The Nigerian obsession with reality TV celebrities [Opinion]

Big Brother celebrities have enjoyed massive supports by fans who have turned mobs on social media. But how did this happen?

Tachs, Mercy and Cee-C can be said to be most popular celebrities from the Big Brother Naija franchise [Instagram/OfficialMercyEke] [Instagram/SymplyTacha] [Instagram/CeecOfficial]

Since Big Brother started in the Nigerian television space more than a decade ago, there has been a slew of celebrities made from the reality show.

In the case of all editions of Big Brother, which is the most popular reality TV show in Nigeria, fans have always found ways to spot someone who is worth all their attention. Controversies, physical attraction, talent, etc, are some of the qualities that draw fans to these Big Brother housemates.

These followership continues even when these housemates leave the Big Brother House and this is often when these attractions turn to obsession. These obsessed fans become so engrossed with the daily lives of their favourite housemates. Social media fan accounts spring up, chat groups are formed and then these mob form a protective wall around their favourite celebrities. Be ready to pack your bags and leave social media if you are caught saying anything they deem wrong about their fave.

It started with T-Boss from the 2017 edition of Big Brother Naija and the stan culture has gotten stronger with the increased usage of social media. It went to another level with Cee-C, who was the first runner-up of the 2018 edition of Big Brother Naija.

T-boss and Cee-c

From being only for top-tier artistes, stan culture in Nigeria rapidly shifted to people who went from obscurity to superstars in just three months. Another look at it and it seems that the more controversial these Big Brother housemates were, the more intense their fans were.

There was an incident on Twitter Nigeria on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 when a popular handle Feyikemi Abudu got dragged for a joke she made that insinuated that Mercy's new real estate venture was a money laundering venture-Mercy is the winner of the 2019 edition of Big Brother.

If you are shocked at the reactions that trailed that joke, you would be shocked at what happens when someone says something negative about Tacha-also of the class of 2019. In truth, Tacha has the most loyal set of stans who would rain insults, threats and malicious statements on anyone that comes after their fave.

There's a positive side to this stan culture. These loyal fans sometimes spoil these celebrities with gifts. Just recently, Rosie, a co-winner of Ultimate Love, another reality TV show was surprised by her fans with an SUV gift for her birthday.

These things make you wonder if these acts of devotion are normal and what informs this stan culture.

Vicarious Experience

Going into a reality TV show has never been an easy task. From auditioning and getting to live your life daily with millions watching. It takes a lot of guts which people don't have even when they think they do. Big Brother has also been a huge platform for people's shot to fame and may recognise it. They want that chance but can't have it.

For a lot of these obsessed fans, these daring, fearless and lucky people who go into the reality TV shows, are living their dreams.

So these fans watch housemates with keen interest and have thoughts like ; "I wish this was me'" or "I wish I could leave my 9-5 job and become this person with millions of fans and a verified Instagram account.'"

These fans live vicariously through these new celebrities an thus feel the need to protect them from attacks on social media. Even when it's a valid critique, these stans take them personal.

School mother/father effect

If you went to a boarding school, then the culture of having a school father/mother is probably non-negotiable. It's either that or you get eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner by other seniors.

How does this come into play with reality TV celebrities and their fans? In the last few years, we've seen these celebs get gifts from loyal fans especially on their birthdays.

These celebrities can afford anything they want but because they are the 'School mother/father' figure here, fans would do anything to be on their good side. They would break the bank just to see their favourite drive the best car and live posh apartments.


Take it all leave it, the vast majority of people who watch reality TV are young and in school, unemployed, at home from work, with nothing interesting to do or basically just bored. When these reality shows come to an end, they follow these new celebrities to social media.

These obsessed fans then build tents in the comment section of the social media pages that belong to their faves - waiting to see what next. They like, comment, or share anything and everything these celebs post with worrying obsession.

They hunt for anyone perceived to a 'hater.' They pass judgments and crucify anyone found guilty of humiliating, insulting, or interrogating their fave. You don't want to be that person because it gets really bad to the extent that exiting social media might be the only alternative.

This cycle continues for about a year till new celebrities are found. It's not that the obsession with these stars stop, it just reduces - it can be seen in the case of Cee-C or T-Boss.

On a final note, it's not a big deal to be a fan of any celebrity (I have Samuel L. Jackson's photo as my screensaver). What's scary is trying to impose that celebrity on anyone.

If you love them, do what it is you want to do with them, don't go about creating enemies with people you don't know or becoming a monster all in the name of being a 'Titan' or 'Machinery.'

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