GMA Network raised plenty of eyebrows with their groundbreaking, but controversial drama My Husband’s Lover. Having wrapped up its much talked about run last week, the series’ influence and impact may not yet be truly felt. That’s because its biggest and maybe most important accomplishment will be how it opened the door to countless possibilities in Philippine entertainment and the greater Filipino culture.
I pointed out in my First Impression Review of the soap opera that the Philippines is an odd one when it comes to its media and personal perceptions of the LGBT community. While the country is devoutly religious with a self-perceived conservative society, it also happily enjoys watching gruesome, violent and adulterous media, while relishing in the gossip culture that permeates even politics.
So too is the Filipino’s oddly varied and cherry-picked opinions on gay media personalities. While many Filipinos enjoy and are fans of openly gay and lesbian celebrities, God forbid one of their own family members is gay. At the same time, if one of their favorite matinee idols or talented divas is rumored to be gay, it is the worst thing evah!!11!. Or that questioning someone’s sexuality is the best and ultimate jab to make fun of someone or to put one down.
Which is why My Husband’s Lover, in a social context, helped broaden the discussion and highlight the country’s sometimes hypocritical views. The show is not going to get the Philippines to allow same sex marriage any time soon. And it certainly didn’t set out to. But at the very least, it used a very common teleserye plot to give a face and a voice to a segment of the Filipino population that has long been depicted as comic relief or jokes, especially in television and film.
The series opened up the possibility for future content creators to also be brave enough to tell stories that before would be unheard of on television. For example, any meaningful story about an LGBT character had always been reserved for independent films. And half of those films are merely gay soft-core movies.
But now, maybe Philippine television networks will be more open to including a gay or lesbian character that isn’t relegated to being the flamboyant or overly butch sidekick and comic relief (or punching bag). And in turn, networks can be more open to trying new things; fresher concepts, out of the box stories and characters instead of the usual teleserye tropes.
As for its cast, Carla Abellana has long deserved a role that would allow her to truly breakout and this was it. Tom Rodriguez was long relegated to typical rich boy, third wheel roles on other networks and this finally gave him an opportunity to do more. And Dennis Trillo has already proven what kind of an actor he is and in all of Philippine showbiz, of his position in the industry and his long career, he may have been the only actor, not only fit for the role, but willing to actually take it on. The three of them led a solid cast that thankfully never detracted from the equally solid writing.
My Husband’s Lover also used true high definition cameras to their fullest potential. While other Filipino dramas purport to be filmed in HD, My Husband’s Lover actually maintained that crisper quality even when downconverting. At the same time, the directors used those HD cameras to present modern cinematography not seen anywhere else on Philippine primetime.
For all its groundbreaking themes, My Husband’s Lover was still a typical Filipino soap opera at its core; contrived misunderstandings, overly violent villains and an extension that maybe didn’t need to happen.
But the fact that it was a typical Filipino soap showed that even the most stereotypical setups can still be fresh and exciting. At the very least, My Husband’s Lover opened the door to an opportunity for a deeper national discussion and for Filipino creatives to not be afraid to take chances on storytelling.