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Unfair to air dirty laundry on reality shows

Celebs use space to tell own stories from their perspective

Thango Ntwasa Lifestyle Digital Editor
Somizi Mhlongo.
Somizi Mhlongo.
Image: Oupa Bopape

We have all been there before, picking up the pieces of a friend’s failed relationship. Whether they were right or wrong for those first couple of weeks or months we get nothing but their point of view about the breakup.

Whether their ex cheated, or had all the red flags waving or even how they always knew all along that the person was trouble, we have all had to listen to one side of a possibly untrue story.

For celebrities this is the same. Especially when tabloids ran amok, secrets were spread like soft butter on warm toast; gobbled up by whoever was willing to listen and always served with a side of piping hot tea. And I don’t mean the kind that’s served with a spoonful of sugar.

Today’s stars don’t rely on sit down interviews and tabloid fodder. In the new season of Living the Dream with Somizi (LTDWS), the star has taken to his show to break the silence over his chaotic breakup.

According to his ex Mohale Motaung, Somizi Mhlongo has allegedly been nothing short of abusive throughout their relationship. According to Mhlongo, Motaung was an impossible lover he tried very hard to make things work with.

With the advantage of a reality show Mhlongo, like many other reality TV stars, is able to frame reality to his will. And while it gives him a voice on the matter, it has exposed the problematic nature of the genre.

Kim Kardashian’s relationships were always framed to her benefit, episodes that detailed her and Kris Humphries’s divorce made him seem doltish, boring and an incompetent lover. I even remember one particular scene contrasting how Kardashian could do a similar exercise as him with ease, barely breaking a sweat. On the flip side, Humphries was showing a lot of duress, making him seem weaker than her. It made it easy for her to look less of the imperfect lover, something that has been done to other boyfriend and husbands including Kanye West.

Mhlongo’s latest season takes on a similar path. LTDWS has never shied away from depicting the highs and lows he has with others but the issues he has with Mohale that are mentioned as the new season kicks off were never there in past episodes.

Even his friends and family have some damaging things to say. Vusi Nova, who would make a few cameos here and there, now has a diary session and a bigger role on LTDWS, especially as someone who never liked Motaung.

While it was heartbreaking to learn that his daughter Bahumi had to pay the price for the allegations brought against Mhlongo, she and her mother also play a part in the show’s game.

For Bahumi it was the fact that Mhlongo was not able to give her the attention she deserves, something that could have been aired in earlier episodes.

For his baby mama, Palesa Madisakwane, it was holding grudges over Somizi not paying lobola for Bahumi. Continuing the universal silence everyone had while still keeping it real with other matters.

She even goes as far as to refer to Motaung as a toy boy, another disappointment in the sea of failed relationships.

Ultimately, Motaung was in the way of Madisakwane getting the money she felt owed. All kept mum until this moment.

As reality shows like this continue, more celebrities use these spaces to tell their own stories from their own perspective.

It is already apparent that reality shows are disingenuous by nature but it would seem their participants are also playing us for fools.

Much like many of us or our friends, the new season is built around framing the star as the ultimate victim of a bad relationship.

And perhaps his side of the story will never be true until we get to live in the dreams of Motaung as well.

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