Team is a talented swimmer who just entered university. However, when it comes to swim competitions, he's never able to perform to the best of his abilities. When swim team upperclassman Win comes to know that the problem doesn't lie in Team's abilities or dedication, but rather his trauma and the sleeping difficulties it causes, he offers up his own room for Team to stay in. With the comfort of company, Team's performance starts to improve and feelings start to grow between the two young men. But Team isn't the only one with issues from his past preventing him from moving forward. Win struggles with how to handle receiving love and how to give special treatment to those closest to him. Occurring parallel to the events of "Until We Meet Again," this story focuses on how Win and Team come to know and inspire growth in each other. (Source: MyDramaList) ~~ Adapted from the novel "Hemp Rope" (เชือกป่าน) by lazysheep. Edit Translation
Cast & Credits
A Deep Dive into Human Emotions ft. Frustration and Sexual TensionBetween Us is a series that is mainly focused on deeply exploring each characters’ emotions. It’s slow paced (EXACTLY like UMWA was too), but unlike its predecessor it doesn’t contain any action / mystery elements that made UMWA interesting even to fans who prefer plot-focused shows. So it’s definitely not everybody’s cup of tea, but if you like relationship focused shows, this one is a MUST WATCH for sure, no matter if you have watched UWMA before or not.
The big debates around the rating of the show and it being a 'masterpiece' or a 'disappointment' come from the fact, that it focuses on the side couple from UWMA - which was hugely succesful - and also from the fact, that people didn’t do any research about the show / its plot / its novel whatsoever and went into it blindly, expecting UMWA pt. 2. But it is not, in fact, UMWA pt. 2 - it’s Between Us, a beautiful show that will drive you crazy with frustration, give you butterflies with its cuteness and make you drunk with its sexual tension all while making you cry too.
So I would like to talk about those issues and comparisons with UWMA and then I will try to objectively review Between Us as a stand alone series.
UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN AND BETWEEN US
Like already mentioned, most of the viewers who are watching Between Us have already seen UWMA before. Expecting Between Us to be a “UMWA pt. 2”, many have not even noticed that Between Us is a different genre and went into watching the series with false expectations. And when it became apparent that Between Us is different from what they imagined, they felt disappointed.
UWMA has become a staple bl - it started a new era and was on top of bl lists of majority of viewers when it came out. Even though it was a relationship focused and a slow-paced series too, because of its action / mystery elements it became enjoyable even to people, who usually prefer action and plot-focused shows. It also carries the feeling of nostalgia, as it was the first bl show for many, with the bonus of the "pre-covid times" nostalgia too. And while it really was that good at the time, if you rewatch it now you'll likely find it not as grand as we all remember it being. It was an s-tier for 2019, but would be considered an a+ tier today. Which adds another point to the “disappointment” of Between Us - many viewers expected an s-tier series (by today’s standarts) and got an a+tier one.
Another thing I'd like to point out is the belief that "Between Us has been made purely because of the fans' love for Win/Team". It stands from the fact that the series took 3 years to release and fans hyped it up throughout them all. But here's the thing - it was stated by Boun and Prem that they were told about filming Between Us at the end of the filming of UMWA - before it even aired. The series is based on a hugely popular novel called 'Hemp Rope', which is set in the same universe as 'The Red Thread' (a novel from which UMWA was adapted).
If you look at other bl releases, you'll find it very common for directors to adapt all novels set in the same universe. A lot of Mame's novels - like Tharn Type and Don't say No, LITA (it adapts 2 novels), but also the amazing Manner of Death, Triage and Transplant (which is coming soon). Still, some fans believe that they are the sole reason for this series' existence, thus feel somehow entitled to it and criticize of every little mistake.
Some people are saying that the plot is not moving forward and “what else could be expected from a side couple”, completly disregarding the fact that BETWEEN US IS FOLLOWING THE PLOT OF THE NOVEL. If you feel that the series is stretching the plot, that’s exactly what UMWA did too - even more so, as they stretched a 29-chapters light novel into 17 episodes. And it’s also P’New’s (the director’s) style of doing things - he likes to play with our emotions, letting us hang at the end of episode while laughing about it at home (at least that’s what his friens said).
