‘The Real Housewives of Nairobi’ promises glamour and drama

The Real Housewives of Lagos

The cast of ‘The Real Housewives of Lagos’. Kenya is set to get its own show in the franchise with the premiere set for next April. 

Photo credit: Pool

Nairobi is the latest city to get its own version of the American blockbuster reality television series The Real Housewives.

The juicy and captivating reality show with complex plots, focuses on the personal and professional lives of a group of affluent women residing in a particular city.

After a failed attempt in 2019 to produce the glamorous show by the Director in Heels Production owned by Claire Ash Meadow, the mandate has now fallen on the hands of youthful TV producer Eugene Mbugua.

Signed a contract

The Nation understands that Mr Mbugua, 31, has signed a contract with MultiChoice Africa to produce The Real Housewives of Nairobi (RHON), which is set to premiere in April 2023 on Showmax.

 “I can’t disclose any information at this point,” Mr Mbugua, who owns Young Rich TV Production, told the Nation.

He was part of African producers who converged in Cape Town in July when NBC Universal held The Real Housewives of Africa Summit.

NBC Universal, the franchise owner, signed a partnership with MultiChoice to produce more African versions, starting with Nairobi and Pretoria.

“We can confirm that MultiChoice will be producing Real Housewives of Nairobi. More details will be shared as soon as they become available,” Mr Philip Wahome, MultiChoice Kenya’s corporate affairs manager, said.

The Nation has established that filming will begin next month.

“The main agenda at the moment is getting the ‘housewives’ and negotiations are going on smoothly. Once we have the cast the shooting will commence immediately,” a source said.

“If you look at all the other instalments, the minimum number of housewives is six, which is the number we are working with, but the list could change. They could be fewer because what we aim to achieve is not the number of the cast but the quality of production. That is really important and its our major focus.”

 Kenyans on social media have suggested names of notable celebrities they think would spice up the show, but due to the high standards required for the production, a majority don’t meet the threshold.

Life of opulence

“I know Kenyans would love to see their favourite celebrities on board but it’s highly likely that there will be no celebrities. The show is demanding; it requires characters who not only demonstrate a life of opulence but live it,” said the source.

Some Kenyans are, however, pessimistic about the show.

“No please. This will be an epic embarrassment full of fake accents, bad make-up and hideous wigs. Cancel it,” wrote Zee Zawadi on social media.

“The Nairobi version might embarrass us as a nation,” posted Eunice Vetu.

 A source close to the producers has, however, promised a world-class show.

“We’ve been camping online, gathering the reactions and I tell you this show will be excellent. Is it that Kenyans are used to basic social media standards when it comes to our celebrities that we are blindfolded from real opulence that we think we don’t have the potential?” he quipped.

 “There are posh Nairobi women, probably not online, but are filthy rich and living the best of their lives as they go about their careers. We will be revealing a few,” he added.

Luxury blogger

 The online reactions could be pegged on the 2019 pilot released by Director In Heels Production. The four minute trailer gave a quick dive into the Nairobi affluent scene, shots of familiar highways and a glimpse of the would-be ‘housewives’ in their presumed auditions.

Featuring luxury blogger Sonal Maherali, musician-cum-actress and former Miss World Kenya Juliet Ochieng’ as well as Image Consultant Catherine Kariuki alias Fashionable Stepmum, the three carried themselves with the same air of elegant pride and aloof success that the ones in the Real Housewives of Atlanta or the rest instalments do.

 Maherali gave a glimpse of her high-end home and part of her designer collections while Fashionable Stepmum giddily debated in her monologue about how high maintenance she is.

Once the video aired, causing excitement among Kenyans, producer Ash Meadow said the clip was for experimental purposes, to gauge the audience reception of the Kenyan franchise. That was the last conversation on RHON until last week.

 There are 20 international instalments, 11 of which are American, and 23 spin-offs of The Real Housewives. Vanderpump Rules remains the most successful spin-off.

The Africa instalments are set in Lagos, Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg and air across MultiChoice platforms.

The Real Housewives of Cape Town made its debut on Mzansi Magic last month and went on to rank among the top five reality premieres on the channel since 2021. The Real Housewives of Durban also broke viewership records on Showmax.

The Real Housewives was first announced in May 2005, having been inspired by scripted popular soap operas of yesteryear and Desperate Housewives, which documented the lives of upper class women, who lead glamorous lives in a gated community in California.

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