AMBASA: Of stage-managed ‘reality’ TV shows flooding our screens

Good ol’ Uncle Google describes reality TV as “a genre of television programming that documents purportedly unscripted real-life situations”; this, however, could not be far from the truth in the Kenyan setting.

The past year or so has seen an unprecedented increase in (supposed) reality shows within the Kenyan media space.

And as entertaining as some of them may get, my only problem is that they’re portraying as ‘reality’ what anyone watching even from under a rock can clearly tell is pure drama; far from ‘real.’

It is my very bold opinion that 90 percent of local reality shows do not accurately reflect real life happenings in ways both implicit (participants being placed in artificial situations), and deceptive (misleading editing, participants being coached on behavior, story lines generated ahead of time, scenes being staged).

In a past episode of a TV show purportedly following the life of a popular Kenyan musician, he is alleged to have continuously cheated on his wife with a particular lady who reportedly attended all of his concerts.

There is however the expected way a ‘normal’ woman would react to this kind of news as well as man would react when confronted with such allegations by the wife.

None of which was shown during that episode, all their reactions appeared rehearsed; and not even to perfection at that.

There is also a talk show aired by one of Kenya’s newest media houses where youth are invited to be open about anything; learning, laughing and sharing even as they get empowered to achieve their goals and dreams.

On several occasions, however, the show has rubbed many the wrong way after hosting guests with fake identities and fake life experiences.

In one of the episodes, they hosted a woman claimed to be pregnant but was not sure about keeping the child or opting to procure an abortion.

The lady gave an emotional story of how she was impregnated then dumped by her then boyfriend; leaving her to her own means with a baby on the way.

Many viewers who watched that episode sympathized with the said lady’s case. This was however short-lived as, barely a couple or so months later, the same lady appeared with yet another identity and life story on another TV show.

There is also a now heavily popular dating show where young single boys and girls are taken for blind dates with about three or so members of the opposite sex and, at the end of it, they state the ones they would like to go on a second date with and explore a possible relationship.

However, most of the episodes have come out as heavily scripted with the main aim of trending online so as to drive viewers to watching the show; a plot that has seemingly flopped.

In a recent episode, a lady slaps her date in an attempt to get revenge for speaking to her harshly, but the whole scene ends up being fake as the guy could hardly back his laughter.

I give credit to the shows for entertaining their audience, but I still insist on giving normal genres to these programs. If it is supposed to be a reality show then let it remain so. Otherwise, make it a bloody film then.

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