In a year that can best be described as eventful for the still-growing union between Netflix and Nigerian creatives, Far From Home comes to wrap things up in an exciting, juvenile style. If Chief Daddy 2: Going For Broke remains infamous for bringing dirt upon a new year with its January 1 debut, Far From Home, which tells the story of Ishaya Bello, an aspiring artist who lands himself in grave danger while pursuing his dream, can be said to be the streaming service’s attempt to wipe that stain out of our collective memories. The big question here is, were they successful?
Ishaya Bello (Mike Afolarin) is a hustler and can best be described as a fish out of water. He hustles his way into the prestigious Wilmer Academy in the hopes of winning the advertised ₦6 million scholarship grant to aid his plan to travel overseas for an art fellowship; he hustles his way around earning Ijoba (Bucci Franklin) and Rambo’s (Bolanle Ninalowo) sympathies when he assures the latter he can help make him more money at his new, boujee school. He’s got a mouth and he uses it, and this relentless drive to constantly make lemonades out of the lemons life has given him is one layer that makes the character very relatable and interesting to watch. But where Ishaya easily shines as a multifaceted, flawed person, not all the other characters get the same treatment from the screenwriters; in fact, some characters with interesting potential like the ever-brooding yet somewhat sensitive Denrele (Raymond Umenze) stay mostly unwrapped beyond the surface interpretation they’re given, while others like Olumide Owuro’s Atlas who get explored lack the much-needed depth to make them better. Hold your pitchforks for a second… I haven’t said this lapse makes the series a bad one. On the contrary, one marveling thing about Far From Home is that even with the lack of many complex characters, the show still comes across as interesting to watch and talk about.
Teen dramas have always been popular in the entertainment industry and it’s exciting to see Netflix replicate its success with the genre in a show that is tailored to the Nigerian audience’s taste yet exquisite enough for international audiences to binge along, too. Far From Home has a relatable story about a young man who’s willing to do anything to achieve his dreams of becoming a successful artiste, is rich in cinematography, and bears some standout performance in a sea of decent acting (special shoutout to Gbubemi Ejeye and Moshood Fattah for their impressive performance as Adufe and Michael, respectively). Truly, it has all the makings of an international success, one I’m sure its makers hope is enough to thrust it into conversations where the likes of Blood & Water, Elite, and Gossip Girl are mentioned.
To answer the initial question posited in the first paragraph, I think the answer is yes, Far From Home really is enjoyable and is a good way for Netflix to wrap up another year in Nollywood. The series tells the story of the haves and the haves not, and, like some of the better shows to tackle this subject matter, it feels believable within the scope its universe defines. The general public seems to agree as well as the show has been enjoying a lot of goodwill, far more than many other 2022 Netflix Originals did, since it debuted on the streaming service. It remains to be seen how far this goodwill takes it into the future; we’ll just wait and see how that plays out. Addendum: Far From Home really excels in its use of music. For a show that has a lot of things going well for it, so far, its application of songs easily takes the icing on the cake for how fitting they are for the scenes they’re used in, like a round peg in a round hole. A special shout-out to my friend Keren-Happuch whose song, Amarom, got featured in the episode 5 scene where Atlas went begging for Carmen’s forgiveness.
Curtains draw: Far From Home is being promoted as Netflix Naija’s first YA/ teen drama series (rightly so) and is the perfect way to close out a year that’s seen mostly mixed reactions from the audience for the streamer’s local content. It’s not perfect (truly, no show ever is), but it is very enjoyable; the characters feel relatable, even the super-rich kids, which makes for good TV.
My Rating: 3/5