Sunday, May 24, 2015

30 Stereotypical Pinoy Teleserye Elements

Most Filipinos love watching soap operas, colloquially "Teleseryes" on TV. The only bad thing nowadays is that their stories and elements get all too stereotypical and predictable, losing art for money (but then again, mainstream is usually the non-artistic side of the industry but oh well).

With that said, here are 30 Stereotypical Pinoy Teleserye Elements that you'd most likely encounter in any Fililipno soap opera.

1. Romeo and Juliet love story - you know, that on-screen couple starting out as childhood friends but gets divided because of a family feud of rich vs. poor. Biggest example: "Pangako Sa 'yo" (A Promise to You). Important note: I've actually been a fan of this when I was a kid, but this formula's been repeated in almost every soap opera on TV and it's kind of annoying.

2. Love triangles - what's a soap opera without love triangles? This is the classic kind of thing that, even since I was a kid, would automatically make me want to squirm and smash the TV when the 3rd party whore shows up. The thing about Teleserye romance today? They exceed the triangles and turn into hexagons - enough for my brain to have a meltdown.

3. Rags-to-riches story - who doesn't love a classic rags-to-riches story, considering most Pinoys get their strength from such story elements? I'm okay with this kind of story element, provided that there is as little romance and verbal abuse as possible, because I'm not very good with that.

4. Family issues - as the Filipinos are known for being close-knitted with family ties, this is something I can bear, but I just don't like how it's being repeated in every Teleserye as a recurring plot. But yeah, come to think of it, it's one good marketing strategy since everyone can "relate".

5. Teenage / Single moms - not sure if this is just to make people aware of the sufferings of single moms or to subconsciously imprint in women's minds that being a single mom is great and you should chew on guys right and left then become a single mom as well.

6. School crushes / School romance - I must very old to dislike this.

7. Someone dies / Cemetery scene - "and hereforth I shall have my revenge on thy soul!" says a character who attended a funeral, screaming into the heavens and promising heavy payback. I think what should be added to such generic scenes is the sudden intrusion of goons shooting guns, like those you see from FPJ and old action films. Then the hero can take his/her revenge right away.

8. Business tycoon / Politician - a subtle middle finger towards our capitalistic and dirty society today. No words needed.

9. Ambitious trash - roughly same as the previous one. It's usually the primmadona biatch who's all up in her high horse, dressed in velvet clothes and comes to shout at maids and steal the main girl's lover. Said heroine confronts that biatch and all hell breaks lose. Classic as hell.

10. Childhood friendship / relationship - yep, you'll see this in nearly every romantic drama, or comedy drama for that matter. Childhood friends grow up and grow apart and get thrown in a Romeo and Juliet situation. I'm waiting for the day when a "teleserye" is finally taking the form of plot similarly found in shonen anime like Ghost Fighter, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Fairy Tail and more importantly, Voltes V. Forget the special effects problem - just a good friendship plot is fine. (insert big rant against the stupid concept of friendzoning here)

11. Poverty / Society today - same reason with the politician / business thing. Although, it's a good thing that teleseryes aren't always making it look like "overrated poverty indie porn" due to MTRCB constraints.

12. Artist debuts / comebacks - you know those "new Teleseryes" where they introduce certain new superstars or celebrities, actors and actresses? What if I told you that such soaps could just have been specifically made to test or promote the new celebs? Same goes with comeback artists.

13. Generic characters - with emphasis on the actor himself / actress herself and not on the character. Nearly all Filipino Teleseryes revolve around stereotypical situations that are as typical as real life, just to be marketable, despite being monotonous. While we see The Walking Dead characters as characters, we see romance teleseryes here as actors and not even characters, which is why our teleseryes don't have a strong and solid fandom at all - it's all about celebrity fandom instead.

14. Includes any hint of romance on title - so let it be written, so let it be done. Proclaim that stupidity called "friendzone" in which every person is required to be with his or her "special one" just to be accepted in this forsaken world or else they will be left alone, rotting in a nursing home due to cervical or prostate cancer.

15. Song title as the title - does the theme song ring a bell? Ask your mom, dad or older brother or sister - you might know that the song is not only a revival, but also the title of the series! Companies make a really big investment to pay for copyright stuff, not because they are out of ideas, but because they are finding quick ways to cater the masses and earn more big bucks.

