Victims of their own successBy Nestor U. Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
What is it about acting in teleseryes that compromises and ruins the work of even the best actors we have?
The question hangs over the TV drama scene like Damocles’ sword—and when it drops, as it all too often does, some carefully built-up careers and reputations lie in shambles.
Some possible factors: Teleseryes profess or pretend to be dramas, but they’re actually only melodramas that go for black-and-white characterizations, exaggeratedly emotional scenes, confusing complications, high-strung, “operatic” portrayals, and emotionalizing—not to further develop theme or character, but for their own sake.
In addition, there are cliché situations, relationships and performance flourishes to observe—again for their own sake.
For one thing, many teleseryes go for incredible “birth conundrums,” like this baby being switched in the maternity ward for that one, resulting years later in one person actually being the other! Or, a boy and a girl fall in love, only to realize with a shock that they’re actually siblings mysteriously separated in childhood!
Other cliché “requirements” include evil parents or stepparents, rich classmates or relatives who make life a living hell for the bida— and the deathless revenge motive that makes former victims think up horrific plots to get back at their oppressors.
Given these knee-jerk rules and regulations, it’s no wonder that even the best actors come up with frustratingly pat, predictable, and yet also far-out portrayals, done not to share a key insight into human nature, but only for effect.
To make matters worse, some successful teleseryes end up as victims of their own success, because they get extended, sometimes for months beyond their intended run, so new characters are introduced, and old ones are made to do bizarre things.
If you’re an actor in such a hit show and are required to act against your character’s established nature, how in the world can you sustain the artistic integrity and forms of your portrayal?
That’s why formerly subtle or “deep” performers come up with bad work, because they have to jazz up their portrayal.
They’re made to believe that subtle insights won’t be understood by the not very bright viewers, so they end up semaphoring their emotional signals and wearing their wounded hearts on their sleeves, for all the world to see and understand.
Most unfortunate of all are the formerly gifted actors who are cast in fantasy-dramas, where they have to play really weird characters, like a fine thespian who had to portray a combination of human and carabao!
He was a really gifted and experienced veteran with a number of awards to his name, but all he could do was weep as he tried vainly to make that implausible and even impossible combination come off.
He consoled himself with the fact that he was getting paid a ton of money to subvert his talent, but it still wasn’t enough.
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