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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Looking Back at the Sitcoms of Yesteryears and Away From PBB

What do you think? 

            You know that disquieting feeling when you’re watching two dogs go downtown on each other right in front of you on the street? Well, that was what I felt when I last watched Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition 4 realizing that this was absolutely the biggest pile of rubbish anyone could ever put on television, even in ABS-CBN standards.
          Picture this: Millions of Filipino youngsters ranging from puerile tensomethings to creepy eightysomethings would actually stay up late to watch this piece of cow shit for what? To witness how emotionally scarring it is to fall in and out of love all in a span of forty-five minutes? To stay in the loop about the latest breakthroughs in shameless underage canoodling and crotch-handling? To guess which teen housemate will have a baby on her prom?
Yes, what you’re feeling now is a socially concerned parent’s rage.
            Personally, I have nothing against PBB. Well, except maybe Big Brother himself who’s always cooking up ways to impose and sermonize the show’s viewers with morality through challenges and tasks that are ironically completely against any moral code known to man.
But other than that, PBB used to be buttloads of fun to watch, especially those seasons where Kim Chiu, that guy and that other guy emerged as the Big Winner. Recently, it has been just socially irresponsible and downright gimmicky.
I don’t know where our world is heading but PBB Teens isn’t a good sign for anything.
Which brings me to my next point: What does Philippine television have in store for us? If PBB is a microcosm of one thing, it would be for how Philippine media is capitalizing on two things: pretty faces and sex.
Anyone who knows me could tell you that, just like hot sauce on anything, I love me some occasional dash of pretty faces and sex in my TV shows. The problem with Philippine TV is not so much the face value and sex itself as its quality and repetitive nature.
There’s always a recurring story formula in Philippine TV that is always overly used to the point of mind-numbing exhaustion. Here are my personal favorites:
1.      Mara archetypes get bullied by Clara archetypes.
2.      Boy meets bimbo. Boy has sex with bimbo. Bimbo aborts baby. Bimbo goes to Church in pekpek shorts to beg for absolution.
3.      Instead of using systematically written story arcs to push the story forward in a cinematically tasteful manner, half-baked, shameless writers cheat by using soliloquies and flashbacks that take up about 90 percent of the entire teleserye.
4.      Piolo Pascual as a reluctant priest, reluctant tycoon, reluctant playboy or reluctant male. (If all aforementioned could pass what viewers may consider as “TV-acceptable”, we might as well expect a teleserye about Mahatma Gandhi to be played by Renato Corona.)
5.      If all else fails, dispatch goons in a black van and kidnap the fucker.
Evidently, primetime television has taken a turn for the worse and has been reduced to Cristine Reyes in a see-through dress pointing a gun incorrectly.
I miss the days when primetime was wholesome and fun. When it wasn't all that embarrassing to be  jologs because cultural and societal rules were much simpler back then and hipsters and douchebags haven't been invented yet. When Marvin Agustin was still taken much more seriously in Whattamen in 2001 than he was in GMA's Iglot in 2011.
Have you wondered what ever happened to the good ol’ sitcoms that used to swarm our TVs when we were little? Or in the case of our parents, when they were less OLD? Why did they die? How did reality shows suddenly replace sitcoms in the early 2000s?
Lest you’ve forgotten what a real primetime good time looks like, let’s take a stroll down memory lane and recall all those wonderful sitcoms that have provided the Filipino viewing pubic its cultural identity. An identity which was apparently taken to the grave along with these sitcoms.
See if you remember these! Here are some sitcoms which obviously existed before Photoshop was created and before people didn't care much about proper spelling:
Home Along Da Riles (1992-2003)
Kool Ka Lang (1999-2003)
I couldn't find a photo for "Beh Bote Nga" (1999-2003) so please indulge in this photo of Tiya Pusit.
OK Fine Whatever (2003)
Abangan Ang Susunod Na Kabanata (1991-1997)
Okay Ka, Fairy Ko (1987-1997)
Palibhasa Lalake (1991-2000)
Whattamen (2001)
Ober Da Bakod (1992-1997)
Oki Doki Doc (1993-2000)
It’s hard to believe that Philippine primetime used to be a treasure cove of humor, good-natured fun and societal parody - something unrecognizable from today’s flurry of scandal, melodrama and boys discovering their first boners.
I would like to return to a time when TV was still a mirror of society, albeit a comedic one, rather than PBB and endless crude mutations of Mara Clara.  
There is more reality in the sitcoms of yesteryears than in the reality shows of today that claim to be the “kuwento ng tunay na buhay”. PBB and these overly dramatic teleseryes aren’t reflections of society, they are distortions and exaggerations. Their twistedness is so uncanny yet appealing that a lot of viewers take them as reality and regard them as the norms and values that should dictate their lifestyles.
To put it in a more simplistic view, if people watch kids' kalandian as they exchange spit  and other bodily fluids on PBB, it would give kids the impression that engaging in animal behavior is okay and parents would subsequently buy tire swings for their rooms.


