TV Series Review: Jasmine (2014)

There was one day I procrastinated in preparing for class and watched the whole 9 episodes of TV5's JASMINE (2014) starring Jasmine Curtis-Smith playing herself. It's a mystery story with lots of people getting killed off, so I got intrigued and watched it on iflix (because I found out that there's a free subscription with our PLDT plan). It's quite a refreshing take on show business and making teleseryes. It is a TV series about Jasmine making a TV series.

The story starts with Jasmine, a struggling actress making her way into mainstream media. She wants artful acting projects for indie films, but her manager wants her to focus on the mainstream and her making a name. Jasmine has other friends: Carly, her best friend/sidekick; Wendell, the showbiz blogger; and Miguel, a senator's son interested in her.

Jasmine auditions for the lead role of TV5's new show, URLoved. Selena Pascual, another actress, bullies her and wants to be the bida of the show. In another awards night, Selena wins instead of Jasmine. As she accepts the prize and speaks onstage, the lights and metal crash into Selena. It looked like an accident, but police Inspector Ramon Ramirez (played by Matt Padilla) suspects otherwise. Selena eventually dies, and the police gets more suspicious of everyone involved, including Jasmine and her friends.

Here's when Jasmine meets Maskara. They start talking online. At first, she thinks he's just another supportive fan but notices that he always seems to know where she is. Soon, this Maskara gets dangerous - hurting those who get in the way of Jasmine's showbiz career. Who is he and how does he know Jasmine's every move? This is the key mystery of the show, to find out who this masked guy is. He could be anybody in Jasmine's life. Maskara has a distinctive mask made of paper mache from newspaper cutouts of articles on Jasmine, which highlights his obsession of her. It reminded me of The Phantom of the Opera, with a masked man behind the scenes obsessed with a female actress.

Meanwhile, Jasmine gets the lead role in URLoved with Selena gone. Her love team in the show is Alexis Vergara (Vin Abrenica) who also gets interested in her. Maskara once protects Jasmine, but soon gets hurt by her rejection - and now decides to turn to those she loves for revenge. Jasmine is not only afraid of her own safety but for her friends as well.

"You and me are alike. You put on a mask while you act and play a role..."
"Why are you hiding your real face?"
"This is my real face. Its when this mask is removed, that I am wearing my real mask."
(I'm just paraphrasing a scene in English)

Robin Padilla stars as a discharged police officer in the last three episodes of the show after a character gets killed, but I think the show could've gone on without him if they only developed the said character more. Though, Robin was great for his role and is very funny in this show. Their scenes seem to criticize the failure of the police system and corruption in the country.

Watching this show feels like reading a mystery novel, and I tried to avoid spoilers on the identity of Maskara and it came out as a complete surprise. I love that "Aha" moment where you could have seen it and the clues are already there, and when we find out who Maskara is what he said made so much sense, about him also "acting" on a role, and he's already in Jasmine's life and has been an unmasked presence in every episode since day one.

The Maskara character should have been explored more, though the motivation behind his actions was 'explained'. Maskara once saved Jasmine from a life-threatening situation, but soon his character gets darker and just 'evil'. But then, stories in Philippine TV love the bida and kontrabida stereotypes, with no grey between the black and white.

Jasmine is still worth watching. It's an experimental story with postmodern elements (metafiction, the blurring of fantasy and reality, etc) and an engaging mystery that will keep you watching until the last episode.

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