Why Sex Education is More Than Just a Teen Show

January 31, 2020 at 11:53 PM | Posted in TV | Leave a comment

SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers of Sex Education season 2. Read at your own risk!

When I first learned that my all-time favorite actor, Gillian Anderson, was going to do a new TV show on Netflix, I was only mildly interested. It wasn’t because I lost interest in her but because at that time I thought she was only going to be a supporting character in this new teen comedy called Sex Education, and that she would only have a few scenes. So I told myself that I was going to check it out just to see Gillian on screen. In fact, most of the Gillian Anderson fans I know on social media only initially watched the show just to see her.

Eventually I’m glad I was proven wrong because her character in Sex Education, Jean Milburn, proved to be a vital part of the story. Gillian might not have a lot of screen time in the show but every scene she was in was such a delight. It was refreshing to see her play a sex therapist and do a comedy. I mean, other than the comedic episodes of The X-Files, the Johnny English movie sequel she did back then, and another comedy film she did with Simon Pegg, Gillian wasn’t offered much comedic roles. Until now.

To be honest, I initially had low expectations about Sex Education. I thought it was going to be just another one of those superficial teen shows and movies with sex-crazed teens running amok. But when I saw the first season, I was surprised that it’s more than just a teen sex comedy. It actually had a heart and the characters were well-developed. It tackled serious issues such as bullying, slut-shaming and homophobia.


Among the teen characters, my favorites were Eric and Maeve. The show gave both characters enough time to develop throughout season 1. By the end of season 1, we found out that Maeve was more than meets the eye. Eric, on the other hand, had to go through difficulties as he struggled to be accepted for what he was – gay and proud.


The second season was even better. Gillian’s character had a lot more scenes this time and we see her navigating on a new relationship while helping the students at Otis’ school with their sex issues. What I loved about the second season was that it addressed sexual issues from a female point of view. One example was Aimee’s story where she was sexually assaulted in the bus. It showed how a seemingly “small” offense could affect a woman and how speaking out and supporting fellow women could be a powerful thing.

Speaking of power, another powerful scene in season 2 and one of my favorites was when Florence sought Jean’s advice about her intimacy issue. The student thought she’s broken because she’s not interested in sex. Then Jean said, “Sex doesn’t make you whole. And so, how can you ever be broken?” Everything in that scene was fantastic.

What more can I say? The show has a perfect cast, well-written episodes, great cinematography (those wide shots of expansive greeneries were to die for) and a kickass soundtrack!

Goodbye, friend. Hello, Elliot

December 26, 2019 at 5:16 PM | Posted in Mental Health, TV | Leave a comment
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SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers of the series finale of Mr. Robot. Read at your own risk!

Will the real Elliot please stand up?

And damn right he did. That is, not until the penultimate episode of Mr. Robot’s series finale. After four incredible seasons, Mr. Robot aired its two-part series finale this week.

In the first part, Elliot Alderson seemed to have jumped back in time where he found himself in Washington Township – the place where he grew up in. Only this time, the town seemed oddly different. The town looked like it didn’t change at all after 20 years since Elliot was there. But some things did change: his father, a.k.a Mr. Robot, was alive and healthy. His mother was suddenly nice and loving towards him. And his sister Darlene didn’t exist. He’s supposedly an only child.

Then things got stranger as he soon found out that there was another Elliot Alderson living in the town who looked exactly like him – and engaged to be married to Angela who turned out to be alive. Who’s the other Elliot?

This second Elliot seemed to have the perfect life: he had a loving family, he’s the CEO of Allsafe – the anti-virus company that our Elliot (Elliot 1) used to work for, he had lots of friends and loved socializing with them, he’s engaged to be married to Angela who loved him, and his apartment looked so neat. It was all too perfect.

It felt disconcerting watching those scenes. I didn’t like this version of Elliot. And then came the shocker: Elliot 1 hacked Elliot 2’s computer and found sketches of himself, Darlene, and the rest of the original members of fsociety. What’s going on here? Who was this other Elliot? At first, I thought this was some kind of story similar to the movie Stranger Than Fiction where a fictional character written by a famous author became real. But then more was revealed in the second part of the show’s series finale.

In the second part, we finally found out that the Elliot Alderson we’ve seen in all seasons of the show and whom we have come to love wasn’t in fact real. Elliot 1 was apparently another persona that the real Elliot (Elliot 2) created in his mind. Elliot 2, who’s suffering from disassociative identity disorder (DID), had created five personas in his mind to cope with the harsh realities of his life: he created Mr. Robot, a different version of his mother, a much younger version of himself, Elliot 1 – the mastermind who was a hacker vigilante, and us viewers who he called “friend.” But Elliot 1 became such a dominant persona that it eventually took control of the real Elliot completely.

Honestly, I was kind of disappointed that Elliot 1 wasn’t the real Elliot. He was the one character in the show who I most relate with. He was an introvert like me. He had social anxiety just as I have and he was struggling with personal demons much like I am. He was just like me. But that character turned out to be just a figment of the real Elliot’s imagination.

