01/03/2018 15:41 SAST | Updated 01/03/2018 16:47 SAST

Are Mzanzi's Reality TV Shows Scripted?

More reality shows have recently come under fire from viewers, who called them out for appearing to be too scripted and acted.


While there are no laws barring producers from scripting reality TV shows, viewers have an expectation of authenticity when it comes to reality TV, which explains the recent outcry about the "realness" of some of the programmes currently showing.

Entertainment commentator Phil Mphela said there's no doubt that South Africans are all for shows that reflect and tell our stories as we live them on a daily basis, and that there is a place for them in the country.

"Shows like 'Uthando Nes'thembu', 'Khumbulekhaya' and 'Utatakho' are proof. Those shows have lifted the lid on authentic unfiltered black experiences. Many of the stories on those shows are a common reality in black society. We live these stories," Mphela said.

The recent wave of reality shows, most of which show on Mzansi Magic, has inspired excitement among local viewers and also highlighted people's appetite for local stories that reflect their lives daily.

However, increasingly reality shows are coming under fire from viewers, who call them out for appearing to too scripted or acted.

'Uyang'thanda Na?'

The brainchild of Parental Advisory Productions aims to help singletons connect with their crushes. The pursuer is taken on a date, where they get to ask the pursued the question: do you love me?

In recent weeks, viewers complained that the show seemed to be too scripted – an allegation its producers strongly denied.

It was the February 14 episode that left a bad taste in the mouths of many viewers.

Out looking for love was 26-year-old Kagiso Mnguni, who enlisted the help of the show to tell his crush, Habiba, that he loved her.

People questioned if it was a coincidence that Habiba has been on more than three reality shows.


On this show, TV personality Dineo Ranaka helps various people come clean to their loved ones about their double lives.

On the latest episode, viewers met Meshack, who wanted to confess to his two girlfriends that he'd been cheating on them, but intends to marry them both.

But not all was as it seems:

Mphela said viewers have the power to send a message to producers.

"Casting blame is pointless in this situation. No crime has been committed and in the end, the viewers who continue to tune in are complicit in the lie. [If] you want producers to stop faking the stories, stop watching. Trust me, they will toe the line," he said.

Here are some of the reactions from social media users:

According to Mphela, it is highly unlikely that producers can be duped.

"There are background checks and interviews that happen (or must happen) before shooting. Participants are vetted. Unless the productions do not do due diligence, which is a different can of worms altogether. We would now have to talk about incompetence, because to accept that producers don't know is to accept they are incompetent," he said.