Princess and I is a Philippine teleserye starring Kathryn Bernardo, Daniel Padilla, Enrique Gil, Gretchen Barretto, Albert Martinez, and Khalil Ramos together with an Ensemble Cast. It aired on ABS-CBN from 2012 to 2013.
The plot follows Maria Mikaela "Mikay" Maghirang (Bernardo), an Ordinary High-School Student who wins a free trip to the fictional country of Yangdon. Unbeknownst to her, however, she is actually its long-lost crown princess. To complicate matters further, she attracts Dasho Jao (Gil), the son of the woman responsible for the assassination attempts that led Mikay to the Philippines.
Apart from Jao, Mikay also has two other main suitors: the Troubled, but Cute rich-brat-turned-underdog Gino dela Rosa (Padilla) and boy next door Kiko Salamat (Ramos). The fact that Mikay has three main suitors was one of the series' main pulls, with ABS-CBN purposely stoking Ship-to-Ship Combat among the fanbase. The narrative clearly favored Jao, however, building him up to be Mikay's One True Love — until the overwhelming fan support for Gino dela Rosa compelled the writers to give him more prominent Character Development and an increasingly stronger fighting chance to win Mikay's heart, eventually culminating in the series' ending being rewritten for good. (Bernardo and Padilla would later solidify their moneymaking power as a Teen Idol onscreen duo in a steady stream of top-grossing projects, such as She's Dating the Gangster.)
Besides the emergence of the Bernardo-Padilla tandem's unparalleled popularity, this series is also notable for blending Teen Drama with elements of elaborate political intrigue and high-budget Costume Porn. The Kingdom of Yangdon is a fictionalization of Bhutan. ABS-CBN has described the aesthetics of Yangdon as "authentic, but stylized."
The Filipino Channel has the series available on demand.
BEWARE OF UNMARKED SPOILERS. This is a heavily serialized show with a linear plot.
Princess and I provides examples of:
- Betty and Veronica:
- Kiko represents the Betty most clearly. He’s the shy, nerdy Boy Next Door and Mikay’s best friend. Gino is the Veronica: a wealthy Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Jao plays with this trope, depicted as an attractive and charismatic foreigner (who’s royalty, no less!) with a curmudgeonly streak.
- When Kiko officially gives up on the Mikay side of the Love Dodecahedron, Gino and Jao undergo a Betty and Veronica Switch.
- Characterization Marches On: Jao was grumpy at first, but quickly turns out to be so tenderhearted that the best explanation for his initial behavior is that he was probably just having a bad day.
- Costume Porn: Gorgeous, ornate costumes and sets inspired by Bhutanese cultures. Shown Their Work and Artistic License are both present, to varying degrees.
- Derailing Love Interests: Kiko bows out of the Love Dodecahedron, leaving Gino and Jao. Gino improves, Jao undergoes a Face–Heel Turn. It doesn’t really last that long; before the final episode, Jao takes a Sudden Principled Stand and (almost) dies as himself by way of redemption.
- Evil is Petty: Behati steps on the train of Isabel's gown as she's getting married to the sovereign ruler of Yangdon. It's almost admirable, the lengths she would go to just to be petty.
- Fictional Counterpart: The Fictional Country Yangdon is inspired by Bhutan in South Asia.
- Fire and Ice Love Triangle: Gino is the icy suitor to Mikay, at least until Jao’s Face–Heel Turn. By then, Gino’s own Character Development has settled in, making a full Betty and Veronica Switch happen between the two, with Mikay as the center/the Archie.
- Good Shepherd: In the end, Jao becomes a monk who's shown to be kind and telling his story to children.
- Heel Realization: In the final episode, when Jao sees Gino escorting Mikay (who has to marry Jao to save Gino and her father King Anand) to the wedding while Mikay tearing up in despair during their wedding, he realizes that Mikay truly loves Gino and can never be happy with him and what he and his mother Behati did was wrong. This causes Jao to become a good guy and call off the wedding.
- Interchangeable Asian Cultures: Characters played by Filipino actors are actually Bhutanese.
- Kissing Discretion Shot: The series ends with a newly engaged Mikay and Gino leaning into each other as they are about to kiss, but the scene Fades to Black and then the credits start rolling before their lips touch.
- Love Dodecahedron: Mikay is a Dude Magnet who captures the attentions of Jao, Gino, and Kiko. Mikay seems initially drawn to Jao, but ultimately falls in love with Gino, which angers Jao. Mikay’s Big Sister Bully Stella wants Gino to like her. Mikay’s younger sister Dindi harbors a crush on Kiko.
- Protagonist Journey to Villain: Jao, originally such a paragon that the King of Yangdon wants him to inherit the throne after his death. The return of political conflict between the East and West in Yangdon takes a toll on him, however... enough to result in a Face–Heel Turn.
- Scare Chord: When Behati and her husband arrive to give the baby Areeyah a gift, this plays in the background. Given the Maleficent-esque curse she lays upon the child, it's an apt choice.
- Taking the Bullet: Zig-Zagged. When Jao calls off the wedding and calls out his mother Behati for all her wrongdoing, an enraged Behati grabs the gun and tries to shoot Mikay. Gino steps in front of Mikay to take the bullet, but Jao shields Gino at the same time, taking the bullet instead of Gino. Thankfully, Jao gets better later on.
- Tragic Bigot: The younger Ashi Behati was alive to experience all the chaos and anguish of a war-torn nation. In these political skirmishes, her own father was gunned down by a man from the West of Yangdon. This is why she developed a hatred for the West of Yangdon, and her underlying motivation for being so power-hungry.