Taboo nominated for a 2019 International Emmy Award; acclaimed unscripted show shatters ratings records in Belgium

Kinetic Content has acquired the US rights to ground-breaking unscripted show Taboo from Lineup Industries. This month Taboo received its first International Emmy Award nomination for Non-Scripted Entertainment, on the heels of other honors from the European Broadcast Union, the New York Film Festival and the Realscreen Awards.

In Taboo, one famous comedian tests the boundaries of comedy and good taste, each week taking on a new subject society has judged too taboo to laugh about.

Launching last year in Belgium on VRT één, Taboo became an instant ratings hit. Airing on Sunday nights, the premiere episode garnered a 54% market share, the highest rating entertainment premiere in the network’s history, ultimately growing to an impressive 61% share. The show simultaneously shocked the nation and attracted huge critical and audience acclaim, and dominated social media, with even the Prime Minister of Belgium tweeting about it.

Each week, Taboo examines a different issue which may be uncomfortable for many people to discuss, much less laugh with. In Belgium, episodes included people with various physical challenges or impairments, including blindness, terminal illness, obesity and mental illness. The episodes never shy away from controversy, addressing subjects such as sexuality, identity, money, class and race. The show has received widespread praise for shining a light on, and helping normalize, topics that have been surrounded by shame or bigotry.

In the US, Kinetic Content has enjoyed great ratings success and acclaim for programs such as Married at First Sight, Seven Year Switch and Bride & Prejudice, which deal with social issues in a forthright and provocative way; as well as their highly-rated Little Women franchise, which features a cast of little people living their best lives despite their physical challenges.

In Belgium, comedian/host Philippe Geubels opens Taboo by saying “This is the show that laughs with people who you should not really be laughing at.” He then lives with each new group for a week, culminating in him bringing them to a sold-out comedy show, packed with people just like them, where he performs a shockingly un-PC stand-up routine.

“There are lots of advantages about having a child without arms,” he told one week’s crowd of people dealing with physical impairments, to uproarious laughter. “They won’t pick their nose or put their elbows on the table…”

“No matter how bad your situation is, you still have to be able to laugh. Not to laugh at people, but to laugh at the little everyday things,” Geubels said.

Julian Curtis, Co Founder and COO of Lineup Industries, said: “It’s a true privilege to have Taboo in our catalogue, and the creators, Panenka, have found a unique way to question the relationship between humor and societal standards, using comedy and humanity to explore the idea of prejudice through the eyes of those affected. The show asks if humor can shift the boundaries of what we really think of as taboo. We are thrilled to have Kinetic as our US partner and are confident they will give the format the success it deserves.”

“We knew the minute we saw Taboo that it was special”, said Kinetic’s Karrie Wolfe, EVP of Development. “It’s not often a show comes along that challenges one’s thinking on really tough topics in such a different way – through comedy. It’s a very provocative show, and yet it’s also incredibly heart-warming.”

In addition to its massive Belgian success, Taboo has been commissioned in Australia (Network 10), Canada (Bell Media), and Switzerland (SFR); and has been optioned in 13 other territories.

LA-based Kinetic Content create and produce non-scripted content for the global market, including hit show Married at First Sight, which this month was recommissioned by Lifetime for two new seasons for 2020 following record-breaking ratings for Season 9.