Broadcast in 2010, 4Play: Sex Tips for Girls was a television drama series which followed the lives of four thirty-something Johannesburg professional women as they negotiate sex, love and relationships in a contemporary, honest and often funny way. Besides being entertaining, the show also seeks to deal openly with issues of sexuality, highlighting risky behaviours, such as infidelity and alcohol abuse, that put young people at risk of HIV infection. 4Play was written and produced by Curious Pictures for Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa (JHHESA).
The drama focused on the hair and beauty salon of single mother and entrepreneur, Noma, and her loquacious girlfriends Nox, Danny, and Amira. Each of the women has her own unique approach to love, sex, and surviving in the city.
Although the series was designed to be entertaining, it also propagates serious messages about responsible lifestyles among young South Africans. Episodes look at a range of issues, including specifically behaviours that put women at risk of HIV and tuberculosis (TB) infection, while exploring a range of other issues women deal with in their everyday lives, such as masturbation, single parenthood, infidelity, self-confidence, casual sex, the relationship between alcohol and sex, being single, and living with HIV and TB.
The choice of thirty-something female characters was deliberate, as South African women aged 25 to 34 are most at risk of contracting HIV. But they were not the only target audience; it was hoped that men would also be drawn in by the series’ saucy nature, and in the process learn more responsible behaviours.
In conducting research for the show, instead of focus groups producers held pamper parties and brought together groups of women for manicures and pedicures. Then they brought in groups of men for massages. Through this approach organisers say they were able to create an intimate space for people to tell their stories. These formed the basis of the production team's storymaking.
According to the producers, 4Play is "a completely new approach. It deals with and celebrates women's sexuality. It is sassy, sexy, glossy and funny."
Click here for more information on the 4Play: Sex Tips for Girls website.
HIV/AIDS and TB
4Play received seven nominations for the 2011 South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) including Best TV Drama; Best Actress in a TV Drama; Best Ensemble in a TV Drama; Best Director in a TV Drama; Best Editor in a TV Drama; Best Art/Production in a TV Drama; and Best Cinematographer in a TV Drama. The series received 3 awards at the SAFTA’s, including Best Director in a TV Drama; Best Editor in a TV Drama; Best Art/Production in a TV Drama.
Curious Pictures, Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa (JHHESA) and eTV. Funded by United States Agency for International Develpoment (USAID) and the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).