Pop culture guru David is back with a look at Gameboys – the hit Netflix show making waves online.
Like many, I spend ages scrolling through Netflix offerings to find my next distraction. I’ve made a conscious effort not to watch any TV shows or movies set during lockdown – when I sit down to watch something, I view it as a form of escapism.
Gameboys seemed to circumvent my self-imposed rules somehow. Although I grimaced a bit at the lockdown setting, I decided to give it a chance. Originally a web series in the Philippines, the series tells the story of Cairo (Elijah Canlas), an online gamer / streamer, and his fan, Gavreel (Kokoy de Santos) as they begin an online romance.
When Gavreel challenges and defeats Cairo in a video game, Cairo demands a rematch. Gavreel, who has fallen for Cairo, asks for a date in return. As it’s set during lockdown, they can’t meet so their interactions are through video chats and messaging.
Gameboys does a really great job at portraying online communication as they show the messages written, deleted and rewritten as the characters try to figure out what to say – mirroring their thought processes.
Gavreel is more eager and more willing to show his feelings than Cairo is and, as we get to know the characters, we see why that is and, let me tell you, it is quite the emotional journey. The show deals with lockdown, long distance relationships, as well as someone coming to terms with their sexuality and finding love for the first time.
The production team had to work around lockdown with filming of the first nine episodes taking place purely online. They used the actors’ houses with the performers setting the scenes up for cameras themselves and applying their own make-up. It is also a bit of a family affair, as Elijah Canlas’ brother, Jerome, played Cairo’s older brother and his father, Rommel, played Cairo’s father.
The two main stars are well-known in the Philippines. Elijah Canlas has a main role in a TV drama called Paano ang Pangako? while Kokoy de Santos has starred in a number of series including another LGBTQ role in Oh, Mando! Both do an excellent job at portraying the emotional depth their roles need and I am looking forward to watching what else the creators have in store!
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