Needless to say, AlDub is a novelty. It will eventually run out of steam. But as with all things entertainment, its creators will milk it for all its worth until the (cash) cow is shriveled, dry and empty. The amazing supporting cast of the Kalyeserye saga is really what keeps the story from going stale too quickly. There are only a number of ways you can keep lovebirds apart and the introduction of subplot after subplot serves as the proverbial pause button to delay our gratification and extend our suspension of disbelief.
The massive Philippine Arena event (which we'll call a fan convention because that's really what it appears to be) that finally brought Alden and Maine together can be seen as the closing of the first chapter of the story. After months of teasing, it really was the moment everyone was waiting for. And, for Eat Bulaga, it was the opportunity to see if the supercouple would have real chemistry, being the first time that they were in each other's physical presence.
The whole thing was staged like a theatrical play, SNL-style, that gave most of the noontime show's hosts the chance to be part of the story and flex their acting muscles. We all know that Eat Bulaga cast members are talented and this was a showcase of that. This is precisely why we believe that AlDub would only work for Eat Bulaga and not for a lesser production. There are no weak links – only individuals who can stand on their own and are willing and able to work as a team.
As most of them are show veterans, they have more or less mastered the “Eat Bulaga shtick” – that Tito, Vic and Joey way of comedic timing and delivering punchlines, even those who did not come from a comedy background. It's this kind of unabashed commitment and willingness to portray hyper-inflated characters that has made the segment the phenomenon that it is – the same one that has ensured the show's longevity and continued cross-generational popularity.
Add to that the fact that the segment is no longer just a segment. It's a major production with formidable guest stars like Celia Rodriguez and Ai Ai Delas Alas. There's a concerted effort to keep the wheels turning and the audience engaged.
However, some critics dismiss Kalyeserye as a regression, opining that it teaches outdated values and morals, that by suggesting that young women should dress modestly on dates to avoid improper sexual advances, it promotes the misogynistic idea of victim blaming. But what they fail to consider is that Kalyeserye is a reaction – a #throwback – to the Filipino life and an exaggeration of the Mara Clara-type of soap operas. Its characters are based on actual members of the Filipino family, no matter how un-modern their persuasions may be. I mean, what else do you expect an overprotective grandmother to say?
In fact, that's part of what makes the story a hit. We relate to it on a personal level. Lola Nidora really is a fully realized character whom we know to exist in our very own families. Her statements and backward views on gender and sex are funny because we've heard them before from our own grandmothers or aging aunts. We laugh because it's all too familiar and we find out how effective it is as comedy fodder.
As timing is indeed everything, this lighthearted tale came at the time when we most need it. It was the #hugot to end all #hugots. As a people, we Filipinos are done with the tragic stories of loss, unrequited love and verbally abused protagonists. It's the era of That Thing Called Tadhana, where conflicts are shallow and dialogues are straightforward and sometimes humorous. #Hugots, while real and emotional, are often in jest and parodies of themselves. The AlDub narrative fits in nicely with this post-modern iteration of Romeo and Juliet.
The challenge now is until when this can be sustained. But that doesn't seem to be a problem as all the players have already cashed in their chips – Alden and Maine are already stars and have snagged multiple endorsements. They even have a Metro Manila Film Festival movie coming up (which, if we may add, is the ultimate test of their partnership and will determine if their noontime chemistry and social media influence can translate into actual box-office sales). The three lolas are similarly experiencing a surge in fame. And Eat Bulaga has reached a new peak.
Even if its popularity wavers – and it will – it's all part of the cycle. It's only a matter of time before the geniuses at TAPE Inc. find another concept – accidental or contrived – to hook us once again. And trust me, if history is any indication, they will.
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