Between Us focuses on deeply exploring the protagonists’ emotions. The plot is focused on the relationship aspect between the pairs and it takes its time exploring everybody’s point of view. Basically, the relationships are the plot. Every pair also explores different topics / traumas, so the whole series takes a somehow deep dive into a human psyche. Especially the uncertaity that Win / Team face throughout the whole show - being afraid to take that step forward - is very well portrayed. While mildly frustrating, it’s also very relatable and gives the show a more realistic vibe, which P’New also mentioned. (More explained at the end of the review)
WHAT I LOVED IN BETWEEN US
- CINEMATOGRAPHY - it's simply beautiful. It has a very high production feel to it, the portray of scenery is great and every shot feels well planned out.
- MUSIC. Not only did this series use some of the most beloved sounds from UMWA, it came with another set of musical masterpieces. This is the place I feel that P’New's productions never disappoint.
- CHEMISTRY between the main pairing is amazing. Scorching hot at places and sweet at others, it really delivers everything we have longed for.
- CONSENT in this show is exemplary and should be applauded.
- PORTRAY OF EMOTIONS. They know exactly how to make us laugh, cry, coo, thirst and how to give us butterflies.
- TOPICS being explored. This series takes its time in exploring interesting topics through their pairs - self blame, forgivness, mental health, trauma, following dreams, meeting parents' expectations, meeting your s/o online, the sacrifices of being in the entertainment industry and dating a celebrity.
- A, BEE, SEA are a nice comedic relief that doesn't feel forced.
- SLOW PACING of the show and the FOCUS ON RELATIONSHIPS. Some people love it, some people hate it. Eighter way, that is personal to everybody, so I’m putting it in the neutral section.
- Between Us has a lot SEXIER TONE than UWMA's sweet one.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE AS MUCH
- If you've watched UMWA, you pretty much know what is going to happen in terms of Win / Team (like the result of the competition), so the expectation and built tension is somehow lost. I actually feel that it would be better to watch UWMA afterwards, as Between Us doesn't give away that much about Dean and Pharm.
- This one is a clump of topics that is criticised a lot, but since they are connected, I wrote them as 1 point: TOO MANY PAIRINGS -> too many topics to explore in too little episodes -> paradox of a show being very slow at times, while also overloading viewers with information.
TOO MANY PAIRINGS ?
If you haven’t seen UMWA before, then yes, there may be too many pairings in Between Us that are given too much priority.
The main pair: Win / Team. The side couples: Bee/Prince, Wan/ Tul, Manaow /Pruek. A couple that we see occasionally: Dean and Pharm. Yes, it's five of them.
During the promotions and the New Year Special there were only 4 couples, Dean / Pharm (Ohm and Fluke) were not included. It may be because their own series - 609 Bedtime Story - aired very shortly after Between Us and there were clashes with the promotions, but I feel like it also represents the structure in Between Us fairly well. Dean / Pharm are mostly mentioned, with only a few scenes together. But even then, they are an acknowledged pair, thus being an official fifth couple.
That makes the series a bit confusing for non UWMA watchers, who are served 5 couples to get familiar with. Nevertheless, the series does its best at introducing them and exploring each of them slowly. That’s the only real problem I see when it comes to Between Us’s performance as a stand alone series.
WIN / TEAM
Boun and Prem have really delivered. Their chemistry is impeccable and the sexual tension can be felt through the screen. They can be the comedic duo, the fluffy bunnies or deliver the sad feels, they can do it all. Their acting in ep 11 was their best yet. They also explore a variety of interesting topics in this series. For Win it's the impact of being the middle child - being afraid of owning things and then losing them, keeping a family together and always having to be the perfect, responsible son. That’s also where his fear of falling in love comes from.
For Team it's dealing with trauma and guilt. Usually in bl shows we see a childhood trauma from an accident that the child thinks they have caused, but it actually wasn't their fault. In Team's case it was his fault, but still, he was a child. Navigating this trauma, self-blame, insomnia and being in an unconfirmed realtionship creates a very strong, onion cutting cocktail. But no matter what, Win is always there for Team and I love that, together with him alway asking for consent.
