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Thinus Ferreira

Kenny Kunene's cash can't carry his reality show

2011-09-26 11:04
Kenny Kunene's crass reality show KK – So What seems to prove that if you're name is Kenny Kunene you can buy a Lamborghini. And a Porche. Just not really quality when it comes to television.

KK – So What, which started on Saturday September 24 on e.tv with cameras following Sandton's often-controversial business provocateur, is a stale and boring "show-off" show – literally flashing the cash (and very little else) in a production filled with fluff and very little fun.

Why e.tv spent money to add this show to the line-up (after it was first offered to SABC1) will remain as much a mystery as to why Kenny and the production company have him wear sunglasses blocking his eyes from the viewers – thereby keeping the title subject of this vanity project distant.

e.tv's publicity department wasn't able to, or didn't care, to actually alert all South Africa's TV critics and writers that KK – So What was starting, what the show is about, or even make a screener of the episodes available beforehand. Yet the first of the 26 episodes of KK – So What finally unspooled on Saturday evening on the commercial free-to-air broadcaster looking like a tedious FTV party segment. The overuse of monotonous techno rave music makes KK – So What best watched with the mute function on.

Devoid of any real drama and looking like a shoddy Channel O music video, KK – So What comes across as uninspired, trash television that includes scenes of hands counting cash and liquor buying dished up as drama with the obligatory staff being berated. When you've got cash (like the Kardashians) you have people you can boss around. It's the same at the ZAR business empire. Turn off the sound, add narrative subtitles, and you could have the Africa Magic channel Nollywood movie of the week while you're watch KK – So What.

Meanwhile, Kenny Kunene keeps dropping kernels of inane Oprah-isms like "When you are in trouble or when you have a problem, smile and you get a smile back". One wonders if either Kenny or the producers thought of how the premise of an incredibly self-indulgent show such as this would have been much more interesting, and so much better, if the show rather followed the people who have to work for South Africa's self-anointed sushi king.

Cashy-yet-trashy exploits

Characters like Kieran Lindeque (ZAR fashion editor) with the pixie-like haircut who talks in the third person, or phat Gayton McKenzie (one of Kenny's business directors and also one of the executive producers together with Gary Edwardes) who quips "I'm a bulldog. You can't f- like a puppy," could possibly prove more interesting as subjects for a show such as this than merely following Kenny Kunene's cashy-yet-trashy exploits.

KK – So What remains one-dimensional and fixated on Kenny and his conspicuous consumption. The show stays with the image of him already established as a sushi-caviar-champagne business maverick, providing viewers with little that's new, or of interest, than the already-familiar and overexposed tabloid persona. There's no depth, no new angle and very little else other than a wealth of fool's gold on full display.

"We can stop at any garage, anywhere, and you'll see people flocking us," says Gayton McKenzie to camera with a "I don't need sex" T-shirt in a scene where he and Kenny park in a Lamborghini at an Engen 1-Stop and the producers then start filming the gawking onlookers. "A lot of people criticise and say 'Ja, you're spitting in the faces of the poor. What about the poor people? You see, people are happy for us. Even poor people are happy for us." (Yes. The production values of KK – So What make Paris Hilton's The Simple Life look almost like a National Geographic special.)

The seemingly constructed, carefully-edited "reality" of KK – So What is also painfully evident in places. Kenny gets pulled over in his car by the traffic police, but the stationary camera is already on the side of the road before the event, showing Kenny's oncoming car being flagged to pull over. Reconstructed for the cameras after the fact, or does this show also have producers who can predict events like Nonhle Thema's "reality" show Nonhle Goes to Hollywood?

"The hard truth is money gives you options. People want to make as if money is not important. There's two important things in anybody's life: oxygen and money," says Kenny.

Sadly it's clear that no amount of oxygen or money would be able to make KK – So What easier to take in.

Thinus Ferreira is a TV and media expert and critic. Read his blog here.

Check out this City Press video where patrons at the launch event comment on the first episode of the show:

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