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A Comprehensive Guide To ‘Suami’ & ‘Isteri’ Programming: Part One
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A Comprehensive Guide To ‘Suami’ & ‘Isteri’ Programming: Part One

by Deric EctJune 1, 2015

Do you see Izzue Islam whenever your eyes are closed? Do you wish he was there living right next door so you can get some suami rumah sebelah action? Did you enjoy Aaron Aziz‘s interpretation of businessman Zarief Daniel and hope for more stimulating content like Suamiku, Encik Perfect 10?

There has been a very significant increase in interest towards suami-centric shows lately, and this latest trend in Malay-language content is a strange, alarming and hypothetically heartwarming one.

Detractors accuse the genre of being old-fashioned, morally-dubious and not very empowering for females. At the same time, it’s hard to dismiss the fact that this sort of programming has the potential to build a new generation of hardcore romantics more attuned to the sensitive side of things.

Most recently, television drama Dia… Isteri Luar Biasa has been gaining popularity as evident on Twitter: fans engage in relentless discussion over plot progression and characters. This sort of exchange is vital in keeping the industry alive and making it profitable.

Therefore, in an attempt to help stans find their way to whatever gives them life next, we at The Daily Seni have decided to compile every Suami and Isteri-centric show we knew of and go through them one by one in order to figure out the entire deal for ourselves. We hope you enjoy the first part of this exercise.

suami1Aku Isterinya

This Global Station production started its run in April last year and lasted for 28 episodes.

First of all, this show went through some titling hell.

It was given the working title of Aku Isterinya, before producers changed it to Aku Bukan Mistress in an effort to mirror the novel this series was adapted from. It was then changed back to Aku Isterinya when it was decided that Aku Bukan Mistress features a mix of English and Malay and was deemed not suitable for the station.

As a result, we have promotional images featuring both titles.

As for the show itself, Aku Isterinya stars Izzue Islam as Mikail and Anzalna Nassir as Mya. From what we gathered reading the extremely dramatic synopses online, we can tell that Mya had a dark past: she was first raped by her uncle and sold into prostitution.

She is saved by Mikail, and they live together for two years but then she gets raped again by Adam. At the same time, Mikail’s ex-girlfriend Lisa marries his own father, splitting his family. Mya wants to leave the relationship but Mikail asks her for RM50,000 in order for him to let her go. On top of this, Mya’s past lover Shamil and Mikail’s other ex-girlfriend Suzanne returns to torture the couple further.

This sounds like some heavy shit! Is this the sort of thing that gets the 7:00pm slot on TV3? In any case, check out their Facebook page to find out more or go on Youtube for the video teaser.


Dia… Isteri Luar Biasa

You know a television show has made it when you have a website like Rotikaya drumming up a news article based on a lone fan’s hateful comment on Instagram.

Dia… Isteri Luar Biasa is Malay television’s most relevant and current hit at the moment. Even its theme song, “Potret” by Akim & The Magistrate, is a #1 hit on Malaysian streaming charts.

This is another adaptation, based on the novel of the same title by Umie Nadzimah. Like Aku Isterinya, this also got to play during the Akasia slot on TV3. Dia… Isteri Luar Biasa is produced by Pena Creative Pictures.

The series centres around Dewi Yusra (Fathia Latiff) who goes on a search for a temporary husband for the sake of having a child.

Due to her father’s abusive nature towards her mother, Dewi has grown a distaste for men in general. However, things change when her desire for a child is exacerbated by her failed attempts at securing the chance of undergoing IVF and GTF procedures.

She gets help from her close friend Kem (Keith Foo) who sets her up with potential husbands but this doesn’t work out either as Kem has feelings for Dewi.

Eventually, Dewi finds herself in a situation with Dr. Raden (Shukri Yahaya) who she plans on turning into her baby daddy. They both get caught for khalwat and marry secretly. To us, this sounds like a happy-enough ending but hold up: the story has only just begun.

To find out more about what happens to Dewi and Kem and Raden, tune into TV3 from Mondays to Thursdays at 6:55PM.

Isteri Separuh MasaIsteri Separuh Masa

This Suri Ryana novel adaptation (there seems be a running theme here) shows every Monday at 10pm on Astro Ria and Maya HD. Directed by Michael Ang, the series stars Aiman Hakim Ridza and Emma Maembong.

Based on the premise of faking a happy relationship for the sake of others, Isteri Separuh Masa tells the story of Medina who is betrothed to Nazrin because their grandmother wants it that way.

Their grandmother.

Amping up on the creep factor is the fact that Medina and Nazrin are pretty much step-siblings.

Things take a turn for the complicated when we discover that Nazrin hates Medina because her existence makes it impossible for him and his lover Zita to get together.

The official synopsis of the show can be a bit dramatic with its far-flung comparisons. Our favourite has to be “mereka ibarat Israel dan Palestin, tidak pernah berdamai walaupun bertahun sudah berlalu“.

Isteri Separuh Masa is still on, with only a month or so of episodes left to watch so get on it, folks.

