The GMA telenovela My Husband’s Lover started off pretty well. The acting was solid, the writing eluded cheap cliché, it attempted a sensitive treatment of its subject matter, and even if its theme song made our ears ring, it was fun to watch.
Then it became a huge hit, wrecking the competition and making stars of its lead performers. Perhaps the network did not expect that kind of success. Maybe the advertisers were cautious about supporting a show that had the audience rooting for the gay lover over the legal wife.
The advertisers came around in time—we’d be shocked if MHL didn’t have a full commercial load. But the network made some weird choices, almost as if they had panicked.
The story took a turn for the bizarre, borrowing a plot line straight out of Praybeyt Benjamin (or if you’re old enough to remember, Kumander Gringa and Facifica Falayfay). The domineering father forces the gay son to undergo military training to “set him straight”. There is less and less screen time for the two appealing leads, and more time for macho dad to make like Max Alvarado (We miss him) as the Big Bad Wolf in a kindergarten production of The Three Little Pigs. The absolute low point: Vincent (Tom Rodriguez) calls his dad the general (Roi Vinzons) to say he’s got a gun and is going to shoot himself. General Dad cradles his phone between his shoulder and his ear so he can have his hands free to clap as he says, “Magaling, magaling, magaling.” Yucch! (Kuh Ledesma was a revelation, though. Her reaction to her character’s son’s coming out (“We’ll bring you to a doctor…We’ll see a priest…”) was spot on.)
Having dug themselves into this hole, the makers of the show dug deeper, hoping perhaps to come out on the other side. General Dad has been bad, so they make Mom leave him, they give him HIV, and have him charged with attempted murder. Meanwhile Vincent recovers fully from a bullet to the head, and the only trace of that suicide attempt is his charming bonnet.
MHL was supposed to run for 16 weeks. It premiered on 10 June, which means it should’ve ended 27 September. We are typing this on 10 October, and from what we’ve seen on tonight’s episode, the network doesn’t know how to end the show. MHL is meandering along, looking for something to crash into so it can die a natural death. Yikes, they’re doing a concert this weekend. We’re guessing that every cast member is going to render the Kuh Ledesma song.
In other words, as Ricky put it, My Husband’s Lover has jumped the shark. “Jumping the shark” alludes to an episode on the American TV show Happy Days in which The Fonz, on water skis, jumps over a shark. It means “to pass the peak of creativity, excellence, or inspiration, as evidenced by a decline in quality or performance.”
While we deplore the outcome of a show that had so much promise, we are pleased to be able to use a new expression. MHL, when the shark comes around again, try to jump into its maw. Leave us now. It’s time.