Number 4 in today’s list of trending shows on Netflix is No Boyfriend Since Birth directed by Jose Javier Reyes, starring Carla Abellana as Carina and Tom Rodriguez as Carlo. Wedding planner Carina has been secretly in love with campus hunk Carlo since high school, which has been over a decade now. In the first few scenes the major conflict is quickly established: for all the weddings she has successfully organized, she has never been in a relationship herself. The two high school classmates eventually lost contact, but she encounters him again during a wedding. Throughout the movie Carina is led to Carlo in a crowd because she recognizes his characteristic cackling. Carlo cackles a lot, like this short, baritone laugh that is just released into the atmosphere and is not really directed at anything. He just cackles a-ha-ha-hah! a-ha-ha-hah!, and then Carina is able to find him.
Many rom-com tropes we have come to memorize, roll our eyes at, and secretly love are here, and finally Carina admits to Carlo that she wants to be more than friends! Carlo apologizes to her for being dense, tells her that he is flattered, that she is super beautiful, but that she will find somebody who deserves her love and attention– ie, the well-established format on how to tell somebody that you are not romantically interested. Which suddenly makes the dynamic interesting: the boy is not into her. At all. Is this a sequel of My Husband’s Lover? Is there a twist? Is there…
Two very short scenes later, they are married. The end. It’s like there are missing scenes that led to the wedding reception. No usual habulan through the crowd all the way to the airport. No counseling by the dad (who is always Al Tantay) that leads to a realization. None of the cliche denouement devices, but there is no twist either. Eric does not spring out of nowhere so we can chorus, “Sya… si beh?!”
Speaking of beh, I’ve recently read What If It’s Us, a young adult book written by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera. Becky Albertalli wrote Simon VS The Homo Sapiens Agenda, which was turned into the fun movie Love, Simon. I’ve read Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not, which, for a Young Adult novel, has a pretty bleak ending. What If It’s Us is about high school students Ben and Arthur who meet in the New York Post Office, go on many dates, fight, apologize, fall in love, fight, apologize, the end. This novel lacks an adult character that older readers like me can identify with, someone who will tell the kids that their problems are not real problems. I’m kidding. Of course their problems are real, valid, and need attention, but if there’s anything that should remind me that I am no longer a “young adult”, it’s that I’ve been cringing at the things that Arthur and Ben cry over. I’m not being judgmental, Arthur and Ben must also find their problems trivial, because they are able to resolve these problems by themselves in just a few pages. 400 pages in, I kept on hoping that something exciting would happen. Like Ben would out himself… as an android. Like he is openly gay, but in the closet for being an artificial life form. Nothing. They go to college. *Spoilers*- when Arthur goes to college, he starts kissing other boys. I guess they’re trying to get a feel if there’s potential for a sequel.
One more thing I was not able to identify with were all the references to the musical Hamilton. There’s a lot of those in this book. A lot. If anything, they make me want to somehow watch the musical if given another chance. I had an opportunity to watch it back in 2017. I was alone, cold, and looking for something to do in Chicago. I found a vacant seat online, and discovered that it was… 500 USD! It was also the day that Wonder Woman was released. So I watched Wonder Woman in the AMC cinema instead, for 20 USD (greasy hamburger and drink included), then watched Aladdin the musical also for 20 dollars. Tipid!