11334480_485300001643374_1379372901_nJodoh Sebelah Pintu

These entries have been arranged alphabetically, so it surprised us that Jodoh Sebelah Pintu also stars Emma Maembong and is directed by Michael Ang in another novel adaptation. The Dekna Lee novel of the same title has been given the television treatment by Darkwave Pictures.

Jodoh Sebelah Pintu will air soon on HyppTV but airtimes, promo art and dates have not been disclosed yet so you’ll just have to make do with this image taken from a fan’s Instagram.

Though its title doesn’t make it immediately obvious that this series belong in the same camp as the rest, one look at its storyline will.

In Jodoh Sebelah Pintu, Mona (Emma Maembong) is engaged to a man she has never met. After a series of events, she figures out that the lucky man is living in the house next door. But which house? Could it be Badrul (Kamal Adli) who likes picking fights? Or could it be Amirul (Erwin Dawson), who seems like a bit of a pervert? There’s also a third party who walks into Mona’s life and makes everything even more difficult.

Who is Mona’s fiancé? Will they manage to defy the odds and be together?

We’d tell you more about this show but details seem to be so scarce so we’ll update this once someone from the Jodoh camp gets back to us.

Playboy Itu Suami Aku TV3“Playboy” Itu Suami Aku…

This 28-episode series directed by Azmi Hatta ran on TV3’s Akasia slot every Mondays to Thursdays back during the end of 2013. We aren’t sure how they got away with the word “playboy” in the title, given that Aku Bukan Mistress got rejected for mixing up languages (which to be frank is quite an archaic, limiting and extremely misguided rule).

Produced by Temenggung Pictures, this is a novel adaptation based on Playboy Itu Suami Aku?! by Suri Ryana.

Leading the series are Risteena Munim as the polite and religious Afina, and Fattah Amin as lothario Adrian. Afina is made to marry Adrian who is a bit (read: a lot) of a prick in order for both parties to satisfy each other’s not-so-hidden agendas. This is decided by Adrian’s grandmother.

Adrian is forced into the marriage because his father won’t let him become a CEO otherwise, and as a result he treats Afina like dirt. Afina however, persists on trying to win Adrian’s heart.

Complicating matters is Adrian’s girlfriend and Afina’s non-identical twin sister Afisya (you wonder why they even made her non-identical when every other decision made with regards to the show was done to maximize conflict) who is unhappy with everything.

As if all this wasn’t enough of a clusterf**k for Afina, she gets into a bout of amnesia after waking from an accident-induced coma. This makes her gain a bit of a feisty edge and she begins fighting back.

Sadly, with such a storyline the whole thing just seems rather anti-feminist. It’s at this point of the entry we begin to question if viewers of Malay soap operas take pleasure in the suffering of women.

However, before we dismiss “Playboy” Itu Suami Aku…, it’s worth asking: why does it take complete memory loss to wake Afina up to her plight? Why does she gain strength from forgetting her past? Is this a subliminal way of pointing out that tradition results in meek, men-worshipping women? Is this a clever dig at the submissive nature of nusantara culture?

q6scoz15l2iqProjek Memikat Suami

Directed by Emi Suffian Sabhe, Projek Memikat Suami first aired at the tail end of 2013.

Before we go into the show, here’s some Drama Melayu 101 for you: the director, commonly referred to simply as Suffian, is known for shooting up to 30 scenes in a single day. His past works include the dramas Cinta Itu Milikku, Drama Vanilla Coklat, Eksperimen Cinta and Isteriku Bukan Queen Control.

Projek Memikat Suami was one of Suffian’s highly successful ventures. Also starring Emma Maembong, the show is based on the eponymous novel by Hanina Abdullah.

Once again, we’re looking at a story of a woman who is shocked by the news of her involuntary engagement to a man. This time too, he swears that he will make her suffer for ruining his life by being engaged to him.

We spend our time watching as Husna (Emma Maembong) tries her best at winning the heart of her husband Zahrain (Aiman Hakim Ridza) who seems to hate her with all his guts. This time however, she succeeds at making him fall for her but then comes along many other complications which may foil their happily-ever-after.

Basically, we’re looking at a simplified version of “Playboy” Itu Suami Aku… sans amnesia. Projek Memikat Suami aired every Monday at 9pm on Astro Ria.

Looking through these entries it becomes clear that the struggle, ladies and gentlemen, is real.

Is there a dearth of writers in the television drama scene? Why are so many popular soap operas adapted from novels that feature the most basic-looking cover art? Why are there so many shows revolving around women trying to appeal to emotionally-constipated men? What sort of message are these shows sending to young female viewers?

We don’t have the answers to any of these questions for now, but do keep an eye out for part two, where we take a look at more popular titles such as Suami Aku Ustaz, Suami Sebelah Rumah, and Suamiku, Encik Perfect 10.

Part Two

About The Author
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Deric Ect
Deric is contributor and former managing editor of The Daily Seni.

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