Have you heard of GagaOOLala? It’s a video on-demand subscription service, just like Netflix – except for LGBTQ+ content. Based in Taiwan, the streaming service has just launched Papa & Daddy, which it is touting as “Asia’s very first gay parenting series”.
The first episode, which is free, was released last Friday (April 23). Running for six episodes, the gay family comedy, supported by Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture, is written and directed by Nancy Chen and stars Malaysian Chinese actor and singer Melvin Sia (謝佳見) and Taiwanese actor Mike Lin (林輝瑝).
The series follows Damian (Melvin Sia), a 38-year-old overseas Taiwanese and recent divorcé, who returns to Taipei to open his dream restaurant, Verso. While at Verso, Damian meets and falls for Jerry (Mike Lin), a 28-year-old YouTube vlogger.
As their relationship progresses, Damian wishes to start a family with Jerry but Jerry is reluctant to take on parental duties at such an early age. However, four years later and through surrogacy, Damian and Jerry officially become gay parents to their four-year-old son, Kai Kai (Kai Lin). Amidst all these developments, Jerry is still yet to come out to his parents, who live in rural Hualien and finds himself increasingly pressured by them to get married to a woman.
Papa & Daddy stars the two-time recipient of the Malaysia Golden Awards, Melvin Sia (Romantic Delicacies, Love Destiny, V-Focus), and rising Taiwanese actor, Mike Lin (Love & TT, The Outsiders). The production marks their first time taking on the role of gay characters on screen.
At a press conference earlier this month, Sia said that he was honoured to take on the role of Damien.
“While much of the world is gradually becoming accepting of the LGBTQ+ community, it is clear that Asia is largely lacking behind. There is barely any LGBTQ+ content that makes it to the theaters or mainstream television especially from where I come from in Malaysia,” he said.
“Thus, with Papa & Daddy and GagaOOLala, I genuinely believe we can reach out to a larger online audience and ultimately, amplify the message of love and acceptance, diversity, and equality for all, regardless of one’s sexual orientation.”
The story behind the series is inspired by the life of Mr Jay Lin, the founder and CEO of GagaOOLala, and Lin’s personal experience of being a gay dad and raising two children of his own. Both Lin and his partner, who had their kids via surrogacy, served as the inspiration for the characters of Damian and Jerry as the main leads in Papa & Daddy.
“As a gay parent myself, I have heard people question whether children raised under LGBTQ+ households could grow up physically and psychologically healthy. I see Papa & Daddy as a personal opportunity to help shape the narrative on the modern family and in the process assist LGBTQ+ individuals who have contemplated starting a family,” said Lin.