entertainment. I myself however have never been a fan of the television, preferring to wander off to my corner of the study with a book and leaving my wife to the delights of  the goggle box.  The only time I take control of the television is when Manchester United are on it and then no one would dare turn it over.

Things very Thai, The Tuk- Tuk

My wife’s evening program format is a mixture of Thai, English and American dross.  It will start with a Thai soap and then go on to that dreadful and depressing English soap called East Enders, in between stops will be Americas top model and finished off nicely with a couple of very annoying game shows and these are equally annoying in Thai or English. On Sunday evenings you can add in Sunday night with a serial killer, when the whole evening is devoted to serial killers of the last 30 years a well-earned respite from the soaps and game shows.

I have to admit to hating all of it and you can add to the list any form of reality television like strictly come dancing, the heavily annoying X factor, Britain’s got talent, Big Brother and all the programs about getting to know this or that mind numbing celebrity that I have no desire to know about. The only one that would be good is the program where they send celebrities in to a jungle, but the part that lets it down is when they broadcast it and let them out again.

So to me the television is a mind numbing time-wasting  machine.  The late and great Jim Rohn America’s  foremost Business philosopher once said most people prefer to have a 48” wide screen television in their homes as opposed to a library. He also said in America they built drive through libraries and they were free I mean all you needed was a library card to enter, but did people drive in, no of course not, they drove by.

Things very Thai, A cultural performance

After digressing I will move on to Thai soaps. The thing I have found with Thai soaps is they leave you absolutely exhausted after watching them. A few of the ingredients are  constant rows, high pitch screaming, hair pulling, face slapping, fits and tantrums, manipulative aunties, knife pulling, gun pulling, jealousy, greed, envy and throw in the odd spot of infidelity and those are just the good parts.

Thai soaps are slightly different from our own depressing efforts, no not in the way that they are better, but in a way that they don’t last so long. They are usually based over 30-50 episodes and shown about three times a week as opposed to the English soaps which appear to never end.

The plots usually centre around love triangles, greed and revenge and normally have at least one very rich and very pretty complete bitch who is hell-bent on getting what she wants no matter what  the consequences. Whilst the plot thickens during each episode it will be accompanied by over-dramatised soundtracks to drum up the suspense and people thinking out loud, whilst deciding on what form of revenge to seek a sort of should I do this or should I do that, along with fantastic facial expressions.

Things very Thai, Floating Markets

Of course love and money are prime subjects and give way to some very powerful negative emotions, which in turn give way to dire consequences. The dire consequences are scattered throughout, but really come home to roost in the final episode which is normally a half an hour episode of pure misery (a bit like every episode of East Enders).

One of the best episodes was about a young beautiful, but terribly cunning and conniving girl who took advantage of her old, rich and sick grandmother by getting her to sign over the entire will to her. When that job was complete she took the old woman out in her wheel chair for a walk and promptly pushed her off of the bridge in to the river. What a lovely grand-daughter.

However crazy Thai soaps get, they still stick to the guidelines of Thainess. Hand holding and eye gazing are as near as you would get to a romantic scene and a kiss is totally out of the question. However the usually polite and restrained Thais can let off some steam under the title of soap and that’s both the people acting and those viewing.

Things very Thai, Muay Thai Boxing

For me though having sat through this a couple of times  in the early days, I was glad that it did not take me long to question my sanity. I said to my wife after watching an episode, ”do you know that is time I will never get back”. She likes that one.

In fact when all is said and done, whether Thai or English programs, you can keep the television or better still throw it out the window along with the licence fee they charge to watch the darn thing, second thoughts better not United are on in a minute.

Recommended Books

There are some things that are very Thai  and knowing about them will greatly help your understanding of Thai ways and popular Thai culture. What is Hi-So?The love affair with red bull and energy drinks, ghost stories, amulet collectors and fortune tellers. Thai Massage, What is a sniff kiss? These are just a few of the things you will read about in the excellent 256 page book with fantastic photographs called ” Very Thai”  by Philip Cornwel-Smith and photographs by John Goss. You can buy this book by following this link:

I would also like to recommend a book about quotations from the late and great master in the field of personal development Jim Rohn. A massively inspiring book by a massively inspiring man. Jim takes you through his library of his own priceless quotes on subjects from Health, happiness, change, problem solving , activity and absolutely loads more that are just too many to mention here. One of my all time favourites ” The Treasury Of Quotes” by Jim Rohn

4 thoughts on “She’s Thai He’s English: Reading Versus Television

  1. This is lovely. Agree with most of it, but must confess to falling under the spell of 1996 Law & Order reruns. And, I don’t understand sports. For me, sports on tv are up there with game shows. Especially, American football. But not as bad as any “reality” show with dancing, or obnoxious people surviving in jungles, etc.

    1. Thank You Susan. These posts are really a light-hearted look at the Thai/Western relationships and the occasional rant from me about any other subjects. What tends to happen is I start off writing about one thing and drift in to others, so now I just go with whatever is in the mind. I spent some time in Los Angeles, San Francisco and at least 6 months in Toronto Canada, so I started to learn about your sports. American Football was never my favourite and neither base ball, but I loved ice Hockey. I never saw Law & Order maybe that was being shown in the UK when I was in the U.S.A. Thank You Susan I am in Bangkok next month and will pick up a copy of ”Lioness in bloom” as yet to read that.

  2. Haha loves the who’s in charged of the remote control of TV! That’s so funny;)I like the way you described how everyone’s behave!brilliant mate..

    1. Thank You very much Keown, yes I know my place with regards to the remote control, but I am glad as a Thai national that you take this in the light-hearted manner it was intended. Thank you Keown.I appreciate your comments.

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