16. Revival of an old soap - same reason as the previous one.

17. Prisons / frame-ups / very small action scenes - those scenes that give you that old action film vibe, ala FPJ or Rudy Fernandez style. However, of course, not every director would want to waste tons on cinematography tricks, stunt doubles, blah blah blah. We have to keep a tight budget and sacrifice cinematography because it's just going to be a crappy little commercial TV show.

18. Big-ass mansion or hacienda - it's in every teleserye and you can't deny it. No explanation needed.

19. National tour - done for every new soap that's being a big hit or just starting out. Chances are, you'll mostly see them do mall shows (mostly in SM Supermalls or local malls) only to mingle with fans and not even talk about the stereotypical plot of their soap.

20. Diva-pop soundtrack - which is either a stereotypical original song or a revival of an old song (revivals are most common because Filipinos love to recycle things).

21. Comedian - chances are, you'll get a comedy bar professional or two, even in a serious Teleserye. It's something to break the ice, which is good.

22. Show the whole plot in the trailer - this is very common in every teleserye that I've seen, and it sounds really kind of dumb, but it's true. While it's a good way to let your fans know what the plot is, giving away too much is really not a good idea and will cause you to lose audience.

23. Import revival of a foreign soap - you've probably seen Korean and Spanish soaps be remade into Filipino Teleseryes. Great, more recycling, I guess. (Important note, I grew up in the Rosalinda/Thalia era so that one's an exception, because it was the first).

24. Confrontation scenes - you can't have a Teleserye without this! It's also the very reason I don't want to watch Teleseryes in the fear of accidentally smashing the TV with my bare hands. I'm sorry, but that's just me. If ever I was an actress and I received such humiliation and bullshit talk, I'd probably table-slam whoever the hell is talking big (I'm more sensitive to verbal abuse than physical abuse). Again, that's just me. (I was going to mention the famous one from Bituing Walang Ningning but that was a movie, nevermind).

25. Modern-day cultural references - whatever big is on the news is most likely to appear on the teleserye. Did some government people end up in jail? Did something happen overseas? Whatever there is, people are going to put it in the teleserye like hashtags.

26. Seasonal references - this is a good element, though. For instance, they put up a Christmas scene on the teleserye by December. However, only long teleseryes like Pangako sa'yo and May Bukas Pa have the right to such privileges.

27. Religious values / issues - you've probably seen "May Bukas Pa" (There's Still Hope), and the successors: "Momay", "Lorenzo's Time" (this is a sci-fi one based from Benjamin Button but it was kind of okay), and the recent "Nathaniel". Ah, sticking to the working formula, perhaps? (Important note: May Bukas Pa may have been a sort-off ripoff from a Mexican/Spanish show but it's pretty good IMHO, and Zaijian is adorable).

28. Same plot / cast as a previous big-shot - I'm emphasizing those teleseryes that were shown in succession and have similar actors/actresses. For example, Zaijian Jaranilla's May Bukas Pa, Lorenzo's Time and also Xyriel Manabat's Momay, 100 Days to Heaven, but nonetheless, I love these two kids. The only thing is that their TV station seems to be only using kids a lot for big-shot teleserye attempts. Even if they do have the necessary papers, training, parents' consent and such, it still smells like a very very subtle form of child labor, sad to say. Well, I do like kiddie teleseryes over love triangle and lust for power bullshit, that's for sure.

29. Walling - yeah, I'm talking about Ryzza's walling term that has existed in Teleseryes for years. Ryzza (and Ai Ai) just made it more of a comical act. For those who don't know, walling refers to a person crying, screaming and leaning on the wall on the state of depression and lament.

30. Running in the fields / hills - nearly every Teleserye trailer and intro I've seen involves any of the characters running in a field of green grass on top of a hill or mountain! Very typically common for romance plots.

BONUS: Text promo - this is perhaps one of the easiest ways to earn money back, considering how much it took them to tape their scenes. But to be honest, taping drama, romance and slice-of-life is nothing compared to sci-fi, horror, fantasy, action and other genres.


Pinoy Teleseryes seem to be the best, cheapest and easiest way to earn money for actors, actresses and TV stations, without having to hire great writers just to fool average-type audiences. Well, we live in a money-driven world, so it's no surprise. The same is true with commercial rom-com films (specifically Star Cinema and sometimes Viva too), but that's another topic.

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