What’s in (a) ‘wife’?

Tessa MAuricio-Arriola

Tessa MAuricio-Arriola

After the words “mistress” and  “lover” have been used in the titles of mostly successful movie and teleseryes in the last few years, it is now the turn of the “wife” to draw the curiosities—and pull in the ratings—of boob tube fans.

This January, both ABS-CBN and GMA Network are premiering dramas that carry the word “wife” in their titles—The Legal Wife and The Borrowed Wife, respectively.

While The T Zone has yet to look into the plot of Angel Locsin’s comeback project for prime time, it doesn’t take a genius to assume that the The Legal Wife will begin with an unfaithful husband, a mistress and a scorned wife.

It turns out, however, that The Borrowed Wife, which held its press launch on Tuesday night at the GMA Network Center, has a troublesome adjective in the middle, which doesn’t necessarily fit what one would expect from the basic storyline.

With a teaser that goes, “May sapat bang dahilan para ang iyong asawa ay iyong ipahiram?” The T Zone was looking forward to a plot that doesn’t seem to have been explored by the world of Philippine teleseryes just yet.

Such an intriguing title, the closest assumption a movie and TV buff could make on the play of words would be the 1993 Robert Redford-Demi Moore-Woody Harrelson-starrer, Indecent Proposal, where a cash-strapped husband agrees to a one-night stand between his wife and a billionaire admirer for a million dollars. With such a bold, imaginative and exciting premise, the movie became a blockbuster hit, and not just because of its huge stars.

And yes, “The Borrowed Wife” could very well make it to a short list of titles, if ever one were to be done for Indecent Proposal, with the basic idea that a wife would be “lent” to another man.

In the Philippine setting, such a storyline would be easy to pull off: A rich man in love with a married woman; that woman married to a loving but dreadfully poor husband; and a devastating problem that will arise in their family life that only money can resolve. Thus, The Borrowed Wife, right? A premise with so much potential in script-development.

It was therefore quite confusing to learn that the plot of GMA Network’s newest afternoon prime offering, which stars teleserye-honed actors Camille Prats, Rafael Roseel, Pauleen Luna and TJ Trinidad, also involves an unfaithful husband, a mistress, and a scorned wife.

Camille Prats

Camille Prats

Here’s a quick run-through: Pauleen’s character Tessa (no relation to The T-Zone) is obsessed with her best friend Maricar’s (Camille) husband Rico (Rafael). Tessa seduces Rico, who in a moment of weakness, sleeps with Tessa (again, relation to The T-Zone!). They get caught by Maricar, who runs away in tears and hysterics, encounters an accident, and boom—gets amnesia.

TJ Trinidad

TJ Trinidad

Fate brings Maricar to Earl (TJ) on a secluded beach, and Earl, who happens to be a cosmetic surgeon, changes her face, names her Sophia, and makes her his wife. How Maricar/Sophia becomes the “borrowed wife” gets a bit hazy here because following the soap’s preview, neither Earl nor Sophia knew she was someone’s wife to begin with.

Rafael Rosel

Rafael Rosel

And so, The T Zone sought the help of GMA Network’s Afternoon Prime head Roy Iglesias for some clarity, who by the way is legitimately described as a genius in TV programming for instigating risqué storylines in the day time drama block, thereby toppling the competition.

“We originally had a Filipino title but it made the project sound a bit dated,” he explained. “So we chose the title ‘The Borrowed Wife,’ which is certainly more exciting.”

Agreeing with The T Zone’s sentiment that the word “borrowed” isn’t strictly used in the sense that a wife was “lent” to someone, he proposed, “You can look at it as Earl’s ‘borrowed time’ with Maricar, because eventually, she will come across her past again and that’s where the rest of the story will unfold.” Hence, The Borrowed Wife.

Despite this tiny objection on the title, however, The T Zone encourages teleserye fans to tune in to The Borrowed Wife come Monday, since the project does come from Iglesia’s tried and tested group, with director Gil Tejada Jr. (Encantadia, Bakekang, Broken Vow) at the helm, and such colorful supporting actors as Caridad Sanchez, Yayo Aguila and Kevin Santos (the fabulous gay best friend of Dennis Trillo’s Eric in My Husband’s Lover) in the cast.

With Chinese New Year coming up and all, every–one in search for that lucky charm or token, maybe the word “wife” will be auspicious in titles for TV.

The Borrowed Wife premiers on January 20 after Villa Quintana and Magkano Ba Ang Pag-ibig on GMA Afternoon Prime.


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