Filipino TV Shows seem to Promote Dysfunction

Fellow blogger FallenAngel posted in GRP Shorts an opinion from a gay acquaintance about the TV series “My Husband’s Lover:”

This is what Filipino viewers seem to love seeing (Courtesy: Rosenblog)
This is what Filipino viewers seem to love seeing (Courtesy: Rosenblog)

Having watched almost one month worth of episodes of ‎My Husbands Lover I can’t help but be disappointed. What I initially thought as groundbreaking television show was actually just another teleserye about adultery (which is pretty much almost all of our teleseryes are about). The only difference is we have a married closeted gay man and another gay man as a third party.

Give me something that would further gay rights. Give me some insight to same sex relationship dynamics. Tell me how it is like to be a successful but closeted gay man in a very testosterone dominated company. Tell me how scary it is to have a homophobic family. Explain to me why there are relationships composed of two masculine gay man (or two flamboyant gay men) instead of one masculine and one flamboyant which is still the society’s concept of a gay relationship. Explain to me why it is easier for some people to accept someone’s sexual orientation and why it is harder for others. Give me some discussion about religion and spirituality and morality and homosexuality and how they mesh and clash and come together. And most importantly, give me a reason why I should root for two gay men to be together.

So far, Eric is just there to ruin Lali’s life. It’s not a good message to send out. Gay men do not exists to break-up marriages or make wives miserable.

This show could have been educational. It could have been socially relevant. It could have been revolutionary. It could have been one of the most important television shows… but so far it hasn’t been that. Yes it is a pioneer, and to an extent it is very bold. But a little more push and it could be great instead of bland. I hope it is still too early to change course, because it already has a good following and it would be a shame if it will be just another soap – titillating but weightless; provocative but irrelevant.

That was a convenient way to partially sum up the problems with local TV (and many movies).

First off: adultery – which is pretty much almost all of our teleseryes are about. Or if not adultery, some other dysfunction of the family. Filipino TV seems to have a love affair (no pun intended) with the dysfunctional family, making sure it’s portrayed in nearly every show. By portraying these same situations time and again, they give the viewer the impression that these dysfunctional situations are normal and acceptable parts of Philippine society. Thus, they would accept dysfunction instead of solve it. Some might even go as far as to act it out in their lives. All that slapping, hair-pulling and crying – Filipinos seem to like watching this and would probably accept doing this, not just as normal, but as essential, in real-life.

FallenAngel’s gay acquaintance wants a gay character to be shown not as the cause of dysfunction, but doing normal stuff, going through life, encountering problems, without any sensationalism. The show should also feature solutions to the dysfunction, which could have imparted good lessons to the viewers. Unfortunately, a problem with our tsismis-addicted public – they love sensational stuff.

As a result, Filipino local TV doesn’t teach moral lessons, but instead teaches immoral lessons.

Sometimes you wonder if this guy (Jonathan Aquino) was influenced by Filipino TV
Sometimes you wonder if this guy (Jonathan Aquino) was influenced by Filipino TV

And it’s not only this. There was another show which portrayed a separated couple quarreling over who should have custody over a child. This is another issue: a long custody battle – in the house and not in court. But Philippine law is clear on this: that the one with financial capability between the two could take custody. It should be obvious in the story which character has that capacity. TV stories, however, seem ignorant of the law.

I don’t know if this is the result of incompetence, if new graduates who are the show’s writers failed to make their research, or deliberately leaving out the facts. Whatever the reason, the result would be bad: the viewing public will assume that this is real, and it will promote further ignorance of the law.

Perhaps yet another thing that Philippine TV hasn’t changed: portrayal of rich or well-to-do people as bad, and the poor as always “bida.”

Yet another issue is the apparent disrespect towards children as I mentioned in an earlier article. And more.

The solution for this is still in the hands of the TV production staff. They should break the mold, break tradition. TV programs should not always listen to the masses. What has more truth is that whatever the media stations show on their screens, the viewers will just lap up. If they show something better, the viewers will learn from it accordingly.

Back to “My Husband’s Lover:” it actually follows the mold of Philippine TV that glorifies the wrongs of society. It doesn’t help gays at all, but may actually further hatred against them. To add to my commentary in an earlier article, gay rights are not really endangered by law, but more by culture. Especially the mass media.

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About ChinoF

I stick with this blog because I believe, as my cohorts do, that many things Filipino embrace as part of their culture keep their society backward. And blogging freely to show that in a truly decent society, with true freedom of speech, even nobodies have a voice.

