An African City is not Sex and the City with Black Girls
The hit show Sex and the City is far from the gold standard for female friendships. A great majority of women cannot actually relate to Carrie Bradshaw. You’ll have to run past me once again how she actually managed to afford her high-end Manhattan lifestyle and shoe obsession from the income generated from a singular column in a singular newspaper. It’s ok, I’ll wait. And while you scrounge out answers, enter the relevancy of this Youtube series An African City!
I was extremely intrigued when I first heard about the show. Finally, a demographic of womanhood I could relate to! Young, bright, African, 20-something year olds, navigating life: dating, relationships, identity, culture, independence and career progression. This show is about five successful women wrestling through what it means to be a progressive 21st century woman in Africa, while carrying Western exposure. This is a necessary and more nuanced addition to how popular culture portrays women, especially African women. It’s a largely lacking story to begin with.
In the midst of my intrigue and anticipation also lay some reservation. I won’t lie, I’m not a huge fan of some of the dialogue. It became grossly disturbing how these women seemed consumed by men and relationship struggles. Dude I know firsthand that it sucks, but why in almost every scene, are men the topic of discussion? Women need be depicted as having much more robust and nuanced discussions. I’m hopeful that as the series gains traction, a whole bevy of talented writers could be brought into the mix. So much potential here! And yo, I write, you know, I dabble in the written word temps en temps!
But the point is: An African City is not the African version of Sex and the City. Apart from the obvious: black women vs white women, Accra vs New York, the depiction of female friendships on whatever sized screen is not automatically modeled after some ubiquitous Sex and the City template. Nana Yaa is not the black Carrie Bradshaw, just as Hannah from the HBO show Girls is not some strange iteration of Carrie’s younger self.
Africa (yes, as a monolithic whole!) is allowed to craft narratives that are unique and particular unto itself without ripping off its Western counterparts. You cannot simply substitute one narrative of female friendship as portrayed in the media for another. It limits your perspective and robs you the joy of seeing women in various elements. And honestly, have you gotten into the fashion on An African City? This is part of the diversity of womanhood. While Carrie dons a bright pink tutu, green pumps, and a sequin crop top, I’d rather get inspired by ankara print pants.
We will always, always need new narratives.