28 May 2020

5 reasons to binge-watch Omoni Oboli’s Wives on Strike: The Series

In Omoni Oboli’s Wives on Strike, four semi-illiterate market women – Mama Ngozi, Iya Bola, Mama Amina and Madam 12:30 – uniquely protest a child marriage. Amina’s dad has compelled her to marry an aged man against her will. Mama Amina opposes the marriage, but her hands are tied. She shares the problem with her friends, and they carried the matter on their heads.

They approach their husbands to talk sense into Papa Amina, but when the men refuse to get involved, the women take matters into their own hands. They go on a sex strike. Other women across the country join in support until little Amina is freed.

The film, released in 2016, was a smash hit. It received praise for its hilarity and critique of child marriage. A year later, Oboli released a sequel, then a series. Set against the 2016 recession, Wives on Strike: The Series follows the now-famous women as they encounter everyday Naija problems and female injustice, from a runaway husband to insecure men.

Here are four reasons you should bingewatch the series:

1. It’s hilarious

The series is a rib-cracking satire, and its jokes and critiques are aimed at ordinary Nigerians, so they’re easily relatable. The first two episodes centre around a runaway husband, Oga Calitus, who leaves his wife of 15 years for a younger woman. While the situation is heartbreaking, the script approaches it in a more light-hearted manner: Oga Cali don follow Calabar woman!

2. It tackles patriarchy

The series critiques those who view women as a domestically and politically inferior gender. It particularly examines the power dynamics between couples. Papa Amina, now jobless, is uncomfortable with his wife being the breadwinner because “where he’s from” women are supposed to be at home while the men work.

A similar thing happens to Igbo couple Papa and Mama Ngozi. Due to the recession, Papa Ngozi is struggling to pay his daughter’s expensive school fees. When his wife offers to help, he refuses because a man is supposed to do everything.

This problem is common in many Nigerian homes, and the series underlines the disadvantages of these old-fashioned social constructs and concludes with men coming around to new ideas.

3. The characters are brilliant

One of Wives on Strike’s achievements is creating relatable characters who are both lovable and problematic. From Iya Bola, an illiterate Yoruba woman who doesn’t believe in family planning, to Stella, a Warri Babe who left a life of prostitution but must contend with a ghost from the past.

There are interesting male characters too, from the promiscuous Oga Calistus to Gbolahan, a young man who believes affectionate husbands are weaklings.

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4. And of course, the performances

Wives on Strike is enjoyable because of the performances from its lead actors – Omoni Oboli, Kehinde Bankole, Uche Jombo and Ufuoma McDermott – a likeable ensemble who really bring home the characters they are portraying. Bankole and Jombo, in particular, are terrific as caricatures of semi-illiterate Yoruba and Igbo women. They both evoke an infectious charm with enough sensibility so that their characters aren’t guilty of over-exaggeration. It helps that their characters are brilliantly constructed.

Binge-watch the first season of Wives on Strike on Showmax.

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