When it comes to reality series, Jamaica has established itself as a prime source of amusement. With shows like Teacher’s Pet, starring renowned dancehall icon, Adidja ‘Vybz Kartel’ Palmer, and Dancehall Life, featuring acclaimed dancers such as Keticia ‘TC’ Chatman, viewers have continued to value and support this form of entertainment.
It is not surprising therefore, that considering the recent Covid19 pandemic, digital platforms have garnered a new level of appreciation, engagement, and dependency. Subsequently, there has been an influx of online content creations, spanning across streaming and social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. These platforms have provided Jamaican celebrities and influencers with mass exposure and financial opportunities, via ad revenue from corporate companies and brands including Flow, KFC, and Sagicor.
The creation of two of Jamaica’s newest reality series, The Social House and 876Roommates, has once again transcended borders, thereby providing new opportunities for several social media personalities to evolve professionally. In addition, these top social media influencers can break through to traditional media and become official brand ambassadors. The programs do an excellent job at not only showcasing the beauty of the island, but also its rich culture, through brand sponsored challenges, ranging from cooking and shopping exercises, to leisure activities, such as zip lining and catching greasy pigs. However, unlike The Social House, which premiered exclusively on YouTube, 876Roommates can be seen on both YouTube and Jamaica’s local channel CVM, enabling more access to the masses. Having said that, The Social House seemingly has a more filtered cast and a bigger budget, which allows it to feel like the uptown version of the former.
Despite these subjective differences, we can truly appreciate all the time, money, talent, and creativity poured into both series and other online content by Jamaican influencers and celebrities alike, especially during this global pandemic. Moreover, these programs serve to highlight the evolution of representation in traditional media, with these Jamaican Influencers being the new catalyst.