Call It What You Want is a Thai BL drama that explores the sinister and scandalous side of the acting industry. When a new director joins the production of a BL drama, he is unsettled by the strict guidelines that have been imposed on the staff. As he forges a romantic connection with one of the actors, the ugliness of the company begins to unravel around them.
You will have to sit through a generic BL romance before getting to the interesting storyline buried in Call It What You Want. The heart of the story only begins in the last episode, unleashing a ferocious wave of drama, adrenaline, and emotions. Although the pacing of this series is mostly off, its final act is exquisite and will surely capture your full attention.
Call It What You Want Summary
3 hours + sequel
Dark and disturbing
Around 25 to 35 minutes
James is a director who recently got recruited to work on a new BL drama, 2Nights. This series made news headlines when the lead actor and the previous director got let go by the production company. Strapped for cash, James accepts this gig even though the pay is abysmal. He begins working for Tee, a strict and unfriendly boss who runs the production company with an iron fist.
Before filming starts, James acquaints himself with the two lead actors of the BL series. One of them is Ait, a new actor with little on-screen experience. The other is Bas, a friendly guy who seems to take his acting passion very seriously. During their introductions, James is surprised to learn that Ait has been forced to get a nosejob, while Bas is on a restrictive diet to maintain his physique. Under Tee's contractual guidelines, the actors are also not allowed to use cell phones either.
From the moment they met, Ait has a noticeable crush on James. He begins to break some of the rules imposed on him, just for a chance to spend time with the new director. James also shares this mutual attraction, although he remains oblivious that his best friend Marco is secretly in love with him. Marco is a model from Taiwan, and he doesn't have many friends in Thailand besides James.
As James and Ait continue to grow close, they must sneak around and hide their feelings from the crew. While they are bonding, both James and Ait have noticed the increasingly erratic behaviour from Bas. Not only is he prone to unpredictable mood swings, but Bas has been getting sick and throwing up a lot lately. Bas insists that he's okay, blaming his diet for any strangeness. Some of his remarks seem quite unsettling though, and Ait becomes curious about what his fellow costar might be hiding.
Call It What You Want Trailer
Call It What You Want Cast
Time Dhamawat Suntanaphan (ธามวัสน์ สันธนะพันธ์)
James is the new director hired to work on a BL drama, after the last director got let go from his job. This gig came at the best time for James, who is completely broke, behind in his payments, and even his car got impounded. James is an easygoing guy, ensuring that Ait and Bas are treated like his equals. He often clashes with Tee over how the production of the BL drama should be run.
Benz Panupun Vongjorn (ภาณุพันธ์ วงศ์จร)
Ait is one of the lead actors in a BL drama, replacing the previous actor who got fired from the job. Ait is a new actor who doesn't have much on-screen experience. With a cheeky personality, Ait doesn't mind sneaking around and breaking the rules imposed by his agency. He has developed a crush on James, finding creative ways to spend more time with him.
Michael Kiettisak Vatanavitsakul (เกียรติศักดิ์ วัฒนวิทย์สกุล)
Bas is one of the lead actors in a new BL drama. Raised in the countryside, his family wanted him to become a doctor like his older brother, so they disapproved of his acting career. Bas takes acting seriously, memorizing every script and doing all the necessary preparations. However, his constant nausea and erratic behaviour concern his costar Ait.
Daniel Chang (常誠佑)
Marco is a Taiwanese model working in Thailand. He has a very close friendship with James, sharing many years of history. Marco likes to hang out at his friend's apartment, even helping him clean up at times. Unbeknownst to James, Marco has a secret crush on him.
- You may recognize the actor playing James (Time), who appeared in the 2020 BL movie Present Still Perfect.
- The actor playing Bas (Michael) has appeared in BL series Oxygen.
- Marco's actor (Daniel) stars in the 2022 Thai BL drama My Secret Crush. It's a much happier series with cheeky, lighthearted humour.
- The actor playing Kaprao (who shares the same name as his character) also appeared in 2Moons2 and the TharnType series.
Call It What You Want Review
Drama Review Score: 7.1
I'm flabbergasted that Call It What You Want took so long to get to the most interesting part of the story. It's so obvious to anyone watching that Bas is the highlight of the series. His important storyline should have gotten way more focus, or possibly even all the focus. Instead, most of the series was wasted on the unremarkable romance between James and Ait, which is a dime a dozen in BL. Only when the spotlight falls on Bas does the plot finally gain momentum, but by then it's already the final episode.
