Tender and beautiful; this series is superb! I loved it. One of the finest acting, BL series, I have seen. It is just joyous, funny, poignant, and intensely real.
The drama is a simple story of a ‘nerdy’ student who is paired with a ‘jock’ for a school project to benefit both. The studious, focused and sometimes intense one named Mico, is brilliantly played by JC Alcantra. The jock, Xavier, portrayed exceptionally by Tony Labrusca is an outgoing, easy going and knows how to use his good looks. Speaking of which, he is drop dead gorgeous and has an amazing body. They start out, of course, by particularly not liking each other (or pretending that is the case).
But slowly they begin to draw on each other’s strengths while diminishing each other’s weaknesses. There is just enough insight that we get to know them without peering too much into their souls. Mico is shaken by these feelings he has develops for Xavier, but he knows that it will be impossible to act on them because Xavier has a girlfriend, Crystal (Gillian Vicencio). This is a difficult role because she mostly acts like a spoiled rich girl; but in reality, she is deeply in love with Xavier. They do breakup, but decisively reconcile. But soon she realizes that Xavier was changed for the better; not because of her actions, but due to Mico’s influence. She intuitively senses that the only person on Xavier’s mind is always Mico, since he does nothing but talk about him all the time. In the end, it is her decision to let go.
The screenplay is simply brilliant. There are no gimmicks or artificial dramas involved. The characters are inevitably flawed, but each of them grows by slowly moving towards deeper connections. It is the little things that they do for each other that leads to profound changes. Xavier goes through an enormous transformation while coming to terms with his feelings for Mico. Loving a man is all new to him and frankly a bit scary. Mico on the other hand accepts his true self-worth and learns to be more open about his feelings. Their heartfelt conversation where Mico tells Xavier how he feels about him is so genuine, warm, sincere, and heartfelt; it made me cry. It was beautiful and passionate in a very soulful manner. During this entire exchange, Xavier was facing backwards, so Mico doesn’t get to see Xavier’s reaction. It was a brilliant directorial move and made the whole scene even more dramatic. The screenplay not only tells a story of love between these two guys, but also evokes a strong sense of friendship.
I cannot stop raving about the supporting roles. Besides Xavier’s girlfriend, there are Mico’s best friends that have a phenomenal impact on this story. Their roles are not just for comic relief or ‘fillers’ but they are genuine and enhance the story. Kookai (Vivoree Esclito), is a bubbly, slightly off beat friend of Mico who plays a pivotal in helping Mico to realize his true self. Seph, convincingly played by Patrick Quiroz, is the all-around nice guy who is obviously shy and introspective. Then you have Junjun, superbly played by Miguel Almendras. Honestly, he totally steals the series. He is the glue that keeps their group together. Junjun is astute, honest, fun-loving, and the person everyone turns to for validation and counsel. Miguel plays this part with superb tenderness and a sincerity. He is the perfect friend. (I hope he gets to tell his story in the future. I really liked his part a lot). These are characters that help move the story, provide stability to Mico, and help Mico to accept who his sexuality and love for Xavier. The director did a great job of giving them meaningful dialogues and focused their acting skills on enhancing the story. These actors and actresses are also stunningly handsome and beautiful.
Please do not hate me, but I liked this series more than Gameboys. Both had a similar premise because every scene was done virtually (online). But in this case, they did a much better job of showing the raw emotions of the characters and the beautiful split screen shots made it look like they were actually together. I also felt that JC and Tony internalized their roles and thus embodied them. They showed true and genuine emotions and as such, they began to touch each other’s longings and desires. I was deeply moved. Mico’s thoughts resonate throughout the series.
“Some people believe in destiny…Some in magic and in miracles. Some lose their grasp on reality because of it. Some just ride along with others’ faith. Well, I’m not one of them”.
This story is based on reality and not magic or fantasy. It is simply a beautiful rendition of love.
Rating: 4.8 out of 5
2 thoughts on ““Hello Stranger” Series Review (Ep.1 to 8)”
I feel the acting in this series was top notch and I also liked it more than Gameboys. They are both good series and the way Gameboys used technology and brought the pandemic into BL was groundbreaking.
But Hello Stranger has so much heart. JunJun rules!
JC : I had heard this was his first acting role and he gave a terrific performance. Such a strong ensemble performance.
The plot is basic but the dialogue in the script is deft.
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I totally agree with you!
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