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5 SA TV Shows You Should Be Watching Right Now!

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It’s great seeing South African television embracing more nuanced, complex and richer reflections of reality in their approach to storytelling. Someone had to step away from the witchcraft storyline, the rival families who own funeral businesses with dark family secrets, or the Zulu girl who comes to Joburg and loses herself. Here are 5 shows you might really, really want to check out!

GRASSROOTS

5 South African TV Shows to watch 2019

Photo Credit: 1Magic via Instagram

The Showmax original chronicles a gripping tale of two young men who navigate their journey to manhood through traditional rites and the social systems that define codes of masculinity.

Asanda (Lihleli Ntini) and Monwabisi (Oros Mampofu) are burdened by the hooks of patriarchy and old family rifts in this brand new series, currently airing its first season on 1Magic, DStv channel 103.

The 13-part drama series also offers a multi layered reading into the very politicised systems in which deeply rooted systemic racism – and the patriarchy embodied and enacted by the characters – finds a brilliantly written platform.

One episode in, and the legitimacy of Ms Busika’s capabilities comes under fire during a job interview, in which the panel is predominantly white and male, two privileged positions of power that blind them from seeing her relevance at the all boys school.

Despite the toxic resistance, she wants to join this predominantly white school, in which patriarchal hegemony is at its fiercest. She’s also upfront about her intentions to transform the culture in the school, a mission which falls on reluctant ears.

The blowback from the panel is, of course, quite chilling.

The show follows the lives of two boys, Asanda and Monwabisi, whose heated rivalry is rooted in an old strife between their families.

The rivalry, which impact different areas of their lives, including their game on the rugby field, their approach to academics and even dating, threatens to send a gun blazing.

The feud is unlikely to go away anytime soon; there’s a murder conspiracy at the root of the war between the families that almost rules out any possibility of a reconciliation.

What we saw during the season one episode of the show, instead, was a troubling glimpse of a gun going off in Monwabisi ‘s hands, who seems pretty adamant to blow Asanda’s brains on the spot.

WHAT WE LOVE 

There’s only one episode out, but there’s no lack of evidence that the writing on the show is good.

The most explosive moments have been delivered with a sense of subtlety that allows the audience to engage with key moments very personally. When Ms Busika faces a panel consisting of mostly white men, many people will know the unspoken tensions instantly.

The cast is refreshingly good. We love the blend of veteran thespians, such as Connie Chiume and Zikhona Sodlaka with younger talent like Oros Mampofu and Lihleli Ntini.

THE REPUBLIC

For long, the common critique has targeted the reluctance by South African broadcasters to depart from old tropes of the black experience and give us something new and elevated. You watch How To Get Away With Murder, or Scandal, or The Chi, even Atlanta, and get a sense that Hollywood is moving beyond stale and problematic portrayals of blackness.

It’s not that Hollywood is without its problems when it comes to their relationship with blackness; we know nothing could be further from the truth. It’s that we are seeing a growing commitment to transform storytelling and commissioning over there.

The Republic shuns the limited spectrum of local television to take on the broader political ecosystem that is such a colourful topic for everyday conversations in South Africa. The world through the lenses of a female president is perfectly utopian, yet very current in its treatment of women as more.

The shots from the Union Buildings are appreciated; it gets us out of the same shebeen we kept seeing on the channels.

The drama follows the political worlds of President Lufuno (Florence Masebe), who is kidnapped as part of a filthy ploy to extort hefty funds from the government.

Award winning actor, Warren Masemola, plays a certain Thabang Manaka, a fallen hero trying to make amends for his past mistakes. The show also stars critically acclaimed actress, Masasa Mbangeni, who nails the role of a Bridget Ranaka, who leads the President’s PR team.

The main storyline attempts to mirror contemporary politics and the drama therein. In 2009 when president Kgalema Motlanthe’s term in office ended, he was replaced by President Hendrik Mbuli whose presidency was riddled with corruption and looting of state funds.

Mbuli is fired from government making way for the party’s secretary Lufuno to take the reins as president. We meet President Mulaudzi who has spent two years fighting corruption and prosecuting those who benefitted from Mbuli’s presidency – including Mbuli himself.

WHAT WE LOVE ABOUT THE REPUBLIC 

The drone shots are pure luxury, especially when they scale the Union Buildings. It creates a unique atmosphere and feeling that gives off a hint of that ‘current affairs’ texture.

I love that the show is daring, tackling issues that affect every South African on a larger scale, and finds a way to translate them into an entertaining drama that does not exist on the periphery of the conversations being had in every South African household.

We didn’t know Florence Masebe as President is everything we’ve prayed for. Also, Florence Masebe should run for President in real life.

LIVING THE DREAM WITH SOMIZI

5 South African TV Shows to watch 2019

Personally, I find Living The Dream with Somizi to be understated in its transformative role in dismantling the hooks of heteronormativity that keep the lives and realities of the LGBTQI+ community ‘othered’ and unknown.

The show is loved mainly because Somizi is so damn entertaining, for one.  But this time, there are deeper moments for the culture.

On its fourth season on Mzansi Magic, DStv channel 161, the reality show combines the usual glossy texture with some less than smooth realities that confront Somizi in his journey to marriage.

The media icon and his fiancé, Mohale Motaung, are clearly in love. It shows every time they are on screen and it’s a refreshing sight, one which gives new tools for understanding the unique situations facing a gay couple as they journey to marriage.

What’s really important about this season for me, is the fact that you get to see how marriage really does involve the marrying of the two families, which presents unique challenges where gay couples are involved.

