“Good parenting is not influenced by sexual orientation. It is influenced most by a parent’s ability to create a loving and nurturing home. This ability has nothing to do with whether the parent is gay or straight.”
The beauty of a script lies in its versatility. As such, GagaOOLala’s latest offering “Papa and Daddy” is not only versatile but also offers invaluable insights into the current stature of modern families. Although the current scenario for same-sex marriages and surrogacy is still uncertain in most Asian Countries, Taiwan is an exception. Being the only country in the Asian subcontinent which has legalized same-sex marriages, Taiwan has always been the pioneer in producing daring LGBTQ content. But while most shows choose to sexualize their main lead’s romance, Papa and Daddy chooses to focus on the more prudent subject- “Surrogacy”. The second installment in GagaOOLala’s ambitious anthology project “Queer Up the Volume” (apart from the Thai BL “Call It What You Want”), this show is their ardent attempt to vocalize the hardships faced by same sex parents, when they choose to adopt kids or opt for surrogacy. Without further ado, let’s review the first two episodes of this miniseries!
Damian, Jerry and Kai
●Melvin Sia portrays the titular role of Damien. He is a 38 year old overseas Taiwanese and recent divorcee, who has returned home to open his dream restaurant.
● Mike Lin plays the role of Jerry/Jin Li. He was 28 years old popular YouTube vlogger. After getting married to Damien and having a kid, he took a sabbatical from his budding career.
● Kai Lin plays the role of Kai Kai, Damien and Jerry’s son.
Amy and Sasa
● Chao Yi Lan plays the role of Sasa, Damien’s best friend.
● Jozie Lu portrays the role of Amy. She is happily married to Sasa.
The Concept of Modern Family
While most BL dramas strive hard on sexualizing their main lead’s romantic alliances, Papa and Daddy shines a spotlight on the importance of a modern family, which is redefined and comparable to families with heterosexual parents. Parenting is a journey in itself and most homosexual parents face the same challenges that most other families do. Both partners bear equal responsibility in raising a kid, irrespective of their sex.
“What’s a Mommy?”
Six years old Kai’s question might sound inconspicuous, but clearly it isn’t. Being bought up in a household with gay parents, Kai’s definition of a family extends to his “Papa and Daddy”. He has no idea that his Papa Jerry has been a stay-at-home parent since he was born, playing the conservative role of a “Mother”. The title is subjective, but the underlying duties aren’t. So while Daddy Damien enjoys the freedom to pursue his dreams, Jerry has to sacrifice his own career to raise Kai Kai. This is the exact description of most “Normal” families where the Mother is expected to sacrifice her choices for the family’s wellbeing. The parallelism is strikingly obvious wherein the Director tries to convey the succinct message that even homosexual couples have a right to parenting and their love cannot be incriminated because of their sexual preferences.
The Issues Faced By A Homosexual Couple
Papa and Daddy consciously highlights the typical issues faced by a homosexual couple while raising a kid together. Like most couples, they are prone to misunderstandings and have arguments. The first episode strikes a chord where Damien and Jerry have an interesting conversation during their breakfast. Jerry wants to restart his YouTube channel and as such proposes that they should send Kai Kai to kindergarten. Damien is opposed to the idea since he feels that Kai Kai is too young (I have no idea why he feels so, the kid is almost six years old). Later, Damien discusses the issue with his close friend who points out the brutal reality.
“So your business can’t be sacrificed but Jerry’s can?”
Damien is stunned into silence, but obviously her question leaves a deep impression. Because later he amicably appreciates Jerry’s efforts and sacrifices. Both Melvin Sia and Mike Lin are playing gay characters for the first time and yet they have a natural chemistry which is sensual and vibrant. They make their character’s romance entirely relatable. Even their relationship with adorable Kai Kai is realistic and I really adore this sweet family. Damien and Jerry face the same issues that most heterosexual couples do. From worrying about Kai on his first day to school to adjusting their work schedules, so Kai doesn’t feel slighted, Damien and Jerry are like most typical parents. When it comes to parenting their young son, their worries never cease to exist!
Apart from the main couple, we have the supporting side couple Sasa and Amy portrayed by popular actresses Chao Yi Lan and Jozie Lu. They perfectly complement each other and it was refreshing to watch them share their marriage vows and dreams of a happy future. Sasa is an entirely brazen character while Amy with her quiet demeanor easily complements her wife. They make a beautiful couple and I’m looking forward to their journey of surrogacy.
Papa and Daddy is a light-hearted romantic comedy, that strives hard to pinpoint the importance of gender equality in the current turbulent times, where the LGBTQ community are still fighting for their rights. Inspired by the life and journey of GagaOOLala’s Founder Jay Lin, the show chronicles his personal struggles as a gay parent to his twin sons. Young Kai Lin who debuted with this show is actually Jay Lin’s son and the uncanny resemblance to his own life is realistic. Directed by Nancy Chen (Big Three Dragons and History4), this show is a mature representation of LGBTQ families who are contemplating on their choices for adoption or surrogacy. While the conditions are abysmal in most Asian countries, Taiwan’s television industry is showcasing a progression towards gender equality. It is rather slow but at least there are chances for diversification which currently seem impossible in other countries. The brutal honesty that surmises the brilliant storytelling will leave you surprised as well as entertained. The poignant chemistry between main leads Melvin Sia and Mike Lin is reckoning and praiseworthy. Definitely worth watching!
Rating- 4 out of 5
We have some pictures from “Papa and Daddy” press conference held on 21st April, 2020. The main leads Melvin Sia and Mike Lin look resplendent and their chemistry is spot-on!
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