“Papa and Daddy” Series Review (Ep.3 to 6)

“It is absolutely imperative that every human being’s freedom and human rights are respected, all over the world.”– Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir

Adoption or surrogacy in most cases is a difficult decision. More so over, if the expecting parents belong to the LGBTQ community. While regressive laws still trump over their rights to get married legally or have children, Taiwan is the only country in the Asian Subcontinent which has legislations allowing same-sex marriage and adoption/surrogacy. To me, this is progressive thinking as the people belonging to the LGBTQ community do deserve to have the same rights that the heterosexuals enjoy. Starting with this base concept, GagaOOLala’s recently concluded miniseries “Papa and Daddy” offered a diaspora of solutions to those parents who are confused or hesitant while they are exploring their options for adoption or surrogacy. While being responsible for a child isn’t an easy feat, individuals in same-sex relationship are often scorned for their choices and so are their kids. Societal stigma becomes the hindrance that most LGBTQ couples face. Without further ado, let’s review this drama which has certainly raised the bar for realistic directives!

Inculcating Pride and Respect

Papa and Daddy touched on some interesting concepts in each episode. The third episode focused on the Gay Pride Parade. While most countries celebrate this event rather ostensibly, Taiwan is an exception. Despite Damien and Jerry’s fervent attempts, Kai had been missing out on the Pride Parade. The episode begins with a war room meeting between close friends, where the couple decides on all requisite measures to make sure that Kai’s first time at the Pride Parade is a smooth sailing event. Their planning is over-the-top hilarious and yet it strangely resonates with normal parental behavior. It made me realize that same-sex parents face the same fears that most straight couples do. They aren’t any different from most parents, who are worried about their child’s safety. As expected, Kai enjoys the parade with his parents and the mission is accomplished. Until, the little boy goes missing and his poor parents are driven to tears. So, while his reel parents are going berserk searching for him, Kai is at the GagaOOLala booth with his real life father (GagaOOLala CEO Jay Lin). I found this entire situation quite amusing, where Mr. Jay Lin reunites Kai with his reel parents (must have been pretty confusing for the little kid). Damien and Jerry are proud about their sexuality and they intend to inculcate respect and pride in Kai’s mind from a young age. I think the scriptwriter deserves applause for depicting this emotion because every child learns the best lessons at home!

Denial and Reconciliation

The fourth episode heavily leans towards depicting the societal pressures that most same-sex couples face. Damien has a love-hate relationship with his Aunt who works as a Chef at his restaurant. While they both are constantly at loggerheads, Jerry enjoys a more amicable relationship with Damien’s Aunt. Things start getting complicated when the happy family has an unexpected encounter with Kai’s classmate and his Mother at an icecream parlour. Jerry tries to hide their relationship and the situation is worsened, when Damien’s aunt arrives at the school to pick him up the next day. The other parents assume that she is Kai’s mother and suddenly Kai becomes popular at school. The little boy is so overwhelmed with the latest developments that he refuses to attend school unless Damien’s Aunt accompanies him. Finally, Damien and Jerry realize the enormity of the situation and as such decide to more vocal about their relationship. The episode focuses on highlighting the prejudices that same-sex couples and their children face. Even though the current generation is technologically advanced, we are still lagging behind when it comes to being more acceptable of the LGBTQ relationships. If we could build a world without premeditated notions or overtures, it will simply be heaven. Such a subtle countenance and yet so beautifully conveyed!

Familial Obligations and Parental Acceptance

The “Coming Out” phase is definitely a diffident phase for Jerry. Although he loves his husband and child, Jerry is afraid of societal rebukes and his parent’s rebuttal. As such, he panics whenever people discover his relationship with Damien or when his Mother forces him to go on blind dates. I was understandably confused by his insecurities, which are too deep steeped. Jerry is so afraid of being judged that he can’t bring himself to accept the realities in his life. He has a faithful husband and an adorable child, something he should be proud about. But he can’t, because his Mother’s judgmental behavior scares him. This is the problem in most households with LGBTQ teenagers. They go through a phase of denial and acceptance. Some are nervous and horrified when they begin to explore the boundaries of their sexuality. Teenagers need guidance and support, more than that they need parental love and acceptance. When the truth is revealed, Jerry’s Mother rebukes him (as expected) which leaves him devastated. However, in an unexpected twist, Jerry’s Father accepts his sexuality. He wholeheartedly concurs that although he doesn’t entirely understand the situation, Jerry’s happiness matters the most to him. He welcomed Damien and Kai into their family and they have a happy reunion. I shed quite a few tears because Jerry’s story reflects the excruciating circumstances that most LGBTQ teenagers face. Will their lives be different if they received such open adoration and support at the right time? Most certainly, it would!

Secrets Can Destroy Healthy Relationships

The finale left a lot to be desired. I’m not saying that it was bad, just that the open ending left me skeptical and disappointed. Damien and Jerry join hands to celebrate Kai’s birthday. The event is planned in exuberance and the happy couple celebrate their son’s birthday with family and friends. Damien on the other hand has hidden secrets of his own. His ex-wife gets remarried and as such, his elder son flies to Taipei to stay with his Father. While Jerry spend a good amount of time hiding his relationship from his parents in the preceding episodes, the tables are turned when he learns about Damien’s son. I was really surprised with the consistency these two display in maintaining secrets. Jerry choose to hide his husband and son from his parents for six years, while Damien never talked to him about his elder son. Beats me, because Damien and Jerry are supposed to be the “Perfect Couple”. I’m guessing there is no such thing as “Perfect” when it comes to relationships. Most individuals are flawed and “Papa and Daddy” does a good job portraying these inconsistencies. My only complaint is that we are not getting a sequel, as such we will be left in the dark about Jerry’s possible reaction to this shocking news. This could be attributed to the illegal piracy that is affecting GagaOOLala’s profit margin. You better watch the show on legal platforms, so they have the requisite funding to produce the sequel.

Overall Impression

Papa and Daddy is the second installment in GagaOOLala’s rather ambitious project “Queer Up the Volume”. The various subject matters dealt in this mini-series are rather sensitive yet thought-provoking. While most Asian Countries are still debating over the pros and cons of same-sex marriage legislations, Taiwan has been the pioneer in dispelling the various societal norms and prejudices that plague the LGBTQ community. The scriptwriter’s ardent attempts to vocalize their problems and issues is praiseworthy. Directed by Nancy Chen (Big Three Dragons and History4), this show focuses on the poignant diagnostics of adoption or surrogacy. While most normal families have difficulties deciding on these options to expand their families, LGBTQ households have to overcome the added adages of stigma and redress. This makes it difficult for them to be more forthcoming about their relationships and also hampers their intentions to raise children together. While the narrative is mostly plot driven, the chemistry between the main leads Melvin Sia and Mike Lin is refreshing. While Melvin’s Damien is a supportive husband and a loving father, Mike’s depiction of Jerry’s dormant fears is realistic and entirely humane. I’m hoping that GagaOOLala decides to renew their contract and we get a sequel, because this family was already adorable. I’m curious about the changes in their dynamics due to the addition of Damien’s elder son. Will Jerry and Kai accept him in their family fold? Or will Damien’s dream family fall apart? Fingers crossed!

Rating- 4 out of 5

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