HBO’s new comedy-drama series ‘Sent’ about pitfalls of going online

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Haresh Tilani in a scene from 'Sent.'

Back in the day when snail mail was still a popular means of communication, people actually wrote letters they never intended to send.

Whether it was a rant against a very unpleasant boss, a piece of unsolicited advice to a friend who was not likely to welcome it, or even a love letter to someone who was already in a relationship, putting these thoughts on paper was considered a good, even therapeutic, way of letting off steam.

Unfortunately, doing something similar in the internet age may not be such a good idea as the lead character of HBO Asia’s first original comedy series, “Sent,” found out the hard way.

The series follows a “beta male” Jay Bunani, a financial compliance officer in Singapore who is constantly stepped on by his co-workers, criticized by his fiancé, coddled by his mother and even compared to his sister by his father.

To cope with all the stress, Jay puts his honest thoughts into writing through draft emails he never plans to send. Murphy’s Law, however, eventually catches up with Jay one day when the unthinkable happens and the emails — hundreds of them — inadvertently find their way in the respective inboxes of their desired recipients.

Realizing how a wrong click of the mouse has turned Jay’s life upside down and inside out, the rest of “Sent” will see him trying to repair his newfound notoriety.

Helming “Sent” is Alaric Tay, a seasoned Singaporean actor who is making his television directorial debut. In an interview with InterAksyon and other Asian media during a promotional activity for the show in Singapore, Alaric says taking on the project was a no-brainer for him as Jay’s predicament offered numerous possibilities for all kinds of comedic situations.

“In this day and age when just about everything from food to shopping to transportation is just a smartphone app and only a few clicks away, human error is still possible. We can always mess things up,” he pointed out.

“[The bottom line is] if you want to write someone a nasty e-mail, make sure you intend to send it. Or don’t write it at all.”

Alaric’s ensemble cast of Asian actors from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, India and Hong Kong can certainly relate to the bind that Jay found himself in.

Lead actor Haresh Tilani, the YouTube sensation who co-founded the sketch comedy hub Ministry of Funny and plays Jay in the series, confessed that he once sent a dirty message to his friend as a joke. His friend, however, only received the message hours later while he was out with his girlfriend.

‘Sent’ lead actor Haresh Tilani, director Alaric Tay and cast members Carla Dunareanu, and Alan Wong.

Reflecting on the ensuing awkward situation, Haresh admits that as ridiculous as it sounds, the story really happened. “Oh, technology!,” he exclaimed.

Romanian-Chinese actress Carla Dunareanu, who spent time in the Philippines as radio DJ Carla of Magic 89. 9 and is best known for her relationship with Filipino singer Christian Bautista, recalls a similar story where she found herself on the receiving end of a similar faux pas.

“I was having a fight with my friend and we were texting. Then I got a call from her. So, I said, ‘Hello.’ And then I heard her saying bad things about me to this person that she’s with. And I was just there listening to everything the whole time. She didn’t realize that it was me whom she called,” she shared.

Asked if they have remained friends, Carla said they still are as she noted that they have been through a lot together and not even that little incident of badmouthing on her friend’s part can ruin their friendship. The actress did acknowledge that it’s important to be careful of what one writes and puts out.

“Once you have something down, you have to be held accountable for it. You can’t just stop and say ‘It wasn’t me.’”

In “Sent,” Carla plays Joey, an interior designer married to Jay’s best friend Max, portrayed by Chinese-American actor Alan Wong.

Alan himself made the mistake of sending a personal email to the wrong recipient.

“It was for a girl who I was dating at the time. I didn’t realize that she and her boss had the same first name. And that’s going to get you. The first Emily is not always the right Emily,” Alan quipped.

Also starring Rosalind Pho, Adrian Pang, David Asavanond, Dhanya Nambiar Indi Nadarajah, Anuradha Chandan, Laanya Asogan, Emil Marwa, Mike Leeder, Nikki Muller, Stephanie Carrington and Crispian Chan,

“Sent” was developed by HBO Asia and produced by local production house Very Tay.

The series premiered on HBO with two back-to-back episodes Sunday, September 17, Asia 9PM in the Philippines, with replays on Monday, September 18 at 2:45PM and Friday, September 22 at 10:45PM.

The series will also be streaming on HBO GO and will be available on HBO On Demand.

Watch the full trailer here: