Ready, Set, Love Season 1 Review – A compelling premise amounts to little in this Thai rom-com

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: February 16, 2024 (Last updated: 2 weeks ago)
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Ready, Set, Love Season 1 Review
Ready, Set, Love | Image via Netflix
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Summary

Ready, Set, Love has a premise novel enough to carry it, and the chemistry between the leads is undeniable, however it doesn’t amount to much overall.

Imagine a parallel universe in which women wildly outnumber men. That’s either a paradise or a nightmare, depending on where you’re sitting, but to the Thai Netflix original Ready, Set, Love, it’s an opportunity. The very odd six-part series, which is set and was filmed in Thailand, satirizes reality television and dating shows to mixed effect, but applies its novel premise to the simple task of offering audiences something light – and very pink – during the romantic season.

Stakes are low here. It’s a survival show without your survival being at risk. The idea is that women compete in a game show with the prize of a dreamboat man at the end. With males representing just 1% of the population, they’re a hot commodity. Since childhood, they’re safely housed in a facility known as “The Farm”, and every four years one of them is married off to the winner of the titular show, Ready, Set, Love.

This is a premise that offers up a lot of potentially meaty themes. What might such a thing have to say about relationships, gender imbalances, power dynamics, and the preponderance of lowest-common-denominator reality shows that flood contemporary airwaves? As it turns out, very little. This is probably the point.

The drama comes readily packaged in the protagonist of Day, who is a hardworking young woman trying to make ends meet for the sake of her sister, who has cancer. So it’s not just a facile dating opportunity for Day, which goes some way towards dispelling the worry that this is basically a reality show masquerading as a narrative show.

The big mark in the negative column pertains to structure and pacing. Reality shows are built a certain way for a certain reason, and Ready, Set, Love mimics the format too closely. The games, while entertaining enough, take up huge chunks of the six episodes. They’re fun, but they leave little space for character development or thematic exploration.

This is more of a shame since it works as a romance. Day and Son, the male lead, have obvious chemistry and their burgeoning relationship works. The elements are all there, they just don’t have the time or space to come together in any way beyond the obvious. The likeability of these two will carry most viewers through, especially given the sense of safe predictability, which would be a downside to most shows but is largely the point of this one.

Some decent supporting turns are always welcome but mostly exist to push the leads closer together, which again is forgivable since it’s clearly intentional. But the absence of an underlying point is aggravating after a while. Lip service is paid to many ideas but none are followed through. Why does love matter? What does it mean and to whom? How does reality TV’s depiction of “perfection” – perfect lives, perfect people, perfect dates – marry up with actual reality? These questions are on the tip of the show’s tongue, but none are satisfactorily answered.

A cautious recommendation

The obvious counterpoint to all this is that it isn’t the point, and to be fair, you’ve got me there. I can happily concede that this isn’t intended to be a show that you think about too much after it’s over. Instead, it’s a reassuringly upbeat show designed to charm, mostly through the chemistry between the leads and the offbeat humor, some of which is almost certainly lost in translation.

By these metrics, Ready, Set, Love is quite an undeniable success. However, I wouldn’t strongly recommend it to anyone without the lowest of expectations. Still, there’s plenty of promise in the unusual premise and if the same cast returned for more, I don’t think that would be the worst thing in the world.


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