TV is TV is TV, right? You’d think that until you turn into a Japanese game show and see a parliament member bouncing around in a chicken costume or a Bollywood romance where a couple sings there way into marriage. TV differs greatly around the world and Samoa is no different. There are only 3 channels on the regular TV. TV1, TV2, and TV3 and one of them is a religious channel. Here are but a few things that I’ve noticed from watching:
A lot of different shows are sponsored on Samoan TV, shows like Modern Family, Law and Order, and other such ones. However, the most popular are the old reruns. Shows such as Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Cheers that have been off the air for 20, 30 (!) years (imagine, Woody Harrelson with hair). Those are on every night and a lot of people tune into them. It’s hysterical watching Will Smith dance around the screen like it was yesterday. Cheers, I’d never actually seen before Samoa and I don’t find it very funny, but everyone else seems to really like it. Another odd show on TV is called Father Ted. It’s a comedy out of Ireland that follows the antics of a Catholic priest. The humor is beyond me, I guess it’s all about what you grow up with.
Samoans have an intense mania about singing shows of any kind. Throughout the year, you see American Idol, X Factor, The Voice, The Voice UK, and Samoan Star Search. Guaranteed, if you ask a kid about the show that week, they’ll be able to name the singers and what they sang AND give you an opinion on it. Samoan Star Search is the Samoan version of the singing shows. The song Halleighlua was sung so often on the show that it was apparently banned.
Black and White Bon Jovi videos
Sometimes in place of commercials, the TV channels will play old music videos. The most popular ones are old Black and White Bon Jovi videos. I’ve never even heard of most of these songs and my host family is singing right along.
This one really blew my mind. On one of the channels, you are able to pay money and have the obituary of your loved one read. People usually submit pictures along with it. The guy reading the obituary has a long, droning, monotone voice and will usually repeat the obituary several times creating a running, 5-10 minute long section per person.
This was on just last week. The high schools from across Samoa were competing in a spelling bee that incorporated words from all school subjects in English as well as Samoan. I heard words like vector, interval, and history. I was really impressed by how well these kids were doing, but I was also equally impressed by how much my host family was into watching it. They were cheering for our local secondary school the entire time.
The last thing that’s really popular on Samoan TV is in place of commercials, they’ll play recordings of previous dance performances. They’ll play ones from the Teuila festival, from performances at Aggie Greys, or from school performances. They’re usually the traditional dances and they’re really neat to watch. It’s a great cultural injection and really shows Samoan pride. Love it!