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By Hein Kaiser

Journalist


TV turkeys and triumphs: Why the Ultimatum SA makes drying paint look exciting

It's about as honest about relationships as a politician on a podium, but at least we can vote them out of office and scroll past this show’s hogwash. It doesn’t deserve a letter more oxygen on this page.


Good TV takes you places; bad TV doesn’t, and fugly telly is a bigger turn-off than ill-fitting trousers. Some shows are either too tight, too contrived, and never a snug fit, while others can never quite zip up, no matter how much you want them to.

The Ultimatum South Africa on Netflix is one of those shows. For some reason, it set social media alight this week when participant Khanya Nqolase swore and verbally abused her fellow cast members. The media even reported on the forgettable show’s cast antics. It all happened on Tuesday night this week when there was nothing else to watch on five streaming services and DStv’s bouquet.

The original Ultimatum shows are far better contrived as far as reality goes. The impossible couples and stale-bread-like contriving and conniving pale when measured against almost everything else on television.

The Ultimatum: Wooden characters play to the camera

There is worse, but we will deal with that a little further down. The Ultimatum South Africa features wooden characters who play to the camera and have ideals of becoming Instagram influencers when the season finally ends, and that is not soon enough.

It’s about as honest about relationships as a politician on a podium, but at least we can vote them out of office and scroll past this show’s hogwash. It doesn’t deserve a letter more oxygen on this page.

There is something far more engaging to watch on YouTube, anytime. It’s a ten-hour-long stream of a wall covered in paint. It’s called Watch Paint Dry. A visual feast compared to The Ultimatum South Africa and shows like The Real Housewives of Durban, Joburg, Cape Town, Pretoria, Lagos,” whatever.

Dark humor is likely unintentional

The Real Housewives franchise is enjoyable for its dark humor, likely unintentional. Participants are dressed up like Christmas trees and behave like decorative props. The Real Housewives of Durban season four is now on Showmax, and it does have one fantastic scene in the series.

It’s a little argy-bargy between some housewife and another housewife and the destruction of the shanty bling tent where some staged dinner was set. And that’s about it for memorable moments. Watching the show was as pleasant as being waterboarded in some CIA black ops site.

Done with the fuglies. For now.

NOW READ: Blacklist final season is a cracker

Netflix documentary is almost addictive

Thankfully, for every poor showing, there’s a good piece of television. Contrary to what you might expect, the Netflix documentary Secrets of the Neanderthals is highly engaging and almost addictive. The show is so well made and the storytelling so powerful that viewers can easily binge-watch and learn something. The information shared is spectacularly set out in a simple, understandable manner and, frankly, it is fascinating. Then again, it comes as no surprise that it was produced by the BBC, the royal home of entertaining documentaries. It’s a five-star show.

Amazon Prime also has a superb series of documentaries on offer, too.

A ten-out-of-five series

A Man in Full,” now on Netflix, is based on Tom Wolfe’s novel. It’s a masterful mishmash that bunches together challenges of ambition, race, and most of all, power in contemporary America. Jeff Daniels, who plays lead as real estate mogul Charlie Croker, is grappling with financial ruin, exacerbated by his legacy as a college football star. And while he’s trying to wiggle his way out of several discomforts, the show trashes the American dream along the way.

The plot is layered. Croker’s legal adviser Conrad Hensley, brilliantly played by Jackson Harper, becomes inevitably intertwined in the ever-expanding web of intrigue. This explores the themes, particularly that of race in modern-day America, without kid gloves.

Daniels is styled, perhaps incidentally or accidentally, as a Trump-like figure that exudes Southern masculinity. He lives and dies by stereotyping in many ways. Every character that features in the show is expertly developed. You never feel that you’re missing an aspect of depth about a certain someone or received too much irrelevant detail about another.

A Man in Full is a ten-out-of-five series. It’s that good. A compelling drama that is thought-provoking and resonates with many issues we experience at home. Discover them, consider them. It is a richly textured show that is a must-watch in every aspect. Most of all, it’s meaningful.

NOW READ: ‘I’m a strong personality’ – ‘The Ultimatum: South Africa’ star Khanya Nqolase after backlash

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