14 February 2020
Kenyan drama series This Is Life portrays life and love as you know it – messy and heartfelt
In a world where we constantly escape to the realm of television, sometimes we need heartfelt stories about love (or lack thereof), family and friendship, and the tensions and struggles that come with trying to achieve all these. Kenyan drama series This Is Life takes us there as we follow a group of people just trying to figure it out in love, and in life.
Created written and directed by Jennifer Gatero (Best Friends Forever, Changing Times), This Is Life presents life as you know it – with all the ups and downs of day-to-day living because real life is not always rosy. And in doing so, we see our lives reflected in the characters’ own triumphs or struggles.
Love, betrayal and emotional blackmail
Amara (Melissa Kiplagat, News Just In) is positive about life as she prepares to walk down the aisle with her fiancé Martin (Blessing Lung’aho, The Yard) who unbeknown to her is cheating on her with her best friend.
“Amara is a nice person and she wishes well for everyone. Her relationship with her fiancé is in a good place. But there are also those things about her relationship that she doesn’t notice because she’s blinded by love. And then she has this friend that she’s close to, the one who got away, and there’s always that “what it” feeling between them. She’s just trying to figure that out and what she wants,” Melissa says.
Kone Nouhoum (Selina) plays Almasi who is stuck in a toxic relationship with his girlfriend Stephanie (Gathoni Mutua, Pieces of Us) who won’t stop emotionally blackmailing him and reminding him how “she made him.” Almasi also shares a close friendship with Amara that could be something more if they allowed it to. Shera (Auudi Rowa) and Kelz (Emmanuel Mugo, Selina) are two young lovers who can’t seem to catch a break as they struggle to pay bills and make ends meet in a world where sometimes hard work doesn’t translate to success.
A story about the bond of sisterhood
At the heart of the story is Amara and Shera, two sisters who are at completely different stages in their lives (romantically and economically), and who are held together by the special bond they share. Even when their lives are falling apart around them, these two remind us that love can still be simple and pure.
“I found Amara and Shera’s story intriguing because most TV shows concentrate on romantic love stories. These two have such a close bond even though they are going through different experiences in life. This Is Life has so many layers of different kinds of relationships that are so relatable – so if you don’t relate to Amara’s story, maybe you relate to Shera’s or to Stephanie’s or Almasi’s,” Melissa says.
Amara is Melissa’s second-biggest role in a TV show – the first was playing Justine in the comedy-drama News Just In – and one that she’d be happy to continue playing if This Is Life ever gets a second season. “There’s so much that could happen with Amara, and there are things that I wanted to do with her character that I haven’t done yet.”
At its best, This Is Life is sweet and tender, beautifully shot entirely in 4k, and supported by a great soundtrack from artists like Tetu Shani and Njoki Karu. At its worst, it portrays the fragility of love and how a thin line exists between love and betrayal.
And while we don’t know if we’ll ever get another season, one thing is certain – This Is Life’s creator and director Gatero deserves praise for showing us that there are more stories to be mined from real people with real lives – and that sometimes we just want to see stories that are familiar to us in one way or another.
This Is Life season 1 is streaming now on Showmax.