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With ‘My Husband’s Lover,’ GMA pushes the prime-time envelope

LAST night, June 10, prime-time viewing got turned on its head as GMA again seeks to redefine this premium time block the way it once did with such unexpected—and ultimately game-changing and successful—offerings as Mulawin in 2004 and Etheria in 2005.

This time, however, the Kapuso Network is doing away with the winged creatures and the other supernatural characters, along with the fantastical landscapes they typically inhabit. Instead, it is grounding its latest prime-time drama in the here and now while exploring familiar themes of love and betrayal and isolation and longing in ways that are audacious, particularly for a medium that has long gone stale—a boldness unheard of not only in local prime-time TV but also in how central the dramatic paradigm shift is to its latest offering.

That offering is, of course, My Husband’s Lover, which now airs weeknights in the timeslot formerly occupied by Love & Lies, and is third offering in the Kapuso Network’s prime-time drama trifecta. Headlined by the multiawarded Dennis Trillo, Carla Abellana and new Kapuso dreamboat Tom Rodriguez, the series tells the story of Vincent (Rodriguez), a young man from a well-to-do family who gets his girlfriend Lally (Abellana) pregnant, and they decide to marry despite the stern objections of his mother Elaine (Kuh Ledesma). Out of her love for her husband, Lally endures the cool disapproval of her mother-in-law.

By the time Lally gives birth to their second child, however, Vincent has turned cold and distant toward her. Unknown to Lally, her husband has been keeping a secret from her: his homosexuality, something that Vincent has repressed out of fear of destroying his family, but which he ultimately finds increasingly difficult to suppress, especially after he accidentally crosses paths with Eric (Trillo), his college friend who became—and still is—Vincent’s great love.

GMA’s new drama is a variation of a story that one has heard over and over on dramas culled from real-life stories on AM radio—of anonymous men wracked by guilt and self-loathing for having to live the so-called secret life, seeking from a medium the clarity that perhaps never arrives; of anonymous women stricken with grief and anger after discovering themselves unwittingly involved in a love triangle from which they apparently can’t emerge triumphant. From an original concept by Suzette Doctolero, My Husband’s Lover is a story about love and homosexuality and the lies that become perpetuated by stifling social conventions.

Dominic Zapata, the director behind My Husband’s Lover, acknowledges the high-wire act that he and his team of actors and production people need to perform in telling what is GMA’s most daring prime-time drama to date. “Of course you have to be mindful of the limitations of the medium in which you are telling this story, and at the same time you want to be true to the very human and oftentimes very painful realities that these characters represent,” said the director during the media briefing hosted recently by GMA for the drama. “I can only be thankful that I have a cast that is equally committed to telling this story in the best way we can.”

For his part, Tom Rodriguez, a hunk of dusky gorgeousness who has shown that there is more to him than drop-dead good looks (he won raves for his title turn in Atlantis Productions’ musical presentation Aladdin), said that while he has had offers to play a similar character in independent cinema, “this character that I play in My Husband’s Lover is so compelling that I overcame my earlier reservations and I really sought the part. I gladly auditioned for it, and you can’t imagine my thrill when I found out that I had gotten the role.”

With mere days to go before the drama’s premiere, the actor said at the media call: “We’re all well aware this is a totally different drama that we are doing, but from what I have learned in researching for my character, the dreams and aspirations that gay people have, and the emotional struggles they go through are no different from the heterosexual experience—but of course things are more difficult for them because of all the social biases that exist. I am hopeful that audiences will give My Husband’s Lover a chance.” Rodriguez has been signed by GMA to an exclusive multi-year contract.

No doubt, the Kapuso Network appreciates as well the challenges it faces with its new prime-time drama. As we write this, just hours before My Husband’s Lover makes its debut, we have received word that for the first time ever, GMA and the stars of the drama will doing live-tweets for the show as it unfolds. Perhaps a sign of the good future that lies ahead, the show has been approved without cuts by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, albeit with an “SPG” or “Strong Parental Guidance” rating. The prime-time drama also stars Karel Marquez, Victor Basa, Kevin Santos, Pancho Magno and esteemed veterans Chanda Romero, Glydel Mercado, Roi Vinzon and Kuh Ledesma.

Perhaps even more fortuitous: My Husband’s Lover comes to TV screens in June, and as any gay worth his tiara or her Prada will tell you, this is of course LGBT Pride Month.


In Photo: The Kapuso Network’s latest prime-time drama, My Husband’s Lover is headlined by (from left) the multiawarded Dennis Trillo, Carla Abellana and new GMA dreamboat Tom Rodriguez.


 

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