One of the most pressing concerns for a single person in their thirties has been given life in the latest local English drama, 20 Days. The oddly nondescript title hides a more interesting premise — what does love mean in this day and age? Executive supervising scriptwriter Lillian Wang said that the show “ponders if true love really exists and if there is really someone out there for each of us, no matter how screwed up we may be?”
Wang listed three major issues that were pertinent to Singaporeans — extended family, social pressures, and pragmatic concerns. “In all other ways, matters of love in Singapore are no different from those in other parts of the world.”
The 13-episode series, which began airing on Channel 5 on 13 August, features Felicia Chin (who plays workaholic doctor Jess), Elvin Ng (who plays geeky and nerdy Edrick in his first English-language drama outing), Nat Ho (who plays the textbook definition of a playboy, Wesley), and Amy Cheng (who plays single mother Maggie).
The show promises plenty of “saucy scenes” with the cast — Ho says he has the most number of bedroom scenes in this show ever. Although being a free-to-air programme, it probably won’t go that far. However, Wang says the show “doesn’t shy away from kissing scenes, bedroom scenes or shirtless scenes,” so viewers can probably look forward to such moments with the characters on the show.
Here’s what the cast had to say about love and relationships.
Q: Are you like your character on the show?
Felicia: My character Jess tells it like it is. On the other hand, I am more careful with my words. However, sometimes I get a little caught up in the role, so much so that it unconsciously affects how I speak. I think I got into trouble on set once because of this: I replied without thinking and it wasn’t the wisest time to jokingly talk back. In the end, all was good though!
Elvin: I play Edrick Soh who doesn’t believe in love and is very happy being single. He’s also a grandmama’s boy who can be a bit sarcastic at times. I’m similar to Edrick in that way, slightly geeky and nerdy at times. I can also be quite sarcastic sometimes too.
Nat: My character Wesley represents the classic Avoidant Attachment personality type. He’s a bit of an untameable wild horse. I’m the polar opposite of him! I’m a bit old school — I can’t imagine juggling so many dates at the same time like him!
Amy: My character Maggie is like Amy Cheng on steroids! We share a lot of devotion to our respective children, as well as having overcome challenges in the past and having a love for life. The similarities end there though — I’m a bit more laid-back and open when it comes to motherhood.
Q: What saucy scenes were you involved in on the show?
Felicia: I think I was pretty much spared from some saucy scenes though there were some kissing scenes. It was pretty awkward in the beginning because my kissing scenes were quite intense.
Nat: I had so many bedroom scenes — probably the most number of bedroom scenes in a series that I’ve ever done.
Elvin: I had to remove my shirt, that was the probably the sauciest scene for my character. I also had a couple of kissing scenes towards the end of the series.
Amy: I think it’s only fair to say that most of us were involved in saucy scenes in one way or another.
Q: What were some of the challenges in shooting 20 Days?
Felicia: A different style and tempo of acting, a number of emotionally challenging scenes. Also, it has been five years since my last English production, so I had to get used to saying my lines in English.
Elvin: It’s my first time acting in an English production so I had to think about how local the English should sound. I had to think about how much Singlish I should be using, what sort of accent I should have, or whether I should have an artificial slang. Initially I was just a little bit overwhelmed but I later got into the role.
Nat: Getting into shape within 2.5 weeks. That was madness!
Amy: Well, as I have been away from TV land for a while, the late-night shoots took quite a toll on me. But we kept our spirits high with banter and lots of nice warm drinks!
Q: What are your thoughts on dating, marriage, and singlehood?
Felicia: I think Jess portrays singles who say they don’t need love but still yearn to find the special one deep inside. Like Jess, I think many of us have been hurt or scarred one way or another by past experiences.
Elvin: The show deals with issues of love and how sometimes, love may not be enough — you also need maintenance and tolerance to manage relationships.
Nat: Social media has made dating overly complicated and low-effort, while singlehood is something that people are too afraid of. I think you need to be comfortable being single first, before you can find “The One”. Marriage is rarer now, and sometimes happens for the wrong societal pressures.
Amy: My own personal take on this is that this generation is much more open to meeting someone new. They are less shy and more proactive thanks to social apps available. So overall, I think it’s a good thing — and I know of people in my age group who are using such apps!
Q: What do you look for in a life partner?
Felicia: Love, care and responsibility. Being a gentleman is definitely a big plus.
Elvin: Has to be comfortable in her own skin, not pretentious. She should have Asian values like filial piety and responsibility, and be kind and sweet and compassionate.
Nat: Communication, effort, direction in life, and ambition. I’m a pretty driven person, so it’ll be hard for someone too laidback to keep up.
Q: What is the worst date you have ever been on?
Felicia: It’s a toss-up between a date when I stained my white skirt (it was that time of the month) and another when a guy got offended when I asked for a lift home.
Elvin: Not the worst, but the most memorable. I was geeky and from Catholic High, an all-boys school. I went on a date to watch Anaconda in my first three months of JC. Later she brought me to the Clementi longkang and started singing the song Zombie from The Cranberries.
Nat: A true gentleman never tells. But being a good conversationalist and having a bit more of a personality does mitigate things.
Amy: One of my worst dates was one which was set up for me. That happened once and never again!
20 Days premiered on 13 August and airs Mondays, 10pm on Channel 5. It can also be viewed on Toggle.
Marcus Goh is a television scriptwriter, having written for popular shows like “Lion Mums”, “Crimewatch”, “Incredible Tales”, and “Police & Thief”. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find him on social media as Optimarcus and on his site. The views expressed are his own.
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