Man Antom?: Soft Ramadan Talk Show
Since the January 25th revolution,
the political sphere has become ingrained in all facets of Egyptian life. It’s now even
dominated entertainment, and has seeped into this year’s Ramadan programming, where the leading talk shows follow the same formula. The
show hosts invite celebrities and political figures for a grilling, aimed at
squeezing out the juiciest details. It usually boils down to the guests’ views
and opinions on events that are occurring right now in Egypt.
Having to compete with the forty-plus soap opera
series on this month, Man Antom? offers little incentive to pry yourself away from the fantasies and love
stories. With it being broadcast exclusively on Al Qahera Wel Nas, the talk show was
heavily advertised in the lead up to Ramadan, and received much attention.
Basma herself quickly attracted criticism for her journalistic style though, or lack-of-it so to speak. She rarely delves in
with hard-hitting questions, and when she does, she often fails to follow it up.
This has also
translated into a state of overcompensation in trying to be more assertive and
authoritative with her guests. One of the most notable episodes featured
screenwriter Tamer Habib and actress/singer Mai El Kassab, in which Basma asked
her guests about Mubarak’s ousted regime, and the future of Egypt. She
smothered both guests with yes/no questions, and failed to appreciate the
complexity of such an issue. At times, it verged on provocation.
The show often pits the two guests against each
other in an attempt to spark debate. Unfortunately, it sometimes descends into
veiled baiting, as without a conflict, the format doesn’t work. The success of
the arrangement is always going to rely on the quality of guest, and so when a
guest is not of sufficient quality, Basma is powerless, as her primary role
seems to be that of a referee.
All in all, Man
Antom? is a light and mediocre talk show, that fails short of its own
expectations. Rarely do viewers get any real insight into the guests. At best,
it seems the show is reliant on Basma as a personality rather than a host, and
because of this, the quality changes from episode to episode.