Realiti's Nickson: How his story came about

"Why was Nickson kicked out? To prove the point that gays can't be on reality TV? That's tragic isn't it?"

That's what Karin wrote below, as a comment to episode 8 of Realiti. And yes, I agree that if that was the point, then it would be extremely tragic. But, of course, that wasn't really the point we were trying to make.

(I was going to reply to this in a comment, but then realised that it would have taken up a little bit too much space. And everything I write below is from my vague and fuzzy memory. Ping might contradict what I have here, and if he does, I'll edit this post to accommodate his comments.)

First of all, the idea of Nickson as an effeminate character was Ping's from the very beginning. He felt that people would like watching him, and I think the original preview audience feedback supported it. People like a campish character who bitches about everything and generally acts silly.

I personally didn't like that we had to resort to that kind of humour to reach an audience. It's a cheap shot, and because we're doing it over and over again, it's a bucket-load of cheap shots. Like buckshot made of rock salt or something. Not difficult to get hold of, and leaves a funny taste in the mouth. On the other hand, there were real-life people who fitted the mould (Adam of Malaysian Idol 2, for example; or Bob from Akademi Fantasia), so it wasn't really that far of a stretch to put them in.

Never mind, I said. What's the story? What is it about them that will change throughout the series? I don't remember there being any doubt that we would be tackling Nickson's effeminity (is there such a word), one way or the other. Exactly what, we debated upon that.

One choice would be to have people insisting that he be more manly, that he stop being so soft. This is exactly what happened to Adam of MI2. Judges kept telling him to firm up, add a little masculinity to his performance. I always wondered, "Why?". The core of every performance is honesty, and if somebody feels a fake in what they do, then I don't think they do so well. So, I thought this would be an interesting dilemma.

The other choice was to actually step up and make Nickson gay. If we did that, the dilemma would be different. He would have had more to lose. Can an openly gay character win votes on a reality show? Maybe, maybe not. There certainly would be controversy, but I think there have been plenty of Malaysian artists who have that implicit lifestyle. So being gay, in itself, may not cause that many problems.

But what if his fanbase were primarily young, teenage girls? How would that play out? As I asked, what if Daniel of MI2 had told all his teeny-bopping pink-clad hyperactive female fans, "sorry girls, I'm more interested in guys". I think he would alienate his core base, and lose votes.

Of course, it doesn't have to be sexual orientation. In fact, we put Amir through a similar sort of wringer with all the accusations of him being involved with Baby. But the big difference is, Amir doesn't choose which way to go. With Nickson, we tried to put it at his feet. Make a choice: Deny your close relationship with Calvin, or lose your chance to win Malaysian Star.

(Incidentally, Karin, it is this element of choice that is important in storytelling. Remember, Raz or David said that you shouldn't have an Act of God as a key plot element? It should be a choice. And it can't be an easy choice. That's what I like about the Burn/Melody storyline in episode 7. After Mac discovers the drugs, everything that happens to them is a result of choices made. I think that the Nickson story in episode 8 lacks that build-up.)

Despite what you may read into what I've said above, I need to make one thing clear: We were NOT trying to tackle homosexuality as an issue. We were trying to tell a story, and those issues happened to be the mechanisms to tell that story. We were certainly not trying to say whether it's right or wrong.

If we had Nickson admit his relationship with Calvin, and then carry on to get the votes, then there wouldn't be a dilemma. He wouldn't have lost anything. It would have been a bad story.

(Myself, I feel that a personal lifestyle choice is... well, personal. As in, not anybody elses business.)

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posted on Tuesday, October 24, 2006 - permalink
yeah. totally agree with you! artists are also human and they have thier own privacy. didnt know why the public is making a big fuss about their personal life. :)
just wanted to let alvin know votes doesnt mean nobody likes you. ;)
you act reaaaally well...and youre singing is about the best among the lot!
dzof: 1 thing about malaysian mini-drama series.... tooooo short!!! 10 episodes oni?
Hey, thanks for your kind words fashionasia. da poll doesn't do anything to me. as long as people laugh at my super lame jokes and nonsensical adlibs, i'm happy. by da way, i think i sound best singing Hokkien songs. Chelsia should know.
so er... ya wanna do dinner sometime? you can choose to date Alvin or Nickson, or both if dat's your thang...
Trust Alvin to organise a threesome with himself.
Hie Dzof! Lol, cheap shot or not, it works! I love Alvin's acting and Nickson's character! I think without him, the show would have been a lil dull! :)