Post Author: ChinoF

I stick with this blog because I believe, as my cohorts do, that many things Filipino embrace as part of their culture keep their society backward. And blogging freely to show that in a truly decent society, with true freedom of speech, even nobodies have a voice.

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66 Comments on "Filipino TV Shows seem to Promote Dysfunction"

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Gogs
Member
Not sure why I did not mention this in the Fallen Angel piece but what I will say applies to both your pieces. What I think you guys are looking for can be found in an HBO or Cinemax miniseries called Angels in America, They cover a lot of the gay reality like staying in the closet, coming out , being in denial, confronting a wife etc. Plus it had a historical backdrop that made me more curious about the Al Pacino character. Meryl Streep plays about 4 roles. Excellent story, excellent acting, which means no way it will appeal… Read more »
Frank
Guest

Growing up not-quite-macho in the Philippines caused me to be repressed as all fuck. It’s like the gossip show hosts are the required appearance for any guy that doesn’t grow up to be macho or something.

I’m still shitscared to come out to everyone because about the only people that don’t know I’m gay are my elders (parents, aunts/uncles, surprisingly my two little bros are fine with it), who fully expect to find some kind of gossip show host outfit and hair care products if/when I do.

Fuck.

eachhisown
Guest
TV soaps are TV soaps. These programs surely project the culture of each country. Just like the Egyptian soaps, most of the scenes you can see the characters screaming out loud their scripts. The French have “highly intellectual” plots which make the viewers “feel intellectual” but often puzzled about the story of the show he’s watching. The Indian TV soaps are much more like that of the Philippines where most of the characters are rich and famous, and never shows the rotting and stinking surroundings of the city like Mumbai. Where some people wash their dishes in the ditch, and… Read more »
Nitramy
Guest

What should be done about this? It’s the horde of “bobong masa” that watch these shows and no amount of telling them it’s stupid shit will make them change the goddamn channel.

Zeph
Guest
Philippine TV dramas have become excruciatingly dull with recurring plots salvaged from decades-old Spanish telenovelas. Once, maybe, it had incited the sentiments of viewers; but that’s because it allowed scenes reflecting ‘hidden’ realities that are too sensitive to be publicly discussed. Now much of these issues are normalized into society that it offers no new insights or surprises. I share the author’s opinion of ‘My husband’s lover’. It promised to bring out current ‘hidden’ issues, only to fail so disappointingly. I’m inclined to believe that Filipinos just tolerate these shows because of lack of options. I wonder when we’ll actually… Read more »
Johnny Saint
Guest
If you had thought provoking shows on modern Filipino television, they would fail miserably. One of the reasons these formula-based series’ are so popular is the fact that they provide a mind numbing distraction from the drudgery of day to day life in the Philippines. You have to realize that people in our society today are already constantly bombarded with an overwhelming amount of stimuli that remind us how bad it is out there. Just read the paper; especially the tabloids. Tune the radio to an AM station and you’ll find round the clock talk shows reporting crime, accidents, disaster,… Read more »
Josh
Guest
well what do you expect from Filipino TV? they have been showing tv series with the same story over and over again, they just follow trends and what’s worse is that they copy from other countries. but in defense of “My Husband’s Lover” the title screams adultery! you shouldn’t have expect anything. my advice for everyone, subscribe to cable so the stupid shows in our country wouldn’t make you dumb. i haven’t been watching anything from the locals anymore cause i see more light in foreign shows like games of thrones, true blood(gone soft though), walking dead, NCIS, and more.… Read more »
Gogs
Member

” executives could also adapt stories from books and make it in filipino setting, though they have to pay the author and follow some requirements set by the author.”

– You mean like a literary novel like D.H. Lawrence Lady Chatterley’s Lover and set it in rural Negros Occidental and cast Edu Manzano, Sunshine Cruz and Patricia Javier?

Josh
Guest

SLR but eeeww. that is why i say im not expecting that kind of thing anytime soon. maybe in the next 20-50 years the tv networks will release some critically acclaimed shows. or because of the advent of internet maybe it will die just like what’s happening to radio. maybe the tv networks will not improve at all in the future. well i know for sure i will not care!

xdarkx
Guest

My family couldn’t afford cable but we have internet. Yet my mom still watches these stupid drama series that I don’t know how to stop her from watching it and get her to find better alternatives over the net. She already has something which is superior, yet she still prefers the inferior one. Gah! >.<

Josh
Guest

well i think there’s no hope for your mom unless she will be really motivated or at least be forced to watched a great show. my mom doesn’t like gays and i tried to reason to her but she just can’t accept them so i didn’t bother anymore. i just focus on myself and keep hoping that the future generation will be better than right now. im expecting a total change in maybe 50 years hahaha but that could speed up

General Will
Guest

This post would have been better off staying within the confines of criticizing the show for lacking instead of using it as a platform for blaming TV for being a bad parent.