WAN / TUL
Although their love story is interesting, I think that they don’t fit into the story as seamlessly as the other couples. Their story is happening somewhat outside of the others - a bit like Kim and Porschay - and their chemistry is just okay. Obviously it's because they talk online, as they are exploring the topic of dating online and falling in love without knowing each other irl, but still. And because all of their interactions happen through a mobile game (that we don't even get to see), the cinematography gets mundane very quickly - it’s 2 guys sitting down and playing a game on their phones.
Still, I think the actors did a good job and I really like the hesitation about keeping the other’s trust while staying anonymous, or possibly losing the other’s trust but getting to meet irl. The whole ‘meeting in a game’ concept is very fresh and we’ll definitely see more of it in the future.
BEE / PRINCE
This pair quickly became one of my favourites. I simply adore their interactions and wish they had more screen time. I like how both Bee and Prince are a little unsure but still go for the relationship. Prince deals with a few different problems - dating as an actor, past scandals and the sacrifices you have to make to stay in the industry. I feel like other bl shows that talk about 'the industry' focus mainly on the relationship aspect of it, so it’s really refreshing to see the sacrifices in terms of personal time. When you think about it, balancing school, studies, hobbies or other jobs with acting is something that actors go through on daily bases, so I appreciate this topic being brought up.
For both Bee and Prince there is the prominent topic of dating: Prince has his set of worries, as an actor who may get hate because of dating, while Bee - as a person outside of the industry - worries that he won't be able to match Prince's level and protect him from the harm. I very much appreciate Prince coming out as gay and Bee acknowledging that he's gay too - in so many shows it's "You're the only guy I like, that doesn't mean I'm gay", whereas Bee clearly said "I like you, so that means I'm gay". Thei chemistry is great and I genuinely love all of their moments.
MANAOW / PRUK
They once again deliver flawlessly, though I feel like they may be cursed. Despite being great together and having an awesome chemistry, they got little to no screen time as a pair in UWMA, so I was super excited to see bigger focus on them in Between Us. And while we got many much needed cute and funny moments, there were little intimate moments. I understand that their relationship is based on Manaow's quirky personality and they are used as a comedic relief at times, but I really want to see some actual intimate moments between them. Especially since their actors irl have very cute chemistry.
I think it has to do more with the fact that it's a straight couple in a bl series more than anything, but I think that Manaow - the best supportive girl she is - deserves better. But in terms of their on-screen performance, their pair always delivers and you cannot help but to fall in love with them. Plus they explores the topics of dreams and expectations, which is a familiar struggle for many people.
DEAN / PHARM
Do I even need to say anything? Top-notch performance as always, there’s no doubt about that. Though they only appear occasionally, as they already have a whole series dedicated to them. So if you'd like to see more of this OG couple's beautiful and sweet romance, check out UMWA after you're done with Between Us. But be prepared to grab some tissues - their story cuts very deep and you'll find yourself crying a lot.
Like stated at the beginning, Between Us is a MUST WATCH, it’s easily an a+tier stand alone show. If you are the target audience - you enjoy shows focused on relationships - you will enjoy Between Us very much. It’s a beautiful series with good acting, beautiful cinematography and top-notch music. There are some flaws, but the pros outweight them by a giant margin. It has many cute, funny, sexy and sad moments to offer. The topics being discussed are diverse and we really dive deep in some places. The chemistry between the pairs is awesome, plus the main leads’ sexual tension Between Them is very prominent, so take a few deep breaths and feel free to dive right in.
PS: A year ago, Between Us Special was released. It was a little project initiated by Boun and Prem themselves. These are short episodes without any plot, filled with Win and Team’s fluffy and funny moments in their domestic life. It’s one of the cutest and most hertwarming things, so if you haven’t yet, please give it a watch, it has healing properties.
PPS: About Between Us and P’New. P’New appeared in the reaction channel “NungNaRong” during reaction to the episode 6 of Between Us. He has talked about many things including filming of the series, but also working in the film industry while making BLs. He even said that Love by Chance was almost not aired, as the station it was supposed to aired on cancelled 3 days between the release date. He also mentioned that he has wanted to make Between Us more realistic than his previous works. The whole episode is interesting (he talks throughout is, it’s not an interview) and their channel also invites other guests (usually actors) to watch some episodes with them, check them out if you’d like to.
you better put your rose-colored glasses on for this one guysLet's set the scene.