At the level of overall social relevance, the ol' sitcoms will always be tops in comparison to the filth on TV today. And it's pretty weird how slapstick humor or Tessie Tomas in Abangan... will always have more true moral and historical value than Santino will ever have. 
It’s so depressing that we’ve entered a world where people are pressured to emulate the people they see on TV just because they’re oh so gorgeous or oh so chic or oh so greased-up in a skimpy bikini. TV is no longer about idols, it’s become a cesspool of people to emulate. We put people like Kim Chiu on TV, not because she's great at acting. I've seen better dramatic conviction in Disney Channel's Upin and Ipin, and they're not even real people! 


            We put people like Kim Chiu there solely because people want to BE like her and dress like her. TV stations recognize this reality and make profit out of it at the expense of turning people into mindless zombies. Networks forgo actual entertainment quality to make way for Zanjoe Marudo in a loincloth.
But those network execs will never get me. I’d choose watching Dolphy smack Vandolph with a newspaper over Marian Rivera anyday.

15 comments:

  1. You write very well. You really deserve an award. Anyway, I can so relate with your observation. PBB Teen is nothing but an aquarium full of teens wishing and hoping to be the next Kim Chiu and Gerald Anderson. Like you, I don't see any value watching it. I saw one episode on time and I thought that was almost skippable. However, channel 2's MMK is always good.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi! Thank you for your kind words and yes, a lot of shows these days are void of substance. Even in cable TV, I could only count the shows on-air that are worth watching.

    Glad to know somebody agrees. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey Andrew, wanna make a sitcom script? hahaha.. anyway, I do have the same opinion, but yours is way better and way more critical than my micro-opinion in fb.. Amazing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Jansen! As a matter of fact, writing a sitcom had actually dawned on me several times during my senior year. Had one problem though, I had no clue what I'd use it for. All the creativity and fictional characters in the world would not matter if you're going to write something so tedious without a purpose. And to top it off, nobody would actually care. Haha!

    I did consider writing for personal satisfaction. But that kind of satisfaction wouldn't have been worth it if you're gonna spend sleepless nights to make something you'd ultimately have no use for.

    Glad you agreed on me on this one! And thanks for reading!

    ReplyDelete
  5. PBB sucks and any reality related shows.....missed the old days. shows with values like Family 3 + 1 and those old variety shows. one of the my most hated celeb as of today the female counterpart of DEADPOOL (the nonstop talking mutant in marvel), the sister of the pres and that horsefaced comedian

    ReplyDelete
  6. Why would you put Upin, Ipin and Kim Chiu in one paragraph? That mental picture actually pierced my bladder. I'm pissing myself. Awesome post though, Sir. :) And yeah, I was too wondering about the kids who don't and won't get to know Dolphy. So he fell victim to the bureaucrazy entreps near the end, I still think he was the closest to Chaplin we ever got.

    ReplyDelete
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