Reality TV is one of the most popular, most profitable genres of TV programming. The financial and social success of shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians has spawned a million different shows with a similar format. Kenya has had quite a few including an offshoot of the Real Housewives franchise. Now we’re about to have an interesting first. Oh Sister! is Kenya’s first ‘Christian’ reality show starring seven female gospel music stars. As usual, America did it first with one of the biggest Christian reality shows, The Preachers franchise, most notably, The Preachers of LA and Atlanta. Let’s talk about what’s wrong with Christian reality shows and why Oh Sister! may not be a good idea.
Real means genuine, authentic, true, honest, actual. There’s nothing real about reality tv. All of it is scripted and edited to create whatever story the producers think will be the most compelling. The cast knows they are in the business of entertaining people and so they perform what will get the most attention on them. Drama and conflict are what attract people and so they end up doing what they imagine and what the producers tell them will be most captivating to audiences. So for women who purport to be Christians to deliberately engage in this deception is unfortunate. It’s true more and more people know it’s a scripted performance but too many still don’t and it’s to those who don’t that such shows like Oh Sister! are marketed.
Producers have been known to manipulate the cast, putting them in high-pressure situations and doing things like plying them with alcohol or executing sleep deprivation tactics to get the cast to act out of character in dramatic ways that will be shocking and engaging to audiences.
The producers lie and exploit their weaknesses all in the service of manufacturing drama and getting whatever story they’re looking for. When these characters inevitably end up acting out, their public personas and lives can suffer significantly. Some never recover. Christians and their producers may set out to do things differently, sans manipulation but as long drama is the name of the game, some manipulation and exploitation will definitely be part of the show.
In Oh Sister!, one of the characters when speaking to Millie wa Jesus whose husband Kabi wa Jesus was cheating with his cousin casually asked her if Kabi’s baby with his cousin had started calling her mom. Next, the editors cut to Millie wa Jesus fighting tears. The heartache and pain she must have experienced when her husband had a child while cheating is exploited solely for the sake of our entertainment.
Glamorizes negative behaviour
Destructive behaviour is what grabs people’s attention and gets them talking about the show. Anger and outrage which spread like wildfire online are the best outcomes for producers. Reality TV thrives on this drama and attention so the cast engages in negative or destructive behaviour most commonly, excessive drinking and wanton promiscuity.
A good Christian show like Oh Sister! is unlikely to have any of that but it does feature its own negative behaviour chasing attention and clicks. In one of the first episodes, the women shame one of their fellow castmates for wearing a tight dress then they go the extra mile and fat shame her, pointing out how much she’s eating and how slimmer women are far more attractive. This is the kind of thing that would often result in outrage online with netizens posting and sharing the clip online with commentary attached. It’s beyond shameful that in this day and age, a whole TV show with adult women would try to police women’s bodies and clothing and then go a step further and shame them for being fat. The silver lining, I guess is not enough people watched the show or cared enough to give it attention by commenting on its repulsive sexist views.
TV is a visual medium and producers have to try and get the audience’s attention through dazzling images. Christian reality shows are forced to play by the same rules as those made by full-blown heathens. So it’s all fully-decked-out women in top-of-the-line fashion, mansions and expensive cars. It’s what George Orwell called a deliberate incitement to wealth fantasy. All this being done by a people claiming to follow a simple man from Nazareth who said it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into the kingdom of God.
Oh Sister! features artfully styled castmates whose appearance just screams wealth talking about some nonsense in their mansions. They casually eat at expensive restaurants, travel to Dubai and spend the day shopping. This is a country in which far too many adults and children are forced to skip meals because they can’t afford them.
The castmates can casually drop as many bible verses as they can recall but nothing about what they are doing would be supported by the carpenter from Nazareth who allied himself with the poor, kicked businessmen out of the temple and told a wealthy young man to sell all his possessions and follow him. Jesus wouldn’t have been caught dead hanging out with the Oh Sister! crew. He would have never been selected as a cast member of the bling bling flashing, extravagant cars driving, petty preachers of LA and that tells you everything you need to know about these Christian reality shows. There ain’t no difference between them and the dreadfully problematic reality shows made by and featuring heathens.
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