Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Soap Operas, Kenyan TV Stations and the copy Cats

Once upon a time, upon the discovery of Radio and Television, soap operas were aired during the day with the aim of entertaining housewives while their husbands were at work.

Fifty years later, things changed.

Image: The ideal soap opera couple; Scarlet Ortiz and Segundo Cernadas
I don't know about you but my first soap opera that I fell in Love with was Maria de los Angeles.  The soap used to air on KBC TV, and an omnibus of the repeat aired on Sunday afternoons.  Then I was in my first Boarding School-Kamuthatha Boarding Primary School.  Other than Tausi, this was the only entertaining show there was on KBC, the only TV station that we were blessed with in those sides of the country. 

Flash forward to early 2,000; every TV station had assimilated a soap opera in their schedule.  All were Mexican and would air only over the weekends after the 7.00 pm Kiswahili News.  I remember those days, football hadn't crept into our men as it has today and I must say, they were the greatest fans of soap operas.

Then, NTV, the then Nation TV introduced soap operas on weekdays; Monday precisely.  That, that was a taboo!  Those were the days when a comedy show would air after the 7.00 News and a drama series after the comedy.  But, since our Kenyan media is stagnated by nascent minds, they all copied Nation.  In no times, all drama series were scrapped out and were replaced by soap operas.  You know when they say, a few additives adds on the flavour and taste of the broth, but too much of it causes you diarrhoea (I just made that up!), soap operas became too much...and that must be what chased men from their homely TV screens to the bar screens.
As if that wasn't enough, Citizen TV, or is it NTV, introduced soaps from Phillipines.  I used to like them, because unlike the Mexican soaps that lasted for over a year or two---remember Paloma?; Phillipina soaps ran for just 2-3 months.  Again, the media copy cats were at it again---all of them once again started airing Philippina soaps.

As you can imagine, all the reality shows, comedies and drama series were scrapped out to pave way for soap operas.
If you have ever watched one soap, it becomes very easy for you to predict the outcome of all the rest.  So when Citizen TV pioneered a new genre of soap operas from Brazil, I felt at home.  They have different story lines, unique settings, entertaining characters and are more dramatic and realistic.  I remember that when India-A Love Story came to an end, people complained so much; since it didn't end as it had been expected.  

Up to now, I love Brazilian soaps, they are better than the best blockbuster movie that comes out of Hollywood.  And, it's through these that for the first time, black people starred as the protagonists and not as servants and maids as they are treated in the Phillipina and Mexican soaps.  Shades of Sin is the perfect example.  The other unique aspect is that, there is no 'superstar actor/actress' as the Mexican soaps have always done; with the likes of Scarlet Ortiz and Segundo Cernadas, better known as Alejandro taking all the lead roles.  
It didn't take long before the other stations learnt that grass in Brazil is much greener.  And now, they have all gone there!

As of today, we have all of the stations showing Philippines, Mexican and Brazilian soaps on our TV screens as from 6.00 p.m to 10.30-11.00 p.m.  How logical is having soap operas air during the prime time?  What happened to promoting Kenyan content?
The Favorite, India a Love Story, Irrational Heart, Shades of Sin, and more that I don't know about.

And kindly do not forget how much more time is allocated to 9ja Afrosinemas.  


  1. Yes, the Brazilian telenovelas (Latin American soap operas are called that) are refreshing with quite realistic situations and good dialogues. Unlike the Mexican ones that have become cliche and honestly, filled with ridiculous situations (remember Triunfo del Horror, I stil wonder how Kenyans haven't been made stupid from watching that show). The plot is the same: poor girl meets rich guy, the family of the guy don't like the girl; the guy has a rich girlfriend who is a total b***h and is obsessed with him for no apparent reason; there is a huge mansion; people fighting over inheritances; haciendas locatedin the middle of nowhere; fake pregnancies;lost sister/brother; someone being framed in jail fora crime they didn't commit...the list of cliches they keep on throwing at us is endless. The suprising thing is that the Mexicans themselves aren't realy keen on these shows (Triunfo del Horror was a mega failure in Mexico, but people here totally loved it.) Now every tv station is copying the other. First, everyone was bringing the Venezuelan ones eg Maria de los Angeles, Camila, Secreto. Then came the Phillipino wave, followed by the Mexican wave, and now its Brazilian. What's next. This is becoming tiring, we might as well pick up a good book and read, at least that will be more entertaining.

    1. This is the best comment that I have ever come across. Thank you.

  2. Thank you. I liked the above post. Many things negative things have been said about these telenovelas that Kenyans do not want to hear anything about them. Honestly, Triunfo del Horror was total c**p.We had a religious psycho who was killing everyone that knew Maria was Victoria's daughter, fake crying & stupid situations. That Maria Desemparada was so stupid!These novelas are produced en masse in South America. They themselves are not too keen on them (as I said, the Mexicans used to switch off their tvs when Triunfo came on, they saw how bad it really was). These cliche filled shows are being dumped on 3rd World countries, and because we don't know better, we cling to them so much. However, I would say I would really like them to bring back those Venezuelan soaps like Maria de los Angeles and others.

  3. wow it sad that people are like that

    1. It's not sad. People's tastes and preferences are very diverse


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