Imagine you are a teenager, just discovering BL and watching a show called Until We Meet Again and you fall in love with a little side couple called WinTeam. And there are rumours that they will get their own show!? The years go by and you still harbour the hope that maybe, just maybe they will get another chance at telling their story again. And then, it happens. News breaks out. Between Us is happening! It is actually happening. You mark your calender and count the days, actively following the countdown on the company's instagram. You stumble over the cast and are little shocked to find five (!) couples listed in there, but you tell yourself it's gonna be fine. You waited three years for this, they know what they are doing. And finally on Nov 6th, the first episode airs. You are thrilled. And you think this show actually managed to live up to the insane hype it gathered over the past few years. Can it be? A show that actually can live up to someone's expectations? And then you keep watching and a few weeks later, you suddenly catch yourself fast forwarding through an episode of your beloved show and you stop and ask yourself: What happened?
If you think to yourself: Wow, this reviewer didn't have to ramble so much in such great detail to tell us this story, it got boring pretty fast. Well, then I guess this show and I have something in common.
Sometimes the best stories are the one's untold. What makes Goncharov so good is that it doesn't exist. And maybe what made WinTeam so popular is the fact that they got just enough screen time to get viewers interested but never enough to give us something. But I'm rambling again.
This show is said to start with Win and Team entering a FWB situation. But the writers, directors, or whoever is to blame for this, didn't seem to know what the key factor of a friends with benefits story is, it's the friends part. They are friends first. Friends before anything else. But Win and Team were barely aquaintances before they hooked up. That's why I think FWB set different expectations that were impossible to fulfill. If you'd ask me I would describe their relationship as a one-night-stand that slowly turned into casual hook-ups with no emotions, then they got to know each other and became friends and developed feelings for each other afterwards. If they had labeled it as such, I'm sure more people would've set their expectations accordingly. There was never a line that got a little too blury for them between being friends and being in a relationship, because they were never friends to begin with.
This show also had a massive time problem. I already mentioned the five couples, one of which only get's blick-and-you'll-miss-it screen time, which is fair because they got their own show already. For the other four well... To summarize it: Wayy too much time was wasted and there was too much back and forth that led to the ending feeling rushed.
Win and Team: Okay, let me be straightforward for once, they could not carry 12 episodes. The beginning was strong, but towards the middle they became more boring. If took these guys 11 out of 12 episodes to finally confess their love for each other. That only gave us one episode with them being happily and sort-of openly in a relationship. And I wish BLs would stop pretending that after you enter a relationship everything is perfect and your get a HEA. I want to see them get together AND how they work in a relationship.
Team's "does he like me or does he treat everyone like that?" didn't make any sense. In UWMA yes, maybe. But not in Between Us where my man was out here leaving his room unlocked for his teammember to come in the middle of the night and sleep in his bed. He was making him breakfast, paying for his lunch, taking care of him when he got sick, driving to his dead cousin's grave to pick him up in the middle of the night while it's pouring, and a bunch of other stuff (not to mention that he literally said something about his FEELIGNS FOR HIM). And Team looked us straight in the eyes and said "yeah but maybe he does it for everyone"??????? ARE THESE OTHER PEOPLE HE'S DOING IT FOR IN THIS ROOM WITH US RIGHT NOW??? And Win too like "nothing every belonged to me, I always had to share" my guy this is not a Barbie doll or your favorite jumper, this is another human being. I'm sorry that you as well suffer from being the Middle ChildTM but pLEASE.
Speaking of which, I would've loved to see not only Team's trauma, but also Win's struggle with trying to please both his parents and supporting his siblings.
Prince and Bee: Their scene felt so out of place, like they gave off such different vibes that I was always so violently taken out of the story every time they appeared on the screen. They were cute, yes, but the acting was lacking. With a little more experience they will make a great couple. I also partly blame the material they had to work with. They couldn't get me invested. Sadly, because the concept was interesting. Also, if my friends would constantly make fun of me, I would not consider them my friends. I'm so over the friend group just being complete assholes to the guy and it never being called out. Saying that a guy is out of his league is one thing but to constantly rub it in his face and make fun of him for trying to make an effort to get with the guy and calling him dumb and whatnot, A and Sea were truly a waste of my time.
