Every time i declare my dislike for something, i nonetheless revisit it every few years to make sure i still don’t care for it. Taste can evolve over time, after all.
There have been successes: mushrooms, pawpaw, Rihanna vocals.
But there have also been persistent, abject failures, like Nadia Buari’s “acting” and avocados. (I am convinced avocados were crafted by The Dark One specifically to torment me. The smell, the colour, the slimy texture… shudder).
It is this philosophy that compelled me to watch season 2 of ‘An African City’, even though its first run left me underwhelmed.
On paper, everything sounded great: “Follow five women as they navigate the waters of the ‘African Returnee’ experience. Hijinks will ensue”.
I was an African returnee, whose daily life ( as my Facebook statuses can attest) was characterized by nautical hijinks. There was much to discuss: constant frustration at the lack of customer service,the crazy driving and general lawlessness. Having to defend one’s “ghanaian-ness” after developing ‘western tastes’. Not to mention the heavy stuff, like being viewed through the lens of dated patriarchal norms, grappling with middle class guilt, and facing pervasive corruption.
Instead, what i got was Sex and the City Goes to Accra: five women sit around in their Christmas dresses and talk about….well….boys mostly. For a show executive produced and written by women to fail the Bechdel Test so soundly was especially disappointing.
I watched two episodes and gave up.
Having just completed the 4th episode of season 2, it is apparently more of the same.
“Nana Yaa, Sade, Ngozi, Makena and Zainab explore their “dream guy list.” This does not involve: men whom like arm pits, development specialists with “a savior complex,” dates whom still live with their ex-wives, boyfriends with too many female fans or men exploring celibacy.” -(Tsk effin tsk.. at whomever wrote this copy.)
The characters still haven’t developed any dimension beyond their defining personality traits: the religious one, the man crazy one, the workaholic one and so on.
They still all look like they just came from a Canoe Magazine photoshoot regardless of location and occasion. More-so even, now that production budgets have glo’d up.
(Could we perhaps find a better way to handle product placement than have the ladies hang out at the Microsoft store like it’s a coffee lounge?)
And it’s still boys this and boys that.
When they do attempt to broach a weighty subject, it is handled with all the subtlety of an after school special about teenage drug abuse.
( For example, when ‘the religious one’ confronted ‘white saviour complex’ guy about ‘poverty porn’ whilst on a date, because not matter what- boys.)
The comedic moments often don’t fare much better. I was all for the classic sitcom trope of showing up to a function inappropriately dressed, until the white dress ‘the main character’ one decided to wear to the funeral ( because Afropolitans are less beholden to tradition eg. funeral cloth) was a freakum dress the sort of which she has never been seen in before. You cannot squeeze a joke out of a scenario that inherently makes no sense for your character. The worst offender of this was when ‘the man crazy one’ claimed that kelewele cured her paramour’s aversion to oral sex.
Who willingly rubs oily plantain spiced with pepper and ginger on their nether regions?Oh i’m certain it heated things up, just not in the way they were hoping.
Besides, why kelewele? Because he’s a home grown Ghanaman? Dayum. lol
Not even Fanice though? We can do better than this. I’m sure of it.
But this is where i must bow out, because clearly i will not be getting a thoughtful cinematic rendering of Taiye Selasi’s “Dont Ask Where I’m From” TED talk.
Also the voice-over is starting to grate on my….
Herh, guys. I just went and reread what i’ve written so far. It is borderline hate-speech. My gawd. If you knew how many of the people involved in this show i know personally, you’ll wonder just what flavour of haterade i’ve been drinking. ( Asana flavour, because i’m from Ghana. Ok im done.)
If you feel some type of way about it, you know where to find me. I aint scurred.
However, this is probably a good time to mention that inspite of the show serving me avocado realness, it does not mean i don’t appreciate it for the super-fruit that it is.
I am actually extremely proud of what ‘An African City’ has achieved.
For an independently produced Ghanaian show to have gone global and drawn comparisons to one of HBO’s flagship series is a huge deal. I foresee it being cited as the inspiration for an entire generation of African t.v and film-makers.
I also LOVE that the show is an “Africa Rising” showcase:
The best designers. The best stylists ( Efua Rida has done some amazing work here).
The brightest young entrepreneurs (eg Nude Skin lingerie was featured in one of the episodes. ( The founder Ade, is the younger sister of my childhood bestie. I’m stanning so hard!)). The production itself ( sound, set design, camera work) is the most polished i’ve seen out of Ghana- shout outs to my Third Channel/6Miludo mans dem!
So ignore my bitch-craft, get out there and support the #blackgirlmagic.
Perhaps i can join you for the third series.. I’ll be hoping it’s pawapaw season by then.