From Amaka Eze
Over the last couple of years, reality shows have become a staple of the Nigerian TV menu. They are, as controversial as they are loved, the trappings of what make for good viewership and high ratings.
As a result, the news of the impending airing of a reality television show has the sheer power to set social media agog as young people, in particular, speculate and attempt to dissect the kind of participants they are looking to see on their screens.
And long after the cameras shut down and the lights are turned off, fans continue to debate happenings on the show and keep them trending.
Nevertheless, when MultiChoice Nigeria first revealed its plans to launch a new reality show which centres on finding love, I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it. I was skeptical because love can be a complex phenomenon and I wasn’t certain it could be explored adequately.
However, on second thought, and with a better understanding of how the show will run, I have no doubt that it is a welcome development.
For one, the subject of love is one that will never cease to fascinate any audience. It is a concept everyone can relate to regardless of their age, gender, background, sexual orientation, or religion.
People will continue to look for love no matter how many times they get burnt, and any avenue that presents the possibility of finding it is welcome.
While we have had reality television series in the mould of Guilder Ultimate Search, MTN Project Fame, and Big Brother Naija which focused on survival, music talent, and competition respectively, there’s not been any homegrown reality show that explored the subject of love, marriage, and family as its central theme.
This uncharted warm and fuzzy dimension that is devoid of immorality or nudity is what Ultimate Love dares to promote.
The organisers of the show have announced that eight young men and eight young women will be camped in an isolated location where they will be paired for the purpose of igniting what could culminate in a lifelong partnership.
The contestants will interact and take part in specific cultural activities that are geared towards finding similarities and common grounds that can serve as a catalyst for genuine friendship.
What’s more, the (potential) lovebirds get to receive counsel from someone who’s “been there and done that” – “Aunty” -whose mission is to guide them through the often-confusing waters choosing the right partner can be.
To the cynic, all these may appear unnatural. After all, the contestants will conduct their activities under the scrutiny of 24-hour live cameras.
They will point out the fact that in the real world, men walk up to women (or vice versa) to woo them, and do not have the luxury of being helped by a system.
I see things differently. A show like Ultimate Love is an apt response to the reality of our times-a time when people yearn for love-but are too encumbered to take a solid crack at it.
We are in an age where more and more people are meeting their partners on the internet.
Platonic friendships and romantic relationships are forged on social media via direct messages and private chat rooms. In some instances, the couple is thousands of miles away from each other and only get to meet a few weeks or days before they tie the knot.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong in this, it’s difficult to ignore studies like the one conducted by the Michigan State University which revealed that couples who meet in traditional ways such as introductions by friends, or through work, hobbies or socialising are more likely to enjoy a stable, long-lasting relationship compared to their counterparts who met online.
The fast-paced nature of today’s world, however, means that young people do not have enough time to mingle. For many of them who live in a big, busy city like Lagos, it’s an unending struggle to catch a break to unwind, so they end up living the triangular life where they are only found within the settings of their home, work, and religious houses.
The consequence of this is an alarming number of eligible of bachelors and spinsters who are without partners, not because they do not desire one but because they are too busy trying to get ahead in life.
It’s the reason contents like Ultimate Love should be celebrated. Aside from giving young, upwardly mobile individuals a rare opportunity to meet and connect with their ilk, the programme also fills the lacuna on the dating scene by providing the perfect environment and guidance for love to sprout.
Moreover, to forestall any chance of them getting carried away by the mundane when cupid strikes, they have a voice of reason in ‘Aunty’.
What makes this project even more rewarding is the incentive for the last standing couple to go ahead and put a ring on it if they so desire. A fully funded traditional wedding ceremony and a fully-furnished house is not a shabby start to married life by any standards.
I don’t know about you but as a keen reality show viewer and love aficionado, I am uber excited to embark on the two months journey that promises plenty of surprises, twists, and turns on the way to crowning the eventual winners of this first-of-its-kind social experiment.