Jersey Shore Meets Laguna Beach in Cape Town

National Women’s Month has occasioned a fair bit of ranting about sexism by South Africa’s commentariat this year. In that vein, the Mail and Guardian’s Rhode Marshall laments one of America’s less fortunate cultural exports.

Is the month we celebrate the strength and dignity of women the best time to debut Clifton Shores, a show which preaches just the opposite?

Exactly a year ago, a friend phoned me from the Netherlands to share news she knew would get a reaction out of me.

“Make your way to Youtube and search for Clifton Shores,” she said.

What I saw made my eyes bleed.

In this new show, Clifton Shores, we are subjected to seeing Cape Town through the eyes of young American women similar to those seen in vacuous “reality” shows such as Keeping Up with the Kardashians, The Hills and Laguna Beach, the show on which this torturous project is loosely based.

Why would anyone consider bringing this bullshit to the beautiful city I call home?

On its Facebook page Clifton Shores is described as “unscripted”. Sure, buddy. Why, then, does it follow the same predictable format that I’ve seen so many times before?

In the series, four girls (grown women described as “girls”), fight for the attention of their “boss” – and this will be the storyline for the entire season, I assume. They will probably throw a few unfortunate men in every now and again, just to shake things up a bit and “surprise” the audience.

Quinton van der Burgh, the billionaire who proposed this series, has flown in beautiful, affluent women from the United States to work for his events and marketing company, Quintessential. He puts them up in a lavish Clifton pad, gets Errol Arendz to design dresses for the J&B Met – their first “gig” – just to watch them fight for his attention. Classy.

That Van Der Burgh is a male chauvinist goes without saying. It must be nice to be able to afford this kind of glossy self-affirmation.

The fact that they are described as “girls” rattles every bone in my body. Is that how they see themselves? Did they get a say in this?

When Destiny (her real name), who narrates the first episode, shares the news with her family that she is leaving for Africa the next day, she sounds unsure about what her job would entail. At least we were spared the typical “Africa is a dark, dangerous place” and “where IS Africa, exactly?” reactions.

After landing in Cape Town, the “girls” drive through a township discussing who would get the biggest room. This deep, fulfilling conversation makes one wonder if perhaps a script would not have been such a bad idea after all. This discussion continues until they notice where they are, and start talking about “helping” these poor people, while being alarmed at the cows and goats wandering around in the area. “I wonder if these are their pets?”

If they are planning an episode where these out-of-touch first-worlders try their hand at saving the masses, it will be an offensive low point. If it could go any lower.

But it seems that not everyone hated the show as much as I did. People took to Twitter to air their views during the screening.

@CapeTown_Girl: So, like, Africaaaaaah is the star of Clifton Shores. I’ll be tuning in again!

There is even more exciting news for the fans of the show: they are now searching for the next “Quintessential girl” for the next season! Want to know what makes a Quintessential girl? Watch this!

What I learnt this Women’s Month? The best person you could want to be is a Quintessential girl. So much for democracy. Bimbocracy is all the rage.

Rhode Marshall