Newcomer Moja Love has regularly trended on social media for its out-of-the-box reality TV content, ranging from the South African spin-off of Cheaters, Uyajola 9/9, to No Excuses Pay Papgeld that exposes deadbeat fathers who contribute minimally to their children's livelihoods.
However, the DStv channel has constantly come under fire for its controversial choice of content. What's clear is that although Moja Love seek to improve and shed light on various social issues in South Africa, a part of their content always seems to have technical direction errors, as they tend to record the narrative first and then balance the technicalities with its captivating narrative.
This past Sunday, Moja Love aired two episodes of Uyajola 9/9. The first episode followed Ledile, a woman who wrote in about her husband, Lewis, who she knew was being unfaithful to her for some time. After a day or two, Jub Jub and his team were able to spot Lewis with another woman at the local taxi rank.
Ledile was overwhelmed with emotion to see Lewis with another woman. Soon thereafter, we see the Uyajola 9/9 team intervene in the situation with viewers offered 10 minutes of drone footage showing the taxi rank with flashes of close-up footage of the couple with the other woman.
Technical and ethical concerns
This raises a lot of questions regarding the show's technical choices, beginning with the choice of the drone and how the drone was used in the show.
A drone is meant to introduce the viewer to the location and fly over the scene to give viewers an arial view of the action happening down below, instead the viewers saw a static arial shot of the taxi rank and had difficulty spotting the action in the taxi rank.
Secondly, the show highlights some ethical concerns about how the team finds the partner and "the other woman or man" in the relationship.
When Jub Jub says his team will find the subject's partner, he uses the word "investigators" to describe them. As is the case with Cheaters, Jub Jub shows the subject footage of their significant other and the third party. One can't help but wonder how the "investigators" find them so quickly? It's obvious the "investigators" keep a close eye on the pair and follow them from a distance to pin their location and film the incriminating footage.
Thirdly, the show is infamous for ambushing the subjects' significant others in public spaces. Past episodes have seen the Uyajola team enter spaces, such as movie theatres, Pick n Pay aisles and taxi ranks.
Should it only be about ratings?
A part of me feels that the show relentlessly chase ratings and publicity more than actually assisting couples troubled by infidelity. DStv's April 2020 ratings place Uyajola 9/9 as the 10th highest watched show in the primetime slot, bringing in a whopping 1.3 million viewers per episode.
One can't help but question the popularity of the show. Why are there so many viewers tuning into Uyajola 9/9 every week? Do we enjoy reality television because we enjoy laughing at the despair of others?