But I loved the part where Elliot 1 and Darlene were in the hospital and he told her that he wasn’t the real Elliot. His last voice-over was so poignant and emotional that it almost sounded like a battle cry for people not to give up, to stay true to themselves. Then we saw the real Elliot emerged in the end with Darlene saying the final words in the show: “Hello, Elliot.”  I mean, that entire part brought tears to my eyes.

Overall, the series finale was a brilliant, mind-blowing one. I didn’t see the surprises coming. Everything fell into place in the finale – well, almost. It still left a few questions unanswered for me, such as:

  • Did Tyrell really die? What happened to him in the woods?
  • What exactly was whiterose’s machine capable of? There were hints of time travel but the finale didn’t make that clear.
  • Also, a news report stated that whiterose was killed by a terrorist attack. Was that really the case or was that just a coverup?
  • What happened to Dom?
  • What happened to the real Krista? Would she eventually know about the real Elliot?

A nice touch from the finale was the inclusion of the ‘80s classic song, “Mr. Roboto” in the penultimate episode, which most fans of the show were expecting (and hoping?) to hear. The show went through all three seasons without playing the song and now in season 4 they finally did. I chuckled when I heard the song being played in the background during the first few scenes of the episode. I never liked the song but hearing the lyrics now, I thought it was so fitting not only because of its resemblance to the title of the show but also because of the message in the song.

Season 4 of Mr. Robot came out a little weak and slow at the start of the season, but it picked up pace halfway through. The fifth episode, “Method Not Allowed,” was notable for not having much dialogue in it but it spoke volumes through fast-paced action, tense situations and creative display of text. Another episode that really stood out for me was “Conflict” where we saw Darlene doxed the Deus Group and whiterose, a.k.a Minister Zhang, shaken by fsociety’s hack on Cyprus National Bank. But one of my favorite episodes from the season apart from the finale was episode 7 titled “Proxy Authentication Required.” The scene between Elliot 1, Krista, Mr. Robot and Fernando Vera was powerful and intense and all the actors in it gave an astounding performance. Rami Malek, who plays Elliot, deserves another Emmy award from this scene alone.

I also want to note that this final season didn’t follow the usual format in naming the episodes. The previous three seasons had file names as episode titles, which I thought was really clever. I kind of miss that.

But I will surely miss this show. There wasn’t anything like it that I’ve ever seen. Its production values, unique story, brilliant writing and cinematography were what made the show one of the best in recent years.

Purr-fectly Memorable

November 30, 2019 at 11:24 PM | Posted in Theater | Leave a comment

It was nine years ago when an international tour of Cats had its run in Manila. Being a big fan of musical theater, I was set to watch it but wasn’t able to at the last minute due to unavoidable circumstances. Thankfully, an international tour happened again this year which included a Manila leg. This time I made sure not to miss it.

I was able to catch a limited run of Cats last week at the Theater at Solaire and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Prior to this, I’ve never watched the play before but loved the music when I first heard it as a teenager. Since then it’s always been my dream to watch it someday. Now I’m so glad that I finally did.

I’ve heard some theater snobs say that they didn’t like Cats because it has no plot. While I could partly agree with that, let me just say that the play is based on a collection of poems by T.S. Eliot about cats. So of course there’s not much of a plot in it! This isn’t Shakespeare! I’ve read some of the poems and I must say I liked them. The play might not have that much plot, but it makes up for it with incredible dance routines.

Full disclosure, I’m a cat person and I grew up with cats in the house. So it’s natural for me to love a play about my favorite animal.

Anyway, it was truly a sight to behold seeing the play for the first time. The actors were all just fantastic and I was amazed by how good they were with the intricate choreography. They were sinewy, graceful and superbly talented as Jellicle cats. Of course I was also proud that our local talent, Joanna Ampil, was cast as Grizabella. I knew she played the role previously in a European tour so I was looking forward to watching her perform. And she pretty much nailed it as Grizabella. I was in tears when she was belting out “Memory.” It was really moving. Aside from “Memory” and “The Jellicle Ball,” another song I loved from the play was “Mr. Mistoffelees,” which was perfectly performed by the cast. And I found myself singing along with them.

This was taken during an intermission in the play.

The costumes were also wonderful and I loved the fact that the actors moved around the theater and engaged with the audience in full character.

I must say watching the play was truly a memorable experience for me.

Taken during an intermission in the play.

Always Outside Looking In

October 18, 2019 at 11:46 PM | Posted in Mental Health, Musings | Leave a comment
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You know that feeling when you think you belong to a group but you’re actually not? I get that most of the time. I am an introvert with a bad case of social anxiety. I am awkward around people, and most of the time I don’t know what to say to them or how to react to certain situations. And that’s why most people perceive me as cold and aloof. Because I don’t talk much. I don’t smile much.

I’m not inclined to respond to small talk, especially about mundane things. If something doesn’t pique my interest, I have very little reaction to it. I mean, I try to be sociable. God knows I try. But it’s just hard for me. And it can be very stressful trying to be sociable, especially around people I don’t know very well.

Maybe that’s why even when I’m part of a few groups I still feel like an outsider. Conversations happen in front of me or around me, but there are times when I feel like I’m being excluded because I can’t keep up with their chatter or with their humor. I’m in the circle but I’m not really in it. I’m just looking in.

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