Bringing back Winner can be likened to organizers of Big Brother Africa crowning Tayo Faniran its winner simply because Nigerians think the prize is their entitlement and Faniran deserves to win.
I have been an ardent fan of the show which has produced stars including Praiz, Chidinma and Iyanya for as long as I can remember, but over the weekend, the show which used to be one of Africa's favourites, came up with a twist that made it seem like more of a joke than a serious business.
During the Saturday's elimination show, the judges reinstated Winner, a contestant who thought her journey in the Academy was over. The contestant was previously up for possible elimination alongside Yusuph, Pere, Mirabel and Solomon. Yusuph was saved by West Africa, Pere was saved by the Faculty, while Mirabel got enough votes from her fellow contestants to keep her in the competition, leaving Solomon and Winner as the eliminated contestants.
Then the "twist" happened. An uproar in the studio with the audience insisting they wanted Winner back in the competition, led to the Judges decision to bring her back, using their only lifeline to save a contestant from elimination for this season.
As a confused viewer, I'm wondering if the 'lifeline' power had always been in existence, or if it was suddenly created to save the very talented Winner, whom the audience or faculty didn't consider to save. Were the audience aware that at a point, a factor such as the 'lifeline' would influence the reinstatement of one of their favourite contestants? Or did they just protest because of course, once upon a time, a contestant was surprisingly brought back after eviction?
I remember the case of Anderson from the 2015 edition, who was also brought back after he got the least votes on competition and was evicted. The difference between Winner and Anderson is that the later was not on probation because of a bad performance, he was on probation because every contestant was on probation, and he was unfortunate to be one of those with the least number of votes.
The survival of a contestant on shows like Project Fame isn't always guided by awareness, which raises questions on the credibility of a survived contestant. The unarguable talent of the two recipients of the 'lifeline,' makes one question the decision of the Faculty and West Africa not to safe them in the first place.
Most reality shows thrive on viewer participation to produce its winner. By setting up the TV show in that way, the story of the show is given over to the audience. The audience had the power to create the narrative they wanted, but they chose to save Yusph over Winner. That was their choice. That was the narrative they chose. There was no need for the judges to change it.
Bringing back Winner can be likened to organizers of Big Brother Africa crowning Tayo Faniran its winner simply because Nigerians think the prize is their entitlement and Faniran deserves to win. You don't just reinstate a contestant simply because of an uproar, protest, Twitter rant and every other kind of rant - that would mean reinstating every one of our favourite contest.
The organisers of the show decided to give the power to its audience, so they should realize that most of the deserving contestants in reality shows do not win due to the voting system, as a greater part of the audience are guided by emotions for a particular contestant.
There are usually three popular cases that arise in reality competitions that require voting to produce a winner:
1. The contestant with the highest social media presence gets to win over a more talented contestant (Yusph over Winner?).
2. The talented contestant with high social media presence gets to lose, leading to an uproar by his/fans who only made them popular on social media but failed to vote for them. (Chike from The Voice Nigeria, Joe Blue from The Voice Nigeria, Tayo Faniran from Big Brother Africa among others.)
3. A contestant who is talented enough and deserves to win, gets the votes.
There is need for the judges of the show to understand that the show isn't one that should thrive on human emotions or sentiments. Winner is talented, and didin't deserve to not be saved by Africa or the Faculty, but there was also no reason to bring her back because the 'audience and their uproar' wanted her back.
On Sunday, during the Nomination Show, the contestants entertained viewers with performances of some of the most loved African contemporary hit songs.
Following their performances, which the Judges described as outstanding, all the contestants were placed on probation.
However, the judges stated that some of the contestants 'stood out for them.' So why place the outstanding performers on probation alongside the ordinary ones? Because yes, there really were ordinary performers. While Project Fame is a show that gives the audience the power to produce a winner, it should also be one that works towards aiding the audience towards making the right decision.
It was unwarranted to place all the contestants on probation as they all didn't do that well. Why create a scenario that would make it possible for the best contestant to be evicted, when there's no 'lifeline' to make unnecessary saves?
What happens when/if one of those contestants who 'stood out' finds themselves on Saturday, August 20, 2016, with the least public votes? They get evicted when they the narrative could have been different?
There should be a set of guidelines that should foster transparency, and save the prestigious show from gradually becoming an unbelievable show or child's play.