Desperate Housewives Africa. Sounds a bit strange doesn’t it? Nigeria’s EbonyLife TV and Disney Media Distribution EMEA have partnered to make it happen. The rationale is that if they use an already extremely popular storyline and edit it here and there to fit African audiences, then the only possible outcome is a record breaking show. Desperate Housewives Africa is set in Nigeria and was launched on April 30th. Besides providing entertainment aims at showcasing local fashion designers, and shall be set in the country’s own gated community – Lekki. Other international versions of the show are available in Turkey, Argentina and Brazil.
The general manager of Disney EMEA Giovanni Mastrangelo said that it presents “the opportunity to engage African audiences through locally relevant and entertainment storytelling.” I think this is an extremely bad idea. Initially I thought that the producers loosely embrace the storyline but they have basically taken the American characters and given them African faces. As much as I can understand the reasoning behind wanting to do this, what does this show about African talent on the continent? The network probably had to pay ABC (the network that originally aired the American version of Desperate Housewives) millions of dollars for the rights to use the storyline – money that could have been used to nourish African storylines. That is what I find the hardest to comprehend: why is that as Africans we have to look to the west for creative direction? Especially in Nigeria -the home of Nollywood- which is valued at a whopping $55 billion. What of the many African stories waiting to be told deep in the streets of Lagos? Wouldn’t those be more relatable to the general population?
Truthfully speaking the only good thing about this show is the fact that it will give local designers some public buzz. They will be able to showcase African fashion on the beautiful actors and actresses that have been cast, making the clothes that much more attractive. Moreover the show will set a precedent for all other locally produced shows, encouraging them not to import clothes from abroad. Sadly however other than that it is my strong belief that this show will not last long on the airwaves simply because of lack of originality.