The Problem With Pinoy TV Shows
Repetitive, repetitive, repetitive
In Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller Outliers, the journalist and speaker claimed that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert at something. That roughly equates to 1,250 working days, 250 weeks or 4.8 years of working. So, following this thinking and the fact that the first Filipino teleserye aired in 1963, our local industry should be able to churn out substantial TV content as easily as a non-smoker can breathe.
But more often than not, that just isn’t the case. In fact, we seem to be trailing behind our younger Asian counterparts—which is funny because we have some really talented actors, directors, writers and producers. So what’s wrong with the picture?
If it isn’t a copycat version of some foreign drama—
—then it’s remake of an old success—
—or the same exciting plot twist.
Ugly means glasses, unruly hair and less-than-ideal skin. Rich means really rich and only driving around in luxury cars. Being poor means being smart. Having a mustache probably means you’re the antagonist. And—oh my god—love triangles, mistresses and langit lupa love stories.
Rich people do not wear gowns to dinner with full faces of makeup and CEOs do not wear suits to work every single day. Girls who come from the provinces tend not to have alabaster skin and city boys know enough not to wear crisp white sneakers when they’re made to farm. And action scenes—gasp—mess with you hair.
How are we supposed to tell Filipino stories when we can’t properly depict Filipinos?
The surplus of episodes
In the US, a new episode comes out every week. Here in the Philippines, a new episode comes out every night. And while it doesn’t inherently mean anything bad, it could be reason for a few things: Less quality work, overworked people and a stretched out plot.
When it comes to entertainment (even in the small screen), it’s best to invest in quality and not quantity.
An obsession with romance
Filipinos love their hugot stories and third-party dramas, but this love is a little overexploited. Local television shows tend to circle around romantic relationships more than anything else. The only thing that changes is costume, genre and actors.
Most of our protagonists have some sob story to get our hearts connected to them. It’s an effective strategy, but we deserve powerful characters to look up to as well. We deserve people with ambition and drive and make no apologies.
Too much star appeal
Networks tend to depend on star appeal over actual production quality. They’ll put all their money on Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil, Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo, Coco Martin, Vice Ganda, Kris Aquino and Maja Salvador while everything else gets a budget cut.
Anyone else craving for something fresh or genuine?
An ex-industry player spoke to us admitting that politics is unavoidable in the industry. There are favors to be claimed, there are favorites to be prioritized and there is a budget that can only be allotted to so many names.
Pinoy TV is not exactly frustrating as a whole. We admittedly enjoy the fluff and the repeats; showbiz wouldn’t make any money if we didn’t. What is annoying, however, is that we can do so much more. The talent, the voice and the vision is there. We just need to pay attention to it—and hope that the networks finally see that different can also be lucrative.
Art Alexandra Lara