In complex societies like what obtains in Nigeria, it is commonplace to have working-class men and women navigate life with different ambitions in mind. Some just want to settle into family life and will do anything humanly possible to achieve that aim. On the other hand, there are people whose primary desire is to move up the corporate ladder and be the top dogs in their line of work, unburdened by romantic commitments or any other thing that is emotionally exerting.
Art imitates Life, and it is only natural that filmmakers attempt to translate what plays out in corporate Nigeria to television screens. These days, people want to see themselves in the movies and series they watch, they want to see characters they can relate to, they feel the need to point to the TV in the middle of an intense scene and say “that’s my life right there!” Emem Ema, a former member of the defunct all-female group KUSH, is aware of these things, and in this new television series created by her, she tries to portray what unfolds in Nigerian homes behind the cute Instagram photos and matching outfits at events.
Baby Drama, a new TV series that premiered on Africa Magic on Wednesday, April 21, 2021, is a romantic drama set in urban contemporary Lagos. Directed by Uzodinma Okpechi, it features an ensemble cast that includes seasoned actors like Bimbo Akintola, Joseph Benjamin, Wole Ojo, Okey Uzoeshi, and Bikiya Graham-Douglas. The star-studded lineup also features Uru Eke, Beverly Osu, Anee Icha, Nengi Adoki, and Obehi Aburime.
The opening scene of Baby Drama’s first episode sees Esosa Essien (Graham- Douglas) lying on a yoga mat, with a voiceover explaining the prevalent pressure on women to bear children. “‘Useless’ is a term reserved for women who have never given birth” is a one-liner from the voiceover that illustrates what women struggling to conceive go through in Nigerian society.
Esosa, eager to become a mother, makes a short video for her unborn child. She is a thriving entrepreneur, but she is childless after seven years of marriage, and despite support from her husband Oscar Essien (Benjamin), the situation weighs heavily on her. She is visibly worried, and this reflects in the following scene where she insists on only making love to Oscar during her ovulation cycle.
It’s difficult to blame her: she is in her 40s, and she experienced a “phantom pregnancy” a few years earlier. She resorts to IVF treatment, and she keeps visiting fertility clinics, hoping for a change in her fortunes. She also places herself at the mercy of an eccentric prophet, who warns her to stop “blocking the pathway” for her babies in the spiritual realm and demands money from her to conduct “special prayers” involving chicken, red ribbons, and candles.
Esosa’s sister, Iye Adeyemi (Icha), is a top-level executive at a Tier 1 financial institution. She has to keep encouraging her sister and following her to medical appointments while dealing with the subtle gender discrimination at her workplace. She is too focused on work, and hardly has any time for her husband Seye Adeyemi (Uzoeshi).
There is Kese Ajayi (Adoki), Iye’s sister-in-law, who is unmarried but wants to become a mother at all cost and is on the lookout for anyone that fits the bill. Kese’s apparent “hopelessness” is captured in a scene where she acts coy while a plus-sized man tries to speak to her at a hospital’s reception area, only for her to find out moments later that he has a wife. She quickly develops a crush on Wale (Aburime), the gynecologist who attends to her at the hospital where she frequently takes fertility tests.
Amara Williams (Eke) is a struggling actress with a reputation for being a prima donna on movie sets. She does everything possible to stay relevant, particularly on social media whilst taking out her delusions of grandeur on her assistant, Oni Kolawole (Osu), who is still coming to terms with being an independent adult.
With a running time of 40 minutes, the pilot episode of Baby Drama starts slowly but settles into a rhythm before long. Icha holds her own as the overly focused working-class woman, and Graham-Douglas puts up a believable performance: the desperation is palpable, and through her eyes, we see the lengths that Esosa is willing to go to become a mother. Osu’s clumsiness is pretty adorable, and Adoki’s sass sets her up as a pivotal character in the series.
The steamy final few minutes of the episode suggests that all may not be well with Esosa’s marriage: could Oscar be seeking comfort in the arms of another? The preview of the next episode also suggests that there will be more tears, and this makes for a potentially exciting plot. The show explores themes like religion, friendship, marriage, and the myths associated with childbirth so that already makes it something worth seeing but with the action on display, viewers can rest assured of the top-tier drama Africa Magic is renowned for.
Baby Drama is available on Showmax, which can be accessed for free by customers with DStv Premium subscriptions. Viewers can also watch the series via the DStv app on multiple devices at no additional cost. For more information, visit the WEBSITE.