Waan and Tul: Probably the side couple I was most intruiged by. They got like five minutes of screen time every other episode and it was not utilised at all. They spent too much time on them talking to their phones. You tell me that Waan who told Tul multiple times "I don't want to meet you in rl" had the audacity to blame him for not telling him immediately that he was T-Rex??? And for some reason Waan hates liars so much that he is not even ready to hear Tul out but we never find out why??? Their story was so intruiging and I liked their chemistry. And the NC scene in ep 12 UFF what happened my dudes? I don't know if it's Yacht or O being uncomfortable kissing men or if it's the directing or idk. But it was really awkward and happened way too fast. We just had the big fight between them and they are already making up in the next episode. Give me at least a few minutes of angst and pining, jesus.
Manaow and Phruek: Oh what trist and grey show we would've gotten without them. While I wasn't sold on them in UWMA, I was definitely on board with them in Between Us. Sammy has a great on-screen presence and I love her energy. Even though I gotta say that I wish they would allow Manaow to be a little more serious sometimes, because Sammy can do serious scenes, but the constant over-acting was getting on my nerves a bit. Especially when it was used for cheap comic relief.
Wiew is a ray of sunshine and I'm glad he was added to the cast. But it seemed like he was a middle schooler rather than a high schooler, because he was acting like a child, not a teenager. His naivity was bordering on stupidity a few times, but Santa has a certain charm that makes you overlook it.
I wish this show would've cut down on WinTeam's drama a bit and maybe a couple or two and use this time instead to show us more of the friend group. I missed Team, Pharm, and Manaow so much and the little crumbs we got of them was everything to me.
Between Us feels very 2019 to me, even though this show tried to make some changes and adjust. And I was on board with some of the changes (most noteably the sheer amount of CONSENT LIKE YESS!) but not so much with others. Like New tried to recreate UWMA. Instead of P'Deeeaaan we got Hiiaaaa, ever other second. And now Team is suddenly scared of intimancy and doesn't like kissing his boyfriend for...reasons and he seemed to whine a lot more. And Win is suddenly no longer the flirty, grinning, always down for a joke type of guy but very serious and overprotective of Team. This show tried so hard to be UWMA, but it's not and therefore it didn't hit as much as it could've. Because the passion was there, you could feel the love of the cast members who put their heart into this show. That makes it even more sad that Pharm and Manaow and their friendship with Team felt more like an afterthought, since they got pretty much sidelined with their boyfriends. I did appreciate it though that Win got some bro-love from his two besties.
After seeing a lot of BLs directed by New, I think it's save to say that I just don't vibe with him. I don't know what he's doing but it's not it for me. On top of that I just disagree with his stance on NC scenes. The shade he has thrown at them just doesn't sit right with me. He acts as if Nc scene are inherently something dirty to be ashamed of. And if that's what he thinks, than the problem is him. And I wish he would just get over himself and leave high heat projects alone and get himself some BL scripts that are "pure" and have almost no heat in it. So everyone can be happy. Alas, he seems to get so many stories with interesting concepts (and with a high heat source material).
While we still haven't fully moved past the stereotypical portrayal of a gay relationships, we now get more shows that portray the two parties as equally in love and not one having to constantly chase the other. And excuse me, I have to get this off my chest: IF I HAVE TO WATCH ONE MORE SHOW WHERE ONE PARTY (USUALLY THE YOUNGER/SMALLER ONE) OF AN ALREADY ESTABLISHED RELATIONSHIP SEEMS TO DISLIKE KISSING THEIR BOYFRIEND IN THE COMFORT OF THEIR OWN HOME WITH NO ONE WATCHING I WILL LOSE IT!!!
PS: To like the five people who have not watched Until We Meet Again before watching Between Us, I'm sorry. Seeing Pharm and Dean having a cameo every other episode with little to no context of what the heck is going on must have been confusing as hell. You are truly stronger than I am.
|Between us novel English Translation by BlackSwan
|Yacht's character name. by Roy Bonner
|Do you think Between Us will be available on Viki? by mermysteries
|Between Us OST by Gian
|ALL HEMP ROPE CHAPTERS SUMMARY by Sruti2006