“Quaranthings S2” Series Review (Ep.1 to 8)

This series is simply an abject failure. It abandoned all the charm and creativity of Season One and instead it was replaced with a banal and boring journey of childishness and self-centered indulgences.

The story picks up with Judah (Kyo Quijano) and Rocky (Royce Cabrera) coming back to stay at their old residence, after a tense stay while living with Judah’s grandmother, Lolly. Apparently, Lolly was having a difficult time adjusting to their ongoing relationship, with Judah’s intense self-absorbing behavioral patterns also contributing to the conflict with her. In addition, they obviously had little time to be alone with each other as it is implied that they still do not have a sexual relationship yet. Rocky continues to grapple with his gayness as he is troubled and anxious about openly announcing to his friends that he has an ongoing relationship with Judah. He still has not fully ‘come out’. As someone who had struggled with how to come out of the closet, I completely know how he felt and why he acted the way he did. While Judah for the most part is supportive of the pace Rocky is taking in admitting what he is, and to the acknowledgement of their relationship; he is becoming impatient as he knows that to be committed, one must take that final step and admit it to the world. However, Judah is also displaying a certain level of frustration towards an equally important part of their relationship and that is not having sexual intimacy. Rocky is still not ready for that yet, claiming that the commitment to a continuous sexual relationship with another male is a process that remains troublesome for him. His reasons are rather spurious in logic and irrational.

Here is where and how this series totally breaks down any sense of foundation or believability. They had sex, confessed their love for each other previously (with Rocky saying it first), and they have been living with each other for some time. It begs the question as to why he is hesitant in committing to a sexual relationship, especially when you know that is crucial to a relationship and your partner is asking for it? It is hardly a big leap, since you have established the relationship as you live together and call each other ‘boyfriend’. This made no sense to me, which now begs further questions, “Why are you guys together? Perhaps you are simply not ready for any relationship, let alone one with each other?” But before they can even begin to tackle what is really going on between them, in walks Rocky’s old girlfriend, Che (Karissa Toliongco) and their former roommate, Kulas (Gian Bernardino) to resume living in their old residence as well, because the restrictions for the pandemic have been eased. So, now you have four people living together. What could go wrong?

There is no point in going through those plots because you can guess what they would be even without seeing this series. Just think of former girlfriend (not knowing that Rocky is gay) and how Judah, who is already an emotionally immature individual, would react to seeing Rocky and Che together. Can you imagine misinterpretations and misunderstandings? So, to get his thoughts centered again, he has his best friend, Beshie (Karl Zarate), come stay with him and this merry band of misfits. Of course, this sets up an endless cadre of scenarios, but instead of making them funny, serious, or tackle any meaningful issues, they go for the depreciating ones and the lowest common dominators.

To say this story pirouettes into a twisted and wacky configuration is an understatement. It made no sense to me, and it cheapened the story’s message. Not from any moralistic or religious angles, but just from a perspective that seemed counterintuitive to who they were and how easily they were able to throw their principles and personas out. I was disappointed and saddened that they went in that direction for Beshie, Che, and Kulas. It devalued their characters and made them look like harlequins. They deserved a better story and more-adult-like dialogue. This was a ‘cheap shot’ and bordered on sensationalism and was unwarranted and undignified. And for me, just cringy.

The relationship between Judah and Rocky, from the beginning of this series, was troubling. While I completely understand Rocky’s hesitancy in wanting to come out to his best friends, I do not understand his reluctance in wanting to take their relationship to another level. Judah was literally begging for it and Rocky became incensed that he was feeling ‘rushed’. What? If you love someone, then you show that not only by saying it but also by reciprocating towards it. I completely understood Judah’s frustration with Rocky’s hesitancy. And in his immaturity and emotionally stunted fashion, Judah internalizes it. The reality is that this whole notion of ‘waiting’ is simply not realistic, especially for young, virile, suffering from pandemic-fatigue men to put off for what is the ultimate expression of being together.

