I basically retract everything I said in my initial review of ABS-CBN’s remake of Mara Clara.
Instead of being a wonderful showcase for grossly underused young Filipino talent, it has somehow been twisted into a series that borders on being teenage torture-porn.
Screw the work for the talented teens if they’re only going to have to bring to life such frustratingly horrible material.
Mara Clara has become an excellent example of outdated, paper-thin Philippine storytelling and a lesson on excess.
The show’s heroine, the teenage Mara, has been literally beaten to death by her father and has since been thrown into a daily, endless loop of being harassed and verbally and physically abused by Clara and her mean girl (for lack of a proper, harsher term that even I would personally censor) cronies for shallow reasons, not to mention it being fun.
Now, Philippine soap operas are built around the underdog that gets pushed around and mistreated. And some of the most popular soap operas of all-time feature despicable villains pushing, shoving, and stepping on the underdog hero or heroine (many times literally) for months and even years before the series finale when… *poof* all is forgiven.
Philippine television has cultivated an audience that can root for irredeemable characters just because they’re played by a handsome or pretty actor, in turn cultivating an audience and a culture that has come to accept an underdog getting abused and pushed around with few and far between spurts of fighting back before getting thrown back in the endless cycle.
This is 2011.
A year after countless news stories of schoolyard bullying driving kids and teens to hurt themselves or worse end their lives.
Mara Clara could have been (and there is really no hope left) a series that, though after school special-y, showed bullying is wrong and shown that the bullied can stand up for themselves without having to stoop to the level of those pushing them around.
Instead, it passes each slap, each smothering of the face, each hospital visit, each shove into the table with a “Oh, it’ll all pass.”
If there is an excess in the paper-thin villainy and harassment-porn, there is just an excess in the submissiveness of those being harassed. You rarely see, if ever, a Philippine soap hero or heroine that stands up for themselves. Instead, relying on some deus ex machina-powered series finale that makes all the hurt go away.
Probably the main problem lies with the writers and directors of the show who resort to tired Philippine TV tropes and typical Philippine plot holes. That the more abuse, the better to get more people rooting for the mistreated.
And probably the most frustrating thing about a show like Mara Clara, is that all will be forgiven in the end. All forgotten, from the abusive father to the conscience-less bitches, Philippine TV likes to redeem every villain every chance they get, furthering the notion that, hey, you may have been an asshole… and you haven’t changed your ways, but the most punishment you’ll get is a slap on the hand and no dinner.
It doesn’t help when the writing is so lacking that none of the villains have been written with a single redeeming quality. Are you supposed to understand these pieces of sh*t people? Understand why they are doing these things?
It would probably be easier and more realistic to explain it all away with a mental disorder, but no… somehow, these characters are in their right mind.
Of course, bullying and abuse exist in the real world, but presenting some unrealistic, complete fantasy world of harassment and abuse-porn with no authority and consequence isn’t helping any cause but the pockets of those involved in production.
And really… is this supposed to be enjoyable television?