Skeem Saam is more than just a soapie

2016-11-06 06:00
Skeem Saam

Show: Skeem Saam

Channel: SABC1 (DStv channel 191)

Broadcast times: Monday to Friday, 6.30pm

We didn’t have easy access to TV in our res at school in Limpopo, so every weekday, my friends and I would use our limited free Wi-Fi to download Skeem Saam (which is available for free on SABC Education Shows’ YouTube channel straight after an episode has aired on TV).

Yes, I know what you’re thinking, damn students wasting their data for education on youth soapies. But here’s the thing: Skeem Saam has been as important to my education as my formal studies.

The beautiful characters, cars, apartments and fashion styles are there to lure us into watching. Who doesn’t want nice things and fast cars? In fact, envying that kind of life made me even more determined to work hard at school so that I could attain it one day.

But once they have our attention, the SABC and the producers cunningly deploy an educational agenda.

If anything, my favourite characters, Tbose and Kwaito, have shown me exactly how hard it is to attain those nice things. They’re human, imperfect, but with big dreams, living in a Turfloop and a Joburg full of trials and temptations.

Just as they seem to find peace, trouble sneaks up on them. Their friend Jama died after drinking way too much alcohol at a party on his 21st birthday and now, in season five, Emkay and the police are making Tbose’s and Kwaito’s lives difficult, trying to implicate them in his death.

Following their friendship over the years has taught me that we have to really be there for one another as friends. The story line, though, has taught me how dangerous peer pressure can be.

Which is why SABC Education is so clever. By showing young lives realistically, they have allowed me to come to my own conclusions.

Skeem Saam follows in a proud tradition of South African infotainment pioneered by shows like Yizo Yizo and Soul City.

For its masses of viewers, the soapie plays a crucial role in addressing social issues such as teen pregnancy, drug abuse and dropping out of school.

Look at Mapitsi, now having to look after her baby son while trying to study for her matric finals.

Because it’s so popular (the third most watched show on TV), Skeem Saam also has the power to help shape our social fabric. What makes the story interesting is that it depicts local kasi lifestyles and the way in which people in communities treat one another and work together on certain issues and how they interact as families and neighbours.

In fact, Skeem Saam was such a part of my world that I started studying it for my course.

My honours dealt with how a soapie like Skeem Saam can affect behaviour change among its viewers by using a popular (soap) format to connect social issues to the lives of ordinary people – making a unique form of infotainment that challenges the relentless American world-view we consume.

Read more on:    tv  |  skeem saam

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