Aug 18, 2013

[Technicolor Musings] 8 Things About My Husband's Lover

Philippine local network GMA really made waves this year with their latest soap opera My Husband's Lover. It's one of the first network television shows to feature gay characters as part of the central premise and it's a primetime show at that. It repeatedly ranks as the top-rated primetime show in Metro Manila and among the top shows nationwide.Critics can't stop talking about it whether to praise it or belittle it. And naturally it has made the news a number of times given how the Philippines prides itself to be a "Catholic country".

And while I've never really gotten into local soap operas (or most local television in general), I can't deny the impact the show has made on the local community. Love it or hate it, the show is doing rather well and thus it merits additional scrutiny and discussion.

So yes geeky readers, we are actually going to talk about My Husband's Lover in today's Technicolor Musings post.

1. Don't Forget It's a Soap Opera - as "landmark" as some people see the show to be, it's still a soap opera, or a telenovela in local parlance. That means it can only tell a soap opera level story. The core premise of the show is an old one in the soap world - childhood lovers are reunited later in life but one is already married to another. The only twist is that the lovers are gay ones.

2. It Is Told From the Wife's Perspective - Let's not forget who is "telling" the story here. The title talks about "my husband", thus it is from the perspective of the wife. This is still not a story that fully celebrates gay life nor does it promise to understand it nor speak about it from a personal level. Instead were are merely observers to this whole affair - as is the wife.

3. The Story Cannot End Well - By its very premise, you know the final outcome will be bad one way or another. The guy can choose to honor his marriage commitment and stick with his wife, thus giving up his "true love" for the sake of appearances or whatever (maybe the guy's really bisexual at heart). Or on the flip side, the childhood romance can win out and the wife will be cast aside. The only way to make the ending less douchey is by killing someone due to a mysterious disease or something. If it's the wife, it can be cancer. If it's the childhood friend, I certainly hope it won't be AIDS.

4. It is Actually Educating People - One of the brilliant parts of the show is the fact that the protagonist do not fit the "accepted" concept of the gay man, the bakla, in the minds of the average Filipino. Instead of the effeminate, cross-dressing, limp-wristed parloristas, we have two straight-acting guys with decent careers of their own. A lot of the dialog between the characters tends to involve little truths about homosexuals that usually get lost in the comedy of other shows.

5. This is Not Queer As Folk - I hate how some critics expect the world of this show and point to Western successes to indicate what it should do better. This show is somewhat the equivalent of Will & Grace when it first came on the air. An LGBT-related network show in the US was unthinkable in the 90's, but it managed to become successful, even if it embraced a lot of the negative stereotypes that critics love to pick on. You can't compare it to Queer is Folk since that only appeared on a pay-TV channel with a much more limited audience. This is FREE TV we're talking about! My Husband's Lover isn't even at that starting point, and already people want full representation of the entire LGBT spectrum. You give an inch and people ask for a mile, I suppose.

6. It's Giving LGBT Youths Something to Model Against - For far too long young gay men and lesbians have looked to media and found themselves represented by campy stereotypes. We see the comic relief character on TV and end up saying "That's not me at all!" and thus are left to our own devices to figure out who we are. Those with the means managed to get access to Western programming like Queer as Folk or The L Word and this gave them a better perspective. But the average Filipino LGBT has not had access to that and thus this show serves an important role in that regard.

7. Conversations Have Started Because of the Show - My Husband's Lover is bringing LGBT concerns to a more national level of conversation as fans of the show debate what should happen next and realize it applies to the real world as well. Lawmakers on both sides of the fence are trying to use the show to push punishing laws like the My Husband's Lover Bill or in support of LGBT rights like with the Anti-Discrimination Bill. We still have a long way to go, but we may actually see a legal definition of the LGBT community in one law or another sooner or later.

8. Everyone Wants a Piece of the Show - It seems everyone is jumping on the show as a vehicle to push their agendas. Naturally the CBCP is against the program. Ladlad, the country's first LGBT political partylist group, has been talking about the show a lot in order to get in on the action. This year's White Party Manila gave the show some kind of an award even though it had only been on the air a few weeks. And even advocacy groups like Love Yourself are trying to ride on the coattails of the show to push their own advocacy platform. That just shows that everyone wants in on the action and the show is actually making a mark.

I do hope that the show represents the start of a greater wave of change in how local media represents the LGBT community. I don't think things will magically change overnight, but it's certainly a good enough start for things.
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  1. juliuskingchua18 August, 2013 13:38

    Nice review! haha :)) I'm glad that some people are open to discussions, maybe by open minded people, or closed-minded people.

    I hope it would not end up in some kind of foolish bills opposing our rights as part of LGBT community.

  2. Hiyang-hiya naman ako kasi wala pa akong napapanood na episode nito :(