Ndani TV has over the years come up with short web series that have managed to keep people spending their house rents on internet subscriptions and Youtube. In a few days, the much anticipated third season of Gidi Up will start to air, and the cycle will repeat itself, having people reserving imaginary online seats because they cannot help themselves.
Skinny Girl in Transit is another brilliant creation from the stables of Ndani TV. It is written by Dami Elebe, directed by Muhammad Attah Ahmed and Ema Edosio, and creatively directed by Gidi Up‘s Jadesola Osiberu. It revolves around the life of Tiwalade Awosika (Abimbola Craig), a plus-sized beautiful on-air personality, and her quest to lose weight, survive the pressure from her mother to get married, and have a good relationship with the men that come in her life.
In Season 1, we are introduced to Tiwa and her loud overbearing but somewhat sweet mother (Ngozi Nwosu) who would employ every trick in the book (including crying and ministrations from the ‘Holy Ghost’) to tell her daughter to move on from an ex, Kola, and find a man to bring as a fiancé or better still, husband. We also see Tiwa’s sister, Shalewa (Sharon Oja), who is slim and beautiful and takes advantage of every opportunity to taunt Tiwa about her size. Sadly, Salewa too is without a boyfriend, and so her mother does not spare her from the insults.
While Tiwa jogs on the Lekki Bridge, she collapses and is saved by Femi (Kenneth Okolie) who eventually asks her out. In the episode ‘Blind Date’ where her friend tries to match-make her with a rich chauvinistic Yoruba man, it is Femi again who comes to her rescue and drives her home. After a while, she finally agrees to give Femi a chance. Coincidentally, Femi is friends with Kola, and when he learns Tiwa may not be entirely over Kola, he gets jealous, and the season ends with Kola coming to beg Tiwa to come back to him while Femi appears with a deadly scowl on his face.
The story resumes in the next season with the introduction of Mide (Ayoola Ayolola) who turns out to be Tiwa’s boss after a heated argument they had at the gym earlier. They move from arch enemies to good friends, especially when Femi begins to misbehave and ultimately calls things off with Tiwa. We are also introduced to Tiwa’s co-workers, Didi (Bisola Aiyeola) and Hadiza (Inidinma Okojie), who have a strong dislike for each other. Mide’s ex-fiancé comes into town, an arrogant classy woman called Nadine (Uzor Osimpa), but Mide tells Tiwa he is over her and subsequently asks her out. She is undecided, but after a session on her radio show about giving love a chance, she decides she wants to be with him and runs to his office only to find him kissing Nadine. This is where the second season wraps up.
In the third season, we are introduced to Nathan, an old schoolmate of Tiwa’s who just got back from the United States. Tiwa keeps her distance from Mide for as long as she can, and makes him believe she is now with Nathan, but he isn’t giving up on her too quickly, and at the end of the season, they both express their love to each other and kiss. We are also introduced to Fabrice, a fine Ivorian man Tiwa has a one night stand with on an official trip to Abuja in the episode ‘Getaway’ (a controversial and somewhat startling development).
The first season comprises of eight approximately ten-minute episodes. In the second season, the time increases to about twenty minutes per episode, and by the third season, the episodes are slightly longer, spanning between twenty and thirty minutes. Unlike Gidi Up, there are no sudden cast changes, and this makes it easier to connect to its characters. There are occasional appearances of Jude Chukwuka as Tiwa’s father, and Ayo Adesanya as Aunty Dupe, Tiwa’s aunt. In season 2, Shalewa gets involved with Maxwell, a married man, and she would suffer for it till the end of the season, bearing quips and sarcastic remarks from her mother for her mistake. In season 3, she has a crush on Mohammed (Timini Egbuson), and with the help of her mother in the episode ‘Mothers wear capes too’ she fakes a faint that causes Mohammed to bring her home to meet her family. It isn’t said at the end of the season if their relationship gets official.
Skinny Girl in Transit is relatable as it is funny. The casting is superbly done, and everyone fits their roles perfectly. Abimbola Craig is a natural, and is able to bring her character so much life that she feels like a roommate with her concerns and struggles and dilemmas. When Ngozi Nwosu opens her mouth, we hear our mothers in all their glory. Tiwa and Mide’s chemistry flows seamlessly and gets you eagerly anticipating what would happen next. In its simplicity, Skinny Girl in Transit offers us on a platter the life of a typical Nigerian girl, and well.
Tiwalade would have occasional talks with us the audience. This is interpreted as her being in deep thought and another character has to call her out of it most times. However, there are scenes where the other character responds to her thoughts, and this is a mistake, as they are not supposed to hear her thoughts. A few scenes go on and on and barely do anything for the story. An example is a scene where her mother rushes into her room because she had a dream, and begins to pray nonstop for an entire hour. The scene is disconnected from the rest of the story. Also, the constant repetition of the marriage question by her mother would get tiring a couple of times. Do they never talk about anything else? In the final episode of season 3, when Tiwa puts a call through to Nathan to invite him for the double date with Mide, she says “He is quite the pervert”, Nathan replies “Yes, he does.”
Tiwa is portrayed as a goody-goody, so when she sleeps with a stranger, it deviates completely from her character. The part seemed unnecessary to the story, but then again, good people do bad things, and this is probably what the creators tried to portray. Still, it was a miss.
It’s minor mistakes notwithstanding, Skinny Girl in Transit is the kind of series you’d enjoy binge-watching. The picture quality is brilliant, the locations are beautiful, the sound is top notch, the makeup is fab and the choice of music is a delight. It doesn’t just entertain; it educates and touches on real life issues of trust, adultery, greed and self-respect, among other matters.