What I really want to discuss in this review is Bas, but it's difficult to address the specifics without delving into heavy spoilers. Once his storyline finally goes into motion, Call It What You Want becomes riveting to watch. The drama unleashes like a tidal wave, taking precedence over all the other plots. This story captured my full attention and I remained engaged until the end. Plus, the acting from Bas is phenomenal, and he deserves more time to explore all his emotions beyond just the final episode.
One of the problems with Call It What You Want is that it struggled with all the other storylines. The only plot that succeeded was Bas and everything else was just not up to par. It tried to expose the dodgy behind-the-scenes misconduct in the BL industry, but the scenes didn't convey its message too clearly. It also attempted to depict a forbidden romance that supposedly breaks all the rules, but the relationship felt shallow without much chemistry. All these plots were underwhelming and failed to capitalize on the drama.
Another problem is that Call It What You Want lacks polish in various areas. Some of the lines sound awkward, almost like they are improvisational. The pacing feels off, spending too long on meaningless scenes that could've been edited better. The production values are also not the best, especially those driving scenes with the noticeable special effects. I couldn't pay attention sometimes because I was too afraid the characters might get into a ~bad CGI~ car accident. 🚘
Call It What You Want ends just as it starts to get interesting. The final episode takes the plot in unchartered territory, plus there's an exciting spark between Bas and Marco's characters. Unfortunately, this storyline feels incomplete and the viewer is left wanting a lot more closure. We'll have to wait until the second season to see how the rest of the story unfolds, and hopefully Bas will get a lot more focus. I'm very interested in seeing how Season 2 shakes out, with optimism that they can improve on their storytelling and production aspects.
Bas should have been the main story in Call It What You Want. His plot was building slowly in the background and subtle hints were dropped that something is amiss with his character. However, the series took too long to reach the dramatic revelation and didn't allow enough time to explore the consequences afterwards. It's so easy to lose interest in the boring trivialness of the first two hours before a gigantic emotional bomb sets off in the final act.
To be fair, I understand the thought process of telling the story this way. First, the plot lulls you into a false sense of security, since everybody minds their own business without paying attention to what's happening with Bas. In the background, you notice this guy making weird comments, holding back his tears, and throwing up a lot. However, his behaviour never seems urgent enough for anyone to intervene. It doesn't help that Bas has been trying to disguise his trauma, using the diet as an excuse to cover up his inner turmoil.
I could feel the powerful impact of his confession in the final episode. It's shocking to hear what has been happening to Bas right under everyone's noses. While I suspected something was wrong with him, I underestimated the severity of his problem until he confessed. Suddenly, everything starts to make sense once you realize the root of his trauma. This is why he's behaving so erratically. This is why he keeps making those uncomfortable remarks. Why didn't we see it all along?
Would you notice the signs of a coworker being sexually exploited in the workplace? It's easy to watch back the show and carefully pick up on the red flags that Bas has been exhibiting. However, it's also just as easy to overlook when someone has been suffering in silence next to you. Imagine how much effort Bas has put into keeping up this charade, hiding his trauma from the rest of his coworkers.
I don't blame Ait or James for not doing more to help Bas. Not everyone is equipped to console the victims of sexual trauma, and it's a much more delicate issue than most people are accustomed to in their everyday lives. That's why there are professional helplines and dedicated resources to helping sexual assault victims like Bas.
Of course, there are also kind-hearted souls like Marco, who are patient, understanding, and so tremendously empathetic. Thank goodness he was there to comfort Bas after his confession, treating him with the care and compassion he needs. Marco's behaviour has been exemplary, ensuring that Bas is supported, keeping him company at all times, and comforting him without pressure or judgment. I can finally relax, knowing that Bas is in safe hands with Marco looking after him.
Bas was not the only victim in Call It What You Want. There's also Kaprao, who bravely spoke about his abuse, even when Tee tried to smear his reputation in the media. Ait is a victim as well, and he was in the process of being groomed under Tee's psychological coercion.
Call It What You Want uses a BL drama setting to explore the topics of corruption and exploitation in the acting industry. Although the storytelling lacks some fluidity, it's still an interesting glimpse into the ugliness behind the beautiful illusion. The glamour of the celebrity world isn't as idyllic as it may seem. Some companies will exploit young hopefuls like Bas, Ait, and Kaprao, who are desperate to make it in the industry. Not all of them will speak up about the abuses or misconducts in fear of jeopardizing their future careers.
