For some reason—and I’m not complaining—the pandemic has been an especially fruitful time for BL (Boys Love) shows. 2020 has been the year of Filipino BL, with shows like “Gaya Sa Pelikula,” “Hello Stranger,” “MyDay” and so on making their dent on the local web series scene.
“Gameboys” was the first to come from this wave. If you’re a fan of the show, we have some good news. A “leveled up” version will be added to Netflix on Dec. 30. Called “Gameboys Level-Up,” it’ll feature bonus content: “refreshed and re-shot scenes, additional footage, new correspondence and ‘vidgram’ stories from the characters throughout the series.”
Originally premiering on YouTube like most BL series, the show is by The IdeaFirst Company and has a unique rivals-to-lovers dynamic. Or more accurately, rival gamers-to-lovers. If you couldn’t tell from the title, “Gameboys” follows the lover story of two live-streaming gamers, Cairo (Elijah Canlas) and Gavreel (Kokoy de Santos).
“Our goal with Gameboys was to create a truly Filipino BL while also delivering universal themes and messages about two boys who find themselves connecting during the pandemic using the all-computer-screen format. The global health crisis basically forced us to rethink how we were producing stories, and institute a work-from-home shoot, involving actors recording themselves using their personal phones, supervised by a small crew attending the set virtually,” says series creator and co-producer Jun Robles Lana, who was also the filmmaker behind two recent queer indie greats: “Bwakaw” and “Die Beautiful.”
“At a time when the world literally paused and people had to step back from all the daily routines they’ve gone used to, Gameboys was born. The show served as a glimmer of hope for us especially when we, the people in production, thought we were going to lose our jobs,” says director Ivan Andrew Payawal.
But taking the challenge that is Gameboys is no easy feat, Payawal adds. “It has definitely expanded our creativity to deliver content that we’re truly proud of despite the quarantine and safe distancing measures. The message of this show has been our unstoppable force to carry on no matter how hard the challenges were, because we believe that Gameboys shows a love that is universal and speaks one language regardless of gender, orientation and physical connection. It is the kind of love that encompasses virtual connection as we prove that love indeed has no boundaries. Now it is going to be on Netflix for the world to discover as Gameboys Level-Up Edition, and I am very proud of what our team has achieved,” says its director.
We can’t wait to see the refreshed “Gameboys,” and we know we’re not the only ones. The show’s been popular enough that it warranted a GL (Girls Love) spinoff with one of its supporting characters Pearl (Adrianna So).