Twitter is on a rampage, yet again. At peak hours, the Philippine trends get a jolt of energy as another cultural phenomenon from ABS-CBN graces television screens in the Philippines and the world over. Preceded by the likes of #G2B and #TheVoicePH, this reality show is actually rooted in a literary classic revered around the globe. George Orwell’s seminal classic, Nineteen-Eighty-Four, inspired John de Mol to come up with Big Brother, a show whose zany format is being used by at least 25 countries.
In early May, ABS-CBN launched a new edition of the cultural phenomenon Pinoy Big Brother, something that set the whole Twitter feed of the country ablaze.
Teleserye ng Totoong Buhay
Since its inception in 2005, PBB has been the subject of gossip and speculation among viewers. There’s no surprise also that most of the alums of the show went on to become ABS-CBN’s talents like Kim Chiu, Sam Milby, Gerald Anderson, and Jayson Gainza. It’s important to note, however, that recent editions have been criticized for a lot of reasons, issues that are by-products of the first few seasons.
Initially, the craze for this franchise reverberated throughout the archipelago because the audience grew weary of the “rich boy, poor girl,” “baby switching,” “underdog protagonist” plots – cliches that have plagued the Philippine teleseryes ever since. People yearned for a different kind of serye; then came the Teleserye ng Totoong Buhay. Aptly titled All In, it seems that the general public is still deeply fascinated and fondly attached to the Pinoy Big Brother franchise. Unfortunately, time has proven that the franchise’s continual success does not rely on this anymore.
PBB All In has garnered criticism for accepting housemates that feel all too familiar to some audiences. Unlike previous seasons where the housemates come from different backgrounds and almost every standing in life, most netizens and viewers feel that the new batch of housemates are more of a “cast” rather than an “ensemble of real people.” It’s no wonder that the top Twitter and Facebook trends are led by the hashtag “PBB Scripted” as the viewing public becomes more aware of the “realities” of reality television and the tropes that make it staged and written.
One of the most enduring aspects of PBB is the cast of housemates that are admitted into Big Brother’s infamous abode. What seemed like a show that assembled different people, each coming in with interesting personalities, turned into a potential star search, something that the show transformed into in recent seasons.
Director Lauren Dyogi, the longtime production head of the show, admitted in his Twitter account that the chosen housemates have a potential of attracting a strong following both positive and negative. He adds, “The truth is that it’s easier to watch people on TV who look good or are very funny in real life and not a put on.”
Though a slump can be attributed to reality shows most of the time, many have said that this particular change in PBB’s outlook has made the show weak and seem gamed by the management. While viewing PBB, many audiences have claimed that though some of the concepts may feel unreal, the drama still feels as real as when the show started out.
After the reveal of the housemates, some netizens have noted that three of the contestants are Lasallians (Michelle Gumabao, Axel Torres, and Jacob Benedicto), with at least three more coming from schools in the Lasallian system. It now becomes a question whether the game was rigged, or if Lasallians have a thing for surveillance and spotlights.
The first time that a Lasallian entered the Bahay ni Kuya was way back in 2008. The sixth series of the show called Teen Edition Plus capitalized on the rivalry of Lasalle-Ateneo by letting in Josef Elizalde and Robi Domingo from the respective schools.
Robi, dubbed as the True Blue Atenista, was portrayed by the show as a good role model for the Ateneans. On the other hand, Josef was described as the Lethal Lasallite who had rebellious tendencies and a bad boy attitude. Will our fellow Lasallians endure the same portrayal this season?
On the Twitter account of Direk Lauren Dyogi, he says that they are surprised three of the housemates are from La Salle after deliberating the final set of housemates for this season.
But what could be our fellow Lasallians’ thoughts on the inclusion of the three?
A European Studies major explained that the inclusion of the three Lasallians could be a way to show a variety of people. She adds, “…to show that the PBB house isn’t just a charity case,” pointing out the housemates whose reason for joining is to help uplift their economic statuses.
On the other hand, one Marketing major seems to agree with the notion that these housemates did not undergo auditions, but instead, were picked. She shares, “Do you think those Lasallians would line up in the auditions? …I mean they already find it hard to line up for the elevators in Andrew, and that’s not even half of the line during PBB auditions.”
New gameplays and strategies
Each edition comes with a new scheme to draw in more viewers and followers, and this time, PBB All in seems to have created the perfect ploy as they mixed in Teens, Adults, and Celebrities altogether.
Professor Dennis Erasga, Associate Professor from the Behavioral Science Department, discusses the likelihood of disputes caused largely by age group differences. He shares that in time, these kinds of clashes will occur, and the show, as it always does, would try to amplify the tension to pull its ratings into greater heights.
On the other side, a senior Communication Arts major believes that the inclusion of the three housemates is a subtle move to market to the AB class of ages 15-20 who dared not to watch the show in the past. She further adds, “Because there are Lasallians in the house, teens in the same demographic but different schools are also curious about the three Lasallians, either because they want to see things they can bash about the housemates and the school, or they really just want to see sosyal and conyos battle it out inside the house.”
It’s easy to say that PBB is something that only appeals to a certain bracket in the ever-changing market of Philippine television. It should be no wonder that ABS-CBN went “all in” to give the audiences a taste of what it’s like to combine all three aspects of what made Pinoy Big Brother a phenomenon here in the Philippines.
But the show constantly veers away from its initial premise of showcasing people from different walks of life and is turning into a repository of the next Kings and Queens of the Primetime.
It is, however, important to realize that the dynamics of the show have changed likely because it only wants to cater to its patrons who overcrowd the Twittersphere day with hashtags like #PBBTampuhanBlues, #PBBBawalAngPangitEdition, or even #KutoNiLoisa, day in and out. Apparently this has a lot to say about the kind of entertainment most Filipinos enjoy. It’ll only be a matter of time before we change our dynamics and our views on the phenomenon of watching people 24/7 without guilt or reservation.