P/S: 2 more episodes!! :(
Hey, thanks for your kind words Cherz... so er, ya wanna do dinner sometime?... but seriously, dat's too much credit for me to digest. typically, a character like Nickson's is pretty much pre-designed for a certain degree of, well, tickles. a character like dat will always lighten up the mood of da show. except this time Nickson da drama queen did have some dramatic moments, with Nickson and da mom getting slapped and abused by da dad and all.
So what's your schedule like?...
too bad nickson was voted out. he's my favourite character.i agree that alvin act very of the best actors from the i feel like watching all over again from epi 1. nickson is soooo funny. wahahaahaha.

p/s:alvin, i saw you in the curve some time back.if i ever see you again, can i take a picture with you?LOL.i dare not approach you tat day.respect your privacy ma hahaha
okay, here it goes again... Hey, thanks for your kind words jade_butterfly... so er... nevermind. next time you see me, run!!! there's no tellin' when i'm gonna break wind. ask Chelsia and Melissa, they KNOW.
anyway, i'm not sure if it's fair to say this but, in my opinion, Naz, or rather Jay, was da best among all of us. no traces of ACTING at all... he's got a great future ahead. fellas like Farid Kamil, Rosyam Nor, Jehan (sorry man) dun even come close... plus Naz is a newcomer. he should bloody well be pelakun baru terbaik...
Wow!I am flabbergasted.I didn't realised my comment would provoke such a response.But thanks Dzof for clarifying your stand on the issue.

Initially when I wrote that comment I wanted to know why Nickson had to be the one to be kicked out and what was the rationale behind it.Was it because he was gay?Was it becos of his singing or was it simply the fact that female teenyboppers are more inclined to vote for someone who is 'straight'?I personally don't think the issues surrounding his sexual orientation is less controversial than that of Amir and Baby's saga.But I suppose you do have a point when you said it would have been a bad story had Nickson continued getting votes despite admitting to his relationship with Calvin.What's TV without a little bit of drama huh? :)

On a personal note,I would like to say to hardcore fans of Alvin Wong that I have absolutely nothing against gays and I certainly have no interest to know if Alvin Wong is gay or otherwise.If my comment have implied that I am butting into their personal lives or their privacy then I apologise.

As a matter of fact,I happen to think Alvin Wong is one of the better actors Malaysia has seen in recent years.He has long earned brownie points in my own hall of fame ever since his days in Each Other
been following the show. but it sucks how it's only 10 episodes - missing one is like missing everything.
i'm glad something like this is finally pushing the envelope and setting a whole new benchmark for local tv. the cast, storyline, direction, production quality etc... awesome, awesome, awesome.

and Alvin like totally rocks my socks.
haha...alvin....see u have alot of fans!..u should star in hokkien series.
keke....agree about Naz as Jay. he's acting terror merror......and to think that we were coursemates...studying a NERDY course!! slipping off frm my anonymicity(correct spelling or not?)better shuddap now. Gotta download episode9. Missed it...
okay, this is me, as much as i'm having fireworks in my stomach getting compliments, at da same time i have a problem dealing with them. i get restless for some twisted reason. especially when it comes to acting. saying "thanks" is da best i can do. seriously guys, i dun know what to say, i'm speechless. i can't begin to describe da way i feel about all this...
however, i'm constantly trying to improve my acting. believe me, i'm annoyingly critical with myself. but working with Ping is always very assuring cuz you know you've nailed it when he proceeds to shoot da following scene. just leave it all to him to judge. it's da kind of trust dat's rarely seen between a director and an actor.
hey lifeluvliberty, i swear to god i ain't fishin' for compliments but Each Other? i felt like bending over whipping da crap out of myself when i was evaluating my own performance in Each Other. *cringe* In fact Table For Two was my chance at redeeming myself for my bad performances in Each Other.
hi alvin, im watching realiti over youtube here in new york after a colleague of mine couldn't stop talking about it and this morning, i almost missed my meeting because i went to bed really late trying to finish all the ten episodes. it was a very good drama series, especially on the issue of sexual preference. there was certainly higher degree of exposure of the issue in that series as compared to any other series with related issues. im impressed with you, for taking up on that role, and of course the writers. (btw, i think calvin is hot)...
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