New Showmax docuseries Unfollowed puts cancel culture on trial


What happens to a celebrity who’s been cancelled? Each Wednesday from 23 August, Showmax Original documentary series Unfollowed takes us to meet South African stars who are wrestling with life after social media death as they share an intimate hour of their truth, one on one with news anchor and journalist Thembekile Mrototo.

With each episode focusing on a different South African celebrity, Unfollowed unpacks the growing phenomenon of cancel culture and its impact in South Africa, kicking off with singer Lady Zamar in the first episode.

In 2017, Lady Zamar opened a case of rape against Sjava, who maintained his innocence. The National Prosecuting Authority declined to prosecute, citing insufficient evidence. In episode one of Unfollowed, now streaming, Lady Zamar reflects on everything that happened, as well as the continuous backlash she still receives on social media. Journalists, activists and legal experts also weigh in.

Nomsa Philiso, CEO of MultiChoice’s general entertainment division, describes Unfollowed as an opportunity for us to reflect on cancel culture and its place in pop culture – a chance to interrogate whether it’s the best way to deal with people who have been deemed problematic. The show interviews public figures who were cancelled on social media and lets the viewer decide if the treatment in each case was deserved.

In addition to Lady Zamar, in the coming episodes, presenter and musician Jub Jub, influencer Mihlali, presenter Nonhle Thema, poet and musician Ntsiki Mazwai, media personality Phat Joe, comedian Tol Ass Mo, and actress Zoe Mthiyane will also give us their raw, first-hand takes on what it really means to have your reputation attacked and your career hanging in the balance.

Unfollowed is produced by G.O.A.T (Dineo’s Diary and Life With Kelly Khumalo). “Social media can cultivate a culture of people coming together to shed light on an issue, hold people accountable and sometimes force brands or employees to take action,” says executive producer Graeme Swanepoel. “But Unfollowed also aims to give viewers the other side of the ‘cancel culture’ movement, and how damaging it can be. We want to spark a thought-provoking conversation and put social media on trial, not the people Thembekile is interviewing.”

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