“Quaranthings” Series Review (Ep.1 to 8)

I believe the best way to sum up the message about this saga can be postulated by a painfully astute statement of self-reflection from Judah,

“Do you need to feel pain before you feel loved?”

This story is an awesome journey two young men go through, to quite literally find themselves and each other, as trite as that sounds. It is a story between Judah (Kyo Quijano) and his new roommate, Rocky (Royce Cabrera). Judah is gay and ‘out’; living on his own. He is a rather needy individual who has been deeply hurt by his grandmother, Lolly’s (Gina Pareno) mindset. It takes a while to understand why Judah has been so wounded by his grandmother’s actions. He also has a built-in anger and feelings of rejection towards his mother since she emigrated to Canada for work, leaving him behind with his grandmother. Rocky, on the other hand, is a rather, toned, buffed, masculine young man. His handsome looks attract Judah’s attention, who is almost immediately smitten by him. Rocky has had a difficult life, needing to hold down many jobs to support his family in another province. While perhaps not on a conscious level in the beginning, Rocky is also enamored with Judah for the basic reason that Judah sees him as a whole person and is intensively drawn to him on multiple levels.

This story grows on you because of two things. Acting and screenplay. The acting is sincere and believable. This is essentially a story of two people who are forced together, and because of physical proximity, are drawn to each other. Together with little to do, they get to know each other – strengths and foibles. Rocky is hard-working, street smart, and juggling several odd jobs. In other words, he is poor while Judah is rich. For Rocky, family is everything, while family is a source of pain for Judah. Their relationship develops quickly, but at different speeds. Judah is passionate, focused, and self-assured, but also pensive and reflective. Rocky is not so sure of himself. He hides and lashes out if emotions and feelings get too close to the truth. After all, he has not ‘come out’ yet, even to himself.

In all honesty, this is one of the best written BL stories to come out in 2020. Its screenplay is excellent, and we quite literally get to know these two in a short period of time. Because basically it is only these two, we get to see more of them open up, reveal themselves, and grow to love each other, but they are not always on the same path. Judah is committed to their relationship early on, while Rocky, who is supposedly ‘straight’ has to deal with the pain of coming out not only to himself but to his family. There is a profoundly interesting scene when they finally succumb to their urges and as they lie in bed, Judah tells Rocky that he “likes” him and Rocky without thought or hesitation says back, “I love you too”.

However, this was said before either one of them were ready emotionally, which leads to all kinds of drama, misunderstanding, and pain for both. It now changes the dynamics of their relationship, with Rocky truly being unable to take the extra step of admitting his feelings not only out loud to others but to himself. Judah, on the other hand, cannot understand Rocky’s hesitancy nor the painful process of “Coming Out”. So, Judah, shuts him out of his feelings, and reverts to trying to develop a relationship with Glen (Jay Silverio). Honestly, there are not many positive qualities about Glen (except that he is adorably cute). He is self-centered and a bit arrogant. Rocky sees through that, but realizes that it might be too late.

The acting is a bit uneven in this series, especially in the more mundane portions. But when they are emotionally in sync, the acting is brilliant. They are sincere, honest, and gave us ranges of emotions without words. There is something to be said about these two actors that shows how good they are at acting. Initially, I was not impressed with them, and they seemed almost incompatible with one another. But as they spent more time together, cared for each other, and deepened their feelings for each other, they almost magically begin to ‘look’ better to me. They became more handsome and way more appealing and relatable. I know this sounds weird; perhaps, but their acting made me simply like them more. I believed in them and cared about them. I believed that they really loved each other, even if they were still new at trying to fully define it. This is a very character driven series that has so many good dialogues between them that it is a treasure trove of self-discoveries. Some of them are painfully real and others are revealing but cathartic.

While there are not a lot of characters in this dramedy, but one stood out for me more than the others; mainly because of his not-so-obvious presence. That individual is Domingo Cumla as Rocky’s father. He was simply outstanding in his soft, but intense relationship with his son. He showed deep compassion, empathy, and an amazing understanding of his son, even if Rocky could not initially see it. In essence, he was and is Rocky’s best friend. You can see where Rocky’s fortitude comes from and his sense of wanting to make a relationship be right. The father has had and continues to have a hard life yet keeps and maintains a smile and sense of connection to Rocky. It is stunning to watch this done with hardly words spoken, but with intense facial expressions and an aura of complete acceptance of who and what his son is. When Rocky finally has the courage to introduce Judah as the most important person in his life; his father in his own unequivocal way, accepts him and tells his that his mother would be proud of him. Rocky’s father knew all along. As a steady stream of tears rolled down my eyes at this exchange, you knew Rocky’s acceptance of himself is now complete and the father is enormously proud of his son. Sometimes, fortitude and acceptance of the reality can be shown with a simple smile and a nod. Two things this father did with an almost angelic expression. All of this while being virtual. Now that is acting. Kudos!

This was a fun series to watch and has a solid storyline of two guys trying to develop a relationship based on genuine love and understanding; even if the acting falters at times. There are a few glitches in the production. The sound was not always even or consistent. The story telling at times was chopping and didn’t always flow neatly. The ending left me a bit perplexed. But I guess, in the realm of the early pandemic, it made sense to go back to family for that healing. Additionally, I know the connection family has to the Filipino culture (as I am married to one). It is an admirable trait and something that is slowly if not completely disappearing here in the USA.

Rating- 4.5 out of 5

☆ Ride or Die recently released the teaser for Season Two. The chemistry between our lovable couple is undeniable!

☆ Exclusive Photoshoot of Royce and Kyo for the upcoming sequel

☆ The new cast members of Quaranthings Season Two have been revealed. Karissa Toliongco (of My Extraordinary fame) will portraying the role of Che, Rocky’s ex-girlfriend. Gian Bernardino will be playing the role of Kulas, Rocky’s old roommate.

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