I have been a fan, no, stan of television for as long as I can remember. I was one of the fortunate blacks who had access to MNET very early on in my childhood. My decoder was a goldmine. It’s how I made and kept friends eKasi. It’s how I learned English. People like Scot Scott and Candice Hillebrand were rock stars in my eyes. Scot because his name and surname were the same word and because I trusted his dark curly hair, and Candice because she was everything that TV should be: blonde and unintimidating. I loved television so much I paid money to study it in varsity. I care too much. If a show is good, I’ll talk about it. If a show is bad, I’ll talk about it, a lot. I’m invested. This made me think about why humans watch, and keep watching, the shows we do. How can someone go from watching a show like ‘Mad Men’ to something like ‘The Bachelorette?’ ‘Generations’ has millions of viewers, many of whom never miss a chance to proudly proclaim their common loathing for the show. They do, however, carry on watching. Religiously. Sometimes even watching it again when the omnibus airs. We find its entertainment value lies in the incredibly weak plots, unattractive characters and Mam’ Ruby’s questionable choice of wardrobe for her size. We are fans by hatred; which is no different to being fans by love. The same result is achieved. The ratings stay up. The numbers don’t lie.
What would our country talk about if we dared produce quality shows? Imagine the outrage at a quality production. What snide and irreverent tweets would people come up with? What would we talk and BBM about? Imagine this conversation: “That show was top-class!” “It really was excellent!” “Just Brilliant!” “Anyway…Ja hey.” Yawn! The horror! We need these lacklustre shows to keep our conversations interesting, to keep ourselves interesting. Mediocrity is what keeps us going and what keeps us entertained. God forbid we excel at some things.
This goes out to all the producers, televisions networks, actors and presenters who keep us glued to our screens with their average product. South Africans are truly grateful. You keep us sharp. You keep us talking.