American Appeal - T.V shows that made an impact on South African viewing

American Appeal - T.V shows that made an impact on South African viewing It would be naive to think that South Africans don’t engage with their television sets on a dedicated level. Visual entertainment is something we crave on a daily basis and it forms an integral part of our social activity. There have been triumphs in our local networks – as much as there have been failures. However, nothing beats the excitement, the emotional investment and eager anticipation of American T.V. The American entertainment industry has lined us up in gear, awaiting quality productions of an ever-increasing calibre. DSTV, we salute you. Going back a couple of years, the pilot season of American Idol premiered on the 11th of June, 2002. Although the original foundation of this show was “Pop Idol”, which was a British based show first aired in 2001, the Americanised version of the programme found a better sitting in our local television ratings. The bedazzling show, hosted by the infamous and always brutally honest Simon Cowell along with Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, gave budding pop idols a platform to exhibit their talents, The show soon made its way into South Africa and before we knew it we were all crossing thumbs for Kelly Clarkson. The show captured the local audience to such an extent, and soon the MNet network brought out a proudly South African version of it. “Idols South Africa” has since been the premier showcase to scout out a host of now well-renowned South African artists and is an ongoing highlight of MNet’s programming bouquet. American Appeal - T.V shows that made an impact on South African viewing South Africans tend to need a little “rough and wild” visual stimuli fix when it comes to reality shows. The first season of Survivor appealed to the mass markets and immediately gained notoriety after the pilot episode of Survivor: Borneo, aired May through August, 2000. The whole nation became emotionally invested in the tribes and their members, alliances popping up in the first couple of weeks. The charismatic host Jeff Probst became a familiar icon in any South African homes as families awaited his call on who was next to be voted out, his famous words being “The tribe has spoken”. The reflection of humanity in its primal state was apparent in the series, as contestants were not only competing for $1000,000 but competing for moral sanity, social alliances and neutrality. The clash of emotion and drama had South Africans at the edge of their seats. Once again, the popularity of this American reality show saw MNet investing in the franchise and going local with Survivor South Africa, hosted by Mark Bayly who was replaced by Nico Panagio for Season 3 onwards. American Appeal - T.V shows that made an impact on South African viewing In recent years, one American show in particular has been trending in South Africa for quite some time now. The show broadcasts an objective view of 21st century suburban living, where liberal values have been portrayed by a variety of family settings in a picturesque Mid-Western neighbourhood. Of course, we are talking about Modern Family! The psychological appeal of acceptance despite age, race and sexuality could have a part to play with the ratings in South Africa, as the diverse nation is still struggling with social issues and the yearning for cultural and preferential integration is a yearning that has yet to be fulfilled. And perhaps the comedic dynamics and great scriptwriting had a part to play as well. American Appeal - T.V shows that made an impact on South African viewing Contributed by Cameron Smith

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