A new military-themed soap opera in Thailand featuring four Thai heartthrobs is getting full support from the ruling military junta.
According to Agence France-Presse (via AsiaOne), the new television show, titled “Love Missions”, is aimed to entertain drama fans, but critics are dismissing it as a propaganda tool to improve the junta’s image in the army-run nation.
The plot of the prime-time show revolves around the love lives of four leading men representing each branch of the country’s armed forces, including the police. Episodes will reportedly pit the characters fighting terrorists, drug traffickers, and other criminals.
The military junta, which is running the Thai government since seizing power in 2014, has backed the project by providing props and extras for the production. The 2014 coup was the army’s 12th takeover in Thailand.
“We are allowing them to use military camps as a filming location and making suggestions on the right costumes and make-up,” Ministry of Defence spokesman General Kongcheep Tantravanich told AFP. “We are also letting them use our soldiers, military vehicles, and helicopters.”
Viewers tuned in to show’s pilot which aired on July 1, becoming an instant hit among drama fans, with the episode’s title, “Pull The Trigger On My Heart”, becoming a trending topic (#PullTheTriggerOnMyHeart) on Twitter in Thailand. The premiere episode featured the love story between a nurse and soldier who is on a mission to stop a foreign drug cartel.
“Shadow team พร้อมปฏิบัติการ”
— POPP (@Pop_cornCheese) July 1, 2017
— Kwang Sutthinee (@Kwang034) June 30, 2017
But while audiences are swooning over the romantic stories, some have criticized the show for not reflecting an accurate depiction of life in the military.
Many have called the show out for blatant propaganda for a junta which has a history of shooting down protesters and toppling democratically-elected governments.
“The drama should be based on real life: coups, violation of people’s rights… ruining the country’s economy,” an online analyst was quoted as saying.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told reporters that he has not seen the show, “But I know I won’t be the hero because if I was, nobody would watch.”