Over the last two decades, reality TV shows have become an integral part of Nigeria's television viewing culture.
From all the Big Brother franchises, dance reality TV shows and even music talent shows, it is fair to say we've had our fair share of the good, the bad and ugly.
Just as 2019, was unwinding Multichoice announced that it was organising another reality TV show, Ultimate Love.
First of its kind
Now, Multichoice is already known for its outstanding and well put together reality TV shows across Africa; Big Brother Africa, Big Brother Mzansi and Big Brother Naija. We all know the thrills these reality TV shows give millions of Africans every year.
So when they came up with another reality TV show but this time with a different twist, I was very inquisitive about nature and the plot this time around.
Ultimate Love as the name indicates is a reality TV show where young men and women (Love Guests) who are ready to find the almost perfect partner and settle down are placed in the same house called Love Pad for eight weeks.
These guys are paired at some point in the show and kept track of to see if they are perfect for each other.
Of course, the game came with several tasks and winners definitely emerged. The winning couple leaves the game show with some prizes including N5M in cash, a N10M traditional wedding, and a dream home.
However, the prize comes with a clause, there has to be a commitment from the couple on the live show. There also has to be a proposal within the first 90 days. After the proposal and wedding, then the couple gets a fully furnished house.
Now the trick about the house is that they only get to keep the house if they stay together as a married couple for twelve months together.
The script and all that went down
Now the moment the identities of the Love Guests were revealed on live TV on Feburary 9, 2020, I kind of understood that this wasn't the typical reality TV show where every Tom, Dick, and Harry would show up for. These were guys who 'were looking for the right partner.'
Obviously, the guys running the script of the show had an amazing plan which was supposed to impress the die-hard fans of reality TV. They made just a few changes; Biggie became Aunty, and the Love Pad and a total re-do (Same residence for Big Brother Naija)
We've seen love reality TV shows from other countries and how spontaneous and heated things can get. Maybe because this was just its first season so a lot of precautions were taken. But the moment, these guys were paired, I knew the show wasn't going to get the ratings it wanted.
Now we had twenty Love Guests in the house who all wanted to meet a partner. With two months to go, they were told to pick three potentials which wasn't the best idea. A very spontaneous move the content guys would have added to spice the show up was to get the exes of these Love Guests ready and introduced into the game later.
Imagine if Arnold's ex-girlfriend was introduced into the game, the moment after Bola said he dots the Is and crosses the Ts of her idea man or Iyke's ex who couldn't get her hands off him and almost ruined things with Theresa.
Or better still, if they had allowed everyone to fly solo, create an atmosphere where the Love Guests were not ever certain about anyone.
Okay, let's talk about the David, Rosie and Kachi triangle which would have been the biggest talking point of the show if everyone was flying solo.
As for the games and tasks, I felt it was a bit boring. Okay, these guys were there to win the heart of someone and take home the grand prize. Why not create tasks that would make them win a date with the Love Guest, they sincerely wanted to be with.
Make it intense, nerve-wracking and almost impossible. Watch grown-up men cry and breakdown on live TV. It's a reality TV show, you are not there to water gardens or count the tiles on the floor.
Dakore Egbuson Akande and Oluwaseun P were the perfect hosts for the show. Their chemistry during the show was unparalleled. Oluwaseun was the toast to the viewers at the live eviction as he knew how to carry the audience along.
For Dakore, she did a perfect job even though there were some noticeable but forgivable flaws. They tried to make the eviction shows a worthwhile every Sunday.
For the aunty of the house, Adesuwa Onyenokwe, her presence in the Love Pad was delightful. A mother figure to the contestant, her private time with the love guests were probably one of the most interesting highlights of the show.
The impact of coronavirus
On social media, the enthusiasm that comes with reality TV wasn't really felt except on very special occasions. To be sincere, Ultimate Love had its fan base. It wasn't the traditional fanbase that accompanies other reality TV shows but it had its loyal consumers.
Just like almost every country in the world, the coronavirus hasn't only put a halt to economies and businesses globally but disrupted a lot of activities. Ultimate Love wasn't lucky as it got hit by the pandemic. All eyes became focused on the spread of the virus. For many, it was all about making it to the next day and not watching a reality TV show.
A lot of people started murmuring on social media about the organiser's silence on the pandemic. It didn't take long before a show was cut short and ended abruptly. The reality TV stars will be shocked to see a whole different world from the one they left behind after the show.
Personally, season one of Ultimate Love was used to test the dos and don'ts of a love reality show. I wanted this show to work, I rooted for it but the suppressing forces of people who weren't impressed by the show overshadowed everything.
Were there flaws? A lot of them. Can they be fixed? With a very spontaneous and outside the box thinking team, the next season would certainly make the reality TV show one of the most talked-about in the country and Africa at large.