The TV serial gets a makeover


Perky, wholesome and unashamedly earnest, last year’s Metro Manila Filmfest entry The Boy Foretold by The Stars is something of a landmark in local LGBTQ cinema.  A high-school romance with a nod to Korean and Thai romcoms that dominated the early 2000s, it ticks all the boxes of the genre. Except that the central character, Dominic (Adrian Lindayag), is an effeminate gay who, with the prodding of a manghuhula, is on the lookout for three signs to find his soulmate. Of course, a lot of things, some funny but many touching moments, happen before he happily ends up with his “real” love, Luke (Keann Johnson), and just like that, an alternative gay narrative is written. One that doesn’t end in inevitable heartbreak and suffering, or one involving a macho dancer in some seedy gigolo bar.

Directed by Dolly Dulu, this is mainstream cinema with mass appeal. It may be “disguised” as a film under the BL genre but just like any other romantic comedy, The Boy Foretold by the Stars is warm, reassuring and relatable to a whole generation of viewers.                

Now, Dreamscape Entertainment seeks to recapture this lightning in a bottle to a sequel series. Titled Love Beneath the Stars, the series betrays little of what it promises to be. It looks and feels like a BL series, packed with the tropes of the genre. That also happens to be why it stands out and works rather well as the local BL genre is now muddled by movies and series featuring extreme drama and even soft-core porn that something like Love Beneath The Stars, following the real BL formula, sticks out like a sore thumb.

In Love Beneath The Stars, Dominic and Luke’s love story continues as they are now officially senior high school students and, more importantly, officially they are a couple. Things start out fine but Dominic’s deepening friendship with a schoolmate will cause tension. Then there’s the meddling school officials who are gagged by the fact that Duke (that’s a mashup of “Dominic” and “Luke” for you) shared a kiss in the graduation ball of their all-boys, ultra-conservative school. But there’s more trouble as Dominic’s parents do not like their son having a boyfriend because of the shame it brings to the family.

Watching the first episode of the series, one would admire the creatives behind it as they do not simply recycle the plot of the movie into some expanded serial. While keeping the world of the story, they also reach beyond into new themes, all the while keeping intact its young, Gen Z, BL genre intact. 

Love Beneath The Stars is not seeking to reinvent the wheel of BL or young romance in entertainment. What it should be commended for is how it uses the genre to touch on themes some other shows would have fled from. It isn’t playing it safe so much as using a safe style to delve into more complex territory. Teenage life is by nature always going to feel more melodramatic.

Nowadays, the mantra of love wins is everywhere and we are constantly being told that love is everything and that one should always fight for it, but what’s most poignant about this series is that even in these seemingly more progressive times, being yourself rarely feels easy or safe.

Love Beneath the Stars is being streamed on premium iWantTFC in the Philippines and worldwide.

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