On the 26th of April, a new reality show is set to premiere on African Magic. This show which would star 2019 Big Brother Naija winner Mercy Eke and ex-housemate Steve Ikechukwu Onyema, comes off the heels of the love show Ultimate Love, which was wrapped earlier than expected, in accordance to one of the preventive measures required to fight COVID-19.
While Ultimate Love may not have gained popularity with viewers, perhaps because of the timing or the set up of the show itself, one thing is clear; Africa Magic is leading a renaissance to how Nigerians consume reality TV.
Yes, a lot of Twitter users are skeptical about this new show, which from the trailer, seems to be about Mercy and Ike’s relationship which began during their time in the Big Brother Naija house. Not because they didn’t make a great, but complicated couple while on the show, but perhaps because they don’t fit the narrative of the ideal, urban couple. Of course, reality TV is something many Nigerian consumers are adjusting to.
It is good to know though, that not everyone shares this skepticism. Others believe that this is the perfect spin-off from one of Big Brother Naija’s most entertaining season and considering Mercy’s absolutely compelling personality, this could be a start of an extremely rewarding career in reality TV.
While there have been shows like Gulder Ultimate Search and of Amstel Malta Box Office, nuanced reality TV shows that serve drama, suspense, complexity, and zeroes in on a small set of humans such as the Mercy and Ike show suggests, is far in between.
What is very clear however is that, as the Nigerian entertainment continues to reinvent itself, adapt old forms into new narratives, take on ambitious projects, provide opportunities for nontraditional forms of entertainment, we are on the way to gaining a firm ground in creating highly rewarding and timeless contents.
Nelson C.J is a culture writer with works in The New York Times, Xtra Magazine, OkayAfrica, Black Youth Project, AfroPunk, and a few other spaces. You can find him saving dog pictures on Twitter.