Gay relationships are complicated by nature. Two people of the same sex entering into any form of a relationship is almost always open to scrutiny by whom they surround themselves.
From there it depends on their station in life and nationality, how far the opinion raises them up or brings them down. For the two men of “Daddy Love” their lives are made more complicated by their age difference and statures in life. It is those differences and their complications that make up the foundation for the series. Six episodes paced at 15 minutes a piece isn’t a lot of runtime, but the series utilizes each second to tell a beautiful yet frustrating love story. The series is centered around Kiko played by Rex Lantano, a poor 26-year-old working during the day as a personal shopper and at night as a massage therapist who occasionally offers happy endings. Beside him is Mark, a 40-year-old man retiring from IT to start an interior design business. The series is peppered by side characters who through brief appearances give us a glimpse into the world inhabited by these two men.
Now, it should be noted that “Hey Pogi” did release two versions of the first episode. The YouTube version is censored, while the uncensored version of the episode features an alternate ending. The reason for this is that the company wanted to lure you to the paid subscription to watch the remaining five episodes. Well it worked on me and I did it to see more of their story. I’m actually glad I did watch it as the uncensored version changes how I viewed Kiko as a character. Throughout the first episode he refused “extra services” with the massage he provides for Mark. In the censored version, though they both strip to their underwear that’s as far as it goes. In uncensored version Kiko without any urging from Mark, pulls down Mark’s boxers and this situation leads to uncharted erotic territory. The episode ends the same otherwise but that scene shows Kiko’s interest in Mark.
If you think it’s going to erotic places, itdoes and doesn’t; depending on your view of eroticism. Through a montage of different massages as well as yoga poses that remind me of the Karma Sutra it gets pretty erotic, without any overtly sexual acts happening. Instead Mark touches Kiko in forbidden places, always checking to make sure if Kiko is into the act. There is a clear line of respect between the two characters that is well acted by Victor Sy who plays Mark. The slowed down motion and music that was blended well in such a manner that each scene feels extended in a good way.
By the third episode Mark is smitten with Kiko, while Kiko wants things to remain professional while crushing on Mark. His ex girlfriend calls and like Pearl in “Gameboys” acts as a supportive female friend who listens to his problems. I wish the actress who played her were better, she delivers lines from a place of heartbreak but is grinning as she delivers her lines. It felt superficial and took away the seriousness from their first conversation after almost a year of silence. If the man I loved shut me out and deleted me from all the social handles, I wouldn’t be grinning as I called him out on that. But her character does her job of providing a backstory to Kiko before he met Mark. Mark’s past is depicted through a video call with his three close friends. In a roundabout way they get him to admit his feelings for Kiko.
As the series continues, Kiko, determined to ensure Mark’s success goes to see an old client who needs renovation work done. The client Roy, played by Khel Cayetano rapes him and here is where my frustration kicks in. In my opinion, the rape was handled in a poor taste. Mark up to this point had been very kind and considerate. But demotivated by his own jealousy and assumptions, Mark attacks Kiko. Holding him by the throat and demanding to know what occurred, seems like an excessive act. Don’t get me wrong, the acting here is amazing as the two wrestle and talk out their frustrations through violence, which ultimately leads to heartbreak for both. It made me look at Mark from a new perspective. I had to pause the video to think and understand him. His own sexual frustrations and inability to admit that he is gay led to his violent demeanor. Unfortunately, his character doesn’t even note the fact that Kiko said he was raped. It was disappointing to me in he doesn’t care about it at all.
At this point the episodes are fast-paced as both of them take a step backward, at analyze themselves and how they feel about one another. Choosing to be together despite their many differences, takes a back seat to giving in to their lust for one another which is halted by Mark’s discussion about safe sex. Now bear in mind at this point he is on top of Kiko and they are literally on the verge of sex, but when Mark goes for a condom Kiko refuses it politely. It’s interesting and amazing how the show casually slips a conversation about safe sex education and the remainder is to highlight the ghastly effects of HIV in their lives.
My real issue with the series is the sudden rush to tie everything with a nice bow for the finale. After five perfectly timed episodes, I was more than disappointed with episode six. First Kiko’s flashbacks to the rape gave me the hope that they would deal with the rapist, seek justice but the scenes were just to give the viewer the suspicion that his rapist feels quilty. His rapid calls and apologies sound meek. Kiko and Mark leap forward in time after Mark has a discussion with his pastor brother and with a leap, they are celebrating their fifth year anniversary. I loved this show except for the sixth episode which felt rushed and fell flat. Overall it’s amazing and totally worth the monthly subscription. The music is powerful and gave me literal feels as I watched the show. The actors are all wonderful (save the ex girlfriend). The script is well crafted but that doesn’t excuse the deplorable camera angles throughout the show. At times there is a yellow tint over the scenes that vanishes and reappears seconds later. It was more prominent in transition scenes, so maybe it was badly edited. By the finale I felt like I was watching a wonderful series and if I excuse the hurried wrapping, Daddy Love is a worthwhile watch and totally original.
Rating- 4 out of 5