Don’t get us wrong: Crazy Rich Asians was a huge win for Singapore’s branding.
After all, it’s one of the many things that foreigners talk about whenever Singapore is mentioned.
However, the opulent, and often decadent portrayal of affluence is only one small part of what makes Singapore special.
To that end, HBO Asia and Singapore’s Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) have come together to give HBO viewers a better understanding of Singapore’s true heartland homes: The high-rise HDB housing estates that blanket the island.
The 6-part Invisible Stories series is an HBO special that will take place wholly in Singapore’s public housing estates, with series creator Ler Jiyuan at the helm. Ler, who also stays in public housing, is one of Singapore’s up and coming directors.
With a vast majority of Singaporeans living in HDB estates, Ler felt that it would make sense to tell stories set in the ubiquitous blocks and void decks that make up the country’s housing.
Invisible Stories tells six different stories, each with its own cast of characters and a story. Ler aims to use these stories as a way to tell stories of Singaporeans and their ordinary lives. Notable cast members include veteran Yeo Yann Yann, as well as Taiwanese newcomer Devin Pan.
Far from the ostentatiousness of Crazy Rich Asians, Ler’s series will tell stories of financial stress, and the emotional toll of work. “The story is painful and difficult to tell, but I feel it’s necessary for us to listen,” said Ler.
IMDA and HBO Asia’s objectives are pretty clear: Show the world that Singapore has real stories to tell. “After Crazy Rich Asians, the rest of the world thinks Singaporeans are the richest people in the world,” said Jessica Kam, Senior Vice-President at HBO.
Kam might be right, as there is a rising number of people seeking authentic stories about places and the people that make the place.
Invisible Stories will grace our screens later in 2019 on HBO Asia.