"I’m quite socially awkward in real life"
Singapore Social on Netflix is a reality TV series introducing us to a group of friends living in Singapore.
Among the group of friends is the incredible Sukki Singapora (Sukki Menon), the first-ever Asian burlesque artist hailing from Singapore, who has wowed audiences worldwide.
The show hones in on Sukki and the other characters and unveils to us the trials and tribulations faced by this group of people, as they tackle everyday life as individuals and as friends in a modern progressive country.
The main characters include Vinny Sharp, Paul Foster, Nicole Ong, Mae Tan and Tabitha Nauser. Others featured in the show are Vinny’s ‘girlfriend’, Cristina, and Tabitha’s boyfriend, Louie, and Nicole’s friend, Nara.
We also get to see family members of some of the characters in some of the scenes as we see the storytelling within Singapore Social unfold.
Becoming part of Netflix
The show was released on Netflix on November 22, 2019, and has since gained much popularity both at a character level and as a reality TV show.
When DESIblitz asked Sukki, how did this unique series happen, she exclusively told us:
“Being part of a TV show and sharing the more personal aspects of my life with the public was something I had wanted to do for about two years, as I felt it was the right time but it was just a case of finding the right platform to do it on.
“I’d been in talks with other networks, but when one of the producers in Los Angeles contacted me about this show on Netflix, I felt like my story would be in safe hands.
“I absolutely love Netflix, so it was a very easy decision to come on board as part of their growing family.”
Reality of Singaporean Life
This interesting ‘fly-on-the-wall’ insight into these ‘’close’ friends shows us that in Singapore Asians have a lot in common. Be they are Indian, Chinese, Thai, Singaporean and so on.
Family pressures, expectations, living a double-life – a life at home and a life outside are a familiar theme.
We see lots of eating and drinking on the show with a high-life and cosmopolitan feel based on the circle of friends.
We asked Sukki how much of the show was ‘staged’ versus real, she told us:
“Well, everything you see we said, so in that sense yes it’s completely real, but some things were perhaps encouraged which we might not have done without the cameras.
“For example, in real life, I doubt I would ever ask questions about relationships unless someone asked me to, and also I definitely felt a bit out of place in some of the clubbing scenes, as I’m quite socially awkward in real life, and prefer a night in spooning my cats, or working on new materials for my performances.
“Having said that, I don’t regret a single part of the show, and I absolutely lived those moments you’ve probably seen – the highs and the lows – for real. At the end of the day, as long as it entertains, that’s what it’s for!
“So yes, it’s all real, but with a little helping nudge.”
Real Friends or Not?
The series shows us that Sukki is closer to some of the friends compared to others and as with human nature, some do not value her friendship or outlook in a reciprocal way.
Tabitha is a person in Singapore Social that has similar traits to Sukki when it comes to parents. Sukki’s father is Indian and Tabitha’s mother is Indian, indicating they come from strict households.
Vinny, whose full name is Vinesh Nagrani, comes from a very traditional Indian household, however, he dismisses his Indian roots to suit his lifestyle more. Especially by dating non-Indian girls.
With Tabitha being half Indian we expect some common ground with Sukki. However, after Tabitha’s own performance of a song in an episode, she is swayed by Louie, Cristina, Vinny to be unsupportive towards Sukki, because they view that Sukki is not as appreciative of Tabitha’s abilities to perform as a singer, as they think she should be.
When we asked Sukki who were her closest friends in the Singapore Social group, she revealed:
“We’ve all been through a bonkers experience as a group, so it’s impossible not to say that I feel like we’re all connected through a shared experience.
However, it goes without saying that I adore Nicole. I think she’s a really lovely, decent, kind and intelligent human. Her and Nara still make me giggle on and off-screen.
“Of course, I have a lot of love for everyone I worked with on the show, and I can’t wait to see what happens next for all of us.
“I also have to mention the producers I worked with on the show.
“They really did throw all of their heart into this to get to know us and Singapore, and I know how difficult it must have been to be on the other side of the world away from their loved ones during filming.
“They absolutely gave it everything. We’ve all been brought together by the show.”
Revelations about Sukki
As the series unfolds, we find out lots of surprising things about Sukki Singapora which we never knew.
Including a polar opposite personality when it comes to her confidence and ability to perform amazingly on the outside versus the real person, who is very different.
Compared to the person we all know and see in the UK, who is confident, beautiful, bubbly and in-control, the series realises her human and very emotional side including making difficult choices and judgements.
Singapore Social unveils Sukki’s personal development with many scenes in the episodes showing the ‘real’ Sukki who is not as strong as people may think she is and how she struggles or copes with this feat.
We learn that before becoming a burlesque performer, she was actually a ‘geek’ and worked with computers.
When we witness an intimate burlesque show performed to about 20 people or so, we see a pre-performance Sukki who is extremely nervous and that this is the start of her journey to overcome this challenge.
We are shown that not all the friends in the series are ‘complimentary’ about Sukki and her career.
We asked how Sukki felt about these challenges in the series of her character and art form. She told us:
“During filming, being a part of conflict or having people challenge my art was quite tough because it added to the stress, which made concentrating on delivering my actual job and what I do even more difficult, so you’re kind of trapped in a catch 22.
“However, after filming you have to take a step back and go: this is me, but it’s me under pressure for the purpose of entertainment, and as long as I know who I am outside of the show, and I’m confident of my abilities and what I represent when the cameras aren’t rolling, then I can be at peace with it.
