Recently, Philippine television has made its bold move in the first gay-themed soap opera. One of the television giants GMA hs introduced My Husband’s Lover in the writing flare of Suzette Doctolero. What seemed to be ordinarily crafted in the scheme of mainstream soaps turned out to be a hit among varying audiences. Why? Though, I may be tempted to reach an answer by pinpointing controversy as the sole blame for this, I reckon that it seeps within the understanding of the viewers and the normative views of the phenomenon.
My initial impression was simply that people have embraced the idea in two different ways. First, it has long been heard, yet not discussed or shown in mainstream media. Though I think it may not be something new to introduce homosexuality as an issue along with surfaced tolerance, I do think people have the curiosity to at least get a glimpse of the lifestyle, to affirm and answer their own questions.
Secondly, I do believe there is that sense of relatedness among a span of audience. Though this may have been in critical view especially among conservatives and “seculars,” I think people have acknowledged the fact that it’s really happening and that they are part of it all this while. The theme of having third parties along the way is common that it has fleeted Philippine cinema just not that long time ago. But incorporating the “gay” is even making things more interesting and dilemma-bound. People started putting themselves in the situation and relating to it in different interpretations.
I must admit that I was and will still be critical of the portrayal of the gay in it, the story (belaboring the obvious), the characters (how some are right fits and others quite overwhelming the characters), and the repetitiveness it underscores (though I also admit this is hardcore soap opera, and it’s all that jazz that it naturalizes when in show). But I still value some good like how dialogues are written despite times of mushiness and un-realism, and how the whole show is shot, with foreshadowing and peculiar object shots to emphasize emotion and situation.
Then I go contemplating on how this really goes down to the consequence. For the free in mind, this is tantamount to awareness brought about by the discussion made among the avid watchers. I saw some speck of light when I friend commented in response to my critical status on the said soap that it’s actually good since mothers are watching it, and the there may actually be enlightenment on their part. Though this may be promising, I still find it unsafe to conclude that this indeed will ensure better understanding among the different types of audience. I hail GMA for coming up with such production, and as my friend who works for the media giant, it is gay-friendly.
And so I query into how this is actually embraced by the viewers. Regardless of my personal, critical claims, I still find some disparity in how people accept the idea. Impinging on the two reasons this soap hit the television I gave, I find that some still think of it as an issue and conflict. That’s what soaps are all about. It’s about the heightened climax, the tension, and the thrill. Discussions may arise from such conflict, and as opposed to getting into awareness discourse, people will contend and argue, and not reconcile. For others, this may be a form of acceptance in their own means independent of how media’s motives (the controversial issue being good for ratings) are. But I give myself a nudge in not overly aggrandizing the face motive of “awareness” and leading acceptance. I don’t want to overly celebrate. I do think that one shouldn’t just say the last when everything is relative and gray. I still feel that at one point, the gay here is not salvaged. It’s rather highlighted in a way that’s a conflict more or less. The “making-people-aware-and-cool-about-it” argument bores me as being gay is something we see everyday. I just think that the soap is quite misleading in all its grayness; probably, it was to limit the real to appeal the general viewer. Again, we can’t expect so much from mainstream television.
Generally, I feel okay with the new soap. This is a bold move in mainstream Philippine television. But in the process of getting through this, we get answers on the goal, the end-point, the purpose, and where things are going. It’s good that people get to discuss the issues in hand. But it’s better to look on a meta-observation and get into the core of things.
And for the record, with all admittance, I watch the soap everyday for the dialogues and how actors come across and deliver, how they progress and unfold the stories.