BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
The beauty of recent Nigerian television/web series have been the great pictures with accompanying fine faces, and with Accelerate and EbonyLife TV’s On the Real, it is certainly not different, as the series boasts of well-dressed young men and women with upper-middle class Nigerian English. Another thing it boasts of is a different story angle, totally different from the family-centred timeworn storylines common with television series.
On the Real is about a reality television show known as The Real, with a group of five cast members and a TV executive, Lolu, who is known for his unpopular leadership methods and swearwords. Faridah is the star of the show, and everything revolves around her. She is dating Efosa, except she isn’t actually dating him but puts up a show for the camera because they look good together and the fans love them. Wana is a party-loving I-just-got-back who loves only herself. BJ is a hustler, a Lagos boy to the bone who has a knack for making extra illegal money. And there is Amaka, who is gentle and calm, but is a chamber of secrets.
Season one begins with a complication which is blown slightly out of proportion: Edosa is caught on camera with his real life girlfriend, Auta, by the paparazzi. Lolu is frantic, summons them all and decides on the spur of the moment to remedy the situation by bringing Auta into the show as Faridah’s friend who eventually steals her boyfriend. But Auta has secrets of her own which ultimately get her kicked off the show by the end of the first season. It is also revealed that Faridah has an affair with married Lolu, and this revelation is only known by Wana who milks it for all that its worth, blackmailing Faridah and having her way, until she too is kicked off, then reinstated to save face.
Edosa’s love situation is topsy-turvy, and by the second season, while still hurting from his break up with Auta, he finds feelings for Faridah, but gets into trouble of his own and is being blackmailed by a Salewa who knows about it. And Farida? She is in a love triangle, or perhaps a rectangle even, with an old flame from many years ago, Lawrence, showing up as an investor on the show, and making himself the third man fighting for her attention. Amaka and BJ find love, but lose it to the many secrets and complications in their lives, especially with Amaka’s ex-husband, Jite, hovering over them like an evil spirit. And there is Sumbo, Lolu’s efficient but underappreciated personal assistant who always manages to hold the cast together from tearing themselves to shreds.
The drama that ensues with every episode of On the Real is what keeps it going, giving it a strong similarity with Ndani TV’s Gidi Up, also considering that each song is referenced as it is played, as in the former. In On the Real however, the drama mostly happens within themselves, with not so many external factors involved. It is engaging, and with new conflicts every now and again, able to sustain the viewer’s interest. And there is also the way the narrator was introduced in season two that gives the series a ‘Jane The Virgin’ feel, but less funny. The interviewing session for each character is another unique addition.
Tomiwa Tegbe who plays Sunbo is the discovery of the series. He is brilliant and has a huge sense of humour. His character brings the entire series closer home without the glitz the other characters have. His isn’t even a main role, but he makes himself indispensable by his portrayal of it. Faridah is played perfectly by Ini Dinma Okojie , who seems to be having a lot of this kind of roles lately. Akah Nnani plays good-looking Efosa. The chemistry between Efosa and Faridah is magic, and as soon as the creators begin to bring them close together, you can feel the hairs of your body stand.
Amaka is played by the talented Nancy Isime who is surprisingly mellow. It is good to know she can play the good girl too, without sacrificing her acting, although sometimes, her character’s docility is incredible. BJ is played by Maurice Sam who is a perfect BJ. He looks and talks like a BJ, and makes it so easy to be a BJ. Wana is played by Funto Angel Johnson who is painful to watch in season one as she struggles not to smile, but gets into it in season two and quickly becomes a sweetheart. Lolu is a challenging character to play considering the eccentricity of it, but David Jones David does good. His acting causes you to cringe sometimes as they border on exaggeration, but he pulls through, and by the middle of season 2, you connect to him. Generally, the series finds itself in its second season, and holds much promise. Well, until the last scene of the latest episode, episode 11, which has quite an unbelievable, nearly-forced conflict.
The series also features Chiagoziem Nwakanma of This is It and Gbolabo Bollylomo of Lagos Big Boys, and cameos by EmmaOhMyGod and Denrele Edun.
On the Real is on to something really good. With impeccable cinematography, music, a unique story of twists and turns and an ensemble that knows what to do, the series created and produced by Temidayo Abudu, written by Tamara Aihie and directed by Tosin Coker is one to watch out for.