Ever since the 1940s, reality TV shows have gained popularity the main reason being that the shows portray human beings in their day to day normal selves; giving the viewers the opportunity to relate with the characters in real world circumstances. That’s why Kenyans love to watch Big Brother and Tusker Project Fame shows. As Kenyans continue to prefer reality TV shows over the traditional scripted programmes, TV stations have invested in the genre producing a number of reality TV shows, and in 2013, the talk in town and social media has been Tujuane, a KTN’s produced love matching reality TV show that airs every Tuesday night between 8 and 9 pm.
Tujuane has got the attention of many young Kenyans and this has witnessed #Tujuane trend on Twitter every time the show airs. Also, Google’s Zeitgeist list is out and locally it has featured Tujuane as hot topics under Trending TV Shows where it takes position 8 and under Top searched TV shows where it takes position 6. See the Zeitgeist list for Kenya here.
As we are in the mood to look into the hot topics that got the attention of Kenyans over the past year, we have thought it wise to delve into Tujuane and hopefully be able to provide an answer to the penitent question that has accompanied the show every time it airs, “Is the show really real or is it scripted?”
The argument that the show is scripted first came to light after the infamous episode of Susan vs George. In this show, the young Susan or Mirfat Musa takes it on George whom gave her the first impression she described as “pathetic”. You know the rest of the story, if not, watch the episode via this video link.
That episode aired on Friday night and as usual did not receive a lot of social media attention. Come Monday the following week Twitter and Facebook was abuzz with memes, insults, and ridicules against the poor Susan. Tweeps made fun of her “fencing” hobby, her eating habits, and her first class diva lifestyle. The Twitter and Facebook bullying was too much to the extent Susan was put under suicide watch. Julie Gichuru, whom Susan mentioned to be her employer, came to her defense with this tweet:
The current hideous and relentless online bullying of a young lady for a choreographed tv show is simply sad. We must reject #bullying
— Julie Gichuru (@juliegichuru) February 27, 2013
With this tweet, Julie Gichuru opened a can of debate in blogsites and social media whether indeed the show is a reality or whether it is scripted. Many people believed the scripted version after word claimed to have originated from George had it that indeed the show is scripted.
I personally have talked with a number of people including close friends, wife, and some colleagues of Kachwanya.com and they tend to agree that the show has some elements of choreography. The argument is that almost all reality TV shows the world over get scripted for entertainment purposes. I’ll come back to this in a while.
One of my close friends also held to the opinion that the show is scripted. Apparently Malonza, the Tujuane host, is a buddy to my close friend. So one evening when they were drinking somewhere in town Jose King, who is my buddy, debated with Malonza that KTN dupes Kenyans by airing a scripted show claiming that it is real. To prove to Jose King that the show is not scripted, Malonza gave Jose King an opportunity to appear in Tujuane. Jose King’s vs Yvonne’s date can be watched via this video link – Tujuane episode 21.
I did not watch the episode when it aired but for the purposes of this article I remembered about it and called Jose. I asked him if the show is scripted, whether Tujuane team prepared him mentally and psychologically on how to behave in front of the cameras, and whether there are any occasions he was required to respond or act in any particular manner. Jose answered all of these questions to the negative.
I then decided to watch the episode he appeared on to judge for myself if there is anything amiss as I happen to know him “pretty well”. Yes, there was something amiss. I know Jose as a social, interactive, talkative, confident dude who easily mingles with strangers and friends alike. But in the show he appeared as a shy guy intimidated by Yvonne especially in the beginning of the episode. I wouldn’t say he was “scared” of Yvonne because this is a guy that has handled pretty, cute, and hot girls several times before and handled them well…maybe he was shy because of the knowledge that he was on a date for the purposes of a reality TV show.
“For the show to be interesting, it must be scripted at least to some extent”, I posed. “I can vouch that mine was not scripted”, Jose responded. I then later discussed Jose’s response with my wife and this is what she said, “Well, maybe Jose’s episode was not scripted because the host gave him the chance to prove whether it is scripted or not, and they don’t want the show to proved as scripted”. “So the only way to prove that the show is scripted or not is to get a chance to randomly appear in the show or talk with most of those who have featured”, she advised.
I don’t have the time and resources to search for and talk to most of those who have appeared in the show, but what I can do is to review some of the episodes and try to “see” the acting and lies, that again, is quite hard to do.
But there is something common about scripted shows and normal shows. First let me explain about two types of scripts; there is the Shark Tank type where players act their part for hours but what the viewers finally see are ten minutes worth of edited version vs the rest where producers and directors dictate what the actors actually do and say. The latter version has no real difference with movies. Now, the difference between the scripted shows and the normal ones is the entertainment level. If Shark Tank aired in the raw form not many would look forward to the the next episode. Presentations are never interesting, normal life is boring, but people watch TV programmes to be entertained, first.
With this in mind I have decided to watch a number of Tujuane episodes that did not trend that much. My conclusion from these episodes is that Tujuane, without the dramatic characters like Susan and the other chic who doesn’t date men who speak Sheng’ or Swahili, or even the chic who would take her kid to a children’s home, there’s practically nothing entertaining about these shows.
The shows reveal men who get intimidated, shy, boring, and/or too questioning. They reveal women who sit there to be asked questions, giggle, disagree or agree with statements. If the shows were scripted, I would expect more dramatic conversations touching on hot topics that would make the actors argue, walk out, or perform some un-thought of stunts. Every episode, therefore, would have different drama themes week in week out in the name of keeping you and me glued to our screens every Tuesday night.
My conclusion, the Tujuane shows are not scripted, thereby agreeing with KTN’s statement:
For our viewers, and those who have been watching the show from the onset, we have never scripted anything on our show. We set up dates for singles can make friendships which will we always hope will lead to real love. What Tujuane will never do, as is being alleged, is then tell individuals how to present themselves and how to behave. To what end? It’s unfortunate that under duress all manner of allegations have now been made. But for what it’s worth we shall continue matchmaking those who are looking for real love, and we will follow up on the couples Tujuane has been able to bring together in genuine love and friendship. When we came up with this concept, the first of its kind in Kenya, it was to bring singles who want to meet other singles for prospective friendships and love, and we will never tell you how to do that. We keep it fresh, always.
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