“You have to let go of being a perfectionist for 8 episodes of your life, if you will, and that’s actually quite a liberating experience.”
Sukki Singapora’s compassionate side is scrutinised in Singapore Social, when we see her trying to help two people, namely Vinny and Cristina, understand their relationship better.
However, they do not seem to understand where she is coming from – as those people ‘do not need’ help.
They only see it from their own personal needs side – which is not so much a normal relationship but more of a ‘sexual’ connection and meeting needs for one, while the other is madly in love.
Splits form within the overall group with Sukki’s “friends” appearing not to support her or her shows which has a connection to her compassion not being misconstrued.
Despite the adversity, Sukki shines through, with the curation of a great concept of hip-hop and burlesque – with Asian Hip-Hop Artist and fellow Desi performer, Yung Raja.
When asked about the collaboration and if we will see more, Sukki told us:
“I love combining genres, breaking rules, doing things I haven’t done before, so of course I’d love to develop that further, and Yung Raja has awesome energy about him, which is why we get on so well.
“You’ll just have to wait and see what happens next! I’m a massive fan of collaborating with humans that have the same creative brains as myself!”
The performance goes down extremely well with the audience and Sukki’s fans but is criticised by friends who should be really seen as a pillar of support.
Vinny’s girlfriend, Cristina especially comes across as being vindictive towards Sukki, which reflects back on Sukki’s not needed help when it comes to her relationship with Vinny.
However, we do see Sukki and Vinny meet to discuss their differences, where Vinny concludes to the camera:
“I don’t believe that Sukki is coming from a place of malice.”
“I feel like, personally, Sukki is grappling with a lot of things. I see the theatrics. I see the colours. But I don’t necessarily see Sukki.”
During the show, we also follow Sukki’s love life which spans long-distance between Singapore and Los Angeles with Peanut Butter Falcon producer, Tim Zajaros.
Whilst some of the friends’ question Sukki’s long-distance relationship, we see Paul help her choose her wardrobe for a romantic visit to LA to meet Tim.
A very emotional and striking romantic meeting features in an episode of Singapore Social which shows us Sukki very nervous, when it comes to meeting him in person.
The love life of Sukki and Tim is a key aspect and one of the most touching narratives in the show.
A Supportive Sukki
In an episode where we see Nicole feel a failure for an event she organises called SOGAL, we see a very supportive Sukki, who comforts her with some wonderful dialogue.
She consoles Nicole, especially when it comes to Nicole’s mother not discussing her feelings openly.
We see Sukki comment on emotions saying:
“Sometimes I feel like we all put on this front that we are so strong and… we’re not, you know, always f******g strong. And sometimes you literally need someone to hug you.
“I can relate to that because they’re my struggles as well. I feel like more often than not it’s the pressure we put on ourselves. ‘Cause that’s the way, as well, we’re taught to be.
“It’s not that we fear repercussion from our parents. Of course, that’s a big part of it. But I also feel like, especially you and I, our biggest critics are ourselves.
“You know what I mean? We’re being the limiting factor. So we have to overcome that.”
The Singapore Social Effect
DESIblitz further quizzed Sukki about the series and wanted to know more about the effect the Singapore Social had on her.
We asked Sukki what did she enjoy or hate about doing the series, she told us:
“Oh my gosh! Well, I loved pushing myself. It was just under four months of intense filming, and being a part of that, although challenging, was absolutely incredible.
“I don’t think there’s anything I hated about it! There were highs and lows, but overall it was, and still is, an absolutely magical experience.
“I’m excited to see where it goes. Just what Singapore Social represents, as well; the fact that we’re in an era of more diversity when it comes to Asians on screen. Finally, we’re appearing in all genres.
“We’re not just cameo roles, but we can headline films, we can headline television, and we can headline reality TV.
“I’m so grateful to be a part of something that allows us to have the voice in entertainment that we deserve.”
As with any experience in life, we wanted to know what Sukki learned from doing the show. She told us:
“Wow it’s been an insane experience so far… I’ve learnt so much.
“I think the main thing was learning who I am as a person.”
“Being put on a reality TV show really tests that, and in a way it pushes you to reveal your darkest aspects as well as your brightest.
“Doing Singapore Social just reaffirmed my belief that kindness is one of the most important things you can show to others, and when you strip back everything, being kind as a person is really all that matters in the end.”
Surprisingly, we found out the Sukki had not watched the show fully. She told us:
“I’ve seen tiny clips of the show, because of course when people are talking about it and they tag you in things, it’s impossible to avoid, however, I haven’t watched the actual show yet for two reasons I guess.
“One is that as a natural perfectionist, I can’t bear to watch myself back on screen because I’d pick apart things that I would want to be better, so I’d rather just live through other people’s enjoyment!
“And the second part is that I really respect everyone I work with, and I always endeavour to be kind, so I’d rather know someone face to face than worry about what they said about me when cameras were in play.
“As long as it brings other people joy, that makes me happy! I don’t need to watch it to feel the love, and personally, the love has been overwhelming.”
In essence, we feel Sukki was targeted too much in Singapore Social, however, overall she comes across as the most relatable character, and based on public feedback of the show online she appears to be the most popular cast member and most likely to become a break-out star in her own right.
Singapore Social is available on Netflix to watch and as a taster, here’s the trailer: