It is quite shocking a lot of people don’t know about the fairly new YouTube series, The Sojjis.
It is a shame, as it is quite a good show. What starts out presumably as an elaborately dramatised ad for an asset management company, veers unsuspectingly into a multilayered family drama, complete with complicated characters.
These characters are brilliantly embodied by fantastic actors like Ireti Doyle, Keppy Ekpeyong Bassey, Lota Chukwu, Tobi Bakre, Segun Williams and the show’s creator and director Jimmy Odukoya.
The series opens with Felix Sojji (Keppy Ekpeyong Bassey) as he celebrates a blissful retirement. One made more blissful with the help of his asset managers: FSDH, (who are the major sponsors of the series, apparently). The series pans out to spotlight the lives of every other member of the family, from the strong-willed yet loving matriarch Sophie Sojji (Ireti Doyle) to the ambitious Dennis Sojji (Tobi Bakre) and Helen Sojji (Lota Chukwu) from whom the series’ conflict largely revolves around.
Now in its eighth episode, the series primarily serves viewers a refreshing spin around Nigerian family dramas, many of which are known to lean towards hilarity, sometimes substantial, and other times bottomless. While this would hold true as the funniest situations can be found in the intricacies of familial ties, for all the comicality we have come to identify with many Nigerian family sitcoms, there aren’t that many others that feature these comical elements while highlighting and probing conversations about family structures, the weight that marriage carries for women, privilege, abuse and a range of issues pertinent to our age and time.
The series, through the eyes of Helen, who has just left an abusive marriage (which wasn’t physical but was rightfully validated), interrogates the vicious restrictions women are still placed in and how their worth is tied in directly to their successful partnership with men. And from Sophie’s perspective, we are reminded of the enduring institution of shame, facilitated by the stifling expectations placed on women by society.
Something also exciting about the series, is the positive portrayal of the female characters as properly fleshed out people, who are as imperfectly human as their male counterparts are allowed to be without any underlying punishment. It is indisputable the heavy authority media carries in the kind of sentiment it decides to push to viewers, and how these sentiments toxic or otherwise, reinforce existing sentiments or create new ones.
It would be revolutionary to have more progressive shows like this on widely accessible platforms, shows that without risking their enjoyability respond to conversations that need to be had, and to have those conversations from an objective angle.