Ah, Pinoy soap operas.
Rehashed plots, hysterical acting and unoriginal storylines – but entertaining nevertheless.
In fact, key elements keep appearing in these teledramas/telenovelas that they have become laughably predictable.
There’s always that one family member who tunes in night after night, watching raptly the continuing saga of destitute protagonists and moneyed villains in highly improbable circumstances. We can’t help but watch either!
Here are nine sure signs that you’re watching a Pinoy soap opera.
1. The bida always gets bitch slapped.
Oftentimes, more than necessary. But nothing screams good ole’ teledrama than getting your protagonist bitch slapped out of her senses by the extremely evil kontrabida.
That’s to evoke sympathy for the straight-haired, immaculately innocent bida and anger towards the curly-haired, dressed-to-the-nines kontrabida.
The climax happens of course, when the bida finally returns the favor by bitch slapping the kontrabida back, to the triumphant cheers of avid televiewers.
Also read: Top 10 Most Hated Pinay Kontrabidas
2. The protagonist is either adopted or switched at birth.
Either the protagonist was lost as a child (how the hell do you even manage to lose your baby?) in some sepia-colored backstory replete with actors in bad wigs OR switched at birth (because, yeah, people switch babies all the time) by the kontrabidas to hide a dirty secret.
To complete the picture, there’s either a diary or a key person that knows the truth about the protagonists’ parentage.
3. There are always goons.
It doesn’t matter what the plot is like; the kontrabida always has goons at his or her disposal.
They do all sorts of stuff too: kidnap protagonists and children, blow up cars, assassinate important people, be in cohorts with dirty policemen, hell they even rig DNA results!
More importantly, there’s a dress code: goons wear black. Leather jackets (in the tropics, really?) and dark sunglasses (even at night) are wardrobe staples.
4. There has to be a kidnapping incident.
This is also a telltale sign that your favorite telenovela is coming to an end.
Somebody gets kidnapped. There has to be a rescue mission of course, complete with car bombings, bomb detonation and someone dying.
In the end, one kontrabida gets an epiphany: he/she must sacrifice his/herself by taking a bullet or dying in an explosion in lieu of the bida.
And just before he/she dies, goodbyes are said and apologies exchanged. Boohoo.
5. The protagonist’s loved one always dies.
They really can’t help it! They either die from a heart attack (after a heavy confrontational scene), cancer, vehicular accident, bombing incident or they get shot (either by intention or taking the bullet for the bida).
The bida’s grandparents and parents are the easiest to eliminate, and while shedding a truckload of tears, a slow-motion flashback with this dead loved one’s good memories ensues, with an awfully sad music playing in the background.
6. Somebody needs to have an amnesia.
It’s either the protagonist or somebody important to the protagonist. They get into an accident and lose their memory. In turn, an important information is temporarily lost.
The kontrabidas gain an upper hand until the day the amnesiac recovers. But of course, that’s not going to happen until the drama nears ending.
This happens every freaking time, especially with telenovelas involving switched children and inheritance wars.
7. The bida is a saint.
He/she has to tick the following boxes:
- Must be a good son/daughter
- Must be a good grandson/granddaughter
- Must be compassionate
- Must be kind
- Must languish in poverty
- Must suffer some form of maltreatment
- Must be patient
- Must have an extraordinary talent of sorts
- Must dress drably
- Must have a best friend
8. The doctor delivers the bad news.
If a character is in a life-threatening condition, a doctor always emerges from the operating room mumbling the same dialogue about doing everything they can and apologizing.
Yeah, we get the point: that loved one is dead.
A huge crying festival/ breaking down scene soon happens, blame gets thrown around until it rests upon the bida, no matter how improbable.
9. There has to be a love triangle or a third wheel.
Whether it’s a childhood friend, a colleague or a boss, there’s always that third person who’s romantically interested with the protagonist and would often devise ways to break up the couple.
Actually, this person will have nothing better to do, just spend his/her days plotting ways to split up the love team.
Of course he/she will never be successful and would most often die, concede, get thrown into prison or go insane.
We Pinoys love our soap operas. It’s “prime time entertainment”. No matter how old and stale the plots are, we watch intently. Last night’s episode is next day’s discussion in our workplace, at the grocery and even in public transport.
Is it too much to hope for an avant-garde local soap opera that doesn’t dwell on hysterics and newbie acting? One that does not use these same old elements?
Perhaps. But then again, it won’t be Pinoy Soap Opera.
About the Author: Hope Maria is an Apothecary, Scribe, Origamist and Procrastinator. She de-stresses by dreaming about Westeros, listening to Pat Metheny and reviewing movies.