There’s no escaping #AlDub now. Whether our SNL-loving taste likes it or not, Eat Bulaga’s Kalye Serye is coming for us like a noontime TV mass that disrupts our eating rituals. (See: that time social media exploded when the couple met in the flesh, and lunch was forgotten.) There’s a fanatic devotion to this skit, and you know it’s real when your Veep-watching kind of friend shamelessly tweets #AlDubSeeYouAgain.
When a Facebook post gets numerous likes for a momentary #Aldub outburst or when Twitter announces its worldwide trends and this loveteam lands on the #3 spot (take notes, KathNiel), it’s hard to keep snubbing. But when you start caring, that’s when you’ll get it—its humor, its viral factor, and I dare say, its rebellious genius.
Boy sees girl
I was among you skeptical folk. The first time I saw it on TV, I kept thinking how a weird couple flirting stupidly on the screen could ever pass as comic. Alden “Bae Alden” Richards lip syncs to that god damn awful Brandon Beal song over and over, thinking his dimples would save his reputation (which it did), while Maine “Yayadub” Mendoza flares her nostrils to look wackily ugly (which she doesn’t). Comedian Wally Bayola plays Lola Nidora in full drag, teasing Yayadub’s, his personal nanny’s, flirtatious tendencies.
What I thought was a senseless skit was actually another day unfolding in an improvised teleserye that does away with a formal script. This was the accidental soap opera of onscreen lovers getting by their long-distance relationship, with an employer who’s not so happy about it. It’s a fictional story on virtual dating—a narrative so familiar like the Viber alert tone that rings hauntingly in our heads.
A show that wants to have fun
The serye works with a relatable theme and packages it as slapstick comedy. But its stars’ antics are hardly funny; it’s tired at the very least. I mean, if I had to keep on doing goofy faces at the camera—oh God, imagine later years’ wrinkles!—I’d literally be spent. Even Maine was at some point.
Instead, it gathers humor from the formula it subverts. Unlike romantic yaya series where a predictable plot is placed on the cliché tray, the #AlDub serye is comprised of borrowed lines and sound bites taken from pop culture’s library of feels. Surprisingly, it works—both as a humorous reference and as a clever jab at how rehearsed our #hugot moments can sometimes be.
But what I think sets it apart is the real-time reaction allowed here. Eat Bulaga’s hosts serve as our mouthpiece—for when Lola does something cruel, when Alden flirts on cam, when Yayadub starts lip syncing to a song a millisecond too late. They play along with the scene, at the same time calling out the characters for their slightest quirk or mistake. The characters may interact with them, making the whole thing more random than it already is. And I have to say—I enjoyed it.
Above the rest
The thing with Filipino comedy—to me, at least—is that it makes little effort to do more than make people laugh. Our humor is creative. (Tell me, what other culture could’ve compared your bitterness with pastillas-making? None? Okay.) But it stops at being relieving, comforting, short-lived.
The kalye serye is accessible to markets in need of both a reality and an escape—which is actually all of us here. It depicts a world where lovers still take the Romeo and Juliet route, while it also alludes to the truth that some people do have unfulfilled online romances. So yes, it speaks to you and your Tinder fling.
It also helps that the serye is self-aware. It is at times self-deprecating, so unafraid to laugh at its faults that it becomes a parody of itself. It doesn’t make fun of you—unlike most Filipino jokes—but it laughs at the grander scheme of other ridiculous things. It’s this step up from the original game that we’ve always needed, anyway.
Art by Dorothy Guya