Time for a reality check

2010-04-03 12:19

REALITY show Style ­Intern premiered on ­M-Net Series on Friday –

and I’m not convinced.

The show, which sees would-be fashion stylists fighting for the

spot of intern at Fairlady magazine, feels like something I have seen before.

The interns must prove that they are creative, stylish, energetic

and cut-throat enough to eliminate the competition.
Sound familiar? Well that’s

because a reality show which aired (repeatedly) on The Style Network, Running in

Heels, followed a similar concept. The difference with the American show,

however, is that the concept was original then. The interns were catty, sassy

and weren’t afraid to elbow each other to get what they wanted.

South African TV has been copying international concepts for years.

But the hype ends up being bigger than the production. Cases in point: South

African Idols, Survivor and So You Think You Can Dance.

The problem is two-fold; firstly the international show winners

don’t necessarily crack the big time and once the hype of the show has died down

so too does their 15 minutes of fame. If the fame doesn’t last very long in the

land of Hollywood, it won’t last long in little old South Africa. Honestly, can

you remember the winner of first local season of Survivor or So You Think You

Can Dance?

Secondly, the instability of the ­local scene sees the faces of our

reality TV shows constantly changing. Not a good thing.

Take Idols and ­Survivor for example. We’ve had to a few seasons –

five of Idols and three of Survivor – yet the hosts have changed so many times.

And in Big Brother the entire concept changed after the first season – from BBSA

to BBAfrica! There is no consistency and so viewers don’t trust these shows.

We must also consider the fact the talent-search type contests are

slowly taking a backseat in the UK and the States, and voyeuristic “take a look

at how cool my life is” TV is ­taking over – such as the mind-bogglingly popular

Keeping up with the Kardashians.

A good example of how well this concept can work on the local scene

is Vuzu’s Cream Cartel and the 20 year-old Noot vir Noot. The shows work well

because they are Mzansi originals and focus on proudly South African people.

If we are going to keep the reality show concept how about a

“Keeping up with the Kumalos?” or else let’s keep telling real South African

stories because that seems to be working just fine.

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