TYPE OF REVIEW : HINDSIGHT REVIEW
No spoilers. Click here for the First Impression Review.
To the relief of many, including maybe its stars, GMA Network’s Destined to be Yours is finally over. Once the most anticipated series in the Philippines, it has mercifully come to an end after a laborious 13 weeks.
There’s really no succinct way to explain exactly why Destined to be Yours ended up the way it did. It was a series so troublesome in its presentation that its lead stars actually had to apologize to fans for being the way it was.
Destined to be Yours was supposed to be the showcase for Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza as a loveteam. At the peak of the #AlDub fever, they were the two most famous people in the country and certainly the Twitter world. Their first daily teleserye was highly anticipated by both fans and critics alike, already heightening expectations. Not to mention the hype coming from GMA and Eat Bulaga parent company TAPE Inc.
But after the slow first week, Destined to be Yours never found its footing on solid ground. The main premise of the series was that its lead characters Benjie and Sinag were meant to be. (Wait, that’s a different show.) I mean, Benjie and Sinag were destined to be. No matter what happens, no matter what troubles or problems, no matter the unforgiveable actions taken by each other and people around them, they are destined for each other. Destiny is on their side.
And destiny was used to explain everything away. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen “destiny” used as a deus ex machina in a romantic drama before.
The first week had been simply old-fashioned. The rest of the series became overly cliché. There’s certainly nothing wrong with being old-fashioned or checking off the teleserye boxes. But you’ve got to have other things to support that such as good direction, stellar acting and fresh twists thrown in. Destined to be Yours, unfortunately, lacked most of that.
Somehow before the series premiered, it was reported Destined to be Yours would be the “first” GMA drama filmed and broadcast in HD. That’s a problematic statement first of all because dozens of GMA dramas have been filmed in HD for years. And second, GMA does not have an HD feed. The real expectation likely was that GMA would keep the 16:9 aspect ratio, allowing a *gasp* letterboxed series to air in its primetime for the first time ever.
Never happened. But the implication accompanying this hype was that the series would have some stunning cinematography and direction which would warrant the HD broadcast. Especially featuring what appeared to be a beautiful countryside setting in the fictional Pelangi. Stunning cinematography can help save any poor script. Just ask any ABS-CBN drama series or even AlDub’s own film Imagine You & Me. But Destined to be Yours looked and felt like it was filmed years ago.
Related to that, the editing and post-production work exacerbated the already subpar visual aspect of the series. It wasn’t slick or contemporary at all.
And it definitely needed some help with visuals since the writing just was not there. Aside from the destiny-heavy main plot, the series’ subplots were a mish-mash of hastily thrown together teleserye tropes. And when combined with poorly written and schizophrenic characters, the overall result can be nothing more than a certified mess.
The biggest example of that schizophrenia may be in the character of Alden Richards’ Benjie. He could be anything between a playboy who sleeps with a different girl every night to a devoted son to a hardworking young man to a nice boy next door to a caricature of the KalyeseryeAlden character. He was everything and nothing at the same time. And when he is supposed to be a lead character, that doesn’t bode well for the series’ prospects.
When it came to Maine Menodza’s Sinag, she too suffered from character whiplash. She was a strong, independent young woman or a hopeless romantic or a jilted lover who couldn’t live without a boyfriend or weak-hearted.
These aren’t multi-dimensional, deep characters. They were walls where different character traits and personalities were thrown at to see what stuck. And apparently, it all stuck to the wall.
But I already mentioned what seemed to be Destined to be Yours‘ biggest problem. It inexplicably was trying to be a primetime version of Eat Bulaga‘s Kalyeserye. Whether it was the writing that clearly recycled “plot” points from the soap opera spoof or the apparent strange need for Alden Richards to channel his Kalyeserye character to bring Benjie to life; Destined to be Yours relied too heavily on Kalyeserye and thought it would be the only way to attract viewers.
And judging from the ratings (regardless of your preferred ratings provider), the minds behind Destined to be Yours were mistaken. Not only were legitimate fans turned off to Kalyeserye Redux, potential new viewers were turned off as well. (And don’t listen to the “commercials-per-gap” spin which is merely used to excuse or cover for the series’ creative and ratings shortcomings.)
There wasn’t anything that would attract a wider audience to the series or to the AlDub loveteam. And that really was or at least should have been the main driving force for the series. In addition to being a gift wrapped present to the millions of fans who propelled them to stardom, this series should have been an opportunity to expand their reach, bring in new fans and draw in the casual viewer who may not be compelled to join in the Twitter parties, but will still watch a good show.
Destined to be Yours was none of that.
We could get into a whole bunch of external factors that contributed to the clusterfrak, not the least of which being TAPE Inc.’s apparent influence on the series as well as their efforts to undermine the series whether it’s the prolonged delay or nefarious toe-dipping into the pool for selfish reasons.
Instead, let’s get to maybe the one positive to come out of Destined to be Yours.
I’ve talked about how great of an actor Alden Richards was and of what he is capable of. He’d already proven himself many times before, not the least of which being his career performance as Jose Rizal in Ilustrado. But the year of Kalyeserye seems to have driven a regression in his acting. He had largely bypassed the typical “pa-tweetums” stage of every young actor, instead being given legitimate dramatic roles and doing very well in them from the start. But the silliness of the loose Kalyeserye has influenced his performances since, whether it be the film Imagine You & Me or here on Destined to be Yours. Is it to cater to the fans who brought him his biggest success? Is someone telling him to do that chicken pecking aka “tuka” act of trying to kiss his co-star all the time?
Whatever the reason, his acting here on Destined to be Yours left much to be desired. And that’s a shame considering, again, his previous work where he’s proven to be a more than capable, if not excellent dramatic young actor. The poor writing certainly did not do him any favors either. So it’s certainly not all his fault.
On the other hand, and one of the few if not only bright spots, Maine Mendoza was able to elevate the poor writing and miraculously grew as an actress over the course of the series. Granted, she hadn’t been the most experienced or polished actress at the start. Her popularity has largely been driven by her natural charm and likeability. A charm and energy that allows her the confidence to do crazy and wacky things.
Maine Mendoza is obviously more comfortable in those lighter moments, in those scenes where she’s either having fun or being witty.
But there were moments where she showed she’s greatly improved with dramatic material as well. Like this scene early on for example:
That early bright wasn’t really followed up on, unfortunately.
She certainly has room to grow in drama even after making great strides here. And she obviously has a lock on the lighter material already. But the fact that she was able to take the subpar material given to her and still showcase her charm and wit is a huge accomplishment.
Maine Mendoza may conveniently say a teleserye is not for her, but one wonders what a better, Kalyeserye-free series could look like for her and Alden Richards. And what that could do for the future of their tandem and careers.
For now though, Destined to be Yours ends with regret and panghihinayang. Instead of destiny, the series ends with the question of “What could have been?” Other than Maine Mendoza’s valiant effort, Destined to be Yours was a creative and commercial disappointment.