THE BLOG
25/11/2016 05:56 SAST | Updated 25/11/2016 10:04 SAST

It's So Complicated That We Can't Write Our Own Storylines

Such basic plagiarism is an insult to viewers.

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I am a big fan of the 8pm #MzansiSundays romantic drama, "It's Complicated". I tune in every Sunday and sometimes I watch again so I can review the powerful monologues and rants. I guess I'm putting a disclaimer out so everyone understands I'm writing from the position of disappointed fan as opposed to bored hater.

Mzansi Magic serves as an important platform for South African scriptwriters. It gives them the space to showcase their talent in a way no other channel in South Africa has done for a while. Mzansi Magic is doing its job so well that I always find myself thinking: "So many shows, so little time". "Isithunzi", "The Queen", "Greed and Desire", "Isibaya"and the list goes on. A few years ago, we had all the time in the world for local tv shows because you only had to fit in "Isidingo", "Scandal" and "Generations"to keep up with the conversation in the office the next day. SABC keeps churning out the same old content from the '90s and renewing tenders to the president's daughter but ariho hafho.

Now we have to pick a handful of shows to keep up with and choose to be left out of the conversation for every other show even though feeling left out of the conversation could possibly bring back flashbacks from primary school when everyone was talking about "Yizo Yizo" but your parents simply were not about that life.

I started watching "It's Complicated" halfway through its first season after my cousin introduced me to the show that had everyone talking. It was different. It wasn't a family drama about a rich taxi owner with two wives or a rich advertising exec with random children coming out of the woodworks. I thought: "Hallelujah! A show that young people can maybe make attempts at relating to".

But last week the episode felt like a giant middle finger to everyone who chose the show as one of the top 5 handfuls of shows we have the time to watch without turning into couch potatoes. If it were a university paper, the writers would be facing a five-year suspension from all universities in the world.

Once season one ended, I patiently (seriously Mzansi Magic, we shouldn't have to wait that long) waited for season two. I was happy. Mandisa and Thabang's storyline has had me in my feels and many others too. But last week the episode felt like a giant middle finger to everyone who chose the show as one of the top five handfuls of shows we have the time to watch without turning into couch potatoes.

If it were a university paper, the writers would be facing a five-year suspension after evidence from a Turnitin report revealed the writer had copied 40 percent of the work.

Turnitin's plagiarism result would have first been caused by the suspicious Thabang and his Ghosts of Girlfriends Past storyline when it was revealed that Thabang (Motlatsi Mafatshe) previously had sexual relations with a close family friend Doris/Mme Moriti (Vatiswa Ndara). The story was, while Thabang's parents thought that he was cleaning said family friends house, in reality, he was doing a lot more than that.

When I heard this, my first thought was, "50 Shades of Grey": think Christian Grey and Mrs. Robinson without the BDSM. I brushed that thought aside because I told myself that E.L. James does not own the sugar mamma storyline. She is not the first to do it and as this story line of "It's Complicated" proves, she will no be the last.

Later on in the episode, Thato (Siyabonga Radebe) is on the phone with his wife Ntando (Thishiwe Ziqubu), professing his love for her telling her all about how he cannot wait to see her when he gets home. He buys her flowers and gets into his car to go and surprise his beautiful wife. Fast forward right to the end of the episode and Thato has been in a car accident, his body hanging out the driver seat door, his phone ringing and the shows resident crazy man and worst side guy in the world Nqobi (Austin Shandu) standing over him with the screw from Thato's car in his hand watching him plead for his life.

Turnitin is not a perfect piece of software, I mean we all remember that one time when Turnitin highlighted our footnotes as plagiarism. In this case, however, even Turnitin would not have made an error. The "It's Complicated" writers did not even make an attempt at changing the scene much. This was obviously the exact same scene from the movie "The Perfect Guy". Think about it. It's the same scene where Michael Ealy's character ruthlessly killed Morris Chestnut when he was on his way home to his beautiful fiancé played by Sanaa Lathan.

Honestly, if you are going to copy and paste a scene from another movie surely there is a better way to do it.

Honestly, if you are going to copy and paste a scene from another movie surely there is a better way to do it. One or two examples: Copy and modify a scene from a really old movie or a movie that went straight to DVD so you know that no one has really seen it or try a random Bollywood or Nollywood movie that you are almost certain no one has seen. But preferably, don't plagiarise, but if you must, at least be smart about it.

Perhaps when the script was written and approved, the writers did not count on DStv playing "The Perfect Guy" the entire week before the plagiarised episode aired. Writers' block is a real thing, almost everyone has experienced it at one point or another but this is no excuse for plagiarism, especially poorly thought out plagiarism.