On September 26, the episode that featured the first date of Alden Richards and Yaya Dub in the All for Juan and Juan for All segment of popular noontime show Eat Bulaga, the hashtag #AlDubEBforLOVE reportedly drew in a record-breaking 25,652,800 tweets. AlDub has garnered a broad segment of followers from people as young as nine or 10, to senior citizens, and from the masses to the middle class. AlDub has followers all over the globe.
What is the recipe for success of AlDub? Why has it generated so much interest and following?
Watching the episode of the kalyeserye (street series), one could see all the elements of its success in play. The very concept of kalyeserye is genius. A lot of Filipinos are hooked to television drama series or soap operas locally called telenovelas (literally translated as television novels). This is why Filipino, Korean, and Mexican soap operas populate local television programs. The Mexican telenovela Marimar hit it big locally when it aired in 1994, such that lead Mexican actress Thalia even visited the country to perform in a concert. Marimar has been reprised recently with local actress and beauty queen Megan Young in the lead. In remote areas in the country where television has limited reach, radio dramas are very popular. And Filipinos living abroad are also avid followers of telenovelas.
With Eat Bulaga’s kalyeserye, events unfold on the streets in populated barangays where the team of comedians Wally Bayola, Paolo Ballesteros, and Jose Manalo as Lola Nidora, Tidora, and Tinidora respectively, and of course, the star of the show Maine Mendoza as Yaya Dub perform, and in the studio where Alden Richards as Bae Alden, the other half in the accidental love team, is located. Because the events unfold in the two locations, the audiences in both the remote and studio locations could react and even influence the turn of events in real time.
The kalyeserye is a parody of soap opera, which again provides Filipino audiences with one of its favorite pastimes comedy. While the three lolas have complete character histories, what endears them to the audience is their comedic flair. They make fun of themselves and blurt out funny comments while in character. Their humor is self-deprecating and is a welcome relief from the slapstick, green joke-ridden comedy of a lot of Filipino comedians, including the mainstays of Eat Bulaga Tito, Vic and Joey. While the latter three, in their commentaries while the kalyeserye is ongoing, inject some green jokes, it is almost always drowned out by the funny antics and comments of Wally, Paolo and Jose.
Maine Mendoza as Yaya Dub is hilarious. She is able to bring her comedic flair in her Dubsmash hits to the kalyeserye in television. Her Dubsmash hits about Kris Aquino could make one double up with laughter. Her exaggerated facial expressions are really funny. And Dubsmash is a hit with Filipinos who love music. Even before Dubsmash, Filipinos have lip-sync contests.
Maine Mendoza carries the accidental love team with Alden Richards, who, obviously, is not a comedian, but whose good looks is perfect for the Cinderella story concocted by the show’s producers. Filipinos, being lovers of underdogs and hopeless romantics, love Cinderella stories. (Although the pairing is not really a Cinderella story in real life as Maine Mendoza is a graduate of Culinary Arts in La Salle-St. Benilde who did her internship in New York.)
And there is the mystery of Maine Mendoza’s voice. All throughout the show Yaya Dub communicates through Dubsmash and writing her thoughts. The audience is being teased to anticipate hearing the real voice of Yaya Dub.
The concept of a kalyeserye, the elements of soap opera, parody and comedy, the Cinderella story, with a sprinkling of mystery, and music, and the comedic flair of Wally, Paolo, Jose and of course, Maine Mendoza, and the good looks of Alden Richards all combined to propel the success of AlDub.
Is the segment escapist entertainment? Of course it is. Joey de Leon’s opening spiel says it all.
Should activists and issue advocates shun AlDub for being escapist? On the contrary, activists and issue advocates could learn a lot from the success of AlDub and how it is able to reach out to a broad audience.