This second wave of the pandemic revealed a new type of attachment, almost obsessive, of the Brazilian with the reality shows. With canceled soap operas, programs like BBB have gained more space on TV and social networks.
Throughout the reality, detailed lists came out of how many baths each participant had taken or how long it took them to make their first poop at the house in Curicica, in Rio de Janeiro, where the BBB is filmed.
According to Kantar Ibope, the most talked about programs – in the world – on Twitter in 2020 were BBB and A Fazenda.
According to the same survey, between April 2019 and April 2020, realities gained 62% more time on open TVs and had been growing since before the pandemic.
BBB 20, the first to have influencers, started before the coronavirus took over the country. After the circulation restrictions came, the soap operas had their recordings stopped. Meanwhile, the BBB won four more episodes. At Record, A Fazenda took place without major changes and ended its last edition with the third largest audience since the format’s debut.
And it seems that the trend is here to stay. Amauri Soares, Globo director, confirms that 2021 will be the year with the highest number of realities on the channel.
“We tried to file lawsuits [de marketing] in Big Brother, but we were unable to do so because the advertisers’ shares were already full, “says Marcelo Aquilino, about the commercial success of the program during the pandemic.
Making a soap opera at Globo requires a very large team. Depending on the type of scene, more than one hundred people can be on the set, including cast, extras and crew.
At an industrial pace, everything happens at the same time. While the art team finishes the scene, the photograph makes the light, the actors pass the text, the extras are guided – all at an accelerated pace.
Several scenarios can be set up in the same studio, which are usually dismantled and replaced overnight – which demands more people in logistics.
It is not for nothing that these productions full of crowded people – and often in closed places – have been paralyzed by the pandemic.
The productivity of telenovela workers is measured by the number of pages in the script that had their scenes recorded. A dramaturgy official says that before the pandemic, when a soap opera was on the air, it was common for them to record 11 pages a day. With the return of the recordings, full of security requirements, they record only four a day.
“Amor de Mãe”, which comes to an end now, after being shortened, will be replaced by a new rerun.
In a confinement reality, teams tend to be smaller. While the recordings of the soap operas can be in the scenic city in the studio or even in external locations – as the new “Pantanal” must demand -, BBB has a much simpler logistics.
Globo states, in a note, that “reality shows and soap operas have very different production processes and dynamics among themselves”. “Items of the security protocol, added to the size of the team, number of recording fronts, time of realization – a soap opera lasts eight months compared to the two or three months of a reality show – require different logistics that impact the recordings.”
Endemol Shine, which brought to Brazil formats such as Masterchef and BBB itself, affirms, in a note, that, in realities, they managed to adapt to carry out the pre and post-production phases remotely.
“We conducted all auditions of musical realities, selection stages for gastronomy talent shows and interviews with participants from relationship realities totally remotely.”
But not all reality shows are able to circumvent the pandemic. Recordings of Record’s Canta Comigo musical competition, for example, had to be stopped as soon as
circulation intensified in São Paulo in March.
Rosa Taques, frelancer executive producer who worked on the program and now works on another one, confinement, says that the routine before the red phase included team testing, use of PPE and distance. But as restrictions increased, the team of more than 100 people had to stop work.
“Regardless of whether it is confined or not, it is a challenge to make reality during the pandemic. It is not only the participants who make the program, there is the content team, the art team, the casting team and so on, ”he says.
The growth in realities has a lot to do with two other recent phenomena – streaming and social media.
Nowadays, there is not so much reason for a viewer to have to wait for the schedule decided by the broadcaster to watch a program – that consumer, especially the youngest, is already used to watching what he wants at the time he wants.
For this reason, live programs are gaining space in this new logic of consumption – whose fascination with the viewer is linked to its originality. Just like watching a football game replay, seeing a recorded BBB elimination does not have the same flavor as live.
“Everything that is live has not had this drop in audience like other programs,” says Marcelo Aquilino, from SunsetDDB.
And with more people at home and logged on to social networks, the experience of watching a reality does not limit itself to the open TV grid and continues all day on social networks.
“The attention on BBB and A Fazenda in 2020 was very impressive. A lot of people who abhor reality of confinement today are given over to the routines of these formats”, says Nícolas Vargas, freelance producer, who worked in formats like A Fazenda and Dancing Brasil.
This closer look from the viewer, each time more critical and noisy on social networks, ended up shaping the format of this type of program – a change that seems to have been intensified with the health crisis. Now, not even the leaner merchandising dynamics are free to be the scene of controversy in these programs. “Caring for the pandemic helped realities to wipe away excess and that ended up making the game more visceral,” says Vargas.