December 6, 2023

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“Only Elvis Alive” miraculously manages to bring vulnerable conversations without falling into voyeurism

“Only Elvis Alive” miraculously manages to bring vulnerable conversations without falling into voyeurism

Paul Notelteirs focuses on infinity. today: Only Elvis survives.

Paul Nautilters

In a fast-paced media landscape where the attention span rarely exceeds the length of a TikTok video, the most classic TV formats often seem the most revolutionary. “I can’t say this in an interview,” actress and director Fairly Baetens said at the opening episode of the new season of the series. Only Elvis survives Zoom in on her family history. It’s a startling confession that explains perfectly why the interview show has been so successful at placating even suspicious and reticent guests for a decade.

The nine self-selected photo segments give them the opportunity to set the tone of the conversation in advance, but there are no taboos on the table with presenter Thomas Vanderveken. For an hour and a half he asks them about life and work, which is exciting for both parties. There is nothing more intimate than talking about stories that touched and affected someone. The program succeeds wonderfully in presenting vulnerable and personal conversations without falling into voyeurism.

to Only Elvis survives VRT Canvas did not invent hot water: the series concept is almost identical to that of a long-running series Summer guests On VPRO. Although in the Dutch version guests are given three hours to tell their story, Vanderveken’s program does not feel like a lighter version of what happens elsewhere that is better or more profound. The pressure of time keeps the presenter and his guests on their toes and the viewer goes to bed satisfied without being weighed down.

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Facebook only She’s also a little more fun than Summer guests, where interviewees sometimes feel the need to prove that they are serious people with an extensive vocabulary. For example, after part of the video for the song “Bad,” Baetens climbs onto a table to show that she can walk on the moon. Less than half an hour later, tears rolled down her cheeks as she showed a clip from a film about the special relationship between a depressed man and an octopus. “You can eat meat, but you have to know it was a person. For me, an animal is a person, not a thing,” she says. The show’s ability to embody two very different energies in a flexible and honest way proves how special the space the editors create is.

An important part of the series’ success falls to Vanderveken, who as a presenter is empathetic yet able to make clear connections. Commercially, he may find more success with shows like Fact checkers or For the same moneyBut in Only Elvis survives It comes into its own. As an interviewer, he deserves all the praise for how he distills personal and professional anecdotes from guests in order to create a balanced, multi-layered portrait. From MEP Asita Kanko who told how the horrific events of her youth shaped her subsequent political commitment to actress Maike Kaffmeyer with an intimate story about the abuse of power: The various interviews left a long-lasting impression.

Ten years later, Vanderveken and his team have proven the power of good conversation. And that everyone has a good story, as long as they are listened to.

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Only Elvis survivesFriday at 9:30pm on VRT Canvas