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Four ideas for uniquely South African reality TV shows

Deep Fried Man is a musical comedian. No, seriously. That's what he does full-time, for a living. He gets on stage and sings funny songs about a variety of things, but mainly South Africa, sex and social media. Deep Fried Man is as surprised as you that being a musical comedian is something that can be done as a career. Sometimes Deep Fried Man wins awards, like Best Newcomer at the 2011 Comics Choice Awards or a Standard Bank Ovation Award for his debut one-man show Deeply Fried. Sometimes he goes viral on YouTube, like with An Idiot's Guide to Singing the South African National Anthem, a collaboration with fellow comedian Gareth Woods. Sometimes he spends every waking minute on Twitter (Follow him @DeepFriedMan). He is also a writer, currently for The Daily Maverick, which you probably realised since that's where you're reading his bio, and for Meme Burn. He apologises in advance for all the people he's going to offend.

South Africa has a lot of problems. That's why we should escape from reality by watching contestants compete to pull the most bizarre possible stunts on reality TV - which, of course, we all know is not reality at all, but really the documented behaviours of aliens beamed down from the planet Zultan. 

“Big Brother is watching you.” – George Orwell, 1984.

“You’re watching Big Brother?!?!?!?” – me, 2012.

Probably because of the large volume of problems we have as a society, here in South Africa, we love our reality television. It’s because we need escapism. Our actuality shows, our dramas, even our soap operas, all seem to depict people behaving in a way that vaguely resembles the way they behave in real life, under the auspices of fiction. 

It’s much more fun to watch people behave like they have just been beamed down from planet Zultan, under the auspices of reality. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I have noticed that all the concepts for the reality shows made in South Africa are adapted from overseas. 

Which is why I would like to pitch to you a few of my own original concepts for uniquely South African reality TV shows… 

Prison Break

Not to be confused with the popular American drama series. Anyone who has watched that show will know that breaking out of an American maximum security prison is a near impossible task that requires ingenious planning and can take up to four seasons. 

In South Africa, though, there are much less taxing ways of taking a prison break. So join some of South Africa’s best-known criminals as they use their high-profile political contacts to take a much needed break from prison. 

From ex-police commissioner Jackie Selebi, who really needs kidney dialysis, to businessman Schabir Shaik, who really needs to get out of that stuffy cell and play a round of golf, this is a show that will prove that, in South Africa, it’s not about what you’ve done, but who you know.

The Amazing Race

Join some of South Africa’s craziest white supremacist groups, including the AWB, Afrikaner Bloed and the Blanke Bevrydingsbeweging, as they compete against black people to complete a range of gruelling tasks – all with the aim of proving that the white race is superior. 

Inbred, regressive and delusional, some would say they are the last people on earth who should be trying to demonstrate the prowess of the white race. According to them, though, God is on their side, so join us as we try and determine whether this will be enough for them to prove on national television that white people are the Amazing Race. 

Who’s Line Is It Anyway?

There are plenty of shows that document what SA celebs get up to in public, but very few cameras have documented what they do in their spare time. And what they do in their spare time is generally cocaine. Watch them sit around snorting cocaine, running out of cocaine, calling their dealers for more cocaine, having conversations that it is impossible to understand if you’re not on cocaine, and arguing over who does the next line. 

Who’s Line Is It Anyway? is a show that viewers will find shocking for approximately two minutes, and then mind-numbingly boring for the rest of the season, as they realise that watching people do drugs is not nearly as exciting as they thought it would be.  

Two-and-a-half Sportsmen

A reality show focusing on the lives of three of South Africa’s most famous and controversial sportsmen – um, sportspeople: Joost van der Westhuizen, Herschelle Gibbs and Caster Semenya. Join us as we discover that this show has very little substance, as the entire concept was just an excuse for the author of this column to make a silly, off-colour and clichéd joke about Semenya’s gender. DM


Here’s an old Facebook post I dug up about the effect that the proliferation of reality talent shows like Idols, The Voice and SA’s Got Talent will have on our future:

“One day there will have been so many seasons of different reality singing shows (like Idols and The Voice) in so many different countries that there will be more people alive who have been finalists in those shows than those who haven’t. 

“When that day comes, the tone-deaf will become our new idols, and they will rule the world. Anyone with even slight musical talent will become the new slave class and will be forced to perform manual labour or sing for the new unmusical elite. 

“This is my prophecy. Move over, Nostradamus. You heard it here first.”


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