To compound this already overblown story, Lolly dies. As expected, Judah turns into a basket case. Perfectly understandable….for awhile. Judah is honestly an unlikeable person. He is self-centered, completely self-absorbed, ego-centric, arrogant, with an extensive band of entitlement wrapped around him like a cloak and sees the world only through his eyes. While he intellectually can understand other people’s point of view, he is the only one that makes sense. Example: he makes a unilateral decision to move permanently to Canada to be with his mother. Incredulous. How do you decide that on your own without having some discussion with the person you supposedly love? Do you not value his input? Did you consider his feelings? What about their ongoing relationship? And when he finally tells Rocky, Judah seems startled that he would have such a reaction. After all, is it not obvious that Judah has faced a life-changing experience and needs time to reflect, process and find himself? And to do so with the expectation that Rocky will wait for him to return if and when he decides to do so. And Rocky, still new to trying to figure out who he is, blindly accepts this logic from Judah without either once asking, “What about me?” Why would anyone put up with such hypocrisy? Why would you not tell him this is wrong, or ask him to stay; that they could work on it together, or tell him I shall not wait for you indefinitely as I have my own life to lead. Why not get angry, or cry, or simply let him leave right then and there? Rocky is expected to wait by the door hoping, and praying his man will return. Maybe he should keep a lit candle on in the upstairs bedroom window to let Judah know he is home?

Yet Rocky is equally egocentric. He keeps reiterating repeatedly that his family is first. Why? The reality is so much more complex than that. Does not your love and relationship with someone come first? Or at the very least, equally important? But to make your love feel secondary and literally place him there while being in an ongoing relationship is toxic and will lead to disaster. And in this case, it was no wonder and not surprising that Judah needed to extradite himself from this relationship with the proverbial excuse ‘needing to find myself’. For me, the implication here is that gay love is NOT really love, as it is not as strong, or important, or the number one priority or commitment as straight love would be. And it is certainly not worth fighting for as a couple. I was heartbroken that a BL series could not see this underlying message it had created. Perhaps unintentionally, but nonetheless present.

Honestly, the acting in this series is somewhat mediocre and certainly unbelievable. Most of them shed who they were in the first series to become mere caricatures in this series. There was no chemistry between any one of them. And to me, there was zero chemistry or connection between Kyo as Judah and Royce as Rocky. It appeared throughout this series that they said their lines and did no more. Their characters barely hugged and their connection from the very beginning seemed strained. They never kissed. Judah always walked around looking wounded while Rocky roamed around as if he was walking on eggshells. And you want us to believe that you two are in love?

Nonetheless, the real glue to this story is Karl as Beshie. He is effervescent, outspoken, truthful to the point of being hurtful, but also likeable. He really is the only one in this story who explains his actions clearly and distinctly, and we get to understand him better. We see him begin to fall for Kulas, but then all that turns into a side-show at a circus. This series seemed to rely on him to get them through this convulsed story.

Normally, I do not rewatch scenes, but I had to do it for the last scene. I wanted to make sure that my impressions were truly what I saw. And indeed, they were. I have never seen a worst ending then this series showed, especially for two people supposedly so madly in love with each other. Judah, with a blank unemotional look on his face, says to Rocky that he is his ‘happiest regret’. Puzzled (as I certainly would be too), Rocky asks, “Does this mean goodbye?’ “Maybe, right now, yes,” responds Judah. But he hopes to see him soon, when “they are finally ready for each other”? Oxymoronic? Yes. While Rocky weeps, Judah stares, blankety unmoved, and stops Rocky from kissing him on the lips. Does this not signify the ‘nail-on-the-coffin’ of a relationship? How can you leave, if you truly love each other, and understand that this may be your last time together, either for a long time or maybe forever, and all they can muster is barely a hug and a kiss on the forehead? I understand that not every goodbye is filled with weeping and intense wailing, but this scene was not only unromantic in every sense of that term, but it also showed clearly and definitively that these two are not meant to be together and are not ready for each other or should never be in a relationship. It clearly displayed the depth of the schism between them. Perhaps I am anthropomorphizing this from my own perspective, but love requires an effort and effort means at the very least – trying. These two never made even an attempt to try. While Rocky displayed the most growth in his emotional development and acceptance, his level of passivity to Judah’s self-centered personality drove me apoplectic. In addition, his not wanting to have sex with the person he proclaims over and over to love is beyond my pale of understanding. And Judah’s need to find enlightenment with his family, which he has rejected (and they him), this thinking is baffling and twisted. I am not questioning his desire for enlightenment or the need to find himself, but you do not go from one toxic environment to another and expect positive results. That will never lead to a cultivation of meaningful insight.

This series was so profoundly disappointing. It had no sensible storyline to it, and it felt as if they threw something together because they had to make it. The relatable characters from the first season were reduced to mere caricatures and displayed distorted traits not consistent with their personalities. And this was done without any level of cinematic understanding.

I am expecting, perhaps hoping, this is the last chapter of this story. This relationship is over and unsalvageable. They need to move on. However, in a make-believe BL world, I do hope each finds a more compatible individual willing to engage with each on their journey along the road to love; someone who will not be so easily derailed by a few bumps along the road that life throws down in your path.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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