Show’s potential for depth compromised from the start
When the unique talent and personality tilt, “That’s My Tomboy,” started telecasting as a regular portion on the “It’s Showtime” noontime show, it caused quite a stir because it was the first time that a local TV show was featuring professed lesbians.
We wished the novel tilt well because it could provide a showcase for a seldom highlighted sector of society, and perhaps lead to more understanding of, and greater liberation for, its members.
After some weeks, however, we noted that the tomboys selected to compete reflected a limited range of lesbians, mostly of the young, cute and boy-next-door sort.
Was this done to make the tilt appeal to young female viewers, who are said to make up the majority of the local TV audience? Whatever the motivation, the “young and boyishly cute” (sometimes sort of pilyo) template continued to hold sway for the most part, which is why the tilt’s finalists were pretty much the same.
More significantly, while the Q&A portion occasionally delved into issues related to gender choice and differences in chosen lifestyles, many of the questions were of the superficial and entertaining sort, so real illumination was not usually to be had.
We know that TV has to be diverting rather than somberly instructive to keep viewers watching, what with the giddy competition on the other channels. But, the issue of alternative gender choice is so complicated that the simplistically “fun” approach ended up as a relative cop-out.
Of course, the fact that the tilt was being conducted on noontime TV, when many youngsters are watching, implicitly limits the depth and complexity of its content and treatment. The awareness of this inherent limitation should have made the producers opt for a much later time slot, to do better justice to its great potential to instruct and illuminate. But, the decision was made to hold the tilt on noontime, so its potential for genuine depth was compromised from the start.
Given this limitation, the finals week occasionally illuminated viewers about the lesbian lifestyle and its attendant issues and conflicts—particularly when some finalists dared to honestly and emotionally express some of their deepest and most conflicted feelings.
Major human need
Particularly forthcoming and moving in her sharing was finalist Zai, who recalled a painful confrontation with a hurt and angry relative about her “difficult but necessary” decision to “out” herself.
At the height of the searing exchange of protestations and recriminations, Zai recalled with great emotion how she pleaded for understanding, “Nagpapakatotoo lang po ako!”
Indeed, the great need to be honest about one’s sexuality is a major human need that fairly cries out for “illuminated” understanding, especially from the people who matter most to the “professing” gender-bender.
Why is this so? Because sexuality is among our deepest and most defining components; if it isn’t honestly resolved and expressed, psychological wholeness is compromised.
All told, “That’s My Tomboy” ended its run with some (but not enough) truly instructive points scored. We trust that producers will follow up with another show, perhaps of the forum, documentary or dramatization mode, that will tackle difficult gender-choice issues more seriously and comprehensively—definitely on a much later time slot!
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