On the seventh season return of Men’s Corner on EbonyLife TV, the men talk about the dreaded friend zone. I possibly can’t think of a more overflogged subject matter, and premiering the season with such staid, banal discourse could have been a total failure. But the trio of Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, Mazino Ofoh, and Andre Blaze, and their respective, contradictory opinions, makes for a fairly interesting show.
Mazino’s take on the friend zone sounded seemingly intelligent, until he started using the word “relegation” to simultaneously enlighten and confuse. He’s still in the mildly annoying habit of leaving a comb stuck in his semi-afro, which he takes out occasionally when delivering or stating an opinion. Andre Blaze, on the other hand, still has that firm, unshakable, mechanical composure that has followed him since hosting on the urban pop culture channel Nigezie. Andre is certainly not a bad presenter. In fact, I think he does a good job at being effectively communicative and laser-focused, but the air around him feels too sterile, and I can almost predict when he’s about to deliver a joke.
Throughout the show, Andre holds the reins with control and authority, which brings me to Ebuka, who is marginally mute and less participative. Ebuka is, perhaps, the Ryan Seacrest (without the allegation of sexual misconduct!) of our entertainment landscape. More of that has to do with his good looks and charm, and treating his fashion in a way that drives cultural mood and conversations. “I have been friendzoned before for three years,” Ebuka reveals in a solemn voice, as if he giving an interview to Oprah in a manner that’s explosively honest and ripe for scandal.
I didn’t think it was possible for a celebrity figure like Ebuka to be friendzoned. But this had happened in his university days and he did nothing about it. As usual, the show offers a cross section of public perspectives on the topic, from Urban FM’s Big Tak to Ajifa Atuluku’s stoically expressed humour. The discussion further expands into how to get out of the friend zone, if sex can be explored within that situation, and if it’s a mini back up plan. There’s the idea that friend-zoning is gender-specific, an affliction only men suffer in the hands of obliviously wicked women. But that isn’t the case. Women have also been caged into that friend zone limbo, more often than what’s commonly believed.
Men’s Corner can still be a show for the times. First, can they get rid of that space-consuming snooker table? It’s been there for seasons and looks like a rock, more of keeping-in-touch-with-our-masculinity aesthetic for the presenters. I don’t want to watch a male-centric talk show in 2018 (they are becoming increasingly popular, aren’t they?) and aspire more to masculinity. It’s no longer cool. But the creators of Men’s Corner might not know this, and that’s why we’ll always be here to remind them.