I stand corrected in oh, so many ways!
The last time I’d reviewed this series (just the first two episodes) I remember I kept going back to how cliché the whole thing was, especially when it came to plot and characterisation. In the beginning, Stuck on You did come across as a run-of-the-mill quarantine romance between two men—one of them a typical romantic person who believes in ‘true love’s kiss’ and the other, a pessimistic and grumpy man with a sorrowful past who doesn’t believe in love.
I was wrong. So very, very wrong.
While the second episode ended with their characterisation intact, the third episode was all about unexpected changes. Of course, as a viewer, you’d expect them to take off both their physical as well as their metaphorical masks and slowly fall in love with each other. However, I hadn’t expected the sequences that these changes ultimately led to by the end of the series.
A power blackout in this episode changes things between JM (Yves Flores) and Reb (Iyo Canlas). They finally reveal their faces and their real names to each other (I was getting pretty tired of Reb referring to JM as by his Alter handle aka @alt.media by then). Although JM was keen on maintaining distance and not invading each other’s personal spaces, among other things, we could see that he was slowly giving in to Reb. They start eating together, watching shows with each other, and sharing little things about their lives.
By the fifth episode, a lot is out in the open. JM and Reb become drinking buddies—something we figured out the moment we saw the title of the episode (“Liquid Courage”). It’s here that we get details about Reb’s family and upbringing, as well as his love for his mother. In the case of JM, the viewers get a clearer glimpse of his story—one that is full of loss and sorrow. He talks about how he lost his parents and also brings up the topic of his ex-partner Aaliyah, to whom he was betrothed. They’d broken up just a few days before the wedding (which is revealed in the sixth episode), which had left JM completely devastated, so much so that he lost his belief in love and relationships in general.
It’s fun to see Reb’s ridiculous banter with JM, especially when they’re drunk. There are many cute moments in the series—Reb talking to his heart and telling it to calm down seems to be one of them. The movement from ‘I’ to ‘We’, and that from the sofa to JM’s bed and to the guest room (which also happens to be Aaliyah’s old room), as well as the removal of the tape and the schedules that separated their personal spaces, signifies the process of the boundaries between them getting erased one by one and the walls they’d built around themselves being broken.
However, JM is not ready for a commitment, which hurts and disappoints Reb (who’s fallen in love with him by this point). After all, the series wouldn’t be complete without its frustrating sequences. The plot doesn’t change by much, but the subtle way in which it does turns everything upside down. We get to see a reversal of roles in many ways, and the story seems to come full circle by the end of the 14 days of quarantine.
The final day of quarantine shows how the characters question their idea of romance and love—they come to an understanding that it’s not always a “crazy adventure.” The vulnerability of both characters as well as their infuriating behaviour throughout the series does make a lot of sense. The lack of closure in the final episode was the most likely thing to annoy the viewers, but surprisingly, the comments on YouTube show that many of them took it really well.
Pancho Maniquis’s Stuck on You was a pleasant surprise. I’d not expected a lot of things from the series after I’d watched the first few episodes, but here I am, writing a review about how much of a welcome change it was. The music was sweet, the cinematography was good, and the chemistry between the main leads was so wonderful to watch. There are barely any other characters involved—although I did find Reb’s gay friend to be adorable. The stories of love, loss, and death (whether it was before or during the pandemic), along with the open ending, make it so much more relatable than I’d first thought it would be. It’s a short watch, a surprisingly enjoyable one.
Rating: 3.75 out of 5