Move over X Factor, Malta has a new favourite TV show. Ok, favourite is a stretch, but ‘Akila’ has attracted the ire and sarcasm of a handful of the Maltese population. Naturally, we were intrigued, and because God is good, you can watch the first two episodes in full on Akila’s Facebook page. And boy oh boy, is this show problematic.
I could talk about the production value, I could talk about the logo, I could talk about the awkward silences, I could talk about the typos and the grammar…
But I won’t.
Instead, here are seven moments that made me literally say ‘What the actual fuck?’
1. John ‘il-Bużu’ Busuttil
Just, this man’s entire existence in the context of this show. It baffles me.
Why is John ‘il-Buzu’ being allowed to dissect the way these men and women present themselves? He made it very clear that he has no experience in the realm of modelling and fashion, but is simply there because his “long life has provided him with enough experience to judge the character and psychology of the contestants.”
2. Asking a 15-year-old if she would model in lingerie
Listen, if you’re a fan of il-Bużu, don’t read this article, because I’m coming for him. If you’re opening up a casting to people of all ages, you need to tailor the questions to match the age of the contestants.
Roughly four minutes into the first episode, il-Bużu asks 15-year-old Donna if she would model in lingerie. To which she rightly answers that she is still underage. Asking a grown woman about modelling in lingerie, I understand. But a 15 year old? No sir.
Time stamp: Episode 1, 4:09
3. Asking a 13-year-old if she would model in lingerie
First of all, Mariah is way too young for this competition, and she could hardly stand in her heels. Secondly, please keep John away from her. Please.
The man is way too invested in whether she’d do a lingerie shoot or not. There’s also a questionable gap in the footage, which shows the young girl changing her answer from a very clear ‘no’, to a ‘maybe’ following what I can only assume was a very patronising priedka from il-Bużu about the importance of saying yes.
Time stamp: Episode 1, 17:00
4. Il-Bużu seems to be afraid of being called gay
Every time a male walked into a casting, he made it clear that he was only complimenting them because he can tell when someone is good looking, not because he likes men. Toxic masculinity is real and it’s name is John Busuttil.
Time stamp: Episode 1, 19:00
5. He also was blatantly sexist AND racist towards a Russian girl
Right at the start of the second episode, they stream Sasha’s casting; a 19-year-old Russian girl who has lived in Malta for the past six years. The moment she says that she is Russian, il-Bużu jumps in with the most predictable comment;
“You know that Russian women are very beautiful. That’s the truth. But also, Russian women are loved in Malta, because they are lovely, and because they are easy.”
Ahh, we love objectification.
Time stamp: Start of Episode 2
6. They spend waaaaay too long talking about a 16-year-old’s boobs
Maria was unimpressed by Shemira’s choice of top, because she thought it was too revealing. And this clearly was quite a point of contention in the show, because they dedicated a good five minute segment to it. Il-Bużu talks very passionately about a moment where the host Yanika ‘stares’ at Shemira’s boobs, and calls it “l-isbaħ mument” and says it should be played every week. Not creepy at all.
Time stamp: Episode 2, 23:36
7. They were awful to a guy who had just lost 40 kilos
Nothing like turning up to a modelling competition and leaving with a new body-image complex. Maria’s exact words are “it doesn’t look like you lost the 40 kilos. It looks like you gained the weight and put the shirt on anyway.”
In fact, back in the studio the same guy commented on how “thanks to them” he made an effort to lose even more weight.
Time stamp: Episode 2, 24:50