Monday, 17 July 2017

Why There’s NO GLITZ & GLAMOUR on Kenyan Screens

"I’ve never been a fan of Kenyan TV Shows.

There’s nothing worth watching anyway.

Naming them is easy - Tausi, Inspekta Mwala, Mali, Mother-in-law, Mashtaka, Changes, Tahidi High, Auntie Boss, How to Find a Husband is listing their numerous flaws; flaws that hinder us from loving, celebrating and being loyal towards them:

Top on the list has to be the need to fit in, and the insatiable desire to produce content for an international market.  Our dear actors are made to speak in English, accent free.  But you know what, someone from outside will always tell a different accent when they hear it.

Furthermore, nothing hurts as much as seeing an actor struggle to communicate flawlessly in what’s probably their second or third language.

Shows like Narcos and 3% are perfect examples to borrow from.  Actors speak in their local language and if you don’t understand the language, you've to read the subtitles.

You’re at the tip of becoming a fan of this new show on TV and have even started following a few of its actors on social media when, out of the blues, you see that that young cute guy who used to play Mike has been replaced with a much older guy, or that curvy chocolate skinned high school student Angie has been replaced by a slimmer light skinned one.  That’s the day you fully unplug from Mother-in Law.

If you can’t find an almost look-alike, find a way of killing off the character.

There’s this show on Citizen TV, can’t recall the name, though based in Mombasa, the actors are always talking about money, their wealth and millions of cash they’re working with, but looking at them, hearing how they speak, how they dress, where they live...they’ve never handled more than a thousand shillings.

Same thing with the highly publicized and loved Mali.  How ludicrous was it to only have one setting for everything happening at the Mali's gigantic mansion - the area happened to be a very tiny and poorly designed room that served as a living/dining room and kitchen area.

And Tahidi High?  I went to a shag’s public high school with a student population of about 600 and I’ve to say, life there was more fun, exciting and with more oomph than in this so called rich kid’s private high school in the city.
What on earth makes a crew think that it’s okay to let go some of it’s core cast for good, without explanation…yet expect the narration to go on like nothing ever happened?

When we started watching Mother-in-Law, Alison (Naomi Kamau) was undoubtedly the main cast - she played the daughter-in-law to Charity (before the other sons came back home with their wives).  How then was it okay to just say that she went to South Sudan?  Same thing happened with her husband.  

If the story must go on, tell us that they died and make a few episodes out of it, a funeral, uncontrollable kids, inheritance chaos, etc.

Whichever motion picture you are watching, the audience’s greatest need is to relate with the story.  They should either be able to see a representation of their stories in the picture or, see stories that they would love to be part of - stories that help them make sense of reality.

Of all the Kenyan TV shows I’ve seen, I’ve never connected with any character, saw a representation of someone I know in a character or even desired to be like any character.

There are a gazillion stories about Kenya that need to be told, stories that make more sense, are more fun, much more easier to shoot and relate-able or in general, film-able and profitable local color content.

Usually, the most watched episodes of a show are the season premier and finale.  While the premier resolves the much anticipated resolution of the cliffhanger of the previous season and gives a prediction of the next episodes, the finale leaves you desiring for more, speculating and counting down to the next season.

That’s one thing these shows of ours never afford us.

Maybe that’s why we never miss them coz they are omnipresent.

For how many years has Tahidi High been on your screen, despite 99% of it’s original cast leaving the show?

I watched Machachari the other day and these kids have really grown.  The show, which started as a kid’s show, is now more of a young adult picture.

75% of these shows should by now be long gone for they’re already running under a different story line.  But since one or two characters are still a favorite of many, they keep it going.

There’s something called a spin-off.  I feel that a show like Mother-in-Law should be canceled for good and a Charlie spin-off introduced.  That would help retain the ratings.

Lastly is the fear of getting out of that highly famed character cocoon.  Why do our actors and actresses embrace their TV names and adopt them as though they are the names their mothers gave them?

You’ve never heard Scarlett Johansson going by Lucy or Leonardo DiCaprio being known as Jack.

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