TL;DR – Does it matter if drama’s sponsored, or who’s the boss?
So the Star Awards for this year just happened. The big winner this year was When Duty Calls, the
propaganda show dedicated to commemorating 50 years of National Service.
It won big at five categories at Star Awards on Sunday night, including Best Drama Serial.
Honestly, I didn’t think that When Duty Calls was such a great show. It was passable, but best? Hmmm…
The acting was quite flat at some points. Some of the characters weren’t well developed enough for you to really feel much for them. Some scenes look very fake and unbelievable. There were various plot holes.
Personally, I thought The Lead (第一主角), which celebrates 35 years of TV dramas, was a much better show, and was more deserving of winning the Best Drama Serial award.
One of the commentaries in Zaobao insinuated that the awards are rigged. It suggested that whichever series that is produced by the head honcho of the drama division in Mediacorp will win the Best Drama Serial. In 2016 The Dream Makers II (志在四方2), which was produced by the then honcho of the drama division, won Best Drama Serial. Similarly, When Duty Calls was produced by the new chief of the drama division.
That commentary also quoted one of the Mediacorp artistes, who suggested that it might have something to do with sponsorships. It is apparently not easy for Mediacorp to find sponsors for dramas. So ensuring shows that have been heavily sponsored become popular and gain publicity is a strategy to make it easier to get money to make sequels or for future collaboration. If there is any truth in that, then it would explain why When Duty Calls won so many awards, given that it was supported and sponsored by MINDEF.
So was the Star Awards rigged?
We probably will never know.