Why can’t Nigerian TV series get the kind of attention we give to foreign series like
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In this millennial age, who still watches TV...intensely?
Remember the days when television was a core component of the everyday Nigerian? When we all knew our TV programming by heart? When we’d cuddle up with family every night then discuss with our friends the next morning?
The disconnect hasn’t however been caused by the internet. It’s simply because Nigerian Television has stopped telling Nigerian stories.
A large part of our revered connection to Nigerian Television in the 90s and early 2000s was because we had some of the most interesting recurring local TV shows - "Behind The Clouds," "Checkmate," "Ripples," "Papa Ajasco," "Labé Orun," "Tales By Moonlight," "Kidivision 101," the list is endless.
What keeps people glued to the TV is a good story. Let’s not try to argue the case of Telemundo doing that - no, at least not the 1,234,967 direct storylines borrowed from initial stories like "When You're Mine" (Diego and Paloma).
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In recent years, Nollywood has begun creating a number of interesting TV series; one of them is Africa Magic’s, “Hush.”
Everyday, Nigeria Twitter comes alive with tweets on “Hush.” The new political series is without doubt one set out to mark a crucial transitional movement in the Nigeria TV world. In four months, it has created unique characters, killed off characters, and has gone on to become a top-rated drama on Television.
A large part of the show’s success has been the support of the online community, thanks to Twitter. It’s fun to actually see Nigerians discuss the show while it’s airing live just as we’ve done with foreign shows like "Game of Thrones," "Empire."
The numbers are not out of the roof but this will do for now. If 570,000 are reached in just a three-day span, then it’s worth checking out. The hashtag is #AMHush.
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"Fans and social media have provided us with a loud and clear message that (a) We have a passionate audience and (b) They are along for the ride. Which is awesome and feeds the fires when exhaustion takes hold," said Victor Aghahowa, showrunner and series director.
"When Hush started airing, some of the really excited fans would go on social media to discuss happenings on the show. So some of us (actors) got involved, re-tweeting their tweets and responding to some of their messages. So it became a channel for the fans to connect with us. I guess that fuelled the social media craze," said Meg Otanwa, who plays Koko.
“Quality” as a reason for the death of TV series in Nigeria has always been debatable as we have had good shows like “Hotel Majestic,” “The Johnsons,” and “Before 30.” "Hush" however, is a show, which viewers are passionate about. They love the premise, the suspense, the cast, and of course, the fact that it has Richard Mofe Damijo (RMD) as a lead character. Popular for his acting skills, RMD who has been described as a consummate professional, was part of the pre-premiere appeal.
Directed by Aghahowa, who is popular for productions including "Dowry," "Letters to a Stranger," "Jamestown," "How She Left My Brother," and "Tinsel," "Hush" stars Richard Mofe Damijo, Thelma Okoduwa, Baj Adebule, Rotimi Adelegan, Uche Osotule, Lilian Amah, Lanre Balogun Meg Otanwa, Tana Adelena, Michelle Dede, Ade Laoye among others.
The story of Hush revolves around Bem and Arinola, power-players in fashion and politics respectively. Bem, played by Richard Mofe-Damijo, is one of Africa’s biggest designers based in Lagos State, Nigeria, and Arinola, played by Thelma Okoduwa, is one of the state’s fastest rising politicians.
The intrigue begins when Bem proposes marriage to Arinola, an action that sets in motion a chain of events propelled by the secrets in their respective lives, secrets that run through the backrooms of secret societies, the corridors of the judiciary and on social media.
Baaj Adebule, who plays Adze on the show, described its storyline as unique with the right caliber of cast and crew involved to successfully tell a compelling and entertaining story.
'Hush" explores the precarious and delicate weaving between seemingly disparate worlds which co-exist in Lagos, each possessing its own eco-system based on interconnecting, seamless interaction, secret alliances, and loyalty. "There’s a co-dependency of which not all players are aware. Sometimes this is a healthy relationship, often times not. It's an all round good watch,” Baaj said.
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The series stars RMD in a dark role as Bem Tsenogu, a 46-year-old, who is charismatic, calculated, and a go-getter who believes that everything is possible.
Okoduwa plays the role of Arinola, an ambitious 40-year-old who lives by the rule "never let them see you sweat!” A strong and independent character, Arin aimed to become the first female Governor - a plot we all consider appealing, especially to the feminist community .
Baaj plays the role of Adze Tsenogu, who seeks independence from his controlling father. A cheerful character, Adze has the ‘perfect’ relationship with women. With an engaging chemistry between the actor and his on-screen father RMD, “Hush” has exposed a talented actor, not to be underrated.
Adze and Bem have a strained relationship devoid of a lovey-dovey Father-son dynamic, but as Mofe and Baaj it's way way better. " He (RMD) is an individual I have watched and been a fan of since I was boy like many other people. So to be working closely with him and being around him almost everyday is pretty cool. But most importantly how great a person he is and how we've grown to be friends has been really great and has improved me both professionally and as an individual. He's a brilliant man," said Baaj.
The TV series also created a villain that aids the suspense and action in Adelagan as Folahan. There is also undefined a hopeless romantic, superstitious, with complex issues, who works for Bem. The Bem-Koko plot is an interesting one that has left some viewers furious, and some excited. Speaking on a possible relationship with Bem, she said “anything can happen between Koko and Bem. Those two have a strong but complicated relationship so we shall see.”
Others include Mawuli Gavor who plays Tes, the drug addict son of Bem, Laoye who plays Koko's sister, Oye , among numerous supporting characters, who have not failed to intensify the suspense.
A tale of fashion, politics, and ambition which follows different members of high society as they collide, "Hush" is broadcast to over forty countries on Africa Magic Showcase (Dstv channel 151).
Recently, a pregnant Arinola was murdered. The unexpected twist set the Twittersphere in a confused state. The plot twist had the show trending for hours, with viewers mourning the death of the much loved character.
The showrunner stated that just like every other death on the show, Arin’s served important story functions. ‘There's a larger story being told. The exit of one character in a story as large as “Hush” propels the audience and the story in new directions,” Aghahowa said.
Otanwa, who had not seen Arin’s death coming always knew "nothing is as it seems" on the show. "I suspected a lot of things will change even though I didn't see that one coming. But the writers are brilliant and I am also anxious to know what direction they are going with Arinola's death," she said.
Reviewing "Hush," movie critique Charles Novia said producers underrated the immense value to the serial Arinola had and in a random creative Russian Roulette, just decided to take her out.
Should showrunners take into account people’s reactions to characters before deciding what to do with them? Aghahowa said, "The characters are created in the first place to elicit a reaction, so what we look out for is whether we have successfully achieved that, to begin with. Then we hope to achieve a bond within audience and character and then we take both on a hopefully interesting journey."
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Shooting a show like "Hush" isn't one without challenges. On challenges that comes with being a part of the show, Aghahowa said "The sheer scope of a production like this. Getting enough sleep. Finding myself calling the gentleman at the bank 'Adze'."
The political drama is fixed for a span of 260 episodes and is always about three months ahead of what's on screen at any given time. While there is a rough outline of the finale mapped out, some things may change before the cast and crew gets there.
"We set out to tell our story in the best way possible and make it a full experience for the audience. I hope we have achieved some of that," said Aghahowa.
What is it about "Hush" that makes it different? The cast? The plot? The visuals? The suspense? The directing? Whichever it is, the producers of "Hush" are definitely doing something right. The show's ability to satisfy, entertain, frustrate, and create moments that kick off conversations, has made it one of the best screen experiences yet.