10/09/2015

Serye serious

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Lots of people call teleseryes their guilty pleasures. So did I for a time. Back in high school, I had this flawed notion that liking local shows and movies made a person shallow or baduy. Even then, I would still join my mom every night as she indulged herself by watching her favorite teleseryes.

“Why do you even like this show?” I’d ask during commercial breaks. “The plot lines are so predictable. There’s always a weird twist, and someone always dies, or the main characters always end up finding out that they’re long lost siblings.” 

But as much as I liked to rant on and on about how I found these teleseryes cheesy or too predictable, there was no denying that I enjoyed watching them just the same. As we went on with our nightly serye viewing ritual, I noticed that the overused storylines, from the two-women-in-love-with-the-same-guy story arcs, to the separated-at-birth twists, have grown on me.

So in my senior year, I made an iWantTV account to track Margaux and Celyn’s rivalry in Ina, Kapatid, Anak. When Got to Believe came out in 2012, I’d anxiously wait for the clock to strike 8:30 so I could low-key tweet about Chichay and Wacky’s perya romance in Got to Believe. I also secretly binge-watched episodes of Forevermore, and was even more updated on Xander and Agnes’s antics than my mom at one point.

Now, I am a certified #OTWOLista.

And that’s why I think people keep coming back for more. We know what’s going to happen, but we want to know how it happens.

For those of you who might be unfamiliar with the acronym, OTWOL stands for On the Wings of Love, which is a teleserye directed by Jojo Saguin and Antonette Jadaone. OTWOLista is the term they use to refer to the show’s fans.

The series stars James Reid as Clark Medina and Nadine Lustre as Leah Olivar – both hardworking characters doing their best to support their respective families. Like many typical teleseryes, it is a love story. But unlike the overly dramatic ones I used to watch in high school, it showcases this love story over a light background that aims to explain the struggles of OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers).

A boy-meets-girl romantic comedy series where they hate each other at first? Psh, been there, done that. A boy-meets-girl romance where the girl in question is an OFW (with an American dream) who marries a dashing Fil-Am (with James Reid’s looks!) for convenience? Yes please!

Ever since the pilot premiered last August, I’ve been dutifully making sure that I get all my work and errands done before 9:30 so I could tune in to each night’s episode. Once I was in, there was no turning back from the emotional vortex of kilig fueled by Leah and Clark’s chemistry on OTWOL. James Reid and Nadine Lustre’s pairing is electric, and their performances never fail to disappoint (you only have to watch last Tuesday’s episode to get that).

Watching On the Wings of Love has since turned into a bonding experience. I discovered that joining the bandwagon of OTWOListas were a surprising number of my friends, family members, and Twitter followers. It’s become short of an obsession, and we regularly exchange links to behind-the-scenes photos and videos, and updating each other whenever one of us misses out. My favorite pastime every weeknight is to check my Twitter feed from 9:30 to 10:15 to read everyone’s reactions to the night’s episode (conclusion: everyone hates Jigs).

While it still follows the usual teleserye formula of boy meets girl (by way of literally bumping into each other), it also has other elements thrown in that make it more refreshing. Part of the show’s appeal is in the way it doesn’t glamorize the experience of working abroad. Judging from all the tweets each episode generates, many OFWs seem to relate because of how it depicts the hardships of being away from your family – a void that is filled by regular video chats and balikbayan boxes.

Most local shows milk the lead romance by delaying key moments like the first kiss or first touch. Jadaone and Saguin make it a point to deliver the right amount of kilig at the right time – be it through that 15-second #MostApprovedKiss (complete with the camera panning, sparkly sound, and background music) from two weeks ago, Clark’s general adorableness (as seen through his carpenter skillz and piano playing) in last week’s #OTWOLSweetestSurprise, or in the previews at the end of each episode.

And that’s why I think people keep coming back for more. We know what’s going to happen, but we want to know how it happens.

I’ve since discovered that it’s possible to like different things, even if they are on opposite ends of the spectrum. OTWOL is the first teleserye that I don’t classify as a guilty pleasure, considering that I spend so much time nowadays studying it, talking about it, and watching it.

There’s still much that has yet to happen in Leah and Clark’s case (still watching out for OTWOL in the Philippines), but we just have to wait and see how things unfold. For now, let me indulge in my favorite teleserye, no questions asked.

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