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18 Best South African TV Shows in 2018 (So Far)!

We are living in somewhat of a Television golden age, and South African TV content has just about everything for everyone to binge on! Here’s our list of the 18 Best local TV shows in 2018

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THE RIVER 

When you launch a Premium channel despite overwhelming opposition from subscribers who feel unimpressed by your current offerings for their coins, you’ve got to go in for the kill. And The River is one hell of a winner for 1Magic.

Best TV shows in South Africa

Photo Credit: IOL

The telenovela premiered in February this year, along with M-Net’s newest (or rebranded) baby. The channel’s flagship hit follows the lives of two families; the Khumalos and the Dlaminis. The Dlaminis are led by the fiercely ruthless Lindiwe (Sindi Dlathu), who’s married to Zweli (Hlomla Dandala), with whom she’s raising a beautiful family.

They lead a beautiful lavish life while the Khumalo’s struggle to make ends meet. The families may exist on different economic continuums, but a past with a diamond that built the Dlamini dynasty’s wealth binds them as much as Beauty, the Khumalo’s adoptive daughter, is in fact Lindiwe’s abandoned biological daughter!

ABOMAMA S1

An all female main cast is everything we keep asking for, but Abomama Bomthandazo is certainly that and so much more! The latest Parental Advisory Production sees them stepping beyond their love/dating show formula to bring forth a refreshing take on themes of sisterhood, survival and morality in South Africa.

Best TV Shows in South Africa 2018

The show follows four women who soon turn their stokvel into a money laundering scheme when they they find themselves plunged int o the dark crime underworld. The ladies soon find themselves having to straddle their old innocent worlds and their new roles as calculating participants in the dark worlds of illicit dealings. In order to survive, they must also play the game and topple old devils in their turf!

LOCKDOWN S3

The worst thing that can happen to a show you love is when it loses the plot, which typically takes somewhere between the second and third season. Fortunately, Lockdown S3 is arguably the show’s most gripping yet.

Best TV Shows in South Africa 2018

Hunger for power and revenge in prison. Image: Supplied

And the appearance of US actress, Tichina Arnolds, merely added to the working mix of perfect ingredients for this prison drama, which chronicles the lives of South African from different walks of life as they navigate the harsh and gritty realities of life in prison.

UNMARRIED S1

A breath of fresh air, this was! First of all, Thembisa Mdoda nails her character as a certain Thembi, unsatisfied with her ‘mediocre’ hubby and struggling with the chankuras as she is raising two kids with him. Then there’s Brenda (Renate Stuurman, what an actress. She cries on cue!), the embodiment of a successful, driven and fierce badass. But as it happens, her love life is a nightmare.

Best TV shows South Africa 2018

Unmarried follows the lives of three friends Brenda, Thembi and Lesego. Photo: Supplied

Slay Queen Lesego starts off being the girl who leading a lavish lifestyle financed by transactional relationships with men, until we step into a dark, traumatic past that informs her decisions now. And until season, boy will we miss Bodyguard Bae!

THE QUEEN  

The Queen has become that show where everything that can possibly happen actually does happen, just not how you thought and, certainly, not to who you thought! This year came with a few high profile deaths, bomb attacks, gun shoot downs and of course, that showdown between arch enemies Harriet and TGOM.

Best TV Shows South Africa 2018

If we could summarise this show, we’d say its a representation of how we are living right now. That’s what makes it work!

MUVHANGO

Long before the current wave of television shows centered on the portrayal of the unexplored traditional themes and realities in various South Africa cultural frameworks, Muvhango was already a refreshing thrill for viewers who sought something different. They did it first, they did it well. And they’ve been doing well enough to inspire a whole era of creative synergy focused on telling stories that take it back to basics.

Departing from popular mainstream narratives, the drama turned soapie started out chronicling the lives, relationships, family conflicts of vhavenda families. In it’s near two decades on air, the show has both sustained its position as the most authentic soapie – thanks to its transformative traditional anchor, explosive storylines and stellar direction – as well move things forward to reflect the life we are living right now.

ISIBAYA  

The critically acclaimed Mzansi Magic telenovela-turned-soapie is a beautiful portrait of South African life at its most exciting to watch. The award winning Mzansi Magic ratings smasher came in, blew up the game and shifted the whole landscape.

