You Should Watch “The Rich Man’s Daughter,” a Filipino Soap Opera Starring a Lesbian Couple

My dearest, gentlest, most wispy dandelion fluffs. Hello. How are you doing? What have you been up to? Are you in want of anything? Are you, perhaps, in want of a solid soap opera with queer female characters who have a lot of feelings and potentially about each other? WELL THEN. May I humbly suggest checking out this little soap opera, the first prime time Filipino show to feature a lesbian couple, The Rich Man’s Daughter? I mean, I do, I do humbly suggest it.

Please, join me in spiraling into this delicious soapy drama. Let me introduce you to your new favorite ship:

rich mans daughter jade

Jade is the only daughter and favorite child of the Tanchingcos, a prominent Chinese Filipino family that’s firmly rooted in tradition. Likes: her family (especially her grandmother), dancing, traveling, and maybe Althea. Dislikes: heights.

rich mans daughter althea

Althea is the wedding planner for Jade’s brother, Gabe, and his fiance, Pearl. Likes: dressing up, her dog, her father, heights, and Jade. Dislikes: abandonment and betrayal.

Jade and Althea first lock eyes during Gabe and Pearl’s wedding, when Jade is walking down the aisle as part of the wedding procession. They both immediately feel a connection. Later, they have a series of run-ins that escalate into friendship that escalates into something more complicated. Jade is set to marry David, a member of another prominent Chinese Filipino family, and their eventual marriage is foretold to bring great fortune to both families. David, as far as I can tell, enjoys being a Nice Guy and looking worried while wearing collared shirts.

This may sound familiar, and that’s because The Rich Man’s Daughter is basically the TV offspring of Imagine Me & You and I Can’t Think Straight. It has everything: a fraught dinner invitation initiated by a somewhat clueless boyfriend, an extended dance break, Really Significant Hand-Touching, an engagement that must go on, tense family politics, declarations of attraction amidst spontaneous confetti showers, and, of course, several lovers’ theme songs that are incongruous with the rest of the soundtrack and play twice as loud as any other music cue. At one point, the line, “Love is an unstoppable force” is uttered. It is a buffet of tropes. A rompery of queer rom-com and angst-fest cliches. Plus, y’all, their chemistry is amazing. They are a study in smittenhood:

HOW CUTE IS THAT? Remember, though, this is a good ol’ fashioned soap opera, so there’s plenty at stake that moves very quickly. The Tanchingcos are a traditional, patriarchal family, one that’s very concerned with saving face. Disobedience — such as having an unapproved relationship, especially a queer one — will certainly be met with shame and familial dishonor, if not disownment. (Here’s a spoileriffic breakdown of how this particular family stacks up against other families.) Jade’s other brother, Paul, nurses a grudge against her and expositionally threatens to ruin her whenever he gets a chance. Meanwhile, Jade still feels this connection to Althea! What does it all mean? How will she reconcile it with her family? Why is she making the choices she is making?!?

rich mans daughter althea and jade

If you’re not enticed yet, know that I watched every episode so far in a 48-hour span, and I had to pause multiple times in order to yell “OH MY GOD” out loud to my empty room. It inspires that many feelings. Please, if nothing else, go have a watch (a kind soul has uploaded all the episodes so far with English subtitles) and come back here to yell with me about how over-the-top it is.

Robin doesn't lean in, she spreads out. Her skills include talking up the movie Spice World to strangers. In any situation, she would prefer to get campy. She's a hedonist, lady dandy, and lazy academic. She has a twitter and a tumblr.

Robin has written 43 articles for us.

37 Comments

  1. Was it just me or was ep. 2 not subtitled?? Wasn’t sure if I somehow clicked away from the subtitled clips? Picture and sound quality went way up compared to episode 1 but my subtitles disappeared!

    I think it’s really cute so far! I watched a couple of subtitled Filipino rom-coms on a plane last year and really enjoyed them… finding some more Filipino cinema was on my to-do list and massive bonus that this is queer themed!

  2. That girl that plays Althea. Oh wow. She’s hot and a good actress to boot.

    It’s a little melodramatic and angst ridden right now. I’m like at Episode 10 but it is like crack. I cannot stop watching.

  3. omg thank you for promoting this show! 😀 i am a huge fan of TRMD, and i am doing all in my power (lol) to spread the good news of TRMD. 😀 looking forward to future episodes!

