A teenage series on Primetime with proper depictions of mental health? We. Are. So. Seated.
Senior High made its debut on screen last Aug. 28 as ABS-CBN and Dreamscape premiered the first episode of this highly anticipated series. Starring a roster of all-star veteran actors and rising Gen Z stars, Senior High is going beyond just being another high school show on TV with its new colors into the Philippine mainstream media through its brave takes on mental health issues.
The Storyteller’s Baggage
Themes of bullying, drug abuse, suicide, social classes, and parental neglect circle the series’ premise, breaking boundaries to the usual Filipino teleserye recipe. After growing up with the usual teenage shows about friendships, team building, and campus drama, Senior High’s hard-hitting premise with a bit of social commentary feels like a breath of fresh air in terms of concept and storytelling techniques.
Putting out sensitive content in the Philippine mainstream media amid the slow progression of mental health discourses is certainly a bold move. Even Director Onat Diaz acknowledged how risky and sensitive the show’s trope could be during the celebrity screening held last Aug. 27. “We in the production, the creative team and the entire staff are very conscious that more than just telling a compelling story, we have to tell it responsibly,” Diaz said.
Lead star Andrea Brillantes, who pulls double duty in the series as she plays twins, gave a heads-up just in case the story lands on the wrong audience. “Siguro natatakot kami kasi ayaw po talaga namin na ma-romanticize ang drugs, or ma-romanticize ang depression. Gusto po namin mapakita dito na ito po ‘yong effects niya kapag pinatuloy or anong mangyayari if you don’t speak up to your bullies or anong mangyayari if you do speak up to your bullies.”
Beyond the means to tell a story, Senior High aims to educate and inspire people who resonate with the characters. With each persona crafted with their own back stories and complexities, the show is a feast of inclusivity and representation.
It has been a great sight to see a fresh roster of shows that have become more progressive as time goes by. Some may say it’s too late, but it really isn’t. Change is gradual, and having the mainstream media on board is already a great leap. Even the cast members also expressed how this new series could be a turning point for the Philippine media to try and tackle sensitive topics that were once avoided in the industry.
For the first time in TV history, I guess? Claps for the team of Senior High for doing this. This is an important matter na dapat matagal ng ginagawa sa TV lalo sa ganitong theme. #SeniorHigh #SHPagbubukas #AndreaBrillantes pic.twitter.com/mNyp4tRf3C— DarkAj | Follow to draw (@XxdarkAj) August 29, 2023
“Kasi nagbabago ‘yong mundo diba? Nagbabago ‘yong panahon, nagbabago ‘yong oras, nagbabago ‘yong mga agos ng bagay-bagay. We can’t just stay in a place na ‘yong inooffer natin is the same thing over and over again. Naniniwala ako na ‘yong Senior High, magbubukas siya ng maraming utak, lalo na sa kultura na meron tayo,” starring actor Kean Cipriano said.
Senior High’s attempt to pave the way for healthy discourses on heavy issues has already sparked attention from netizens with people expressing appreciation for the newest primetime watch.
The Senior High clique has also put an amazing twist to the classic open forum sessions we grew up with. Before the taping, the cast was said to have been given the opportunity to share their thoughts on the issues that were going to be tackled in the series through a focus group discussion. The discussion was apparently, in Andrea’s words, “no filter.” Takes us back to the high school days with a bunch of teenage drama—this time, more juicy and more progressive.
“Lahat dito, lahat tayo. Iba-iba ‘yong dala natin so we always have to be nice to everyone dahil hindi mo alam ang story niya.” she said.
A Neon-Colored Dream
Looking at the fusion of a brilliant premise accompanied by a phenomenal cast and production, Senior High is hoping to make a splash in more ways than one..
“This is not your ordinary primetime teleserye. We’re trying something different. We’re trying to level up some more. We’re trying to talk to the YAs (Young Adults). It’s a very important market globally and digitally.” Head of Dreamscape Entertainment Deo Endrinal said. It’s time to take away the shackles that have been restricting the youth from opening their minds. The time has come for us to embrace the progress, even through means of dopamine shots from our trusty Filipino seryes.
It's a refreshing take on the high school drama genre. It's not afraid to tackle tough issues!! The characters are complex and the plot is full of twists and turns. I'm hooked #SeniorHigh pic.twitter.com/8LqQCU0gwq— shai shaiii 🍹 (@slvdrshaira) August 28, 2023
Dir. Diaz wished to pursue a truthful story about the youth, for the youth. And the youth is ready to listen. Everybody from the show has already shown immense pride and enthusiasm for what’s to come for Senior High. Delving into a fresh and mind-boggling concept, we are with the whole cast of Senior High for the excitement of what’s in store for the series’ direction.
Catch Sky, Luna, and the rest of the Senior High squad in this endeavor on iWantTFC! We can’t wait to see the reflection of vibrant colors Senior High will be painting on our screens.