Since its debut in the USA in 1948 with Alan Funt’s tv series, Candid Camera, reality television has steadily gained ground in the last few decades. Fast-forward to 50 years; there has been an influx of all sorts of reality tv shows such as The Bachelor, X factor, Dancing With the stars, Survivor, Big Brother and Keeping up with the Kardashians, nearly nudging regular primetime tv and movies of their perches on the ratings list. Characteristic of all things Western, its made its way across the Atlantic to the African shores; soon, reality shows began to sprout and gain recognition and acceptance on our television screens.
These shows completely transformed the face of Nigerian television creating more content for the viewing line up on tv. The competition shows – such as MTN Project Fame, Gulder Ultimate Search, Big Brother Africa – quickly appealed to the Nigerian viewers because of the opportunities they promised contestants, who came in droves and cued up for miles to audition for spots on these shows, nursing the hope that they had found that one chance at fame and all the good things that came with it. For some, it was as they had hoped, for the rest, they keep dreaming and trying.
There have been arguments that most of these reality shows are not quite as real as the viewers have been led to believe. Some believe that the shows are staged and the winners handpicked from the get go. Others have expressed the opinion that such shows do not encourage the Nigerian youth to cultivate the habit of working hard, rather they choose to believe that all it takes to succeed is to be part of some competition. There are yet those who are of the sentiment that the winners of these shows always seem to fall off the radar, leaving the viewers who had perhaps grown fond of them to wonder what they are up to. “I still wonder what Katung, the winner of Big Brother Nigeria is up to these days”, says Victoria, an office administrator.
owHow However it is undeniable that these shows have afforded individuals, who may otherwise never have been able to, the opportunities to showcase their abilities, and in the process make name for themselves. No one can honestly claim that the likes of Dare Art-Alade, Timi Dakolo, Omawunmi, Uti, Iyanya, Chidinma and many others have not earned the fame and wealth they enjoy through some sweat, dedication and indisputable talent.
The success of the competition-based reality tv shows encouraged the adoption of the documentary styled shows which our celebrities recently seem to have embraced. Lately, there have been reality shows crafted to reveal the days in the lives of some of our celebrities such as Toni Payne’s My Champayne Life and Charlie Boy’s In Your Face. This again, has spurred some disunity in public opinion. While some people like Ezu, a banker, think that it’s not only a false representation of their lives and “nobody is ever 100 percent when they have cameras in their face” others like Tope, an IT consultant, don’t see anything wrong with the use of the platform to reinforce their brands.
Indeed, these shows have their pros in that they avail the celebrities the chance to remain in the public’s subconscious, this can easily translate to endorsement deals and more work opportunities. On the flip side however, inviting the cameras into one’s personal space to document details of one’s life creates the risk of being too much in the public eye, which in turn makes one susceptible to easy public bashing, a situation made worse by the numerous social media platforms now readily available at the tip of almost everyone’s fingers. Still, opinions are meant to be expressed, so will you write us and share your thoughts on reality television.