South Africa… the land of where good reality shows come to die– is the mantra that a portion of local production companies are following to the tee with what we’re seeing on TV these days. Tuesday saw the airing of the first episode of MasterChef SA and for the most part it was welcomed with groans of medium to full boredom.
I am probably more critical of South African reality tv shows than the Jews were of Jesus but I feel like we really need to look hard and long at the thought process that goes into adapting a global reality show brand to South African audiences. Whether it has been past SA Big Brother, Idols, Survivor or Masterchef shows, I have felt like I’ve been watching a watered down, made for dummies version of the original and highly successful reality series.
Thus far, my intelligence has been insulted the most by the latest addition to crew of “not as good as the original” SA reality shows, Masterchef South Africa. The judges acting- and I make sure to refer to it as “acting” (hoping that people don’t ever act like this in real life)- has been simply atrocious. To see judges Benny Masekwameng, Andrew Atkinson and Pete Goffe-Wood pull ridiculous faces after tasting food, hover spoonfuls of the various dishes around their wide-open mouths like it was someone’s penis and pretend to be nasty when they clearly are not, irritates me beyond belief. Maybe it has something to do with fact that the show was depicting the early part of the competition where numbers needed to whittled down, causing it to come across as frenetic and a little bit directionless. Maybe it’s the fact that producers in SA believe that the local audience is too stupid to recognize the fact that there is very little reality going on in the versions of globally-recognised that are put together here.
I’ve always had the feeling that if you take a concept of something that works overseas and adapt it for local audiences, you need to go all the way and make it really relevant. Sure, keep some of the things that at the core, make the show what it is (ie Survivor SA still needs to have people “surviving” in a remote location in it), but then make sure the hits home with the current climate in South Africa and how we like to interact with things and each other. A carbon copy of the original show that doesn’t take into account what South Africans believe about themselves really isn’t going to cut it for anyone with an iota of intelligence.
But hey, maybe I’m completely wrong and clearly don’t understand how awesome the show actually is, as evidenced by these quotes and comments from Sonia Cabano, chef, food writer and social media manager of Robertson’s Spices (who just HAPPEN to be the show’s sponsors as well):
When talking about Masterchef SA she said her family gathered on Tuesday evening to watch the show-
“I know many of the contestants.”
Then going on about the content of the first episode she added:
“I think it’s well done, exciting and has a strong local flavour.
“I like the judges, they are people you will either hate or love a lot, and that’s the attraction.”
– and we all know that I, for example am ALWAYS going to say that MyCityByNight is cutting edge and better than everything else out there because it looks good and is produced right here in our backyard- obviously making these statements FACT.
Only 50 of the 100 amateur chefs went onto the next round called the MasterChef Bootcamp, the next step in their 18 week journey. I’m going to watch the next couple of episodes in the hope that the show gets better or that at bare minimum they show us more of the yummy mooiness Ilse Fourie.
The second episode airs this coming Tuesday March 27 at 19:30 on M-Net (DStv channel 101).