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"Reality TV" in Puerto Rico

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  • "Reality TV" in Puerto Rico

    Local Reality TV Show Draws Young Audience To Public Broadcasting

    Viewers Partake In The Lives Of 26 Young "Boricuas"

    BY LAURA RENTAS-GIUSTI


    August 8, 2002
    Copyright © 2002 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS.
    All Rights Reserved.

    The Puerto Rico Public Broadcasting Corp.
    (tutv) is hungry for younger viewers and local reality TV show "Boricuas" is helping to attract them.

    Developed and produced by Viguie Films, one of Puerto Rico’s oldest production companies, "Boricuas" was the brainchild of the company’s president, John Viguie. The idea for the show came to Viguie after watching his four children interact with video cameras and noticing how comfortable they were around them.

    After pitching the idea to tutv management, Viguie and his production team issued a casting call for 18-year-olds willing to have their lives taped for a week. They selected 26 young adults, handed each one a mini digital camera, and gave them a few simple instructions: record anything and everything that goes on in your daily lives, avoid obscenity and profanity, and be yourselves.

    What Viguie received was over 200 hours of raw footage, jam-packed with interesting stories, unexpected perspectives, and captivating characters. Viguie hired director Carlos Ruiz to edit the footage into coherent 30-minute shows, which have been airing since April at 10 p.m. on Sundays.

    Viguie, Ruiz, and Fernando Rosado, senior vice president of Viguie Films, could not be more enthusiastic about the product. The stories of 26 Puerto Rican youngsters living on the island and in New York City have turned out to be an anthropological study of sorts, providing an in-depth view of the interests, activities, and aspirations of young boricuas at the beginning of the century. "I can see these shows being used in sociology and anthropology classes at university level, and they will become even more valuable as time goes by," said Ruiz.

    The 26 protagonists of "Boricuas" span the socioeconomic classes and geographic areas of Puerto Rican society, from Loiza Aldea to Garden Hills, from New York City to Vieques. What differentiates "Boricuas" from other reality-based shows–like the popular MTV shows "The Real World" and "Road Rules," which also revolve around the daily lives of stateside youngsters–is that the subjects were given the freedom to record whatever they wanted, without outside direction. This allowed for an interesting twist in storytelling, whereby viewers get the chance to see the world through the protagonists’ eyes or to become the protagonists’ friend or confidant when they tape themselves or give the camera to friends, explained Ruiz.

    Linda Hernandez, president of tutv, is just as happy with the results. "This is the first time that the lives of real Puerto Rican young adults is documented like this," she said. "We are very pleased with the results and we will recommend it for another season, because we want to give the show exposure." The show has been drawing audiences of up to 19,000 viewers, notwithstanding its less-than-privileged time slot, according to Mediafax.

    Tutv’s average viewer is 50 years old, but Hernandez believes "Boricuas" is perfectly aligned with the channel’s strategy to attract a younger audience. The show’s concept, modern look, and editing style appeal to a broader audience who will also find alternatives such as foreign films on tutv.

    Having surpassed the growing pains associated with producing such an ambitious project for the first time, Viguie is confident the concept can be expanded to other parts of Latin America.
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