Brillante Ma Mendoza’s TV series Amo is the first Filipino-made television show to be picked up by Netflix. Though often compared to other shows about drug wars such as Narcos and The Wire, there is a lot that would be unfamiliar to or lost on most American viewers. Eliza and two guest podcasters, Joey Marana and Aldovar, reach into their Filipino-American backgrounds to fill in the gaps for outsiders.
The following are edited excerpts from “A Filipino-American Look at Netflix’s ‘Amo’”, the 25th episode of Plan A’s podcast, Escape From Plan A.
“AMO” is a TV series that was created for TV5 in the Philippines and it did so well despite all the controversy surrounding it that Netflix picked it up. It will likely be the first time that many people around the world are exposed to a Filipino television show. What we’d like to do in our podcast today is provide a bit of an explainer to non-Fil Am and non-Filipino viewers since a lot of the nuances of Filipino culture could easily be misread or just missed entirely because the show is so immersive.
I don’t think I can ever be an atheist, or agnostic. As distant I can try to push away from Catholicism, there’s always that [cultural] connection, right?
There is this phenomenon of the sex trade in Asia, which also comes in the Philippines. I’ve had some really good conversations with my brother and sister-in-law about that because as Americans, we feel very strongly about the exploitation of Filipina women and those extreme circumstances and measures. But her perspective at times was, “Well, if they can do something to help secure something for their family or children or future, and it just so happens to benefit this horny Australian in a club, is it actually so bad?” I know for myself, I had a very strong viscerally emotional response. Because I just don’t like it.