Each episode of the popular BBC Media Action-produced TV show Love 9 – the second series of which has just begun airing and focuses on sexual and reproductive health – is framed by a visit with the family of grandmother Trop (Kruosar Yey Trop).
The fictional three-generation family, who live in a rickety house in the provinces, rush to watch the show set in an urban cafe. After the show, the family discusses the themes raised and then sometimes there’s a separate Q&A with the cast or a health expert.
Director and producer Tha Piseth said that the idea was to have characters of varying views – some were conservative and others quite liberal – openly discuss the issues such as relationships, safe sex and sexually transmitted infections in a way that is uncommon in Cambodian society.
“There’s limited time in each episode, but audiences have really enjoyed the supporting discussion part,” he said, adding that the scenes with the family of grandmother Trop had been extended in the second series.
Piseth said sometimes it was even difficult for the actors – who had never talked about things like safe sex or sexually transmitted infections in their private lives – to act out such themes.
“They were too shy to discuss these topics with each other,” he said.
Actor Mean Sonyta – who plays the character known as Yana – said she struggled initially. “I felt shy, especially when I was acting closely with the male actor, Chaly,” she said.
“After I experienced acting in this TV show, I got to know a lot about sexual and reproductive health and safe sex.”
Production manager Chea Chakriya, who also plays the mother in the family watching the show, said she used to do work related to sexual and reproductive health and so didn’t mind talking about it on the show.
“It is important to give educational messages, because there is limited talk about sexual and reproductive health in Cambodia and it can encourage people to talk with family or friends openly,” she said.
Love 9 is broadcast on MYTV on Fridays at 7pm and Saturdays at 5pm, and on CTN on Thursdays at 5:15pm or online at love9.com.kh with English subtitles.