In the last review, you could read my take on Ava DuVernay’s masterpiece When They See Us. Today, I want to review something that is totally different: a Senegalese show called Maîtresse d’un homme marié. Translated, it means ‘Mistress of a married man’. The first episode aired late January this year on 2sTV and on the MarodiTV YouTube channel. When I came back from Senegal last year, I wanted to continue improving my Wolof. Therefore, I decided to watch this popular Senegalese show called Pod et Marichou. While I was watching that, I came across a trailer for this new series called Maîtresse d’un Homme Marié. I have been watching it ever since it aired and I definitely want to share some more. Leggo.
Maîtresse d’un homme marié
Maîtresse d’un homme marié basically follows the life of five young, beautiful, strong, Senegalese women: Lalla, Marème, Djalika, Dior and Racky. The main story is the love triangle that involves Marième, Cheikh and Lala. Lala and Cheikh are a married couple and they are raising a daughter. However, Marème is Cheikh’s mistress. Then, you have Djalika who is Cheikh’s sister-in-law and Dior who is one of her friends. Last but not least, there’s Racky, who is actually struggling with a traumatic experience from her childhood. All these women have their own story, problems and they deal with them in their own way. However, their stories are narrated from the female perspective and challenge cultural norms and taboos. All thanks to Kalista Sy, the writer of the serie Maîtresse d’un Homme Marié.
Lalla symbolizes the perfect Senegalese wife. She is an entrepreneur, she is a wife to Cheikh and also a mother to Noura. The well-being of her family is always her number one priority. Lalla makes sure that Cheikh is always satisfied and not lacking anything. Moreover, her character shows us what is expected of married Senegalese women. However, will Lalla be able to maintain this image of ‘perfection’?
Unlike Lalla, Marème is challenging the standard of a perfect Senegalese woman. She is a strong woman that knows how to demand what she wants. However, Marème is the mistress of the married Cheikh. Not only does Marème have a strong personality, but her love for Cheikh is also strong. Are these lovebirds going to keep their love a secret, or will Marème become Cheikh’s second wife?
Djalika is the type of woman that thinks that no marriage is easy, and that it is her role to just take everything that Birame puts her through. She struggles to not lose herself completely in this thing called mariage. In addition, Djalika is always moving between her different roles in life: the friend, the mom, the wife, the daughter-in-law and more. Her character challenges the Senegalese cultural concept called “mougne” or “mougnal” which means to endure. Mougnal is the belief that women in marriage actually have to accept everything as part of their role as a wife. That brings us to the question whether Djalika will reach the limit of what she can endure? And if she does, will she be able to finally choose herself over others?
Dior is the complete opposite of her best friend Djalika. She is the epitome of freedom and she insists that she’s able to decide what is best for her. Dior has this urge to build her life, and dares to say what she thinks. However, Dior does NOT like clichés and wants to be able to impose herself without being reminded that she is indeed a woman. Of course Dior knows she is a woman, but that should never be an obstacle in her life. Her love life however, is bound to destroy lives. Is Dior really able to decide what is best for her?
Racky is a young woman that works in construction. She was raised by her mom, but she has a difficult relationship with her. All in all, Racky tries to be a good daughter. Her mother is disappointed by the fact that Racky is more interested by contruction sites and thinks she dresses as a tomboy. However, Racky’s dream is to have her own construction company one day. Her story is focused on how to deal with childhood trauma, going against the grain, but also with family secrets. Will Racky be able to deal with whatever cards she’s been dealt with?
Maîtresse d’un homme marié has stirred up a lot of controversy in Senegal. There are organizations and religious people that are against certain aspects of the show. For example, the scene whereby Cheikh and Marème actually slept together in the bed he shares with Lalla. Morover, the thing that this particular NGO is against is the idea that Cheikh is actually cheating on Lala. Additionally, also the fact that this is a show like no other and the women dare to say what some of the women in Senegalese society may not. All in all, it is VERY controversial.
normalizing common issues
One of the amazing things about Maîtresse d’un homme marié, is the normalization of common issues such as mental health. For example, the women in the show are seeing therapists and dealing with personal issues by seeking professional help. Which is groundbreaking for Senegalese television. Other than that, the show also looks at problems and situations many women face in their marriage. For example, situations in which you deal with your in laws, husbands that don’t respect you, dating a married man etc.. Just typical things women go through in Senegalese society. However, I’m sure the situations are also relatable for other (African) women.
Meeting Kalista Sy
I should say that Maîtresse d’un Homme Marié could not have been what it is today without the amazing and talented Kalista Sy. She started off as a journalist and now she writes for television (self-taught screenwriter)! How inspiring right?! I actually got to meet Miss Kalista Sy herself while in Senegal. I’ll tell you how it happened! A few months ago, I had an interview with Julie Turkewitz, a writer from the New York Times. She was really interested in writing a NY Times article about the serie Maîtresse. She found my recaps on YouTube and that’s how she contacted me. Some time after the interview, I reached out to Kalista introducing myself and my work. Also, I told her that I would actually go to Senegal. Long story short: we met at Marodi!!
I definitely recommend Maîtresse d’un homme marié, because of the unique storylines that are based on modern Senegalese women. The narrative of the series is very authentic and actually really important in these times. Especially if you are an African immigrant living abroad, it can be eye-opening. Also, if you want to learn Wolof, it’s perfect! Other than that, it is really entertaining, and I can’t wait for the second season. Did Maîtresse d’un homme marié spark your interest? Yes?!! Definitely go and check out my video recap below. They are in English, and I try to explain as much as I can about Senegalese culture and I refer to scenes in the episodes.