Best TV Shows South Africa 2018

Exploring family disputes, royal rifts, taxi violence and many other multi-layered themes central to the South African black experience, the BOMB production continues offering viewers a rare cinematic glimpse into the families behind the R90 billion a year taxi businesse, complete with feuds over taxi routes, royal squabbles, polygamy and more. Although admittedly, some of the soapie’s main storylines have become a bit malarkey, the show holds still as a solid fave. For now.

KHUMBULEKHAYA

This show can be on air for decades. Having already been on air for over ten years, the show is premised on the search of long lost family members and reuniting them with their loved ones.

It doesn’t matter how far apart they are, or how long the ties were cut, Andiswe Gaelesiw will travel to the ends of the world to reconnect loved ones. There’s obviously the fair share of drama because these are real people and real stories.

But the show’s focus has not been to exploit that trauma, but rather to act as a neutral platform for reuniting families, and sometimes a support system for those involved. Khumbul’EKhaya has also led to a surge in similar shows being commissioned

REAL HOUSEWIVES OF JOHANNESBURG 

The show aims to get viewers privy to the lives of Johannesburg’s most pampered housewives, and they’ve done so quite impressively! The NBC Universal franchise has already peaked in the US, and continues being popular with most of the Housewives shows now having been on air for almost and over ten years, depending on premiere dates.

Real Housewives of Johannesburg

The RHOSA production presents a lush picture of the most lavish lifestyles in this part of the world, along with a good dose of shade, enviable wardrobes and, from what we’ve seen so far, sufficient champagne for those dramatic dinners where the girls typically confront each other. The show features monied housewives Brinnette Seopela, Evodia and Mercy Mogale, Christall Kay, Lendy Ter-Mors, and DJ Naked’s wife Naledi Willers. Salute to Sonia Mbele for nailing the format.

PROJECT RUNWAY SOUTH AFRICA

If you’ve been following the American edition of this design competition since the first season, you will relate to how elated I was finding out it was being brought to South Africa! Although that excitement came with a dash of anxiety thanks to how we’ve tortured the design/fashion show format in a few botched attempts (except amongst other gems The Intern, though!), the fact that Khanyi Dlomo and her Ndalo Media had secured the rights to produce the show locally calmed my nerves and restored good chakra.

Best TV Shows South Africa 2018

Presented by Lerato Kganyago, judged by xxx with Gert Johan-Coetzee taking on Tim Gunn’s coach/mentor role for the aspirant designers, the show has been such a delight to watch! The production quality is through the roof and the level of talent in the building is mind blowing. The hallmarks of a fun competition show are all here – with the right hit of adrenaline in the mix because of the workroom pressure the faves must endure and surmount to get closer to those career launching prizes.

BEING BONANG 

The first season of Bonang’s reality television was yum, but barely went past entrée. The SA media Queen addresses this on the very last diary session, which she shares with her cousin Pinky Girl, saying “we were a bit nervous the first time.”

Best TV Shows in South Africa 2018

Photo Credit: Supplied

The second season delved a little bit deeper and we got so much more juice! Partnering with Legend Manqele to bring us the second chronicle of South Arica’s most powerful celebrity, Being Bonang distills her adventures, both professional and personal, in the most exciting and fun way.

There was barely a Sefiso this season and much less AKA, with whom she broke up in between the seasons, but there was more Lorna Maseko, more potent quotables, more PinkyGirl and her adorable personality. There were less photoshoots and more laughs and goofing around with the girls. More family, more glam and more splits… thanks to the acrobati Lorna Maseko, who kept the supply open in that flexibe department. We want a season 3.

LIVING THE DREAM WITH SOMIZI  

There’s absolutely nothing not to love about Somizi. He’s an energetic and infectious in real life as he is on television and elsewhere, by the way.

The much celebrated Media King, who has stood the test of time more than we’ve come to know to be possible in our show business, brings his larger than life personality to everything he does. Living The Dream with Somizi continues down this path and invites viewers to every aspect of Somgaga’s vibrant.

Best TV Shows in South Africa 2018

With his cute AF fiancé in tow this season (the two are said to have signed a multi million rand deal for a wedding special in the next season), things have gotten even realer. Less talked about is how his relationship with Mogale, and how navigates that with the hectic demands of the spotlight, really trails as the single most mainstream representation of queer romance on primetime television right now. We love ourselves Somgaga, who’s as unfettered on the show as he is unrelenting in being as loud about expressing himself as you can get!

