Hey guys! Welcome to Geared Up, a new collaborative project designed around the Thai bl series, My Engineer. It’s a cross platform collaboration between myself (blog) JordieSeay’s YouTube channel and the Thoughts on Y Podcast by J. and Lay.
BL Tropes & Storyline
My Engineer Synopsis from MyDramaList: When Bohn, the popular engineering student, starts a revenge plan on Duen, the innocent first-year medical student, their feelings slowly start to grow through roses that Duen has to buy for Bohn a rose flower every day for a month. The series brings out the different side of each couple and their journey with friends and relationships. Join us and see how their feelings slowly evolve between each other through the 4 couples.
It is based off two Thai novels My Engineer Has A Gearbox & The Space Between Us written by Mom, Mom. * I was unable to find this novel online or in English translation*
Each week we will take a different aspect of My Engineer episodes for review and analysis, looking at BL Tropes & StoryLine, Setting & Characters, Behind the Scenes & Production
This week we are looking at Episodes 1-4 of My Engineer. If you haven’t watched it, please watch it on official channels only. Support the cast and crew by not watching illegal downloads. Here are the links to the episodes. Subscribe to their YouTube Channel for current episodes.
Tropes: What are they?
Definition of trope (From Miriam Webster’s Dictionary
In BL there are many tropes & stereotypes we see recurring throughout the shows we watch. Here’s a great website that talks about standard boys love tropes and character types.
Here are some examples of some very common tropes found in Boys Love dramas.
1. I’m Only Gay For You. This one I find very annoying. Another cop out in terms of sexuality depiction. It assumes everyone is either straight or gay. In this, the main character professes that he’s not gay, he’s just into this person, aka only gay for this one male character.
An example of this is seen in Sotus where Kongpop’s friends ask him about his sexuality at a party. “I’ve know you for four years. How come I didn’t know you liked guys?” The response is “I don’t like guys, I only like Arthit.”
2. The Awful Manipulating Girlfriend. When one of the main characters have a girlfriend, before they ‘figure out their feelings’ for the other male lead, they have to have the stereotypical beautiful demanding manipulating bitch of a girlfriend. She usually has no redeeming qualities, thus making the viewer reject her and view the other male lead as a better choice.
An example of this would be Knock’s girlfriend Pleng in Together With Me. She manipulates and bullies Knock into doing what she wants.
3. Fall Kiss. A trope where the one of the main characters falls onto the others in such a way that they accidentally kiss.
An example of this would be Pete falling onto Kao in the road, in Kiss Me Again.
There are many more tropes than this, and I bet you can think of quite a few. Here are some character types that are BL tropes as well.
1. The Cold Prince – He looks good, but is cold to others. Not usually a bad character, but standoffish. Will warm slowly to others but the other male lead will break down the walls to win his heart.
A recent example would be Korn from Until We Meet Again. He is alone, good looking and isolated from others until InTouch gets him to open up.
2. Bullying Seme (or top character – not my description) The main character bullies and teases the character he likes.
A recent example of this could be seen in Love By Chance with Tin teasing Can as a way to show his affection.
There are many others of these types as well. In this regard we will be looking at the storyline & tropes seen throughout episodes 1-4.
My Engineer – Episode 1
Ok, first off, let me say this. I went into this series with low expectations because I hadn’t heard a lot about it. There was very little marketing other than a few trailers and teasers. Online we knew the date the series was to be released, a general plot outline, character bio and that’s it. Not many people online were talking about it, so as an underdog champion, my colleagues and I decided to take this on. It is directed by the same director as Sotus, so that gave me hope.
We open the episode with the character of Bohn, he’s at a campus photo shoot. Along comes his rival Frong, because it’s a double photo shoot for the campus Prom King, and runner up. The girls who are fawning all over him, tell us all about him. It’s the handsome Engineer who won prom king last year. He’s so cool. All the while they are giggling and sighing.
