First Impression Review: Herlene Budol’s Endearing Charm and Its Fast Paced Story Power GMA Network’s “Magandang Dilag”

Magandang Dilag Review

Basic spoilers up to ~Episode 28. Click here for Check-in Review and click here for Hindsight Review.

I’ve been meaning to write a review for GMA Network’s afternoon drama Magandang Dilag for a while now. But now’s as good a time as any. The ratings are surging and the story is kicking into high gear. And it’s not hard to see why. The perfect soapy plot, an endearing lead and a fast-paced story all make for a fun, not-so-guilty pleasure. That is a combination that is often attempted, but not often accomplished by other series. Yet Magandang Dilag shows that even the simplest stories can still captivate and capture the imagination of audiences.

Now, my family first enjoyed Herlene “Hipon” Budol when she was first discovered on Wowowin. Her fun personality was very endearing. After honing her hosting skills on Willie Revillame’s evening game show, it’s been great seeing Herlene get many more opportunities and find great success since.

Despite having no formal training in acting, Herlene actually did quite well in her several roles on GMA’s Magpakailanman anthology series. Not only were the three episodes ratings winners (even back when ABS-CBN was still on free TV), but Herlene was able to deliver solid, if not strong performances.

So despite some netizen protests against giving her a lead, title role with Magandang Dilag, she has taken the fuller material for a regular series and again shown that she does indeed have the raw talent and endearing charm to deserve such an opportunity.

Her role in Magandang Dilag is more than suited to who she is in real life. Herlene plays Gigi, a young woman who grows up humbly with her single mother. But is shocked when her estranged father leaves her with a fortune. That newfound wealth makes her the target of debt-ridden spoiled rich kids who eventually put her and her mother in mortal danger.

Magandang Dilag Review

That’s where this week’s episodes are so far. The series has been fast-paced. And that tracks with the show’s promise that their bida, or heroine, would be palaban. That she wouldn’t be a pathetic character that just allows others to step all over her. That is of course often a criticism for local soap operas, even the most highly rated ones too.

With Magandang Dilag being a revenge drama at its core, it is that explosive revenge that is the main draw. Everyone waits for the moment the main character finally fights back and delivers the karma the villains of the story so deserve.

By the end of this week, Magandang Dilag has just entered that revenge arc with Gigi finally setting her plans in motion. That is of course after weeks of escalating deception, abuse and violence toward her and her mother.

In fact, this week’s Episode 26 was the series’ most dramatic and impactful yet:

Highlighted by Herlene’s revelatory performance. It’s a must watch, especially as a climax for the five weeks previous. For anyone doubting Herlene’s ability, Episode 26 will offer up examples that could change their mind. Some truly heartbreaking moments, all made possible by the tight writing, careful direction and especially Herlene’s performance.

Though the series features some wobbly performances from much of the cast, the veteran actors such as Sandy Andolong, Chanda Romero and Adrian Alandy help support Herlene’s performance. While interesting chemistry with both Benjamin Alves and Rob Gomez offer up something extra on the romantic side. But that never overwhelms the main attraction which is Gigi’s ultimate revenge.

Perhaps the more over the top, campy performances are intentional on the show’s part. As Magandang Dilag is not solely a heavy drama, but has touches of humor and comedy as well. Again, suited to Herlene’s strengths, but still with the opportunity for her to showcase something more. And that she has, especially in this sixth week of episodes. And that we can expect more of as the story kicks into high gear.

First Impression Review: Herlene Budol’s Endearing Charm and Its Fast Paced Story Power GMA Network’s “Magandang Dilag”

Magandang Dilag may be a familiar set-up, but its execution allows it to be a not-so-guilty pleasure. Powered by the great performances from its lead cast, especially the endearing charm of Herlene Budol, the series takes a dependable teleserye template and gives it a refreshing, fast-paced twist. Revenge dramas and even Filipino soaps in general can get frustrating and contrived. But Magandang Dilag‘s breezy pace and its well-balanced tone allow it to be more fun than frustrating. And as the “beautiful revenge” (as described by the show’s cast and director before it premiered) now begins, things will only get even more fun and exciting moving forward.

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