Commentary/Review: Is The New “Eat Bulaga” Really as Bad as Everyone Says It Is?

Short answer: No, not at all.

So, full disclosure before we begin: I’m not a diehard Eat Bulaga or TVJ fan. But my family regularly watched the show since we first subscribed to GMA Pinoy TV around 12 years ago. When we canceled our Pinoy TV (and TFC) subscriptions, we were still able to keep up with the show thanks to their YouTube livestreams whenever we were looking for something to watch in between our Korean dramas.

So when it comes to the Eat Bulaga/TAPE drama, I honestly haven’t taken a side or even leaned one way or another. There’s valid points on either side. And there’s a lot of mistakes made by both sides as well.

Anyway, the “original” Dabarkads have found a new home on TV5. Which, to be honest, they’ve probably wanted for a long time. It’s well-documented how cold the relationship was between the previous iteration of Eat Bulaga and GMA Network. So I will assume they’re happy and relieved to finally not have to pretend they are “Proud to be Kapuso.”

But let’s set all that drama aside and just focus on this ‘new” Eat Bulaga.

Right off the bat, I believe TAPE, Inc. should drop the Eat Bulaga brand and just start over with a brand-new show. Regardless of who actually owns the “brand,” even if TAPE does not allow TVJ and Co. to use it, I think they should still change the title. There’s no question, the Eat Bulaga brand now has a lot of baggage. And it would help everyone, especially the people currently employed by TAPE, Inc. and involved in producing and presenting the show on GMA’s noontime slot, to just have a fresh start.

The hosts are fine. The new segments okay. But change the name. Simple.

Now to discuss further why The New Eat Bulaga isn’t actually bad, we must first talk about what exactly a noontime show is supposed to look like.

In the weeks since the public resignation of the former Eat Bulaga hosts, many have tried to defend them and the original version of the show by somehow portraying it as some kind of intellectual or profound format that is irreplaceable and unmatched.

I think people are confounding the emotions of their years of watching the show with the show’s actual format. Because its format has increasingly become very formulaic. The show has not come up with something new or fresh since they started visiting local barangays in Metro Manila. Back in 2011, I talked about how the Juan 4 All segment was a big part in bringing about the resurgence of the show.

But otherwise, let’s be brutally honest here. Eat Bulaga and any other noontime show (whether It’s Showtime, Wowowee, et. al, Laugh Out Loud, Ticktoclock or the TAPE-produced Diz Iz It!) pretty much follow the same formula.

And that formula includes parlor games, sing and dance competitions and recycled, repetitive “jokes”.

For years now, Eat Bulaga has relied on that exact formula. One singing, dancing or acting contest is swapped out for another. The former barangay-visits are now just calls to home viewers. The tried and true Pinoy Henyo is always an easy benchwarmer for them to call up. And their Bawal Judgmental segment is a twist on another part of the noontime formula: talking to everyday Filipinos.

And the “jokes!” If you’re a regular Eat Bulaga viewer, you can absolutely predict exactly what “joke” any of the hosts will choose to insert at any given time. Like total clockwork and on the daily.

You could find exact variations of these pieces in other noontime shows. And that safe formula is partly why there are people who might have grown tired of the show and are open to trying something new. (Perhaps why the new-old management wanted to shake things up as well.)

The New Eat Bulaga might be that something “new” indeed. But again, it still adheres to the Filipino noontime formula. The current version of the show, conceptualized in just a few days, apparently, has relied heavily on parlor and party games. So far, the show treats each “game” as formalities and have been generous with handing out prizes to the audience and viewers.

But the segments are basically versions of hot potato, telephone and more parlor games and their own attempt at going out on the street to talk to people.

G sa Gedli, the man on the street segment led by Isko Moreno and Buboy Villar, is so far The New Eat Bulaga‘s strongest segment. The two hosts share a great chemistry that makes the visits with everyday Filipinos in jeepneys or buses or on motorbikes feel fun and spontaneous. Comments point out that it is basically a copy of the former Eat Bulaga‘s own groundbreaking segment. But again, noontime shows are basically recycled variations of each other.

Which is why The New Eat Bulaga is far from being as bad as people are saying. It’s essentially the same show as any other noontime show, but with new people you don’t normally see in this setting. And maybe an extra helping more of OPM rock band performances.

The initial line-up of hosts were really not much of a surprise. The lead trio of Paolo Contis, Betong Sumaya and Buboy Villar are three of GMA Network’s stable of funny people. Both Paolo Contis and Betong Sumaya have been GMA’s choice of hosts for its online talk shows. Buboy Villar is fresh off of a successful stint as Running Man cast member.

Throw in the Legaspi Twins for some youthful energy, much needed exposure for GMA girl group XOXO, Alexa Miro (who I honestly know nothing about) and in recent days, adding Sparkle talents like Miss Universe Philippines Michelle Dee, Ashley Rivera and former Eat Bulaga contestants Dasuri Choi and Kimpoy Feliciano, and you’ve already got your full cast of hosts to basically be master of ceremonies for the show’s party games.

The prospect of using the show to promote GMA’s Sparkle talents is also an appealing opportunity for the network.

Obviously, the show will offer up new segments and ideas, regardless of its title, as they get comfortable with starting from scratch.

And honestly, this version of the show has much improved in the last two weeks since it first started on June 5th. The hosts are less awkward, though still have a ways to go to be more relaxed and comfortable. The segments are being fine tuned every day. And more time will of course allow for new ideas to emerge.

For a regular Eat Bulaga viewer like me, one who isn’t emotionally attached to the former hosts, seeing this new iteration is actually quite refreshing and fun. The repetitive corny jokes and simple games are still there. But they’re “new” corny jokes and “new” games. Just having new faces delivering new twists on those jokes and games is already a refreshing experience. And that alone makes The New Eat Bulaga easy viewing to pass the time.

Of course, people who are loyal to the original hosts and have forged that emotional connection with them will not be as open to this major change. But at the same time, let’s not kid ourselves into thinking either version of Eat Bulaga or its noontime rivals are somehow one in a million, irreplaceable formats.

The vitriol being hurled at The New Eat Bulaga has gotten quite petty. And just another symptom or consequence of #NetworkWarCulture. But despite those emotionally-charged comments, the show is perfectly fine. And if you go in with an open mind, perhaps you might find something new to tune in to to fill your time as well. Will I be watching the new TV5 show, whatever it’s called, hosted by self-proclaimed “OG” and “Legit Dabarkads”? Yes. Will I continue to watch The New Eat Bulaga too? Sure.

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