Here is everything you need to know about Showmax's new show The Real Housewives of Lagos.
The Real Housewives of Lagos arrives tomorrow (April 8th) with great fanfare. An incarnation of the famed Real Housewives franchise, the show lands on African streamer Showmax. Social media passed the vibe check when the cast was unveiled, with spurts of excitement and an emotional stake in the six women headlining this inaugural season. In the coming weeks, these online communities will play a role in online reception and ratings.
It has to be said that this grants Showmax a kind of prestige. Lately, the platform has been energetic in their attempt to secure original content from regions like Ghana, Zambia, Kenya, South Africa, and Nigeria, with plans to penetrate more markets across the continent. A show like RHOL makes the African streaming wars even more competitive. Aside from the economic clout that Lagos brings, the city is Nigeria’s entertainment nexus and a conscious theme in the country’s cultural production.
So, what can fans expect from RHOL? A lot of things, if the show stays true to its well-known patterns. The formula for The Real Housewives is simple: Gather wealthy women in a major city and watch them navigate friendships, personal struggles, and an often handsome amount of prosperity.
On the franchise, interpersonal conflict is currency. The more drama that goes down, the more entertaining it gets (longstanding viewers already know the drill.) RHOL isn’t Showmax’s first rodeo. It brought to South Africa The Real Housewives of Durban and Johannesburg.
These shows are still ongoing, for anyone who wants to experience an African iteration of the show and witness a televised Africa that focuses on abundance instead of the usual narrative of lack.
Ahead of RHOL’s premiere, here’s everything that matters.
It’s a production by Livespot360
While everyone knows the show as a Showmax original, little is known about Livespot360, the Lagos-based, creative outfit contracted for the production grunt work. Adapting this international franchise for a Nigerian audience was going to have its own challenges, as far as quality control goes. Knowledge of the terrain, the ins and outs of a restless city like Lagos played right into the strength and competence of Livespot360.
The company is responsible for executing cutting-edge concert experiences in Nigeria. The Love Like a Movie concert in 2013 still remains one of its most impressive and flashiest productions, and will be remembered for breaking the curse of "African time." It’s no wonder it is overseeing the affairs of RHOL.
The class politics of The Real Housewives
Obvious to ardent viewers is how the franchise observes and platforms wealthy women. The designer clothes they wear, expensive jewelry and automobiles and other assets they own are utilized as showpieces and visual props. The show bleeds luxury. The Real Housewives made a name for itself not only because of the histrionics and theater the cast members are capable of, but also for sowing seeds of classist aspirations into women.
Any political thought on the show has to first deconstruct the title. Who is a “real” housewife? Granted, the title has since entered the reality TV canon and gained mainstream appeal. So much so that it casually hides its true nature. Which is, glamorizing the role of the housewife when, in the truest reality, many housewives don’t live a luxurious experience under patriarchy and capitalism. By doing this, it divides women along class lines, flippantly suggesting that those with proximity to wealth are real, better, or superior. Unpacking the concept of ‘the housewife’ through history warrants a separate discussion, and too heavy for the scope of this piece. But, the themes can be extrapolated to better understand the franchise, bringing to mind 19th century Cult of Domesticity and the bourgeoisie morality around the ideal type of woman.
Lagos is a familiar site of class struggle. It only takes political chaos to find poor residents engaging in opportunistic looting of supermarkets and businesses. “Eat the rich” isn’t a vague thought; it’s an active mindset. The RHOL arrives in tension with this struggle. And although the show can be enjoyed for its mindless entertainment, it’s important to remember the class politics undergirding it.
Not every cast member is married
The Real Housewives is an American pastime, and since 2006 it has spawned numerous international versions and spinoffs. The Real Housewives of Orange County started it all, introducing an elite rank of women who were married and what happened in their lives. As time went on, the franchise glossed over marriage as a metric for participation on the show. The title of the show has become an acceptable misnomer. Both single and married women can be in the same circle, become friends and make enemies, and there have been occasions where married cast members have divorced their partners and got reunited with them again.
Looking at the ladies of RHOL, only Chioma Ikokwu has never been married. Entrepreneur Carolyna Hutchings is divorced from billionaire Musa Danjuma, same as actress Iyabo Ojo. Celebrity stylist and fashion designer Toyin Lawani-Adebayo, entrepreneur Laura Ikeji, and PR expert Mariam Timmer are all married. Based on teasers, it will be interesting to see how these women hold down elements that have made the franchise so enduring and memorable.