The strict diets, the forced cosmetic surgery, the social isolation, and the sexual abuse are all chilling to watch. These plots come with enough plausibility for me to believe that they could actually happen in real life. It's a reminder to stay alert and not tolerate unethical companies that refuse to treat their staff like human beings.
An interesting fact is that Call It What You Want has released a statement, declaring their drama is inspired by real events that happened. The story contains some vague references to the BL series 2Moons and 2Moons2, which were plagued by online reports of controversies with their production company Motive Village.
I will refrain from commenting since my only knowledge is limited to reading a few articles on the internet, but my sympathies will always fall with the victims against an exploitative company. This is so obvious that it shouldn't need to be stated out loud, but please treat actors with decency and respect.
Knowing the context of the real-world events does raise the stakes of Call It What You Want. This is a trailblazing BL series with an important message to tell. I just wished they had emphasized this storyline instead of leaving it until the end. Forget the BL romance. Scrap the love triangle. These generic plots are so trivial compared to the much bigger topic that needs to be discussed. The sexual abuse is the most important topic in Call It What You Want, which deserves all the attention.
James and Ait
Call It What You Want needed way less of the romance between James and Ait, which wasn't that interesting to watch. These two characters are not the right fit for each other, and Ait's personality seems too immature for someone like James.
The series tries to play up the angle of ~love at first sight~ and even included some bullshit about it being a science, but this doesn't work for me. I agree with Bas when he says it's an infatuation and they can't be in love after meeting each other for only a few days. Their relationship was too awkward, the scenes weren't written well, and there was little depth to their romance.
The love triangle with Marco is unnecessarily complicated. I initially thought James and Marco were boyfriends and was shocked to learn they were Just Friends. This love triangle added nothing to the plot except for some annoying instances of jealousy. To be honest, James and Marco felt more like a natural couple than James and Ait, although the only ship that I care about is Bas and Marco above all.
The sex scene
One detail that I hated is how James and Ait reacted after Bas gave his confession. As soon as Bas left the apartment, it didn't feel appropriate for these two to make out and have sex with each other. Here I was, still reeling from the shock of the sexual abuse plot, and suddenly I had to sit through some sort of tone-deaf romantic exchange. Dude, I'm not in the mood to watch this!
There's a correct time and place to include sex scenes, and it's definitely not right after Bas cried about his molestation. This couple rubbed me the wrong way with how they behaved, almost as if they didn't care about what happened to Bas. Hello? Your friend just got sexually assaulted, maybe not the best time for a steamy making out session. 😒
Bas and Marco
In the few scenes they shared together, I already became a big fan of Bas and Marco. The two characters had never interacted until the final episode, so it wasn't immediately obvious they would be paired up together. I remember seeing a comment in a YouTube video along the lines of "Bas and Marco are the couple that I never knew I need", which describes my feelings about them.
Bas and Marco have surprisingly strong chemistry, making their scenes quite engaging to watch. You'll find yourself drawn to this couple even without any affectionate moments. I enjoyed their connection on a purely emotional level. Marco has been an incredible pillar of support during this difficult time, and he is exactly the type of positive influence that Bas needs in his life.
Thank god I got used to the bad CGI in an earlier episode, so I wasn't too distracted during their excellent scenes in the car. I loved the moment when Marco told unfunny jokes to cheer up Bas, finally succeeding in a joke so bad that it made Bas laugh. You can clearly tell what he was trying to do. In his goofy way, Marco wanted to keep Bas occupied so that his mind wouldn't wander off to depressing thoughts.
This scene was highly effective. Not only did it lighten the mood, but the scene revealed so much about Marco's personality. His character might be crap at jokes, but he's really good at cheering people up!
The actor playing Bas (Michael Kiettisak Vatanavitsakul) was incredible, especially in the final episode. He did some great work at capturing the emotional intricacies of his character. It was a subtle, restrained, and nuanced performance without ever going overboard. From the anguished expression on his face to the shaky tremor in his voice, this guy really pulled off a convincing portrayal of trauma.
The other actors were fine in their various parts, but Call It What You Want is all about Bas for me. I'm honestly upset this isn't a better drama because it limits the visibility of his fantastic performance.
Needs a better ending
I have mixed feelings about the ending of Call It What You Want. The final scene is actually a great moment, where Marco encourages Bas to shout at the ocean as a type of therapeutic remedy. It was a beautiful scene, releasing all the tension in a symbolically powerful gesture.
