Together, the four cast members from Singapore Social—Netflix‘s reality television series which Singaporeans seemingly love to hate—turn heads. The quartet—Mae Tan, Vinny Sharp, Nicole Ong and Paul Foster—are, mostly, impeccably dressed. Starring in a series for the global streaming service Netflix – and one which is heavily promoted on it—tends to make people take notice.
But the attention has not always been positive, with criticism that the cast is privileged and entitled, and that the show—which chronicles the lives of six young Singaporeans as they navigate love, friendships, family and career—is too glitzy and not an accurate reflection of Singapore life.
“Whatever bad comments there might be, the positive comments we have been receiving has been overwhelming. It’s just that the good comments often come in private, we have been receiving hundreds of private DMs (direct messages) on Instagram. And from all around the world too,” says Foster. Mae Tan, a 24-year-old influencer who works in the fashion industry, says of the brickbats: “The show is not meant to reflect Singapore as a whole but our lives and that’s what it did.”
Here, we caught up with Mae to get some insider views on Singapore Social, how her life has changed since the show aired and what’s next:
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1) Has your life changed ever since the show went up on Netflix, and if so how?
Apart from the fact that everyone has been telling me they’re watching me on Netflix—which is weird and still can’t get used to it, I’m getting stopped on the streets, during coffee runs and furniture shopping by people who’ve watched it and loved it!
2) Do you feel that some of the criticisms levied on the show are unfair?
There’s always two sides to a story and everyone’s allowed to have their own opinion, but I do want to urge them to take it with a pinch of salt!
3) Some viewers might not have understood the intention of the show, and how it’s portrayed the Singapore “influencer” lifestyle. How do you feel about this?
There was a lot of our lives that the show did not cover—like my nine-to-five office job as a creative manager at Surrender. We just picked the more glamorous side of our lives to show! And I guess you can say we live pretty weird lives.
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4) What do you think is portrayed accurately in the show, and which parts are exaggerated?
Our characters are portrayed accurately and it definitely took the cast a bit of getting used to the cameras all around us! The parts that were exaggerated were merely because we couldn’t put every second of the footage in—they were not for from the actual situation! I would say few of the situations were missing a few scenes to make the situations more dramatised and summarised for eight episodes.
5) Let’s talk about the fashion in the show. Did you have a stylist, or you basically chose the clothes you wore on the show yourself? How did you style yourself if so?
I didn’t have a stylist and I chose everything myself! I tried to go about it as honest as possible—not trying to over dress or think too much about it! At the end of the day I wanted to express myself 100 percent authentically even if that meant the way I dress! I was happy that I got to showcase a lot of my friend’s local brands like Dystra and Sabotage!
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6) How do you think this show has put Singapore on the world map, as compared to say a movie like Crazy Rich Asians?
Globally I’ve been getting feedback from audiences outside of Singapore that they think it’s cool that Singapore seems like a melting pot with different cultures and languages. I think Singapore Social is different from Crazy Rich Asians, in that our show presented authentic experiences like simple Chinese New Year gatherings, prawning, skinnys bar and even friends just hangng out at Tanjong Beach Club.
7) What’s next for Singapore Social? Is there going to be a season 2 and will you be involved in it?
We don’t know yet! We have not filmed anything and of course if given a chance, I’d love to get a chance to share more intimate stories of my life with the audiences, many of which did not get aired in season one.
Singapore Social is available on Netflix.
This article originally appeared on The Straits Times, with additional reporting from Harper’s BAZAAR.