I always like to keep the #MenAreScum hashtag tethered to the patriarchal system and how women suffer under it. But after watching The Housewife, the drama Ndani TV has used to revive its short film series Ndani Shorts, I’m beginning to see more legitimate ways the expression can function. Earlier in the week, The Housewife trailer arrived and I mischievously established the philandering ways of Donald Adeyemi (Blossom Chukwujekwu) while he sits in a hospital to have a routine blood pressure check.
Donald is a married man, with a corporate job that unfortunately removes him from the day-to-day running of his family. His wife takes care of that. We know her as Mrs Adeyemi (Kiki Omeli), and she’s the titular housewife. She wakes up by 5 a.m. every day to prepare their children for school. She makes breakfast, does the laundry, scrubs and cleans and goes to the market and returns to make lunch and then dinner later. It’s so exhaustingly cyclical for her, how she gets things done without complaining or demanding anything for her efforts.
And yet, Donald tells the doctor (Kachi Nnochiri) that he thinks the stress he’s experiencing comes from home. He does look stressed though, with a tight, irritation in his voice whenever he speaks. When he admits that he has a girlfriend to the doctor, whom he buys gifts for and gives a monthly allowance, I was like, “Yup. What a scum.” But the doctor isn’t judgemental. He makes Donald see the harm of his ways, diagnosing his extramarital affair as the stressor.
“When last did you buy a gift for your wife?” the doctor asks. Donald hesitates and says he can’t remember. Directed by Jay Franklyn Jituboh, The Housewife suffers from gender nuance, the depersonalisation of Donald’s wife as just Mrs Adeyemi, a name acquired from matrimony. Her personality is never explored, she doesn’t speak, and only serves as a plot device to advance the story. Between Donald and the doctor, she hovers like a shadow in their conversation, which is ironic because the film’s title centres her.
Furthermore, The Housewife terribly fails the Bechdel Test, with two male characters and one silenced female character. But I won’t spoil what happens when Donald leaves the hospital. It’s almost tragic. I just hope and pray at some point some goes ‘f_ck it’ and actually pays a scriptwriter who can write an imaginative script sometime this century.
When Bernard Dayo isn’t writing about pop culture, he’s watching horror movies and reading comics and trying to pretend his addiction to Netflix isn’t a serious condition.