Amazon's 'The Widow': Will Kate Beckinsale's drama be just another stereotypical portrayal of Africa?

The stereotyped representation of Africa isn't anything new when it comes to TV and big screens, but we hope 'The Widow' will be different despite the teaser suggesting otherwise


                            Amazon's 'The Widow': Will Kate Beckinsale's drama be just another stereotypical portrayal of Africa?

The released trailer of Kate Beckinsale's upcoming TV series, 'The Widow' gave away a lot of the plotlines, but that isn't the worry when it comes to watching the highly anticipated Amazon Prime Original's yet another star-studded show, coming after Julia Robert's 'Homecoming'.

The premise of the story revolves around the widow, named Georgia Wells, played by Beckinsale, who embarks on a journey to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, three years after her husband, Will Mason (Matthew Le Nevez), allegedly died in a plane crash. After spotting him on TV, she goes on a hunt, literally, carrying guns and ready to channel her inner Selene (Underworld).

The crucial question that pops up after going through the two-minute action-packed trailer is the representation of Africa yet again in another television show. The filming for the eight-episode series took place in Wales, Rotterdam, and South Africa and though we see varied landscapes from a serene pier to dense Congolese jungle, the contrast is marked in the show's representation of the UK when compared to that of Africa.

Georgia lives the life of a widow in Rotterdam and everything is pretty much mundane and lonely, but when she lands in Africa, there's chaos and random bomb blasts and terrorist attacks, and her life is in jeopardy. Africa looks like a troubled place, again.

The stereotyped representation of Africa isn't anything new when it comes to television and big screens. From blockbusters such as 'Blood Diamond,' to much-loved series such as 'Wild at Heart,' the plight of all African countries are portrayed as war-torn territories with seething poverty, pitiable sights, and helpless victims, who often rely on the mercy of noble outsiders.

As rightly said by Binyavanga Wainaina in a satirical essay 'How to Write about Africa', "Africa is an object, rather than a subject. We are suffering objects or empowering objects or sustainable objects or some kind of objects, but we are objects. We don't have anything to say for ourselves." 



 

 

Author Chimamanda Adichie called this the danger of the "single story" of Africa: a story of catastrophe in which there was "no possibility of feelings more complex than pity; no possibility of a connection as human equals." In a documentary titled Africa in Western Media, a college student from Virginia says; "They portray Africa as a place where there are starving children, and they always will need help."

Kate Beckinsale in 'The Widow' (poster released by Amazon Prime)
Kate Beckinsale in 'The Widow' (poster released by Amazon Prime)

 

Now if you add all this, the trailer of 'The Widow' has pretty much featured a chaotic side of Africa, after all the premise itself is a bomb blast, and we see lots of guns.

But the antagonist that Georgia Wells is hunting down isn't African, and we are not sure what role he will play, but it may very well be a power-driven role. The star-studded show set in the backdrop of the terrorist threat in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, unfortunately, hasn't tried anything new, which is what makes it is so predictable.

It's not the plot or why and how Will goes missing, but rather the fact that since it happened in DRC that the scale of drama is heightened. There will certainly be African characters who will do something "corrupt" and against "morals", for the sake of a good life, and it's not us stating this.

Kate Beckinsale attends the Giorgio Armani Beauty at Best Performances held at Chateau Marmont on January 04, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images)
Kate Beckinsale attends the Giorgio Armani Beauty at Best Performances held at Chateau Marmont on January 04, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images)

A research titled 'The Perceived Realism of African American Portrayals on Television', states after a survey that "Blacks in the media tended to be portrayed as menacing, untidy, rebellious, disrespectful, buffoonish, sexual, immoral, hopeless, untrained, uneducated, and noisy," concluding that "most roles Blacks portrayed were negative and stereotypical."

'The Widow' is slated to premiere on March 1, and we hope the show will be much more than what was teased on in the trailer. Seeing another series based on Africa where a white person goes to rescue and do something heroic while the citizens are just, you know, almost savage, is definitely gag-worthy material. Hope this show will make a difference and render this article invalid.

Disclaimer : The views expressed in this article belong to the writer and are not necessarily shared by MEAWW.