“As a result, Filipino local TV doesn’t teach moral lessons, but instead teaches immoral lessons.”

This isn’t TV’s job. Can you shelter your child from the stupidity of the masses? No. But you can educate and prepare your child how to deal with life, adapt and hopefully develop a morality/awareness that is acceptable to you.

What’s next, outlaw Voltes V because children will grow up violent?

xdarkx
Guest

I would watch a Philippine drama (or any kind of drama, to make it more general) if only it encourages viewers to think critically. But no, that’s not what they’re doing. This is why, along with the reasons mentioned here, I not only hate these dramas per se, but I hate it even more that I couldn’t stop my mother from watching these! >.<

General Will
Guest

Wow, I completely misread the Steve Armstrong/Prince Zardos backstory. Good call.

Either way, that you want to prevent kids from seeing “sexy Wowowee girls” and that you would blame television for influencing children’s future behavior is confirmation enough of how far apart we stand on that spectrum. Maybe another blog post on that instead. I would hate to take away from the other valid points of this blog post via comment-convo.

Tony
Guest
On the topic of teleseryes, I have this theory that these shows further encourage the Pinoy “victim complex”. Frequently will teleseryes portray the poor as innocent victims, and the rich as scheming, matapobre, mataray, “sosyal”, etc. They are portrayed in such a way as to be hated by the viewers, like a heel in a WWE show. There is such a thing in psychology called “redirected anger”. This is when a person releases his anger onto undeserving people because of internal unresolved issues, like how some people hate their father but are too afraid to confront him so they become… Read more »
Jayjay
Guest
I disagree with many of the points raised by the opinion you cited. I also can’t believe it arrived at generalizations too fast. “Give me something that would further gay rights.” Isn’t My Husband’s Lover promoting gay rights? They cast a closet gay who marries the opposite sex only because he wants society to accept him. Did you not know that this premise was presented using various literary techniques (indirect) less likely to be seen in a typical Filipino soap operas? The whole story, in fact, revolves around Vincent’s (closet gay character) struggle to fit in society, which suggests a… Read more »
Luise
Guest
After reading this article this line was the blast, “Gay rights are not really endangered by law, but more by culture. Especially the mass media.” It is correct, for me, the law has already portrayed its part, to protect the civil and political rights of our LGBT friends. However, as stated in the article, it is the culture and the media that ruins their image, and that is something law cannot control. There are a lot of professional LGBTs out there but they are hiding their true self for they are afraid of the stereotyping that our society gives. I… Read more »
fujiko
Guest

Kung minsan it really is not healthy anymore to watch our shows.Tama,often,it’s about dysfunction.Hanapan ng anak,hanapan ng ina,kabitan,agawan ng asawa..same plots,just different actors.kids become very liberated and pati sa movies,actors curse and uses obscene words.true entertainment has evolved into something different and I hope it won’t get worst..

Amh Camp
Guest

“As a result, Filipino local TV doesn’t teach moral lessons, but instead teaches immoral lessons.”

I totally agree. Is this what FilArt has evolved recently? “Pang-masa” crap and all that pocket-endorsing schemes we call Filipino TV.

xdarkx
Guest

Which is why I want to stop my mother from watching these stupid shows…! >.<

For an alternative, I guess I'd say I'd have her instead browse the net and watch, say, Game of Thrones instead… 😛

The_Eurasian_Filipino
Guest
The_Eurasian_Filipino

Being back in this website: If I were in authority,I prefer to ban this show and ABS-CBN’s Angelito:Batang Ama from the air.
(Promotes unhealthy heterosexual relationships)

Very Misleading and Dysfunctional.

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[…] pointless charge. There is also the more serious case of a Filipino caregiver in the U.K. who was caught on camera maliciously slapping an elderly patient. That again may create fears about Filipino caregivers. […]

Irvin
Guest
I know this is late. But what the hey. I’ve actually worked as a writer for a TV network and I still have friends who work as writers for a TV network. I’m here to tell you: Don’t blame the writers. I know plenty of talented writers who have new and innovative ideas and concepts for TV series. But the problem is of course, is if they submit these innovative and new concepts for TV series, the network executives have them rewrite them and rewrite them to the point when it becomes just another generic soap because that’s the one… Read more »
jame-boy
Guest

And for the most part, the viewing public has a lot to do with it because they’re practically the one dictating what they want to watch.

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