Gone are the days when missing your favourite TV show caused a lot of stress because there was no way to catch a repeat, so you had to wait another week for a new episode. As technology got smarter, it has become easy to watch those unmissable shows at your convenience.
But here’s the thing: even though cable television has evolved, nowadays you can live without it, thanks to the exploding world of internet television. Web series have become traditional TV’s biggest rival as more people turn to the internet to binge-watch new shows, in short, bite-sized episodes for free.
African filmmakers have been taking advantage of the unstoppable genre of web series. We’ve rounded up our top 5 African web series for you to check out. They’re well-written, funny, thought-provoking, and will have you hooked for days.
The much-lauded web series is a riveting depiction of crime and vigilante justice in Kenya. Tuko Macho is about a vigilante group that kidnaps criminals in Nairobi and asks Kenyans to vote online for whether they should be executed or released. The show portrays a chaotic Nairobi characterised by corrupt and incompetent law enforcement officials. In this imaginary world, vigilantism is the only way to get justice.
The dialogue in the fictional series is authentically carried out in Sheng, a mixture of Swahili and many languages found in Kenya.
Tuko Macho was created by The Nest Collective, a Nairobi-based media company that tells stories using film, visual arts, music, and fashion. Making the show easily accessible, the company distributes it for free on its Facebook page and website.
An African City
An African City is a steamy and over-the-top series that chronicles the lives of five Ghanaian women who have just returned to their home country after living abroad for years. The characters, Nana Yaa, Sade, Ngozi, Makena, and Zainab, are all friends whose families left Ghana for the West when they were young. Now that they’re back home, we see them go about their daily lives as they explore the world of love, sex, and high-powered careers in Accra.
Often seen in five-inch heels and dazzling dresses, hopping from one high-end restaurant and bar to another, the women live glamorous lives. But they also get to deal with the challenges that come with life in an unfamiliar city. They discover that Accra has entirely different problems from those you’d find in New York or London.
The creator of the show Nicole Amarteifio relates to the characters she crafted. Having left Ghana for New York and then returned after some years, she knows what it’s like to be a westernised woman trying to reconnect with your African roots.
Skinny Girl in Transit
This Nigerian comedy web series, produced by Ndani TV, is currently in its third season and has been airing since July 2015. It tells the hilarious and relatable story of a young Nigerian woman, Tiwalade, played by Abimbola Craig, who starts doing everything she can think of to lose weight after her mother tells her that it’s the only way she’ll ever be able to find a husband.
But, as one can expect, it turns out losing weight is not as easy as it sounds. The writer of the show, Dami Elebe, who’s famous for being a radio presenter at Lagos-based Beat FM, describes Skinny Girl in Transit as a comedic representation of typical scenarios in the Nigerian society, and the culture in an average Nigerian home. The show also explores the dynamics between an overbearing mother who has the best intentions for her daughter.
This show is often referred to as a Nigerian version of the hit American TV-show, Modern Family. Episodes in the first season are between 7 and 10 minutes long, while the second and third seasons contains episodes of between 15 and 22 minutes.
The Foxy Five
This show, inspired by the South African student uprising, #FeesMustFall, follows the lives of five black women who are trying to plot a revolution while also dealing with the everyday issues that they’re faced with. Unity Bond, Prolly Plebs, Blaq Beauty, Femme Fatale and Womxn We, are astonishingly relatable characters who not only have the same conversations as regular South African women, but also do everything in their power to challenge the status quo.
The Foxy Five is the brainchild of Cape Town-based filmmaker, Jabu Nadia Newman, who felt the need to channel her feelings about the historical #FeesMustFall protests.
What makes this show more unique is that it tells post-apartheid stories with a 70s styling. If you’re ready to open yourself up to real-life issues in a real-life way, this series was made just for you.
Launched in 2013 as an eight-part web mini-series, Gidi Up has developed into a full 30-minite-episode TV and online show. The show achieved remarkable success in its first season, instantly becoming one of Nigeria’s loved series. Plucking its title from the term “Las Gidi”, a popular nickname for Lagos, the series is centred around the lives of four friends as they try to chase success in Nigeria’s most populated city, all the while juggling relationships and work.
After taking a 3-year break, Gidi Up is back for a third season that promises to be a thriller, loaded with more drama and scandals. If you want to understand the lives of the young and ambitious hustlers of Lagos, Gidi Up offers a perfect portrayal. You might want to start from the easily-bingeable first season whose episodes are approximately eight minutes long.