At first, Bas was confused: "Why are you swearing at me? 🤨", which was such an endearing comment that can only come from his character. It's this kind of simple, childlike naïveté that makes him easy for bad people to take advantage of, but it's also what makes personality so precious.
However, it was only a good scene for the end of an episode, not for the ending of a series. We just got started with Bas on his journey to recovery, but it's already concluding without a satisfying closure. While I'm glad there's a Season 2 to continue the plot, it would've been better if they trimmed out the filler in the first season and used that time to tell more of Bas' story. Stopping the plot at this point halts all the momentum they have been building up during the series.
BAS IS THE BEST!!!
Bas is the best character in Call It What You Want, hands down. You may have noticed that almost every paragraph and every picture in this review is dominated by Bas. I can't get enough of him.
After all, I don't overexert my fingers writing thousands of words about a character that I am not totally obsessed with. You have arrived at the official headquarters of the Bas fan club. It should be obvious that I love Bas. 😁
From the moment Bas introduced himself, I was intrigued by the character who said he would die if he could not act. He immediately threw in a "lol just kidding!", but we all know he wasn't kidding. Typically, you don't make this type of joke unless it's something on your mind a lot. Right away, I suspected that he had suicidal tendencies, and it alerted me there's more to this character than meets the eye.
As I sat through countless boring James and Ait scenes, it was a refreshing reprieve every time I saw Bas. Thank you for giving me a break from this couple that I have no interest in seeing. However, I was growing impatient though, waiting for him to finally get character development. They drop plenty of foreshadowing hints about his mental instability, but it's difficult to know where this plot is heading.
Of course, my love for Bas reached new heights in the final episode. It was then I realized how sensitive, nuanced, vulnerable, and lovable his character is. Now I'm committed to protecting him until the end of time. NOBODY CAN HURT BAS UNLESS THEY GET THROUGH ME!!!
Call It What You Want needed more Bas. Imagine if every episode was like the final episode, this series would've been much better received. Let's make Bas the central focus of the entire series, instead of dropping little hints as his storyline builds up in the peripheral. I'm not just talking about giving him more prominent visibility, but also clarifying his relationship dynamics and fleshing him out as a character.
One of the more successful scenes in CIWYW is the conversation between Ait and Bas in Episode 5. They were going to sleep, but Ait initiated a casual bedside chat with costar. Mostly, the scene was Ait giggling about his new boyfriend, but then he asked Bas about his life as well. So, do you like anyone? What's your type? It's interesting to hear the responses, which were evasive but also tinged with vulnerability. During this moment, I appreciated getting more insights into Bas as a character. We needed more moments like this one.
This was also an important scene because it established the friendship between Ait and Bas. Up until now, I didn't get the sense that the two of them were that close. They spend a lot of time together, but it doesn't seem like they interact all that much. Hearing them talk one-on-one helped to develop a rapport between them. It might be this conversation, where Ait spoke about his secret relationship, that helped Bas feel less alienated with his costar. He trusted Ait enough to confide in him about his sexual abuse next episode.
The shocking twist in Call It What You Want is that Bas (along with his previous costar) had been sexually abused by his boss Tee. This assault happened off-screen around the second episode. His character kept the incident a secret for a long time out of shame, fear, and insecurity.
The more Bas tried to repress the memory, the more erratic his behaviour became. He started crying more, throwing up more, and sulking a lot more. Looking back, you definitely notice a shift in his personality, and he lost that boyish energy evident from the first episode.
The sad part is that nobody noticed anything wrong with Bas, or at least they didn't care enough to offer their help. Remember when there's a scene where Bas was about to vomit and he urgently into the bathroom? Everyone just stayed still and watched him silently as if they were used to this bizarre behaviour. Even when one of their coworkers is clearly struggling, no one is there to help him or support him.
Exploitation & coercion
The coercion goes beyond the sex though. Tee has been using his position of authority to exploit and manipulate his employees. Any time they step out of line, he threatens to deduct a huge chunk of their salary. If they go against him, he'll get them fired and ruin their careers in the celebrity world. Bas, who already has low self-esteem and not much family support, is a defenceless target for someone as rich, powerful, and resourceful as Tee.
Tee controls every aspect of his victims' lives, including their diets. One of the most chilling moments is when Marco offers Bas a burger to eat. This simple gesture actually frightens Bas because he's under strict orders to not eat anything except for chicken shakes. Marco has to persuade him so much just to take a bite out of the burger. When he finally eats the burger, Bas starts CRYING because it's the first time he has eaten real food in weeks.
