‘Ready, Set, Love’ Review: ‘The Hunger Games,’ But Make It Bubblegum 


If you’re a fan of survival shows, there’s a chance you might like Ready, Set, Love. Picture a pink version of Squid Game with cute and fun games where no one dies; you just get eliminated, and the ultimate prize is marriage with a dream man. Sounds incredible, no? I suppose from the outside, Ready, Set, Love seems to be an interesting concept that will keep you entertained and at the same time touch upon some important subjects surrounding gender and control. However, it’s mostly just a fluffy tale for young people to enjoy during the Valentine’s season. The show follows the story of a young woman named Day, who is working hard doing odd jobs to give her sister the best facilities to treat her cancer. In a dystopian world where only 1% of the population is male, the government has a special facility to keep them safe. Since childhood, the boys are kept in this place called “The Farm,” and it’s a community family that they’re told to believe in. Every four years, there is a reality TV show named “Ready, Set, Love” that encourages young women to participate in a survival game type of competition to get the hand in marriage of one of the five chosen men. 

Firstly, to address the games on the show– they’re all quite entertaining, even though sometimes they feel very dragged out for no reason at all. Visually, the games look super entertaining, like old Asian reality shows (you know, Takeshi’s Castle), but much cuter and more elegant for these women. There isn’t really time for much else in each episode, as mostly the show focuses on the games and how they can help the two romantic leads get closer. With regard to how deep the show gets on the subject of gender, it barely scrapes the surface. In all honesty, I couldn’t even say that because it almost feels like a show that simply needed an excuse to objectify some young and hot men and justify a reality show where women compete to get with them. I mean, is it any different from any reality dating show? I don’t think so. I do appreciate the concept. It is quite fun and refreshing, especially blending the survival game with something so cute and fluffy. However, I wish there had been something more in-depth about the whole thing. It still just focuses on some basic problems, like parental pressure on children and corruption. I suppose it’s mostly a show for entertainment, so I guess I can glide over that aspect of things. 

For the most part, Ready, Set, Love focuses on Day, the main lead, and Son. Their chemistry is pretty great, and despite their rocky start, you feel the urge to root for them from the get-go. Belle Kemisara Paladesh is wonderful and charming as Day, the clumsy do-gooder who is good at everything because of how hard she works. If I didn’t know better, I would’ve imagined she’s the perfect K-drama female lead (this has got to change). Day is a lovely character, and you can’t help but support her. On the other hand, opposite her is the handsome hunk Son, played by Blue Pongtiwat Tangwancharoen. The actor seems to be good at the icy bits, but he’s especially cute when he’s not being a prick and just his natural self. The comic timing is good, and there’s nothing cringy about the show. There are some bits that are quite funny and may bring a smile to your face. 

The supporting cast is really good too, and Lilly Nichapalak Thongkham as Chanel really stands out and grows on you as the show progresses. All the other supporting cast does a decent job of pushing the leads to get together and survive this complicated reality. I suppose there isn’t much to complain about, apart from the superficial aspects of things. It isn’t the funniest show you’ll watch; in fact, it isn’t really that funny at all, but the romance is there and the chemistry is fire, so I think that makes up for it. Additionally, I do think a lot is lost in translation, so something that might’ve been funny in Thai may not have come across through Netflix’s shoddy subtitles. 

I suppose at the end of the day, the main subject of the show is that the grass isn’t greener on the other side. You’ve been dreaming about a perfect life because, from the outside, it looks like exactly what you need, but when you actually have it, it’s a complete lie. Day’s journey is an exciting one; it’s one that teaches her to be more empathetic, along with her friends. The show focuses on corruption, societal pressure, and parental pressure for the most part (at the surface level, of course). I suppose there’s also the question of “What is love?” and what do you do when you find it? But I’d say this is a bit of a stretch, and personally, I think the show is just meant to entertain and doesn’t really have any thought-provoking messaging. The background score is just as fun as the games on the show, and there’s the added sound effects that make it seem like they’ve come directly out of little video games, making for an immersive experience.  

Ultimately, Ready, Set, Love does leave you wanting more. I do appreciate what it’s trying to do, and I did like the cast very much; however, I wish there was more. Even with six episodes, the games felt really dragged on, and sometimes the plot wasn’t really progressing. I wish there was more to Ready, Set, Love, and I’d have really liked to see more plot. The twists weren’t very impactful either; however, with the open ending, there’s a chance the show will have more to offer and dive deeper into its subject matter. Although it feels like trying to get a K-pop group married off initially, with all the objectification and commodification of the men, Ready, Set, Love becomes more interesting as the show progresses, adding layers to the basic characters. I’d give Ready, Set, Love 2.5 stars out of 5, and I would give a second season another go. 

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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
When not tending to her fashion small business, Ruchika or Ru spends the rest of her time enjoying some cinema and TV all by herself. She's got a penchant for all things Korean and lives in drama world for the most part.

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