Pulse Opinion: How 'real' are reality TV shows?

Posted on Jan 24 2018 - 12:42pm by admin

Reality TV is a type of unscripted television programming aimed at showing how ordinary people react to everyday situations.

Over the years, the genre has become a phenomenon in Nigeria with the success of the likes of Nigerian Idol, Big Brother Africa, The Voice Nigeria, Big Brother Naija, Project Fame West Africa, Koko Mansion, Guilder Ultimate Search, Maltina Dance All among others.

The success of these shows have been attributed to viewers’ voyeuristic hunger to invade other people’s privacy, seeing them at their best and worst moments.

However, Reality TV shows have not only gained popularity but have also, over time, become a target of criticism.

Coach Timi Dakolo and Idyl, who won The Voice Nigeria season 2play

Coach Timi Dakolo and Idyl, who won The Voice Nigeria season 2



Criticism of celebrity reality TV shows

Reality TV shows such as Omotola: The Real Me and Jim Iyke Unscripted can be the most tricky of them all. After all, how can you honestly reduce a whole day or week of someone’s life into a half-hour or hour-long episode and describe it as ‘real’?

Most of these shows have been accused of using editing to conceal the truth and the truly ugly events that occur in the celebrity’s life.

At the end, viewers are left with scripted situations that the producers think would sell.

play Jim Iyke ‘proposed’ to Nadia Buari on an episode of his reality TV show


Consider this: In 2014, during an episode of  ‘Jim Iyke Unscripted,’ the actor ‘proposed’ to his supposed lover, Nadia Buari. It was news for the blogs, and exciting for viewers, who wanted a ‘power couple.’

However, in 2017, during an interview with Punch newspaper, the actor revealed that everything about the relationship was scripted for the reality television show.

“So, we did a smart thing anybody who found himself or herself in such situation would have done. And when the entertainment was over, we moved on to our normal lives,” the actor told Punch.

Jim Iyke Unscripted is just one of several others that exploit the emotions of viewers, and with careful editing, create entertainment from scripted situations.

How real are the Big Brother shows?

When Uti Nwachukwu won the Big Brother Africa reality show

(Instagram )


Big Brother reality show is arguably the most popular in Africa. On the show, a bunch of strangers move into a house totally cut off from the outside world, and compete for the prize money.

Of course, there’s no script – over the seasons, the contestants have fought, kissed, fallen in love, and even made love.

But, the producers also have the power to craft situations that create conflict and drama. They could also decide to evict one housemate instead of two, prolonging the stay of a controversial or dramatic contestant. Without altering the votes, they get to decide who stays or who leaves the show.

From the start, the producers get to decide the kind of  show they want with the housemates they select during auditions. The boring aspirants are often dismissed, while the controversial, flawed, dramatic and unique ones make it.

Contestants could alter their personalities for viewers

Gifty gets evicted from Big Brother Naija house

It can be a difficult task to remain real in front of a camera. With reality shows, it’s never easy to tell how your favourite housemate would have reacted to a situation without a camera present.

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