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 Mikays 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 Mikays 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 tandems 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. Hes the shy, nerdy Boy Next Door and Mikays 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 (whos 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 FaceHeel Turn. It doesnt 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 Jaos FaceHeel Turn. By then, Ginos own Character Development has settled in, making a full Betty and Veronica Switch happen between the two, with Mikay as the center/the Archie.
- Interchangeable Asian Cultures: Characters played by Filipino actors are actually Bhutanese.
- 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. Mikays Big Sister Bully Stella wants Gino to like her. Mikays 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 FaceHeel 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.
- 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.