Huda, Hollywood and the future of reality TV

As Huda Kattan enters the world of reality television, we study the evolution of the genre and the power of people-watching
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Huda, Hollywood and the future of reality TV
Hands up if watching reality TV is your guilty pleasure. Us too. There’s something fascinating – and dangerously addictive – about watching other people’s day-to-day lives play out on screen. Ever since we tasted MTV series The Real World back in 1992 (it essentially helped invent the genre) our hunger for observing real people’s ongoing tales has not been satisfied.

Last week Huda Kattan muscled her way into the oversubscribed category – but not in a way the world expected. The make-up-artist-turned-millionaire-businesswoman launched her first reality TV series, Huda Boss (pronounced ‘who da boss’ – genius), on Facebook. That’s right, the social-media platform where you can, erm, ‘poke’ fellow users. By doing this, Huda has contributed to the evolution of the genre. Put simply, you don’t have to get your fix from your regular old TV set anymore.  

Grazia got together with the make-up mogul, 34, ahead of the show’s launch and she explained the “natural fit” with Facebook. “Huda Beauty was born out of social media – we started as a blog in 2010, and Facebook was the first platform we used to promote the brand, so it played a huge part in helping grow our business to what it is today,” Huda, who is mum to daughter Nour, seven, enthused.
Credit must be given to Facebook, as the social-media giant has evolved to compete with its TV rivals – the likes of YouTube and Netflix. Now when you’re on Facebook, a TV-shaped Watch button appears on your screen. This is the portal to new, original shows that can be watched live or on-demand. In true Facebook style, the company recommends shows based on what friends are watching – basically feeding people shows they want to watch, even if they might deny liking them (Keeping Up with the Kardashians, anyone?).

While reality TV is often criticised for dumbing down content, there’s a lot to be gained from watching lives different to your own. In Huda’s case, the 10-episode series, which will air weekly on Facebook Watch, will follow her as she reveals what it takes to run a highly successful, family-owned beauty empire. “Although it is hard working alongside your family, it is also incredibly rewarding,” Huda gushes.

Stars of reality can also gain worldwide recognition – just take 2010’s X Factor runner-up One Direction as an example. So, does fame scare Huda? “Sometimes, but it’s usually when it comes to my daughter. It can be scary as a mum when people get too close. I become nervous for her safety. But on the whole, fans are super respectful,” she replies.

And while Instagram stories have effectively made us stars of our own real-time reality shows every day, Grazia asked Gary Shapiro, an LA-based executive producer, about social-media platforms like Facebook trying to turn into television – and whether the concept can work long-term. “Launching a show digitally is tough. If you were to find an interesting story, maybe the better way to go is start a podcast,” he starts. “But the key to success is to make the show authentic. Make it as real and genuine as possible. Young people can spot a fraud a mile away.” 

Gary also observed how reality TV viewing habits have changed over the years, saying, “We binge now. We watch what we want, when we want.” Have tastes changed, too? “We might be going backwards. We’re bringing back familiar brands – from American Idol to Family Feud.”

The likelihood is that reality will continue to fluctuate in the ratings (Big Brother highlights this perfectly), but never go way. And with the genre providing easy escapism from hectic modern-day life, we can’t say we’re disappointed. 

Photos: Supplied