I recently became acquainted with somebody from Ghana and in the interest of not being a douchebag I thought I should learn a little something about the country. Sandwiched between the slave trade stories and generic African nature docs was a web series called An African City. The show follows five smart, single, upper class women in Accra as they navigate life. The first episodes are a little rough around the edges but the series soon finds its legs.
One of the things I enjoyed about the series is the frankness with which the women--all returnees from the West--attempt to balance cultural expectations with a Western sense of self-actualization. Sometimes they're successful and sometimes they're not. They want love but are very cynical about marriage and men. The glamorous Sade (Nana Mensah) sees marriage as a economic transaction, at best, and has no ethical issues sleeping around with married men while naive Ngozi (Esosa E) has remained a virgin in anticipation of her wedding night. Sade may seem callous but is it really fair to expect your life-partner to also be your romantic partner forever? It's both an old-fashioned view of marriage and also, somehow, refreshingly modern. Is it really a smart choice to arrange your entire life around (potentially) fleeting romantic love? We almost never talk about these issues in the West because we're blind to our own set of "cultural expectations". We're on the inside. The ladies of An African City have a unique perspective, being both inside and outside Ghana and the West.
Which leads to one of the other things I really enjoyed about the series, which was the specificity of the Ghana setting. As someone who has long lamented the rise of a generic "global" cultural identity in Hollywood and Bollywood films, as well as the fetishization of the "local" that's accompanied it (those "the city is the main character!" films), I thought An African City does a nice job avoiding both traps. I'm sure my friends in Mumbai or Chennai or New York or Tokyo could identify with some of the problems the ladies faced but then some things--like Sade being teased for being half-Nigerian--must add a dash of local recognition for Ghanaians.
Even though I'm certainly not the target audience for An African City, I really enjoyed the first season (available on youtube) and plan on purchasing the second for $19.99. What good is capitalism if I don't vote with my dollars?
And if that isn't enough to tempt you, these ladies are always impeccably dressed. Try to watch an episode and not immediately start searching online for similar outfits.