Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Jade and Althea (The Rich Man's Daughter)
Are you, perhaps, in want of a solid soap opera with queer female characters who have a lot of feelings and potentially about each other? WELL THEN. May I humbly suggest checking out this little soap opera, the first prime time Filipino show to feature a lesbian couple, The Rich Man’s Daughter? I mean, I do, I do humbly suggest it.
Please, join me in spiraling into this delicious soapy drama. Let me introduce you to your new favorite ship:
Jade is the only daughter and favorite child of the Tanchingcos, a prominent Chinese Filipino family that’s firmly rooted in tradition. Likes: her family (especially her grandmother), dancing, traveling, and maybe Althea. Dislikes: heights.

Althea is the wedding planner for Jade’s brother, Gabe, and his fiance, Pearl. Likes: dressing up, her dog, her father, heights, and Jade. Dislikes: abandonment and betrayal.

Jade and Althea first lock eyes during Gabe and Pearl’s wedding, when Jade is walking down the aisle as part of the wedding procession. They both immediately feel a connection. Later, they have a series of run-ins that escalate into friendship that escalates into something more complicated. Jade is set to marry David, a member of another prominent Chinese Filipino family, and their eventual marriage is foretold to bring great fortune to both families. David, as far as I can tell, enjoys being a Nice Guy and looking worried while wearing collared shirts.
This may sound familiar, and that’s because The Rich Man’s Daughter is basically the TV offspring of Imagine Me & You and I Can’t Think Straight. It has everything: a fraught dinner invitation initiated by a somewhat clueless boyfriend, an extended dance break, Really Significant Hand-Touching, an engagement that must go on, tense family politics, declarations of attraction amidst spontaneous confetti showers, and, of course, several lovers’ theme songs that are incongruous with the rest of the soundtrack and play twice as loud as any other music cue. At one point, the line, “Love is an unstoppable force” is uttered. It is a buffet of tropes. A rompery of queer rom-com and angst-fest cliches. Plus, y’all, their chemistry is amazing. They are a study in smittenhood:
HOW CUTE IS THAT? Remember, though, this is a good ol’ fashioned soap opera, so there’s plenty at stake that moves very quickly. The Tanchingcos are a traditional, patriarchal family, one that’s very concerned with saving face. Disobedience — such as having an unapproved relationship, especially a queer one — will certainly be met with shame and familial dishonor, if not disownment. (Here’s a spoileriffic breakdown of how this particular family stacks up against other families.) Jade’s other brother, Paul, nurses a grudge against her and expositionally threatens to ruin her whenever he gets a chance. Meanwhile, Jade still feels this connection to Althea! What does it all mean? How will she reconcile it with her family? Why is she making the choices she is making?!?

Glaiza de Castro and Rhian Ramos

If you’re not enticed yet, know that I watched every episode so far in a 48-hour span, and I had to pause multiple times in order to yell “OH MY GOD” out loud to my empty room. It inspires that many feelings. Please, if nothing else, go have a watch (a kind soul has uploaded all the episodes so far with English subtitles) and come back here to yell with me about how over-the-top it is.

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