Forget about “Young, Famous and African” for a bit.
All eyes are on the latest reality show from the continent “The Real Housewives of Lagos”.
When it was announced, we all clamoured wondering who will be picked to be on the show. Would it be politician or billionaire wives? Will a former musician or actress try their luck at fame again? Or will it be private citizens, thirsty for a bit of the limelight?
The opening shot is reminiscent of a documentary about Lagos, Nigeria.
The voice-over speaks about the things that make Nigeria different from other countries and what drives the people of the country. It then zeroes in on Lagos.
“A city only affluence can inspire. Hierarchy over everything. Either you are the bag or you secure the bag. Lagos is the heartbeat of Africa.”
Now it is different start to “Real Housewives” than I and most fans of the franchise are used to and I actually do not mind. Because the show is made for an international audience and for the show to be a success, the audience has to understand the location of the show.
It will probably be irritating for Nigerians who will watch the show and it find it redundant, but for those who have never been to Lagos and have only seen the city through the eyes of the few Nollywood stars we follow, it is a great educational start. It sets the scene and makes the audience understand what drives people who live in Lagos and what matters most to them.
This line of thinking continues throughout the episode as the cast members are introduced. A huge chunk of the episode (75%) is about who these women are, what they do, intimate details about their private lives and relationships – one husband even chooses to wear a face mask concealing their face while on camera.
Of course, their many business ventures are showcased. Having a side hustle is the way of life for these women; once again, a representation of the driven nature of those who are successful in Lagos.
And what do these multiple streams of income mean? Wealth. This is what we are in for.
There is luxury, everything is five star. From the vehicles and homes, the fashion, beauty and security systems. And they are not ashamed to show it off.
The first event is the launch of a baby fashion line – of an infant. And the women come dressed in their finest fashions. And it’s where some of the drama begins.
The link between all these women is super stylist to the stars, Tiannah Toyin Lawani, who is launching a baby fashion brand and hair product line named after her infant daughter Laura.
She links up with her good friend, Iyabo Ojo, an actress turned producer and director and they meet up at a restaurant, which happens to be owned by Chioma Ikokwu, a law graduate and businesswoman.
After settling the deal and choosing Chioma's restaurant as the venue oft he party, Tiannah invites her other friends – Carolyna Hutchings and Laura Ikeji Kanu.
Carolyna is a former actress who married a billionaire and poor people hate that about her. That’s an actual line from her. She’s become a property magnate and is co-parenting with her ex.
Laura is happily married and we are introduced to her preparing dinner for her former Nigerian national football player husband, Ogbonna, as it’s their fifth wedding anniversary.
At the event they size each other up.
Carolyna initially refuses to acknowledge the women. However, Iyoba is surprised Carolyna is there because last she heard, she and Tiannah were not on good terms.
Chioma is like a deer in headlights, while Tiannah is flitting around the host she is. Then Laura walks in, hours later (we assume) and acknowledges Chioma, calling her a friend, only for Chioma to rebut and say: “Oh she’s been a hair client of mine for about 6/7 years.”
And so begins the games. Lines are drawn, alliances are picked and as Iyoba invites them to her beach house for a getaway, there’s an impending sense of drama that awaits us in the upcoming episodes.
The episode started very slow, but it’s understandable that they had to introduce these women to us as many not have known them.
These women did not know their fellow cast members as well, so this was necessary.
I think this is going to be a slow burn and as the spool unrolls and we get more from these women, only time will tell if they will deliver or not.
The hallmarks of what makes a great cast member of “Real Housewives” is to be able to go there. Throw all decorum out of the room.
Forget about your ‘real’ self and embrace your shady side. Which these women do almost immediately. They know what’s expected of them and they deliver the goods.
Their testimonials are where they really give it and do not shy away from giving the viewers the quotables that will make them popular with them.
They have all the ingredients to produce a fine meal.
Let’s hope they season it properly so it tastes great. It’s what we expect from West Africa after all.
“The Real Housewives of Lagos” is streaming on Showmax.