Gaya sa Pelikula a storytelling masterpiece of young, queer love

·3 min read

Have you ever watched a TV show or film and said to yourself, “I feel seen?” Globe Studios’ “Gaya Sa Pelikula” (“Like In The Movies”) aims to take back the story of the queer community and put pure young love at the forefront—it’s the love story we deserve to see.

In this web series directed by JP Habac and created and written by Juan Miguel Severo, architecture student Karl (Paolo Pangilinan) spends the semester break in his uncle’s condo while working as an online ghost writer to pay his dues. There, he meets Vlad (Ian Pangilinan), a film major and his next door neighbor who accidentally trespasses in his unit.

Although production was done amid quarantine, the story takes place in December 2018, making it a welcome reprieve from the pandemic-themed shows we’ve been seeing a lot lately. As the title suggests, “Gaya Sa Pelikula” pays tribute to several classic Filipino movies.

You can check out director JP Habac’s Instagram account for all the movie references made in the show.

Watching the first half of the series, “Gaya Sa Pelikula” seems to tick all the boxes one looks for in the boys’ love (BL) genre: two charming leads with palpable chemistry, a memorable meet-cute, endearing supporting characters, the works. But as the show picks up mid-season, it becomes so much more than just a tale of young budding love, but also a timely discussion on identity, family, allyship and social issues.

It’s important to point out the show’s unabashed effort to unpack and tackle microaggressions toward the queer community. Throughout the series, Vlad, who is openly gay, calls Karl out on several occasions like when he gestured with a limp wrist to ask if Vlad was gay and being reluctant to say the word “gay” as if it’s some kind of insult when it’s not, or saying “In fairness ha, hindi ka halata (In fairness, you’re not that obvious)” referring to Vlad’s gender expression as if it was a compliment. The show is filled with teachable moments that its viewers can learn from.

With the deluge of BL shows nowadays, it’s easy to put “Gaya Sa Pelikula” in that box. But while most BL shows (and rom-coms, in general) tend to tread the fan-serving, cookie-cutter “happy-ever-after” route, “Gaya Sa Pelikula” subverts the tried-and-tested tropes of the genre and makes something more out of the show: a social statement, a cultural impact on media, and representation of the queer community. It’s a universal and timeless story of love.

One noteworthy aspect of the show is the narrative arc of Karl. Contrary to the title, “Gaya Sa Pelikula” turns out to be not like the movies after all, at least not in the way you’d think. (Sorry, tiny spoiler!) More than finding romance, the lead finds love and acceptance in himself. The show goes for authenticity over fantasy and culminates in probably the most profound way.

Ultimately, “Gaya Sa Pelikula” is a slice of life, a beautiful, tender part of it. As it premiered on Netflix last month, “Gaya Sa Pelikula” is the second Pinoy BL series to be on the streaming platform following “Gameboys,” proving that it’s high time that these kinds of stories were told, seen and heard; that after all, boys’ love is, in fact, no different than any other kind of love—and as cliché as it sounds, love is love.

Karl and Vlad have begun to write their own stories. Are you ready to write yours? “Gaya Sa Pelikula” is now streaming on Netflix. All eight episodes are also available on Globe Studios’ YouTube channel.