‘Ready, Set, Love’ Review: A Unique Concept That Fails In Execution

There are a lot of shows based on reality television that have been coming out of the Southeast Asia Belt. The most notable are Squid Game from Netflix Korea and Alice in Borderland from Netflix Japan. Both revolve around an in-universe TV show and the drama around it. There are games, rounds, elimination, a crowd favorite participant, and a winner. Directed by Yanyong Kuruangkura, this Thai Netflix original show is a satirical take on all the reality dating shows and the extent to which women are objectified for the male gaze.

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Ready, Set, Love is a six-episode-long miniseries, with each episode having a run time of more than an hour. The show is about Day, a grocery store employee taking part in the annual Ready, Set, Love reality show, which showcases five eligible men who are put on the market, who get to choose their date and possibly the love of their life. In the show, the whole concept of Ready, Set, Love emerged in 1974. A rare pandemic hit their country, affecting only men and eradicating more than half of the male population in the country. All the women were saved, but as the male population dwindled, they were treated as rare creatures and relegated to being raised in ‘The Farm’ for their safety. ‘The Farm’ is also the location of the reality dating show. 

Women from around the country above the age of eighteen cannot wait to take part in the reality dating show, make a spectacle out of their love, and showcase their dating lives to the public. Son, Paper, Max, Jin, and Almond are the five eligible men being exhibited in Ready, Set, Love. Day, Chanel, Kwan, and Venus are among hundreds of women who have taken part in the hope of finding the right partner in one of the men, with Son being the popular choice. Did Son and Day know each other? Was the pandemic a real deal or a man-made one? Is the reality show a fraud? Was the dating show fixed?

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Ready, Set, Love though is a satire, inherently it is about how women are programmed to like only a few kinds of men, and the female population needs to be desirable for them. As Day takes part in the show, she faces a setback when her sister May gets sick. Day was forced to stay in the competition. She is given a false hope that if she wins, the family that ran the show will take care of Day’s every expense, including her sister’s hospital bills. The entire strength of the show relies only on the satire and it works very well, but only for the first two episodes. Ready, Set, Love becomes annoying and repetitive after a point, and there are many cliched subplots inserted that come across as redundant. Ready, Set, Love has a brilliant title track that sets it up to be a comedic satire that takes a dig at all the dating shows, which are usually filled with tanned, good-looking men and beautiful women seeking each other out. The emphasis is on the women to woo the five contestants, which is borderline misogynistic. 

Ready, Set, Love becomes clichéd when the makers establish a history between two major characters in the show. A predictable twist in the tale led to the writing and its execution spiraling down from that point on. The making and the screenplay are filled with over-the-top dramatics, which is a common phenomenon in other dating shows. The idea is to mock them, but Ready, Set, Love starts to take itself seriously after a point, which makes the show unintentionally hilarious. Ready, Set, Love has a history that involves an evil corporation roping in the local government, creating a dictatorship-style society in ‘The Farm,’ and blatantly lying to the population about the need to safeguard the men. In the eyes of the world, the male infants were consensually given away by the mothers; the reality painted an ugly picture of the game show as well as the company that funded it.

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Ready, Set, Love was filled with many intense games that covered more than half of each episode. The final goal of each episode was to get the five eligible men to bond with the women participating with them, and they chose their respective dates based on the result. There are no definite rules stated by the makers of the game. All of them are laid out rather in a lighting style, and the viewers end up wondering about the need to have every episode last more than an hour. Ready, Set, Love is predictable, and viewers can speculate on what the next move of a certain character in the subplot would be. 

The games needed to be more engaging and not so long and drawn out as to make each episode a drag. Every episode could have been only 40 to 45 minutes long, as the story did not have much to offer. The screenplay was stretched beyond a point, and Ready, Set, Love suddenly became about the crusade of the players and the contestants against the evil corporation, Eve’s Capital. The underground group named ‘City Ground’ were secretly forming a narrative against Ready, Set, Love and the lies they were propagating. Sadly, nothing much was explored about this underground rebellious group, which genuinely wanted to expose many wrongdoings and criminal activities happening inside “The Farm”. 

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A subplot involved a young woman named Valentine, who joined the production of Ready, Set, Love to seek her brother, who was snatched away from their mother at birth. The brother turned out to be one of the five men who were being exhibited as eligible bachelors. Although Valentine was able to gather enough support from within “The Farm” to expose the long-standing deception, they were picked up by Eve’s Capital and removed. 

The screenplay failed to establish how the lie was propagated by Eve’s Capital. The surface-level treatment of these subjects made Ready, Set, Love a dry show with nothing new to offer. There was no complex politics discussed, as the focus was more on the actual games and the romance. The real subplot was hardly touched upon, and there was no discussion on how the local politicians could be involved in this scam. The show within the show is a good concept, but only on paper. The execution failed miserably. The makers added the LGBTQ angle, which, thankfully, was not used to titillate the audience. 

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Ready, Set, Love tried to emulate the other Netflix cult classic Black Mirror but failed on the screenplay level and execution. The production value of the show is excellent, and it is probably the only aspect that allows the show to be engaging to some extent and mirrors the actual reality dating shows. The direction by Yanyong Kuruangkura only works in a few places. The screenplay gets out of hand as it tries to establish love interests and focuses only on the romance. There was no sense of balance in the show, which could be the reason for the long run time.

The performances in the show cannot be considered commendable. The actors took the over-acting route to project how unrealistic reality dating shows are. Right after the fourth episode, the actors made over-the-top acting a part of their characterization and arc. The performances are atrocious, and they further impact the viewing experience.

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The six-episode show ends with Eve’s Capital being exposed, and many working for the firm were involved in letting the world know about the lies they’d propagated for many years. Chanel, the daughter of the woman who runs Eve’s Capital, is declared the winner of Ready, Set, Love and paired with the popular bachelor. Chanel willingly went against the plans of her mother and chose a man who was right for her. The act of rebellion is a running theme in Ready, Set, Love, but the writer and the director hardly explored that angle. 

The leads of the show also ended up together, which was not shocking. The last shot of this satirical Netflix original sets things up for the next season. Hopefully, the makers in the next season will focus more on the gripping narrative than on the spectacle. This Thai show tried to mix the drama and romance of Korean shows. Ready, Set, Love failed to bring out the elements that make Korean shows and movies a must-watch.

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Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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