The hottest new comedy on TV is The Life of A Nigerian Couple. If you didn’t know that, go google it, I’ll wait.
You immediately notice that this sitcom is strange, sort of. But it’s not weird because of the subject it covers, which is unending marital disagreements between a pair of narcissistic millennials. It is unusual because it features only a cast of three. And these three are the husband, his wife, and their shrink. You see, these people, all they do is bicker.
The drama, or the comedy, unfolds between the newlywed’s home and their marriage counsellor’s office. The couple Kofo (Bisola Ayeola) and Emeka (Okey Uzoeshi) try to navigate the often dumbfounding culture clash that accompanies inter-tribal marriages in Nigeria by visiting the shrink.
Shot in the reality TV format, the show sustains its hilarity thoroughout each 30-minute episode, despite occasionally winking at the viewer. Consistently, though, all the stars deliver nuanced, true to life performances. So, all of this is probably why Life of a Nigerian Couple became an instant hit.
But, according to the producer of the show, the first season is child’s play compared to what’s to come. Next year, Life of a Nigerian Couple will air throughout the year in a breathless series of 56 episodes, cut into two seasons.
You might say, yes, Jenifa’s Diary is also a year-long series, with four of five seasons lined bumper to bumper, but Life of A Nigerian Couple hopes to offer more pertinence, more experimentation, more controlled bombast.
Adeola Osunkojo, who created, wrote, produced, and directed Nigerian Couple, says the her subject matter resonates with audiences because it’s like peeking through the keyhole at your married friends. Even the married ones agree. Some of the things couples argue about are just ridiculous, she says, especially when you know that those things wouldn’t have mattered if these people weren’t in a structured, and legally binding, relationship.
She herself is still unmarried so “to do [the show], I observed a lot of married people around me,” she tells me.
Some of these unofficial consultants, including her sister, Ayodotun, also served as her first panel of critics. Their verdict? Nigerian Couple is an excellent satire on modern inter-ethnic matrimony in 21st century Nigeria. Thanks to satellite TV and social media, pressure on marriages has been cranked up to about 1 billion. But it’s good that the same TV offers some catharsis.
So far, only Ebony Life and ONTV have the TV rights to the first season of Nigerian Couple. The networks ran the episodes between March and July 2016. Osunkojo says she’s almost reached an agreement with IbakaTV for Web streaming.
Meanwhile, she says the coming seasons have been receiving incredible attention from networks, streaming services, and others. In september, the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard University included Nigerian Couple in its first African Short Film Festival.
As for who gets to broadcast seasons two and three, a bidding war may soon ensue between Africa Magic and Ebony Life.
For now, Osunkojo says she’s concentrating on writing an expanded story. Having studied theatre arts at the University of Lagos and worked for 10 years with Ultima Studios, producers of MTN Project Fame, she wants to use her newfound canvass to express herself and paint an unforgettable picture.
In the coming series, she promises to reveal more of the couple’s life. Viewers will get a chance to watch the lovers confront more misunderstandings. Some of these will be about plummeting income and a forced relocation to a less affluent neighbourhood within the Lagos metropolis.
Also, the shrink will have to fight off some serious personal demons. Things may get so bad that he’ll need his own marriage counsellor.
Well, until IbakaTV starts streaming the series or Ebony Life does a re-run, season one will be off the air. If nothing comes from those two, at least you can look forward to 2017. It looks like the year will come with a lengthy gigglefest.