  4. Good to know you guys like the Filipino soap. Fans of the show call themselves (including me) Rastro Rebels (combining surnames of Rhian RAmos and Glaiza de CaSTRO)or Jathea (from their character names JAde and AlTHEA). Keep watching and enjoy! #LoveIsAnUnstoppableForce #Respect #LoveIsLove #Equality

  5. Great tv Show! Touching every episode. Inspiration to others. Love that hard to explain in the country like Phillipines that never accept same sex relationship, eye opener-to accept the reality, who really they are and what they are.

  6. I hope the show gets the exposure it really deserves.. I think that the number of trending hashtags for every episode is not nearly close to those who really watch this. There are lots of closet ones, appreciating the show in silence.. Thanks for this article! The chemistry between the 2 (jade and althea) loos amazingly real.

  7. I hope the show gets the exposure it really deserves.. I think that the number of trending hashtags for every episode is not nearly close to those who really watch this. There are lots of closet ones, appreciating the show in silence.. Thanks for this article! The chemistry between the 2 (jade and althea) looks amazingly real.

  8. But do the characters change actors to show that they’ve turned evil? Is there a subplot where someone gets plastic surgery and amnesia and tries to go back to their old life only to have Original Actor show up? Or do those only happen in Indian soaps?

    • Those happen in filipino soap operas as well but probably not this one. The writing team on this show tend to write things more realistic. Still over dramatic as most soaps are but generally no WTF twists like that.

  9. I am a fan of this show and I’m straight! I had to say that to disprove the notion that only gay people can appreciate shows like this. I only get to watch this on Youtube and already I’ve finished every single one of them. I am now looking forward to the next episode. I’d probably go home early so I’d be the first to use the TV. I just love this show so much. I love the story and I love the characters especially Althea. The only thing I don’t like about is how awkward they speak in Chinese, lol. Other than that, the show is great.

  10. I LOVE ASIAN DRAMAS. I’M SO EXCITED THERE IS ONE ABOUT LESBIANS. I CAN’T WAIT FOR THIS COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY OVER THE TOP DRAMA ACTION.
    No but really I’m so excited. This made my night.

  11. and, of course, several lovers’ theme songs that are incongruous with the rest of the soundtrack and play twice as loud as any other music cue.

    I was already looking forward to watching, but this really solidified it. I’m in.

  12. I loooove this show! Such juicy, soapy goodness. It’s very nice to see it being promoted here. I’m Filipino-American and I’m used to seeing American/European depictions of same-sex love stories, so it’s wonderful to finally see myself represented in this way. I can’t say enough about the 2 actresses, they have so much chemistry and their acting is so spot on. You can really feel and see their love/passion for each other. They have, for me, the most chemistry out of all the fictional lesbians I’ve come across.

    Maybe Autostraddle can do recaps (just FYI, please carefully research the cultural context of the show – I’m afraid another website attempted recaps and it fell flat to say the least).

    • the two leads have ridiculous chemistry, and the camera does NOT stop soft-focusing on them!

      I briefly considered independently doing a weekly podcast recap with my Chinese-Filipino friend, but honestly it would be 15% cultural context, 80% various inflections of “why did they just do that????” and 5% my friend criticizing the Hokkien accents on the show — so, probably not super helpful for people who aren’t us, haha

    • I think one of the challenge to doing the recap is how the show is being shown Monday to Friday on Philippine TV. That’s a lot to cover. The culture is also very different and could get lost in translation.

  13. This show is already on its fourth week and the drama just keep coming. I couldn’t count the number of times that Jade (Rhian) got slapped. Also, the violence being shown by Oscar, makes me cringe every time. Sure, it’s part of the show and the ratings game but woah! As a Filipino/Canadian, I feel horrified/sad/scared/mad …..all at the same time. But despite the over-the-top depiction of homophobia in the Philippines, I must admit that there are way more undocumented stories. TRMD is giving a voice to a controversial topic and though it feels like majority of the episodes will give me a heart attack, it’s worth following. Also, everyone’s waiting for that kiss which may or may not happen what with the censorship’s double standards when it comes to homo and hetero relationships.

  14. Every inch of me loves this show!
    I am not a fan of soap opera’s but this is an exception!
    I love the characters especially Althea’s. The chemistry of Rhian Ramos and Glaiza de Castro just feels so real.. Also the song being played for this show brings so many emotions every time. The song ‘Till its time’ performed by Glaiza de Catro was taylored for this show and just brings me the feels.. #RaStroRebels

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