Imagine how deteriorated someone's mental state might be to have this type of emotional reaction to eating a burger. Even Marco has to take a breath to compose himself because what happened to Bas is so fucked up. It's scary to see the amount of psychological damage Bas is suffering from. The burger scene left me very, very triggered.
Call It What You Want Episodes
Call It What You Want has a total of 6 episodes. Each episode is around 25 to 35 minutes long. The last episode is around 40 minutes long. This is a medium-length BL drama, and you can finish the entire series in over 3 hours. Call You What It Want began on April 9, 2021 and ends on May 7, 2021.
In addition, it has a second-season sequel called Call It What You Want 2, which picks up where the story leaves off. Season 2 began airing on July 23, 2021 and concludes the story decisively.
⭐ Best episode
Episode 6 is easily the best episode of Call It What You Want. The episode is packed with exhilarating drama from start to finish. It begins with an explosive confession from Bas that has been building up all series. The aftermath is riveting as his character steps into the spotlight.
Realistically, I was ready to give Call It What You Want a review score of 6 to 6.5 based on the quality in previous episodes. However, the last episode was so powerful that it bumped the overall score to a 7 to 7.5. I'll be a little more generous with the score just because of how much I love Bas, hehe. ❤️
💕 Most romantic episode
James and Ait become an official couple at the end of Episode 4. Ait slips him a love confession note and James responds with an air kiss. Since then, the two of them have become a secret couple, leading to plenty of romantic scenes in Episode 5. They try to keep their relationship under wraps around the crew, although they don't do a great job at being discreet.
😭 Tearjerker episode
Bas has been acting strange since the beginning, but we only find out the reasoning in the final episode. Once Bas gives his confession, you pick up on all the signs from previous episodes, wondering why nobody (including the viewers!) noticed what was happening to him.
After you realize the truth, you see precisely how traumatized his character is, and how he has been barely holding it together without a mental breakdown. Thank goodness Marco is there to comfort him, offering him some extremely pivotal emotional support.
😡 Most triggering episode
It’s impossible not to get triggered by what Bas said in Episode 6. He validates the allegations that were made by Kaprao in the previous episode. This is no longer just a single incident reported by one actor, but a pattern of abuse that has been confirmed by multiple men. The final scene after the ending credits is also triggering, as Tee is only concerned about covering up what he did.
💋 First kiss episode
James and Ait kiss for the first time in Episode 5. Ait sneaks into his room in the middle of the night for a secret rendezvous, eventually leading to a kiss between them in bed. James is the one who initiates the kiss.
👨❤️💋👨 Episodes with intimacy
It is implied that James and Ait get physically intimate with each other in Episode 6. With terrible timing, their sex scene occurred right after Bas confessed about his sexual abuse, which really kills the mood.
💪🏻 Episodes with skin
Episode 1, 4, 5, 6
The actors have a couple of shirtless scenes throughout Call It What You Want. James gets shirtless the most during the series, and he's often in a state of undress while hanging out in his bedroom. Both Bas and Ait have quick shirtless scenes as well, while we don't see any skin from Marco.
James gets shirtless in Episode 1 and once again in Episode 4. Both James and Ait are topless after having sex in Episode 6. Bas is seen shirtless in the opening scene of Episode 1, as well as a quick glimpse in Episode 5.
Call It What You Want Season 2
Call It What You Want 2 2021 series sequel Drama review
As you may have deduced, Call It What You Want 2 is the second season of the franchise, released later in 2021. Season 2 picks up the story exactly where it leaves off in the first season finale. During this season, there's way more focus on Bas and Marco's characters. James and Ait are still present in the series, but their roles are less prominent compared to Season 1.
You should definitely watch Call It What You Want 2 after finishing the first season. The first episode of Season 2 is particularly excellent, keeping the same quality and vibe as the last episode of Season 1. Unfortunately, the rest of the series is a little rockier and suffers from some storytelling issues. Nonetheless, Call It What You Want 2 will conclude the story decisively by the end of its six-episode run.
Call It What You Want Information
Commetive Production Co., Ltd
Commetive Production Co., Ltd is a Thai BL studio that made Call It What You Want and its sequel Call It What You Want 2 (2021). It also made the BL films Present Perfect (2017) and Present Still Perfect (2020).