IMBEWU: THE SEED

The Best Shows in South Africa 2018

Photo Credit: Supplied

One side of the Bhengu family has been keeping a secret from the other for many years, with treachery and tumult never more than a step away… is how the drama begins its plot line. One side of the Bhengu family has been keeping a secret from the other for many years, with treachery and tumult never more than a step away.

SURVIVOR SA 

It’s not easy nailing a format so popular already. Still one of the highest rated shows ever, with 35 seasons and counting, you are adapting for local audiences a turf that has become a playground for the most dedicated following there is! Yet Survivor SA is really holding its own.

Shot in the stunning Phillippines, the sixth season of Survivor South Africa saw 18 locals try to outplay, outwit and outsmart each other during this once in a lifetime opportunity. Blindsides, conniving, plenty of backstabbing, alliances and of course that breathataking scenery made this one bingeworthy. Oh, a couple of hotties in here and I think most of you know who we are talking about so let’s leave it there.

IDOLS SA

The original version of the show revived this year and still missed the mark. In Madiba land though, Idols SA is still very much alive with possibility!

Best Shows in South Africa

Idols SA judges Somizi, Unathi and Randall, as well as host ProVerb. Photo: Supplied

The singing competition has just about every right ingredient for a fun Sunday watch ahead of the new week. The judges critiques (or just laughs and, or tears) are just as entertaining as the many attempts at belting that open themselves for wide circulation in MEME streets.

It’s not just all laughs though, the show continues unearthing some pretty fine gems, with some pretty breathtaking vocal talent blowing audiences away during the live shows. There may be nothing exactly wow on the show anymore, but the little elements make for some super fun, family friendly viewing.

TAKE ME OUT MZANSI 

The dating game show returned with an elevated texture on VUZU AMP last year, wrapping up the season in February this year.

Best TV Shows in South Africa 2018

Hosted by the hilarious Phat Joe, who’s jubilant butt jiggles whenever someone gets a date are a dead give away that he really is a ‘Prince of Passion’, the revived show was a good for laughs as it was for some romantic, wishful thinking! Unlike other dating shows (there seems to be one of every channel, for every hour, now.), Take Me Out Mzansi was fun, cheerful and funny without having to humiliate anyone for it. Just saying.

UTHANDO NESTHEMBU S2

Two years ago, a reality show chronicling the worlds of spouses in a polygamous marriage blew up and became the highest rated show on Mzansi Magic! It also became the most talked about, trending at #1 for every episode.

Best TV Shows in South Africa

In 2018, the show kept its cool and gave us just the right in bites in every single that makes you want to grab popcorn. The show is about businessman Musa Mseleku and his four wives, namely MaCele, MaNgwabe, MaKhumalo and Mayeni (application for 5th which was shut down by the ladies this year). We get to see the dynamics of the marriages, the sisterhood of the wives and the reality of everything most aren’t expose to.

OUR PERFECT WEDDING 

Some people are tired of the wedding reality show, but there’s no turning away. A firm Sunday fave, Our Perfect Wedding distills the exciting journey into marriage, as each episode features a couple as they prepare for their traditional nuptial and white wedding ceremonies.

Along with the drama and hysteria that comes with this high pressure arrangement is plenty to chuckle about. A lot has happened on OPW; iconic moments involving everything from unforgettably ‘overwhelming’ kisses to dramatic cake topples, but the show still centres on love. We will be watching still, for a little while longer…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Drama Series

Filming for ‘Reyka’, an M-Net & Fremantle Crime Drama, has Begun

The series is set to premiere in mid-2021.

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Thando Thabethe set to star on 'Reyka'. Photo: M-Net

Production has now commenced on M-Net and Fremantle’s eight-part contemporary crime drama Reyka.

The series, which stars amongst others South African-born actress Kim Engelbrecht (Isidingo, Dominion and The Flash) and Game of Thrones actor Iain Glen, is scheduled to premiere sometime in July 2021.

Kim Engelbrecht from M-Net’s Reyka.

Reyka tells the story of a flawed but brilliant criminal profiler, Reyka Gama (portrayed by Enge Engelbrecht). She’s haunted by her past while drilling down to the bottom of a string of brutal murders committed by a serial killer in the sugar fields of Kwa Zulu Natal.

Having been abducted as a child by a farmer named Speelman (Iain Glen), Reyka is traumatised by the experience but this also helps her enter the minds of Africa’s most notorious criminals and turn them inside out.

