- 1 hr 48 min
Gameboys is a Filipino BL (Boys' Love) web series that depicts the love story of two teenage boys who meet during a virtual game tournament amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The series, set against the backdrop of quarantine and social distancing measures, takes a refreshing and heartwarming approach towards the ever-exploring themes of love, loss, and longing.
The lead protagonists of Gameboys are Cairo (played by Elijah Canlas) and Gavreel (played by Kokoy de Santos) who are both avid online gamers. Cairo is a student and Twitch streamer whose life revolves around video games, whereas Gavreel, who goes by the gamer tag "Angel2000," is also a student but is confined to his home because of the pandemic. The two guys encounter each other during a virtual battle game hosted on Facebook, and their initial online interaction is one of competitiveness and lack of acknowledgment, but it swiftly transitions into a friendship that highlights the semblance of shared interests and the need for human connections in the time of isolation.
The series delves into the dynamics of Cairo's relationship with his friends and family, Gavreel's domestic life, and their developing bond, all while they navigate the logistical barriers and mental health struggles that the pandemic has brought. They slowly begin to express their feelings for each other but are hesitant about taking it any further because of distance and the doubts that come with starting a relationship online.
The characters in Gameboys, especially the two leads, are written with both depth and relatability. They express their frustrations, fears, and happy moments through the screen, and as the series progresses, the viewers become emotionally invested in the intricacy of their relationship. The show's relatability also comes through in the handling of its themes of homophobia, social phobias, and mental health, which are all universal in their message.
The show creators have managed to capture the zeitgeist of our times with the way they've incorporated real-world factors into their plot. The WhatsApp notifications, Zoom calls, Google searches, and the frequency of social media usage are all shown in a way that feels realistic, rather than being an outdated techno-utopian view of the web that some media creators often resort to.
The show's cinematography deserves a special mention, too. The series is shot entirely in a vertical mode, perfect for binge-watching on mobile screens. The frequently animated transitions take the viewers into a virtual realm of gaming and expression that defies the limitations of the global pandemic. The character designs, on-screen graphics and soundtrack are as impressive as the performances.
Gameboys is a first-of-its-kind Filipino digital production that not only shows the evolution of representation in the media but also illustrates the immense potential of what Filipino entertainment can offer to the world. It is rare to see a Filipino LGBTQ-themed show that is not sensationalized or caricatured, but rather one that seeks to normalize their presence and relationships, and Gameboys' success rests on this honest representation-style.
The original intention of the series was to provide light entertainment amid the pandemic, but its popularity has grown beyond its creators' expectations. It has become a salve for the queer community, providing a relatable and romantic narrative that's readily accessible on social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. The show's success has also led it to receive international recognition and is being seen as a game-changer in Philippine's media culture.
In conclusion, Gameboys is an endearing and captivating romance tale that defies the limits of the pandemic and the traditional notions of what makes a TV show a success. It speaks volumes about the relatable experiences of people during the pandemic, and how love and relationships blossom despite the challenges. The remarkable performances, the rich writing, and the innovative visuals have converted Gameboys into a phenomenon that deserves all the praise and acclaim it is receiving.
Gameboys is a 2022 art house & international movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 48 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 8.4.