A popular Malaysian reality show where celebrities try out village living has not seen this much criticism in the five years it has aired on TV.
The latest season of The House by local satellite TV broadcaster Astro is getting a lot of heat from Malaysians across the country calling it out for “poverty porn” and inappropriately airing in the middle of an economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
In its sixth installment, which premiered at 9pm yesterday on Astro Ria channel 104, The House features socialite Ezurin Khyra, who had decided to get out of her comfort zone to live in a simple wooden home at the Hulu Langat village while her Kuala Lumpur house underwent renovation.
“What a tone deaf, insensitive show. Apparently the daily life of lower income families is now fucking entertainment,” Twitter user @Azdiskndr wrote online today.
Similar to Paris Hilton’s 2004 reality show The Simple Life, The House is a local program where Malaysian elites and celebrities slum it in humble living conditions for about a week. Other stars from previous seasons include singer-actor Alvin Chong, cosmetics businesswoman Hasmiza “Vida” Othman, and actress Emma Maembong. Ezurin was formerly married to a member of the Negeri Sembilan state royal family Yaacob Khyra. She had moved to the village for the show with her five children and fashion icon bestfriend Magie Abang Saufi. Ezurin’s children had come home to Malaysia from their UK boarding school, which was closed due to COVID-19.
“It was cute when Paris Hilton did it in 2004. Today, it’s crass & tone-deaf. The kampung (village) people, their lives and their homes aren’t your amusement parks. You go there for a day, experience the so-called ‘hardship,’ and then return to your yacht & champagne brunch. So what? Lol,” Twitter user @Faizalhamssin wrote.
Critics were mostly unimpressed with the show’s trailer, where the mom in her late 40s could be heard saying she was up for the “challenge” to live in the village. The trailer also showed the contrast between Ezurin’s lavish lifestyle and her temporary village home.
Others pointed out that the series had romanticized poverty.
“Poverty is not an aesthetic,” Twitter user @Aidathecat wrote yesterday.
“Call it what you want. Slum voyeurism/poverty porn. Making money by pretending to be poor is unethical. Someone’s lived reality isn’t entertainment nor a ‘challenge,’” @Digitalkai chimed in.
Ezurin seemed unbothered by the hate and continued to share dozens Instagram stories of people supporting the premiere of her first episode to her 191,000 followers.
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This article, Malaysians criticize ‘The House,’ a reality show about the rich living in the village, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.