ABS-CBN’s Mara Clara did not end like it began. The series began as a bright and promising classic soap opera. It ended its run as a overdramatic, nonsensical mess.
The network and series’ writers and directors threw away what could have been not only a solid production, but a memorable event. Instead Mara Clara will be memorable for the wasted opportunities and its rapid descent into the bowels of hell/long swim in a heaping pile of garbage/its endless digging into a shithole.
The basic premise of the series was two girls from opposite social classes switched at birth… and the hilarity ensues.
And that was the story for the excellent first few months of the series. A spoiled rich brat and a hard-working, intelligent poor girl. Completely opposite personalities, clashing at school and in their teenage love lives.
Basic, but fresh enough with a good young cast bringing it to life. The natural story would’ve seen the meek, poor Mara grow a backbone and be an example of how social status doesn’t have to be a deterrent to happiness and success. Meanwhile, Clara, the spoiled bitch would learn the error of her ways, see the light, and everyone live happily ever after.
That may sound typical, but it would be 10x better than the alternative we did get; physical and emotional violence, child abuse, battery, murder, rape, assault, corruption, idiocy… in short, torture porn for television.
One can blame what continues to be the main culprit in the disastrous turns of quality for many Filipino dramas… extensions. ABS-CBN more than its competitor GMA has made it a habit of overextending its series well past their expiration date. Instead of ensuring a quality story, the network has made it a priority to keep shows on the air for ratings and profit no matter the adverse affects to the quality of the series. Writing and production usually takes a nosedive, no matter how good the series has been beforehand.
There’s an argument by network loyalists that this is a business, so of course they’re going to keep a high rating show on the air. But as a business, they have to make the customer happy. In this case, the viewers. Presenting inferior product to the consumer is definitely not honest and for a corporation that prides itself on honesty and integrity, that’s laughable.
But that’s another discussion.
The degradation of quality in Mara Clara can’t be blamed on extensions alone. People, lots of people, gave this crap the green light.
Several people approved having a literally stupid heroine in Mara. She started off as a smart, bright young girl and over the course of the series turned into a naïve, idiotic imp. She surrendered her brain at the door. Meanwhile someone decided it was a great idea to have the only characters on the series with brains to be the villains, whom by the way were the real title characters on the show. The series revolved solely around Gary and Clara with Mara becoming an also-ran.
And because of that, Kathryn Bernardo went from a strong, emotional performance in Magkaribal to a poor amateur in Mara Clara. From a role that signaled her arrival to a role that erased it from memory.
Neither the heroes nor the villains had any redeeming qualities. None. By the end of the series, you wished they all bit it thanks to their own stupidity. Genius and unstoppable Gary and Clara aside of course.
Its nonsensical story and gratuitous violence was the very epitome of lowest common denominator. Appealing to a more than willing Filipino audience that has been conditioned to accept such poor, degrading work.
A story that proved that good guys are stupid and the bad guys are the only ones with brains. That the Philippine police force is filled with bumbling fools (which in fairness, is not far from the truth).
You want to see a good series about a young heroine fighting back against those who stepped on her and hurt her family? Maria Flordeluna still continues to be the only series to do so. Flordeluna had more character growth in a week than Mara, the supposed heroine of Mara Clara, had the entire series.
To put it bluntly and in Tagalog terms… walang kwenta. Mara Clara is worthless.
Poor writing, poor direction, poor acting, mishandling from the network; Mara Clara 2010/2011 was a waste of space, a disgrace to the legacy of the classic original series and the most embarrassing and egregious example of when a good thing goes wrong.
Thank God it’s over.