We’re all too familiar with the tales often spun by our primetime teleseryes – from the tried-and-tested love stories of men and women with vastly differing backgrounds falling for each other despite opposition from a wealthy, domineering family, to the newer, more “experimental” sagas of underage mothers and fathers, of mistresses and extramarital affairs, with an occasional misplaced baby as a plot twist thrown in for good measure.
And then there’s AlDub.
The latest craze to sweep across the nation, AlDub is a tale of an unlikely romance between Alden Richards, a man who mostly communicates via cheesy pick-up lines written on a small whiteboard, and Maine “Yaya Dub” Mendoza, a maid whose main form of communication is through famous soundbites taken from the interwebs and beyond. Their budding love story is met with various challenges, often brought forth by Yaya Dub’s loud, overbearing grandmother, Lola Nidora, played by Wally Bayola. Accompanying them is an equally zany cast of colorful characters, such Lola Tinidora and Lola Tidora, Nidora’s less intimidating, but equally demanding sisters, played by Jose Manalo and Paolo Ballesteros, respectively.
When a segment on a noontime variety show portraying the struggles of a man and a woman’s young romance against a controlling grandmother starts getting millions of viewers and stirs up a huge social media frenzy, one cannot help but wonder, what exactly makes this romance truly stand out? What does AlDub actually do, that it pulls in such a large amount of views and pushes ratings through the roof?
“It’s certainly something different,” says Gabriel del Rosario, a Sociology graduate from the University of Santo Tomas. “It comes up with a tried-and-tested formula for a romance, with young lovers separated by distance and a controlling ‘family element’ – Lola Nidora, which appeals to an older, more ‘traditional’ audience,” argues del Rosario, “but it also puts its own spin on that formula to appeal to a younger audience, with the funny jokes and Yaya Dub’s Dubsmash antics.” With a broader audience, coupled with a “focused, close-to-home theme,” AlDub actually charmed a lot of people, “even the ones that don’t watch teleseryes,” del Rosario reasons.
“I think what makes AlDub truly resonate with a lot of people is that it isn’t as far-fetched as most teleseryes,” muses del Rosario, “Sure, the elements from a generic teleserye love story are there, but its themes are grounded in reality – we actually see Alden going through the motions of a standard, real-life relationship, [with Alden] courting, meeting Maine’s grandparent(s), etcetera, unlike most teleseryes.”
“There isn’t a crazy-evil, greedy stepmother who cooks up an equally diabolical and convoluted plan to murder or separate the two,” states del Rosario, “There’s just Lola Nidora, the grandmother, who just wants Alden to actually put effort into courting her granddaughter, Yaya Dub … She may be somewhat exaggerated in some of her motivations, but she’s nothing compared to the larger-than-life characters from other teleseryes … you can’t exactly call her an antagonist, is what I’m saying – just a grandmother who wants the best for her granddaughter.”
“Other than that, there’s also the fact that it’s a feel-good show, like ABS-CBN’s Be Careful with My Heart,” del Rosario explains, “You see people who watch AlDub on YouTube after a day of work just to relax, as a way to get away from the day’s stress … The show gives out that vibe, it portrays that tone so well – with just a simple home, not a mansion, as a backdrop – and you can genuinely tell that the actors are having a good time, joking [and] laughing throughout the show.”
“I think that’s what truly makes AlDub the hit that it is – it styles itself as a kalyeserye, not a teleserye – a fresh, new take on the old-school teleserye formula, a genuinely funny and entertaining cast portraying easily-relatable characters, and a close-to-home, relaxing, feel-good theme,” concludes del Rosario.
Asked on what problems AlDub may face in the long run, del Rosario says that “They’ll probably need to make the story progress … to make it evolve and grow at some point, mahirap ‘yung puro ligawan lang [it’s difficult to just keep the story stuck on just the courtship]. I think they’re aware, and they’re heading in that direction, with the introduction of Lola Babah (Ai-Ai de las Alas) and Cindy (Alina Bogdanova). I just hope that they’ll know when to end the story and not just stretch it to ludicrous lengths.”
With such difficulties to face, and with a massive fan base eagerly awaiting the next development, this begs the question – what comes next in the following days, weeks, months, or perhaps even years, of the AlDub saga?
(J. A. S. Gavino is a senior student of Journalism at University of Santo Tomas.)
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