Hindsight Review: Groundbreaking and Heartbreaking “My Extraordinary” a Noble Effort

SPOILERS AHEAD! For the non-spoilery First Impression Review, click here.

Asterisk Digital Entertainment’s My Extraordinary is both groundbreaking and heartbreaking, as well as maybe a missed opportunity. For being the first BL series on Philippine broadcast television, it is a big step forward for more to come in the future. As a series, it is a heartbreaking, painful, but hopeful story that can be relatable to a Filipino audience. But it also falls short in some ways.

I was first intrigued by My Extraordinary when it was announced that it would air on TV5. Starting to follow the production, I was even more intrigued when it was said that the series would be inspired by the Thai series He’s Coming to Me. Being one of the few Thai series I’ve watched, I was excited to see what a possible Filipino version of the story would look like.

Funny enough, I forgot about that He’s Coming to Me-connection when I started watching My Extraordinary until the end of Episode 5. That’s when I realized one or both of our heroes was probably going to die and I was equally shocked and sad.

One of my criticisms of the show though would probably be its pacing. It felt like the series was rushed and dragged along at the same time. It felt more like an extended movie rather than a television series. And coupled with the short episode runtimes, it certainly leaves you wanting a lot more.

It was almost like they stretched out a movie plot too thin or didn’t pack in enough material for a full series. But there was certainly lots of potential for a fuller story. (Which I assume will be the focus of the spin-off/sequel series A Kiss to Remember.)

Though the series hit many of its emotional marks, it would’ve been nicer to have a little more time to get to know the characters. Maybe seeing different character dynamics more and developing a stronger foundation. Not to mention maybe enjoying even just a few more moments of our heroes Ken and Shake enjoying their time together. Their relationship definitely moved at a lightning fast pace and perhaps could have used a little bit more nuance and time to breathe.

Especially as both Enzo Santiago and Darwin Yu proved they had the talent and the chemistry to pull off any material. They are a fun and engaging pair that definitely drew you into their world and eventually their relationship very quickly.

And again, it comes from going into My Extraordinary as series. If it was a, let’s say, two-hour film, a tighter presentation could have resulted in an excellent production. But I don’t think My Extraordinary really maximized the great potential they fundamentally had.

One thing I can’t criticize is the casting. My Extraordinary had a great cast. Experienced vets Yayo Aguila and Jojit Lorenzo were accompanied by a cast of talented newcomers. Karissa Toliongco gave a standout performance as Sandee. And regardless of how you may feel about the character and her regrettable actions, Toliongco delivered the complex emotions very well.

There is a level of great sincerity in the performances of the cast. And that helps in the story being relatable to a Filipino audience that may not be regularly exposed to these themes and topics.

It was also different in that unlike many of the other BL series, My Extraordinary‘s plot wasn’t necessarily “Boys Love in the time of COVID.” The cast and crew were able to film the series as if it was in normal times and that helped make the series a nice escape.

So I might have mentioned previously that I first watched BL dramas when I stumbled upon GMMTV compilations of BL stories from Kiss Me Again and My Dear Loser after watching the seminal film Love of Siam. (Though not a BL series, I certainly remember watching random episodes of Hormones as well.) From there, He’s Coming to Me became my first full series, watching it as it aired. And about a year ago today, I excitedly began watching Dark Blue Kiss as it aired as well.

What I’ve noticed since then and as the popularity of BL dramas has exploded, especially in the Philippines, the series that become the most popular are those that are lighter in nature. Fluffy, if you must. Admittedly, those shows may be high on the kilig (and perhaps, sexier?) moments. Which is absolutely fine.

But that’s not necessarily the first or second thing I’m looking for when deciding on shows to watch. And the aforementioned Thai BL dramas that I’ve watched were heavier on the plot and character development rather than maybe the viral-ready clips that one may come across on social media.

This is obviously my own preference though. Which is why I appreciated My Extraordinary being my first Filipino BL drama. There have been a plethora of local Filipino BL series (albeit online and streaming only), but I haven’t necessarily been eager to check them out.

What My Extraordinary does well, especially having aired on broadcast television (we’ll get to that in a bit), is being accessible to a Filipino audience. It’s very much a Filipino series, albeit with an uncommon theme. But the way the story is presented makes it a series you could easily see on Philippine primetime TV.

Perusing some comments elsewhere, there are people who take issue with its tragic ending. And though I can understand where they’re coming from, perhaps I can’t relate to their frustration (and more) with the series’ ending.

I can understand the need and want for affirmation in mainstream media. Especially after years and decades of being treated so poorly. For me, a relatable comparison I can point to is my happiness and excitement with seeing Filipino actors or characters in mainstream American programs. The first was back when I was a 7-year-old boy in the early 90s and seeing Filipino-American Min teaching Barney the dinosaur how to sing “Happy Birthday” in Tagalog. Over the years, that excitement would be repeated on shows as varied as Power Rangers, ER and Grimm. Mainstream American shows with Filipino actors and characters.

Seeing someone like yourself, someone that shares your culture can be a profound experience especially for a young person.

Which is why shows like My Extraordinary airing on Philippine broadcast television is a big deal. Instead of young Filipinos having to search the internet (and in a country with very poor internet, that’s a major hurdle), them being able to turn on the TV and see characters like them and having experiences like them can be immensely meaningful.

In that sense, it is very understandable to want happier and fluffier stories. Positive stories. Especially when real life may be difficult and full of negativity from others regarding their identity and who they are.

My Extraordinary is relatable and sincere in its approach to a story and theme that is rarely seen on television in any meaningful way. As prevalent as the internet is in the Philippines, no matter how slow it actually is, television is still the most accessible medium for the majority of Filipinos. So a show like this being seen on free TV would be a major step forward.

That said, it’s definitely sad that something happened that ended up with TV5 not airing the series after the first episode. It was said that TV5 was going to be looking for a better, earlier timeslot than the 11pm Sunday slot it was originally scheduled in. But the series has already completed its run online and absolutely zero word from TV5 or Asterisk about the series returning to free TV. And it looks unlikely that it will.

Certainly a sad development. But I hope Asterisk Digital Entertainment and TV5’s relationship continues and that the future shows in the pipeline can have a slot on the network’s primetime line-up. Especially the very intriguing Meet Me in Bangkok that will apparently feature Thai actors as well.

Overall, it really was a groundbreaking moment for the series to have aired even just one episode on broadcast television. That itself is a major accomplishment. My Extraordinary may not have landed all its punches, but a sincere story and a strong cast resulted in a solid series. And it certainly opens the door to many more shows like it in the future.

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