In an industry rife with run-of-the-mill movies, series, and obvious cash-grabs, real quality can be pretty hard to come by, which is why we were particularly stunned when we discovered the new series, My Name Is A-Zed, greenlit by The Naked Convos.
Featuring a promising cast of Bryan Okoye, who stars as the titular character, A-Zed; Gbugbemi Ejeye as Princess, and Ijeoma Grace Agu as Cassy, My Name Is A-Zed has proven to be a compelling watch in its first three episodes, holding our attention with each 15-minute outing.
Here are five things we love about the series so far:
The Dangers of Youth
The opening scenes see the titular character, Azeez, who would be later known as A-Zed, in a state of emotional turmoil as he struggles to fund the fees for his ailing mother’s diabetes treatment. Seeking to solve this problem, he seeks help from a powerful relative who gifts him ‘something better than money so he can become a man’ – a car.
He is stuck in a single maze, expending a lot of effort moonlighting as a cab driver, with a chunk of the money from the job going to his sick mother’s treatment. It’s a cyclical commute between his private hostel room and the streets of Lagos, and being inflicted on him are uncontrollable external forces that would later thrust him into uncharted waters.
The Rat’s Race
In the first episode, we see George, a stocky politician expressing his bemusement after being informed he wouldn’t be selected for a political seat. At the end of the episode, he chooses to not go down without a fight. It was great to see the series focus on the inner workings of the local governments as opposed to the overplayed focus on the tussle for power at the top; the smaller scale was refreshing and gave us a view into the political manoeuvrings present in the political bodies and personnel closest to us. They are engaged in a rat’s race for power, acceleration of status, and of course, more money.
Judging by the progression of the plot point and the simmering tension in the episodes released so far, we expect that it all ends in a chaotic affair with pressures such as greed, obsession with power ultimately turning each character’s ambition into a seemingly bleak, endless pursuit with little reward or purpose.
There are minor grouses with this plot point though – like the stereotypical Nigerian politician accent among others, but these elements more or less add to the charm of the show and do not undercut the tension being built as the party members struggle for power.
Remember…This is Lagos
Welcome to the Lagos nightlife! Actually, no. It would be better to stay put in your houses till the day time, when the monsters shy away from the light and build up their energy for the dark. Familiar features of the Lagos nightlife are the stabbers as revealed in episode 2, the power abusers as seen in episode one, and the lingering dread that the weirdos at night might single you out for some fun, at your expense. Azeez’s dread of the Lagos nightlife is palpable and relatable, and he gives a perfect description of it in episode 3, saying to his uncle, “I heard that Lagos is beautiful, terrible, but definitely beautiful, sir.”
With Great Power,
Comes Great Responsibility A Disproportionate Abuse Of It (in Nigeria)
Power and the human interaction with it is a recurrent theme in this series and it’s always so interesting to watch as we are more or less subject to it in our everyday lives. In the first episode, we see Azeez promptly disturbed by ‘night guards’ as they wrongfully and hastily accuse him of theft and proceed to beat him up. This scene is lined up beautifully with the world’s current pushback against enforcement officers exerting their powers excessively. In another scene, we see the head of a government body weaponise ‘area boys’ to beat up an erring fugitive. A few episodes in and we realise that interacting with people obsessed with power only ends one way.
The beautiful thing about compelling art is that it feels unique and at the same time, it makes you draw unintended parallels to another work of art. Remember Locke? The film starring Tom Hardy, shot entirely in a car, with a runtime of 90 minutes. The film locks you in a car with Hardy’s character as he tries to prepare a construction site for a high-pressure concrete pour on the phone while racing across England to attend the birth of his son by a one-night stand. While this sounds like a daunting watch, it’s incredibly engaging throughout, despite a lack of cheapjack suspense. Like Locke, My Name Is A-Zed pushes you to view cars in a different light – as vehicles of unfolding stories that may or may affect you at a later date.
With the first three episodes of the series progressing the story nicely, we cannot wait to see the next twist in Azeez’s life. The first three episodes of My Name Is A-Zed are currently up on The Naked Convos’ YouTube platform, with new episodes premiering every Thursday at 6 pm.