Iain Glen from M-Net’s Reyka. Photo: M-Net

Manipulative and charming, his hold on Reyka, 20 years later, forms part of the backbone of the story, as does Reyka’s relationship with her mother Elsa, played by Anna-Mart van der Merwe (Binnelanders, Kanarie and Poppie Nongena).

Reyka exposes the secrets and lies, truth and trust, damage, healing and forgiveness. With a dramatic backdrop of sugar cane fields, tropical beaches, stifling heat, dangerous wildlife, a criminal underworld, and shadowy politics – each place is connected by sugar but divided in so many other ways.

ALSO READ: ‘DURBAN GEN’ REACHES 2 MILLION VIEWERS!

The series also marks the second time M-Net commissions a high-quality production that goes beyond local borders. Trackers, which premiered on the channel in 2019 before being windowed down to Showmax, was co-produced with HBO’s sister channel Cinemax and ZDF.

Left to Right; Kim Engelbrecht and Iain Glen from M-Net’s Reyka. Photo: M-Net

Nkateko Mabaso, CEO of M-Net, said the collaboration with the UK’s Fremantle marks an opportunity for Africa to tell stories to the world. “This partnership with Fremantle is a brilliant way to showcase our prowess as DStv is Africa’s most-loved storyteller, and we particularly relish pairing our local talent with international stars”, he said.

Kim Englebrecht, Iain Glen and Anna-Mart van der Merwe are joined by a cast of some of South Africa’s best actors, including Hamilton Dhlamini, Kenneth Nkosi, Nokuthula Ledwaba, Desmond Dube, Gerald Stein, Ian Roberts, Fiona Ramsey, David Butler, and Jessica Hayes.  The series is directed by Zee Ntuli (Hard to Get) and Catharine Cooke (The Girl from St Agnes).

RELATED: HOW ‘GOMORA’ RECOVERED FROM SLUMP OF BORING STORYLINES

Julie Hodge, Editorial Director, Global Drama, Fremantle said “As production commences on our first ever South African drama, this is a proud moment for Fremantle and M-Net. The series has been in development for many years, and we hope it will be the first of many successful projects in the region. Reyka is a rich and compelling story and we couldn’t be happier to have Kim and Iain onboard to bring these complex characters to life – we are confident it will be one of our standout international dramas for 2021”.

The series is created and written by award-winning screenwriter Rohan Dickson (Husk and Welcome to Hawaii). Dickson has worked with South Africa’s major broadcasters and has been showrunner on highly successful dramas, including ScandalZone 14Jacob’s Cross, and High Rollers.  He was also the executive producer & showrunner of Isidingo, a long-running multi-award-winning drama series with a huge fan base across the whole of Africa.

Reyka is jointly produced by Serena Cullen for Serena Cullen Productions in the UK (Lady Chatterley’s LoverCold Feet) and Harriet Gavshon for Emmy nominated Quizzical Pictures in South Africa. Executive Producers are Serena Cullen, Harriet Gavshon and Rohan Dickson. Yolisa Phahle, Nkateko Mabaso, Allan Sperling, Jan du Plessis will executive produce for M-Net, and Julie Hodge for Fremantle. Reyka will be distributed globally by Fremantle.

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Drama Series

‘Durban Gen’ Reaches 2 Million in Ratings

The show is proving to be a ratings success.

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Now that e.TV has announced the ending of ‘Rhythm City’ after a decade on air, they are setting their eyes on the future. And they’ve got something to work with, now that their recently commissioned ‘Durban Gen’, has reached 2 million viewers.

The Stained Glass produced medical drama, which premiered on Monday, 5 October, has continued to cultivate a gradual climb in ratings since its landing.

Durban Gen e.tv Interns_From left to right, real names - Fanele Luthuli, Nelisiwe Sibiya, Lerato Nxumalo and Fanele Zulu

Durban Gen e.tv Interns_From left to right, real names – Fanele Luthuli, Nelisiwe Sibiya, Lerato Nxumalo and Fanele Zulu

The story of Durban Gen is set in the heart of Newlands East, a township in Durban, where the most prominent and recognizable academic public hospital Durban General is found. We follow the life of the main protagonist Mbali Mthethwa, a newly qualified doctor who moves to the big city, away from her fiancé and the small town they grew up in, to serve her final year of community service at Durban General Hospital.

ALSO READ: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ‘DURBAN GEN’ 

“Our increase in viewership speaks to a powerful combination of credible narrations, exceptional talent, and continuous marketing efforts,” says Helga Palmer, Head of Local Productions, e.tv.

