Ripping up the rulebook of reality TV, we welcome the all-inclusive ‘Highlife’ with open arms.
Channel 4 recently launched the ‘Black to Front’ project, in which they committed themselves to increase representation of the Black community. The project launched on Friday,10th of September, and we saw diverse programming featuring Black presenters, actors, writers and experts, entertainers, and program-makers. The aim is not only to entertain the viewers but to create awareness around Black representation and portrayal, catalyzing a long-term change.
The four-part docu-ality ‘Highlife’ came as a part of the project. The show devotes itself to presenting the Black community in an ambitious light, featuring a talented cast of prestigious and driven British West Africans; Irene, Tomi, Chiefer, Cuppy, Bernicia, Toni, Kiddwaya, and Kamille (who is of Jamaican heritage).
The setup of the show is fresh, and a total contrast to the outlandish topics that would usually be covered on British reality TV. Episode one saw conversations surrounding a variety of topics, such as; dating struggles, marriage, and business. Particularly standing out, was a personal on-camera conversation Irene Agbontaen had surrounding fertility. She spoke on finding love when she is ready, and that she feels freezing her eggs allows her to do this in a less pressured and more independent space.
Speaking to Wonderland Magazine, Irene said: “Within my culture, it’s mind-blowing for you to be in your 30’s unmarried and without a child. I didn’t want to continue that narrative, the great thing about being a woman of today is that we have so many options. We don’t have to conform to societal expectations.”
On the show, we saw the moment when Irene shared this decision with her mother. We got an insight into the culture of what Nigerian women were traditionally taught, and that in some circumstances there wasn’t a lot of freedom to not choose motherhood. Irene articulated her point with contemplation, which led to receiving her mother’s blessing, in which she labeled her as a ‘modern woman’.
‘Highlife’ is a celebration of heritage, ambition, and community. This is something that has been missing in the reality TV category, creating a space for the show to entertain and inspire viewers. We look forward to tuning in for the next episode and educating ourselves further on Black representation and topics that truly matter.
Words by Nadia Clasper
Photo Credit: Channel 4