April 8 — the premiere date for the ‘The Real Housewives of Lagos’ (RHOLagos) — is almost here. Ahead of the much-awaited TV series, a major debate is the exclusion of marriage as a key consideration for selecting the show’s cast.

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RHOLagos promises to take fans on an exciting journey on the fab lives of the six most luxurious Lagos-based women.

The star-studded project features Iyabo Ojo, Carolyna Hutchings, Chioma Ikokwu, Toyin Lawani, Laura Ikeji Kanu, and Mariam Adeyemi Timmer.

REAL HOUSEWIVES BUT UNMARRIED?

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Of the six major cast members enlisted for the series, only three — Lawani, Laura and Mariam — are currently married.

Ojo got married to a movie marketer in 1999, at the age of 21. But the union — which produced two children — crashed in 2001.

Hutchings, a mother of three, was married to Musa Danjuma, the billionaire businessman in 2004. The pair, however, split in 2014.

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Ikokwu, on the other hand, has never been married.

Critics, therefore, faulted the cast selection for the show, citing the fact that the trio are not married.

They also argued that even the married members of the cast do not fit into the definition of a real housewife in a typical African setting.

A real housewife, they argued, is one whose work is inside the home — doing the cleaning, cooking and who usually does not have any other job than to manage the family.

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For proponents of this school of thought, the cast selection did not consider housewives from a typical Nigerian perspective.

“The funniest thing about this ‘Real Housewives of Lagos’ is none of them are housewives. Tiannah is the only wife and definitely not a house one,” a Twitter user quipped.

“This real housewives of Lagos is not going to be a housewife show because they’re not housewives, they’re all friends and they’re celebrities. We’re watching business women flaunt their lifestyle. That’s all,” another user wrote.

THE REAL HOUSEWIVES: AN OVERVIEW

The ‘Real Housewives’ is an international reality television franchise that consists of 11 series in the United States and 21 international series.

Most of the series — which started in 2006 — document the lives of a group of affluent women residing in a certain city.

There have been Real Housewives of Atlanta, Jersey, Durban, Miami, Melbourne, and New York City, among others.

RHOLagos is WestAfrica’s first edition of ‘The Real Housewives’ franchise and the third in Africa.

According to Showmax, “RHOLagos will be the first Nigerian instalment of the award-winning franchise, which is distributed internationally by NBCUniversal Formats, a division of Universal Studio Group.

“This also marks the 16th international version of ‘The Real Housewives’ format and the third to be adapted in Africa.

“The RHOLagos is set to give a peek into the opulent and oh-so-extra lifestyle of some of the most affluent women in Lagos, living their best Eko-Miami lives. Plus, all the drama and gbas gbos you can expect from The Real Housewives franchise.”

It is important to note that RHOLagos is not the only franchise to use women who are not married or divorced in the past.

For instance, ‘The Real Housewives of Durban’, which premiered in January 2021, featured seven women namely Nonkanyiso Conco, Nonku Williams, Sorisha Naidoo, Annie Mthembu, Jojo Robinson, Thobile Mseleku and Londie London.

Of the seven women — Conco better known as LaConco, and Nonku are unmarried. Both were previously married but eventually parted ways with their partners.

‘WHY MARRIAGE NOT A KEY FACTOR’ — DAREY

Darey, chief creative director of Livespot360, the producers of the show, addressed the concerns trailing the cast selection on Saturday.

The musician, who spoke at the show’s launch party in Lagos, argued that those criticising the selection process are unfamiliar with the ‘Real Housewives’ franchise.

According to him, the basic requirement for the show is being an independent and successful woman with a household and not necessarily someone who is married.

“As a franchise, around the globe. People usually have to audition and try to get on to the show but we spurned it around and we, alongside a team did some research,” he had said.

“Understanding the entertainment industry and television and the requirement of the format, we decided to gather the most unique personalities, different individuals in their own rights.

“Strong and confident women who are running their businesses and homes. We didn’t want the same kind of people on the show. We want a nice diverse mix of ladies but what really strings them together is that independence.

“People that ask questions [about some of the cast relationship status] are people who think about ‘Real Housewives’ literally, if you understand the concept of the show itself, with what have been done in other countries and cities, you’ll understand it’s always a mix, and Lagos is not different.

“We are bound to have people who are single, dating, who are in a relationship, who have a partner but these criteria is that at least you have a household.

“That household can be you and your dog but as long as you don’t live alone. Whether you have a boyfriend, a partner, whatever it is, that forms the basics. And on the show we have several married people.”



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