Single/Single’s lonely hearts club

Pepe Diokno (The Philippine Star) - May 13, 2016 - 10:00am

It is one in the morning on the set of the second season of The Philippine STAR’s teleserye, Single/Single. I yell “cut!” on the penultimate scene for the day, and ask my stars, Matteo Guidicelli and Shaina Magdayao, to join me for a little chat. We walk through the corridors of our set,  and we ended up in the dining room of the condo unit that their characters used to share. “This feels familiar,” Matteo says with a wry smile. It has been six months since we wrapped season one, and our final day in this exact same spot had everybody pissed-out drunk.

Single/Single is not the usual project — though on its face, it may seem like it. The many who’ve only heard about the show in passing may get the sense that it’s another boy-meets-girl affair, but on set and on screen, something different lies beneath. Maverick producers The Philippine STAR and Cinema One gave a team of independent filmmakers a platform on TV with the directives to be dirty, to be real, and to push the envelope. The result is something that takes the rom-com to unchartered territory: A show that teaches millennials #HowToAdult, with all the harsh realities that come with it.

Our second season premieres on Cinema One tomorrow (Sunday, 10 p.m., with replays on Wednesdays and Sundays at 9 p.m., and free streaming on philstartv.com), so here we were, Shaina, Matteo and I, sitting down for this Supreme cover story in a fake living room that feels so much like home. We opened a bottle of wine and shot-the-sh*t about where we’re headed. Here is our conversation.

Pepe Diokno (PD): I think we all came into this expecting, ah okay, rom-com. Boy meets girl. And they fall in love —

Shaina Magdayao (SM): Not really.

PD: Really? What were you expecting?

SM: Whenever I would do projects, I ask, “Sino ‘yung director?” and I usually know what it’s gonna be like. You guys were really new to me. Knowing that I was going to star with Matteo though… Actually sa inyo, hindi talaga ako nagdalawang-isip but then nu’ng sinabing si Matteo.. F***. (Laughs.)

Matteo GuidicellI (MG): Thanks ha.

PD: But seriously, what was the moment, during shooting where you went, okay, this show’s different?

SM: When I read the script and asked (writer) Lilit Reyes, “Do you really want me to say ‘pussy’ on TV?”(Author’s note: Shaina did say “pussy” on TV.)

MG: I thought it was gonna be another show to me. But when we went on set, when you directed us, you made me feel very free. Along the way, I found so much of me that’s inside my character — the way we speak, etcetera. Joey Boy lives in the same society as I do.

PD: Looking at your characters (nicknames Joey Boy and of Joee Girl), what is one criticism that you’d have of them?

SM: She’s so selfish. Especially this season. As in. She loves herself to a fault. Grabe ‘yung self-love niya.

MG: Last season, Joee Girl was really maarte with her feelings. She was like a girl, a typical girl. It was obvious that Joey and Joee liked each other. Why couldn’t she just try?

SM: She wasn’t ready nga!

MG: But, come on. That’s what girls are, e. They’re so complicated. They analyze everything more than it should be.

PD: I was actually asking you to criticize your own characters, Joey Boy, not Joee Girl. (Laughs)

MG: Ah, Joey Boy! (Laughs.) Joey Boy. Last season, he was just very happy-go-lucky. He’d just do whatever he wanted. But this season, he starts being more like Matteo. Does that make sense? He finds direction in his life and he’s going towards that direction.

SM: Parang feeling ko vulnerable na siya, si Matteo. Ay, not si Matteo. Si Joey Boy.

MG: Yeah. One of my pegs is my friend. He’s this macho guy that brings out all this stuff. Inside, he’s really soft. You know, alam mo ‘yun.

PD: Things that you said, masyadong madaming self-love, happy-go-lucky, are that things that you would say are, parang, indicative of our generation? Millennials?

SM: Millennials, ‘di ba, sabi nila, masyadong mahal ang sarili? Pero okay naman ‘yun, e. It’s also nice na you prioritize yourself but si Joee Girl, to a fault na, e. ‘Yung she’s keeping a man for convenience and she’s avoiding the real love? Gano’n. It’s not nice naman.

PD: What to you, in the last season, was the surprising scene that we did?

MG: That we didn’t end up together. Kasi the typical story that we would normally get as a Filipino viewer, kailangang magkatuluyan ‘yung dalawa. It’s the happy ending, it’s the fairytale ending. But then, thank you for fighting for the ending we had.

SM: Actually ang daming na-sad, ‘di ba. Check! Meron na naman kaming second season.

PD: For me it was actually like Benny’s scene with the Grindr hookup and the drug sex party. I was surprised that we got to do that. Or to show Cherie Gil in bed with a younger man. And now, we open season two with a baby and the whole cast shouting, “Sex!”

SM: Akala ko... hindi niyo ba inaano ‘yun. I...tooooot?

PD: No, why should we?

MG: Really? My God! I love this show.

PD: Another thing that surprised me is that we were able to do the financial advocacy that The Philippine STAR asked us to do. We talk about savings and investing, staying away from scams, work-life balance, taking care of yourself…

SM: That’s what I like about this show also to the point that I tell my pamangkins to watch our show, ha. Yung characters natin, they’re human. Meron silang flaws, we make mistakes, but at the same time, we show them the consequences.

PD: Looking forward to season two. A lot has changed. A lot will change. What has it been so far in recent shootings we’ve had that surprise you?

MG: Oh, my God! First, when ******* died. (Author’s note: Name has been redacted for suspense.) That made me think the hardest.

SM: I haven’t seen the finished episodes so I still don’t know how you’re gonna do it. We did a lot of fast-forward stuff, a lot of talking to the camera stuff. I’m very excited to see how this is going to be.

PD: Where do you want to see this go?

MG: Can I start? Because I have something to say. I want this to be seen by people. I always get shocked whenever I get told, “Hey Joey!” And I’m like, you watch Joey? Alam mo ‘yun? I’m always shocked. I really hope this year, we can attract more people.

SM: And we make a film! As an actor, I don’t know where it’s gonna go, I don’t know where I want it to go. I trust you because you guys surprise me all the time. I’m always excited to read the script.

PD: I always wanted this to be bigger than Joey-Joee, and the barkada. That people watch, and they get the friendship, you get the relationship, but more than that, they also learn something about themselves. And I really have learned, actually, honestly, watching you guys.

MG: Maybe that’s why people are watching. It’s not just about us, it’s also about them. So yes to more seasons! Or next few films!

* * *

The author is the director of Single/Single. Tweet him @PepeDiokno. Single/Single streams at philstartv.com and airs on Cinema One.

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