“We are proud of the viewership that Durban Gen has garnered to date. Congratulations to our partners Stained Glass TV and all our favourite Durban Gen stars for the outstanding work and effort put towards delivering a show that continues to make a significant contribution to KZN and the South African entertainment industry as a whole. A heartfelt thank you and our deepest appreciation to all e.tv viewers who have made this milestone possible,” concludes Palmer.

Durban Gen airs on eTV, Monday to Friday at 18:30.

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Soapies & Telenovelas

‘Gomora’ Recovers from Slump of Boring Storylines

It’s the detective and Miss Manzi for me.

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Gomora Mahlasela
Photo: DStv

Gomora premiered with a bang at the beginning of the year. We’ve been hooked since that fateful first night that saw the murder of Mbongeni after a botched hijacking that involved Ntokozo, the son of an upright High School Principal and an endearing social worker.

And thanks to the brilliant cast, impeccable writing, and a range of multi-layered plot points, the telenovela would go on to dethrone The Queen as the highest-rated show on the channel back in May (A record 2,5 million viewers in a single episode), marking quite the splash of an entrance for the Seriti production.

Gomora Teddy

New episodes of ‘Gomora’ deliver a thrill we’d missed for a while on the show. Photo: DStv

But by the time they reached their first 100 episodes two months ago, Gomora had clearly begun tumbling down from its initial peak. What started out as a fast-paced unravelling of a complex script that kept us on our toes, suddenly plunged into a yawnfest of long-winded story arcs that led to dead ends.

For a while, I wondered if M-Net had asked for the amount of violence and the heavy narratives to be cooled because of the early evening time-slot during the weekdays at 19:30.

It certainly seemed plausible because the speed chases on the high way with riveting drone shots, the back to back the revelation of jaw-dropping secrets, as well as the novelty of the comedic timing that makes such characters as Zodwa and Teddy so endearing, slowly vanished.

Now we are watching a drawn-out portrayal of the school debate, a storyline that felt more like a filler that really could have been left on the cutting floor. The pyramid scheme storyline also ended quite abruptly, with no recourse and a way out for the characters who fell victims to the deception of a con artist.

What really didn’t make sense, however, is how the show seemed to have abandoned its major plots in favour of watered-down detours. You have Langa being Melusi’s son, a secret that will likely toss the entire Dlamini family into the doldrums. Ntokozo, Sonto and MaZet’s involvement in the murder of Mbongeni. Would that not burn down the block?

There’s also the truth behind Glady’s and her obsessive saviour complex. While lionised for her compassion, its been clear for a while that there’s more behind her need to save someone. We soon found out that she had terminated a pregnancy previously, and Melusi to this day, does not know.

For a while, they left all those questions unanswered.

THE ‘GOMORA’ COMEBACK

We are glad to have stuck around long enough to see the tightening in recent scenes of the show. The latest episodes are starting to revive that feeling we first got watching Gomora, staying on edge and never knowing what to expect next.

With detective Mahlasela in the frame, the skeletons are being dragged back to the surface, and its happening fast! That man is on to them, and it looks like he won’t be letting it as easily as the previous detective Kolisi, who was outplayed and outsmarted by Sonto without much of a sweat.

Mahlasela is on to them!

Despite Sonto and MaZet playing a crafty card, enabling them to avoid jail time, Mahlasela has not stopped digging into the truth about Mbongeni’s death. With all the evidence he has leading to Sonto, he’s even started connecting Ntokozo to the murder, and intends weaponising that as a possible angle to bolster the case further.

There’s Teddy and his teacher Ncebakazi Manzi. They are having somewhat of an affair, although it looks to be more complicated than that. While at 19 he is no minor, at least not legally, he’s in her classroom and she is totally taking advantage. I don’t know how far they are willing to explore their dynamic, but she’s really problematic.

It’s how she’s going to get caught that keeps us on edge here. The change in Teddy’s behaviour has everyone concerned, so she will likely be getting her unethical cover blown soon enough. But, who will catch her? Will Zodwa allow him to continue living under the Dlamini roof, when they couldn’t protect her son from a predator who is their guest?

Overall, we are glad to see the show slowly picking up the tempo and getting back to its roots. We are certainly keeping an eye on how everything is unraveling on Gomora, airing Mondays to Friday at 19:30 on channel 161.

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