A look into SA’s relationship with Reality TV: What’s all the fuss about?
Reality TV is one of the biggest genres of television amongst South Africans, but what is our relationship with it? Are we obsessed?
South Africa has reality shows for just about…everything. From the Real Housewives of Durban to Survivor, from Love Island to Uyajola 9/9, South Africa’s wide range of reality shows has something for everyone but do we, as South Africans, REALLY need some of them?
OVERVIEW OF REALITY TV IN SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa has a wide range of reality shows; some that people would relate to and others that would leave others completely in the dark.
Some of our most popular reality shows take a deep dive into South Africa’s rich and famous, showing their flashy cars, bodacious houses, expensive booze and lavish holidays.
Other reality shows dive into the lives of ordinary South Africans. Some prime examples would be that follows the journey of two teenagers from Ulundi in KwaZulu-Natal who decided to tie the knot.
Moja Love also boasts another interesting show, Umdeni that follows the life of Baba Kolobe, a sangoma who lives with his multiple wives under one roof. You can certainly catch one of our many reality shows at any time of the day on television.
SOUTH AFRICA’S APPROACH TO REALITY TV
Britta Reid notes that reality show enthusiasts sit in the upper-middle-class group of South Africans. More specifically women under the age of 35.
“Reality fans are not driven by voyeurism and malice; rather they are motivated by the desire to learn about the world and other people.”
SABC spokesperson Mmoni Seapolelo previously noted that the public broadcaster’s approach to reality television is simple. They build their reality television formats to fulfil their “informal knowledge building” quota.
In 2019, the head of unscripted content at Moja Love, Bokani Moyo said their mission is to create authentic content, “the lived experience of our communities. We want our viewers to see themselves in experiences-in-the-real.”
HOW OFTEN DO WE SEE OURSELVES IN REALITY TV?
A look at DSTV’s most-watched reality tv shows for February 2021 could give us the answer. Mzansi Magic’s Our Perfect Wedding and Moja Love’s I Blew It were the two most-watched reality tv shows.
One show depicts the exciting journey of a couple about to tie the knot and the other looks at South Africans who have quickly used up large sums of money either through the Road Accident Fund, by winning the lotto, or through inheritance. Two very contrasting images of South Africa.
THE ANSWER IS SIMPLE
The question remains, where do we see ourselves? Possibly somewhere in between. South Africans are a unique bunch and we all go through a lot on a daily basis.
So it would probably be safe to say even though we enjoy watching others celebrate their special days with glee, we’re also entertained by other people’s loss, sadness and heartache.
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