Let’s talk about the three tropes we have in the first few minutes of the show. We start off with the Handsome Arrogant Campus Star. Of course he’s an Engineer, they almost always are. He knows he’s hot and girls fall all over themselves when he is around.
Another example of this type of character is Pha from 2Moons. He is seen as the best, has won some award for being smart/good looking and charming.
During the photo shoot, of course the female photographer asks them for sexy shots. Which leads to next trope, the Fanservice Shot. The one where the male lead strips off his shirt and douses water over his head, usually showcasing a nice six pack of abs. Think Fighter’s basketball scene in WhyRU with Hwa and friends gawking at him.
The girls watching in response have a Nosebleed of Horniness (my term, lol). Whenever a character in a BL show gets horny, it leads to nosebleeds. I don’t know why, its completely ridiculous. I’ve never in my life seen anyone do that, but its a standard trope. Think of every time Tee got horny in My Tee, they even implied it was a blood disorder, but it always happened when he was aroused.
As Bohn is wandering around he trips over a boys legs sticking out from a park bench. The person is sleeping near a beware of the lizard sign. Of course Bohn spots the lizard nearby the sleeping boy. He decides to try to wake him without alerting the lizard, so he bends his face down close to the boys. The boy wakes up, thinks he’s about to be kissed and punches Bohn. Bohn warns him of the lizard and they both start running.
Honestly, I don’t know why they were scared of the lizard, he didn’t look dangerous to me. But anyways. After they stop running, Duen realizes that Bohn has a bloody nose, and instead of offering him the handkerchief, he wipes it with his own. Let me Tend Your Wound trope. Where instead of giving the person a bandaid or their tissue, they decide to do it themselves, thus leading to a moment between the two characters.
They make up pet names for each other, and Bohn demands that Duen take him to the hospital because he’s responsible for his injury. This begins the part of the Bullying Seme. The stage is set. Bohn likes to tease Duen.
Duen brings him to the school health clinic where we meet Dr. Thara, Duen’s cousin. We find out that Duen is a medical student. Duen doesn’t want Thara to know he punched someone, so he covers Bohn’s mouth and tells his cousin Bohn tripped. Med students shouldn’t go around punching people. 😁 Another reason he owes Bohn and he must make it up to him somehow.
Bohn takes advantage of Duen’s guilty feelings, so he makes Duen eat with him since he missed a meal.
Bohn tells the owner, his gay friend, that Duen especially wants to meet him as he has a crush on him.
We know now that Duen must be the Naive Princess type who is clueless and needs others to protect him from his own naïveté. He is about to be lured away when Bohn stops him from following the owner to the kitchen. As they leaving the restaurant a little girl wants them to buys flowers from her. Bohn rejects the little girl, but Duen wants to help.
The explaination is the I’m Just Teasing You trope. We’ve definitely seen this one before. The most recent being the “I’m just teasing you Tor” from Fighter in WHYRU.
Bohn scolds Duen for buying the flowers, telling him that the little girl is forced to sell them. Duen replies, and if I see her again, I would buy from her. He wants to help. We learn later in the episode that he has a little sister he dotes on around the same age as the girl.
Bohn decides to challenge him and tells him that if he wants to make amends for punching him and help the street flower kids, he must bring him a flower every day bought from a street kid to deliver in front of the engineering building. That’s what he wants instead of money. Duen doesn’t know what to do, but reluctantly agrees. They part ways, with Bohn keeping the flowers Duen bought.
We see Duen’s family, his military father, his doting mother and adorable sister waiting for him to come and eat with them. He comes home and goes upstairs after greeting everyone and kissing his sister.
This leads to the dad saying something you know will come up again. This is a setup, I think for the Unaccepting Parent who doesn’t want their child to be in a same sex relationship. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am.
And Bohn is beginning to be smitten.
The next morning Duen sets off to find a children to buy a flower from. He goes all around town, unable to find any any children selling them, only adults. He spots one and rushes out into traffic to catch the kid and gets hit by a car. He survives with only a scraped elbow, and crawls to the kid to buy a flower. He’s serious. Meanwhile Bohn is getting fidgety wondering if Duen will show up with his flower.
On the way to Engineering building Duen looks lost, so Frong sees a cute guy with a flower and approaches him. They share a conversation about how to find the School of Engineering and you can tell Frong is into Duen. Of course he is. This is another common trope….the GUY MAGNET where the main character is so cute he keeps getting hit on by guys. You can think of Parm from Until We Meet Again as this trope in action. A bus passes by right as Frong tells Duen his name, so Duen has no clue what he said.
Bohn and his friends are sitting together when freshman group of mostly girls come up to ask for their signature. Typical in the engineering faculty they have to get seniors signatures. We are introduced to Bohn’s friends. We have Boss, the Prince Charming Wannabe, who tries to woo the girls. His best friend and “Hubby” is the silent guy Mek, who takes care of him. Boss calls himself Mek’s wife in the Engineering faculty, so gets shot down once the girls hear this from their friend. You see right away they are going to be a couple.
The other friends is named King and we know from the preview that he’s going to be a couple with a stoic friend of Duen’s named Ram.
Of course Bohn flirts with the girls and punishes the boys for not knowing their names. He’s clearly a player.
On the way to class, Bohn gets ambushed in the bathroom by like 7 guys for disrespecting some nerdy mafioso type character. Whiles he’s there Bohn hears two girls talking about the cute med student wandering around with a flower. He beats up the guys, all of them, with not a scratch on him. 🙄
Bohn brings Duen to his classroom to sleep because Duen is tired from all the running around he did earlier that morning. Duen protests but sleepiness wins out. Of course all the engineers bring their girlfriends to sleep in class.
Since he lets Duen sleep in after his friends have gone to lunch, when Duen wakes up, Bohn makes him take him out to lunch.
Once again its welcome to Tropesville, how may I help you? It’s time to wipe the messy mouth of your crush because sometimes You Can’t Wipe Your Own Mouth. Pretty self explanatory. Think of Phun and Noh in Lovesick.
Duen follows Bohn back to school so he can find out what kind of flower to bring in the morning. Seriously. This guy is too over the top. Bohn takes Duens phone and inputs his information in case Duen gets lost, but we all know that’s an excuse.
When Duen goes to class, he tells his friends about meeting someone from engineering, then Bohn texts him. Of course Bohn labeled himself.
Duen picks up younger sister who is playing with new kid. The new kid is from England and gives her a goodbye kiss on the cheek, causing Duen to freak out. He goes home and is very upset to his mom, definitely showing classic signs of the Sister Con, where the main character is obsessed with their sister, loving and adoring them, while trying to protect them from admirers. He’s so mad he asks his friends to go out drinking with him.
This is something Thai BL does a lot of, so I guess it could be considered a trope of sorts. Toilet Trouble. When Duen gets to the bar, he’d been drinking yogurt, talks about the bathroom and runs away holding his ass. I HATE toilet humor, but almost every bl I’ve ever seen has at least one scene of it.
On his way back he bumps into a girl who hits on him. Duen rejects her telling her that his mom said he shouldn’t talk girls who flirt in bars. 😁 He’s so naive. And proceeds to get smashed.
At the same bar Bohn and his friends arrive to celebrate his girlfriends birthday with her and her friends. Insert same Bitchy Manipulative Girlfriend that hit on Duen. She told him to buy her cake, and what to buy her for a present.
Bohn looks bored, goes to talk to bartender who is a really really annoying overly sleazy guy. He points out Duen, who is acting the fool which makes Bohn smile. He gets an idea to break up with girlfriend and tease Duen, he makes them come back to their table with his friends. He proceeds to ignore girlfriend, and of course things blow up. Ram gets mad, and tells Bohn not to use his friend to break up. Then Bohn wants to take Duen home, but Ram stops him asking what their relationship is. Bohn doesn’t know, so he stays silent as they leave. He ponders the question. Why can’t he stop thinking about Duen?