Blood Sisters is a good step in the right direction and evidence that African stories are unique and indeed worthy of being told.
One of the most compelling things about Netflix's move into Africa's film and TV industry is the opportunity it provides to tell authentic African stories by exploring themes that are relatable to audiences everywhere. Blood Sisters, a four-part Nigerian limited series on Netflix, the very first of its kind, is evidence of that. The action-thriller tells the story of Sarah (Ini Dima-Okojie) and Kemi (Nancy Isime), two best friends on the run after the mysterious disappearance of Sarah’s powerful pharmaceutical CEO fiancé Kola (Deyemi Okanlawon). Between the law, Kola’s wealthy and mystifying family, and some other interested parties, Sarah and Kemi are on the lam, as they descend deeper into the seedy underbelly of Lagos and begin to lose more and more of themselves as they go.
It doesn't take a genius to see that this project is exactly what streaming services are meant for. Almost four hours long, the show is a perfect bite-sized binge proposition, it is fast-paced, does not disappoint, at least for the most part, and appeals to a broad audience.
While Blood Sisters is largely well put-together, filmmakers Kenneth Gyang and Biyi Bandele once again distinguish themselves as some of the best in the business, it is not without its flaws: inconsistent acting and writing, characterizations that don't hold up to much scrutiny, and a story that fails to inspire many aspirations for African storytelling.
The first episode opens with riveting action and we get a sense of something eerie happening when Kemi and Sarah are shown burying a body. Director Biyi Bandele does a good job, setting the groundwork for the story with the first two episodes, which feature families of enormously different socioeconomic statuses and straddle the line between comedy and horror as the audience is moved to sympathize with Kemi and Sarah as their story evolves.
A notable feature of the show was how the characters could draw the audience in and out of their emotions. One minute you are laughing at an unplanned dinner speech, the next you’re uneasy watching brute domestic abuse. Thus, it was evident that Bandele's idea of weaving perspectives and personalities into a tapestry that informed the ensuing mystery of Blood Sisters was executed well.
Even though it is crystal clear that this project does not aim to figure out who killed Kola, as the viewers know who is responsible for the plot's inciting incident from the moment it happened, the mystery lies in what Kemi and Sarah’s fate would ultimately be. The non-stop pacing in this series makes it juicily tense; it’ll keep you glued to your screen, anxious and curious, especially once the expositional stuff has been addressed.
In terms of the acting, it feels like some of the characters in the show overcompensate in a way that makes them appear almost monotonous and inconsistent. Much of it, though, is pretty solid, and without too much in the way of flashbacks or other structural or stylistic flourishes, the whole thing manages to pick up a great deal of momentum heading into the finale. It might not linger in the memory for too long, but it’s an enjoyable, compelling experience while it lasts.
It's also refreshing to see other sides of Lagos adequately utilized in this project. The city blended in as a character while it tells a story of its struggles as well.
The costume design also helped the character with their delivery, charisma, and poise although, at some point, I felt like Kate Henshaw’s Character was overdressed but then I guess, that's exactly what her character needs. Blood Sisters is a good step in the right direction and evidence that African stories are unique and indeed worthy of being told.