Julien Neaves, Caribbean Head Writer
Context: Now let me start off with an apology. One of my two beats on this site is Cariwood (Caribbean film/TV) but I haven’t covered anything outside of Trinidad and Tobago (my home country) in almost a month. But it’s supposed to be Cariwood, not Triniwood. So, apologies to all my regional neighbours, and I am beginning my effort of returning to diverse Caribbean content with today’s article, 2014 Barbadian comedy web series Abiola. It tells the story of 15-year-old Abiola Adams who is transferred to a new school and has to deal with a series of misadventures including a relentless bully, quirky teachers and the threat of gangsters. It was created, written, directed and co-produced by Rommel Hall.
Review: I laughed my tail off with this series. It is just so well done, from the writing to the performances. Adiel Charles does a fantastic job as Abiola, an intelligent, smooth-talking teen whose desire for a quiet life continually gets subverted. She is charming, witty and very likeable. Carla Banfield plays adult Abiola, who narrates her younger self’s adventures from 20 years in the future. Her incisive and often hilarious thoughts are easily the highlight of the series. The cherry on the top is the clever use of subtitle descriptions of her parents, fellow students and teachers.
And Abiola is surrounded by her share of colourful characters, including her mother who speaks in hashtags, school bully Tori and her minions, and her principal, a somewhat trigger-happy ex-soldier. Everyone delivers solid, commendable performances here. Having experienced Caribbean secondary school myself, the setting is very familiar and appreciated. But though set in Barbados the themes and situations are universal. And though the situations are played for laughs there is an overarching message of being good to oneself and others.
There are just five episodes ranging from 11 minutes to 15 minutes, so you can knock them out pretty quickly. And though brief there are many, many chuckles and smiles to be had with this bright young lady.
Score: 8 out of 10
You can check out Abiola for yourself along with other great regional content on Caribbean TV and film streaming site Pavilion+. And you can check out more Barbadian content reviews from RMR below: