I fell in love with Gameboys right off the first episode, faster than the lead character Cairo could say PLAY to being wooed which set off the story of the series. In just a little over 10 minutes it was already apparent that the show is something special, not just in comparison with shows of the same genre, but even compared to the near-endless list of shows available online for streaming.
Gameboys is headlined by Elijah Canlas (Kalel 15, LSS, Edward, Sundalong Kanin) who plays Cairo and Kokoy de Santos (Fuccbois, Tumbang Preso) as Gavreel. Both actors have acclaimed performances in festival movies in the past and have been acting since they were kids. Meanwhile, the supporting cast Adriana So (Pearl) and Kyle Velino (Terrence) are regulars in local television shows. This is important to note because the quality of performances in Gameboys sets it apart from the other local BL (Boys Love) series that were produced and released during the same period.
The show benefits from a well-written screenplay by Ash Malanum (Unforgettable, Kiko Boksingero), set design by Nestor Abrogena Jr. (Mananaggal sa Unit 23B) which effectively creates a believable personality for the characters, and a soundtrack that you can play on a loop for days. These are all put together with ease by Ivan Andrew Payawal (I America) to create a contemporary story that does not feel confined by the limitations of its medium.
LOVE IS LOVE
In a recent online forum for PRIDE, Kokoy de Santos said that he treats his roles the same way whether the character is gay or straight because “Love has no gender.” In a separate interview, Elijah said, “I’ve always been a firm believer of people having the right to love in all ways.” I think this is key to understand and appreciate Gameboys. The story is not weighed down by defining the characters based on their preferences but at the same time, it also underscores the importance of accepting who you are. That both lead stars get that and actually speak for this kind of love is an added bonus.
Within the series, interviews, or its supplemental social media accounts, the actors/creators of the show also educate (without being preachy) about consent, equality, and the breaking of the ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ mold in a same-sex relationship that are remnants of the heteronormativity propagated by the BL genre.
REEL VS REAL
With limited promotions during a pandemic, a series like Gameboys has to rely on social media presence to spread word about the show. I’d imagine that it is now also benefiting from a lot of word of mouth and coverages online credited mainly to the quality of the show itself. We also see the leads gamely blur the line between reel and real and “flirt” in real life sending fans to a frenzy.
WHAT ELSE IS IN STORE
Gameboys is slated to have 10 web episodes, six of which are now up on YouTube. A movie is being planned according to this article in the Philippine Star. A spin-off GL (Girls Love) series entitled Pearl Next Door is also in the works. Click and subscribe here to watch all episodes.