“All television is educational.” –Nicholas Johnson
And it is also true that millions of people form their vision of social reality primarily by the kind of stories they see and hear daily. Of course, nothing can compare to the real-life conversations you’ll have when you get out into the streets, community and people one-on-one –but TV is an accessible introduction to both modern and past culture.
There’s an old saying that goes, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” In a lot of ways that adage fits NTV’s real-life talk shows like This Is Ess hosted by Sharon Mundia, Here & Now Ke by Janet Mbugua, Grace Msalame’s Unscripted With Grace, Health Diary by Gladys Gachanja , The Trend Live hosted by Amina Abdi, SideBar by Ken Mijungu and Presspass by Mark Maasai.
Corruption. Tribalism. Terrorism. Entertainment. Lifestyle. Criminal justice reform. Civil rights. Press freedom. Disease epidemics. Conservation. These are all timely topics for television content. But they have also been tackled, with gritty realism, in the past years. Then and now, however, the mix of entertainment and polarizing political and cultural topics is a high-wire act that few TV producers have manage to pull off with equal parts critical and commercial success.
NTV is wading into the tinderbox of social awareness with these talk shows. The broadcast network is giving divisive subjects a showcase in prime time entertainment programming thus playing a big part in shaping the political and cultural response to thorny issues. Taking on topics of weighty social issues, these shows have proven to be every bit engaging and insightful.
The hosts connect the dots of their careers as media personalities and as social activists by telling the dynamics of everyday life; offering a glimpse into core values and traditions. The impact of theses stories that connect with hearts and minds is unrivaled. Heavy drama isn’t the only means to holding mirror to society.
Janet Mbugua, Grace Msalame, Aimna Abdi Rabar, Galdys Gahanja, Sharon Mundia, Ken Mijungu and Mark Masai are weaving real-life concerns into onscreen conversations. As we watch, listen and are entertained, these talk shows are rewriting our cultural scripts, altering our perceptions, and our social relationships to the natural world.
They offer us a world of blurred boundaries. Society is a result of its boundaries, of what it will and won’t allow. Knowledge of how to behave is contained in cultural scripts that are themselves products of human interaction and communication about the nature of “reality”.
Be sure to let me know in the comments what you think about television talk shows in Kenya’s mainstream media.