The usual panics and stresses that attend to the organising of weddings look really good on Somizi, who loves everything being over the top. In sharing his life, Somgaga really is unsettling older frameworks of knowing queer relationships.

WHAT WE LOVE

This season features on this list because Somizi embodies the true essence of authenticity. He gets to be entertaining and loved by everyone for his larger than life personality, but he also allows himself to be vulnerable. It’s really such an interesting show to watch right now.

BEING BONANG 

5 South African TV Shows to watch 2019

There’s literally nothing not to love about Bonang, who has worked her way to arguably being the country’s most talked about media personality.

As greedy as we can be, she gives us absolutely everything! The chic fashion and glam, the quotables that have come to capture the culture and the T-shirt section of an online store, the theatrics, the globetrotting and lots of champagne, darling!

She’s such a delight to watch and there aren’t many who can dispute that.

Though to be quite honest, I struggled to get into the show when it first started in 2017.

Bonang, in my imagination, had been very elusive. She had that rare enigma that the world’s biggest stars are able to possess while sustaining a crazy amount of interest in their lives. She’d mastered the art of keeping a low profile while capturing headlines, often in absentia. So when I found out she had a reality show coming out, I didn’t know what to think.

The first season came. It was okay. Fun.

We got a glimpse into her world, and what kinds of environments bring about the thriving of the most successful figures in SA pop culture. We got the work ethic that knew no bounds, we got an almost-there document of her then relationship with AKA and the hilarious chronicles of her friendships with Lorna and fave cousin, Pinky Girl.

It’s during season two that I really started to get the whole vibe.This is a fun reality show that follows Bonang Matheba being Bonang Matheba. Nothing more, nothing less.

It’s what you order for a Friday night session with the day ones. There’s a lot to laugh about, enough to celebrate and enough to yank your mind off things. “This season is about money”. she promises.

Where there’s drama, it’s because she’s not finding the perfect dress for the next party she wants to throw.

Where there’s panic it’s because a gown has not been delivered minutes before she takes to stage at a conference attended by noted dignitaries

So when season three finally premiered on 1Magic recently, I’d already been converted into a superfan of the show. This time though, the entrepreneur shows us new levels of her journey as the CEO of her MCC brand, The House of BNG.

She’s managed to parlay the power of her own brand to help the take off of her successful bubbly. Viewers of the show will know that her love for champagne gave birth to many a viral sayings.

WHAT WE LOVE

It’s inspiring. If I had a daughter, I would want her to watch (with me, because I’d have to say something about not drinking champagne and driving etc). Watching Bonang’s growth has been a truly uplifting and rewarding experience. She’s in charge of how she’s presented, and it’s because that image later translates to emerging empires. She makes it make sense, and we are here for all of it.

SURVIVOR SA: ISLAND OF SECRETS

It took me a while to try out the local franchise of this iconic show, simply because I love the main version so much that I couldn’t bear the sight of watching a sad slump. However, after much hype on social media, I finally gave it a go.

… Never regretted it! The 7th season of Survivor SA is literally one of the best things I’ve seen in competitive South African reality television.

The quality, the casting (which could obviously do with some more diversity), and all the machinations that make this show so damn addictive are all in there.

If you like the original Survivor, the local version will certainly interest you. The psychological schemes the contestants deploy to advance their game are just as cold and as cutting. Tribal council is just as interesting (sometimes bizarre, obvs), Nico holds his own as the host and the show, all round is quite exhilarating to watch.

WHAT WE LOVE

We love everything about it that you’d like about Survivor. The occasional blindsides, survival in the tropical locations, the backstabbing and the works. It’s just really good television.

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Squid Game Ending Explained; We’ve Been Scammed

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We’ve been had, and Squid Game is here to prove it.

When the end of the South Korean horror drama arrives on the ninth episode, the winner finds himself harrowed by what the coveted prize has cost his soul. In the rat race for survival, along with a better life that hinges on the never ending hustle, there’s no time to stop and see the horror our lives become. By the end, we see how the winner has sold his soul for a crappy deal that came with a few toys, and a happy meal.

A group of 456 players are mysteriously invited to take part in a set of children’s games for a grand prize of $38 million, which will be enough to give the winner the financial freedom they desperately need. The players are selected from different walks of life, with the burden of excessive debt being their biggest motivation to give the Game a go.

The first of deepening terrors comes during the first game, when the players discover that penalties for losing in the challenges will be death. DEATH. Horrified, the players initially vote to leave and return to their lives.

This noble departure doesn’t last long; their material realities as fugitives on the run from debt collectors only highlights the glow of the precious promise they’ve now left behind. When they return for the second time, they now consent to their highly probable deaths.

Led by Lee Jung-jae, who plays Seong Gi-hun, a taxi driver with a gambling addiction, the South Korean series has become somewhat of a global phenomenon. Now the most streamed Korean series of all time, Squid Game is also said to be on pace to dethrone Bridgerton as the most streamed series in the history of Netflix. And it’s with good reason. Squid Game is a trip.

Survival is the drive. The blues of a broke life pile up for Seong Gi-hun, who’s daughter is being taken away to the US by her mother and step father. His mother is battling deteriorating diabetes and even in her frail condition, is still working hard to make ends meet. It’s during the peak of his frustrations that Gi-hun is randomly invited to take part in the Game.

After accepting the offer, he finds himself in a discreet location along with 455 players, who are also drowning in debt. The players are kept under an authoritarian system of surveillance. Masked guards in pink suits keep the scene under control under the supervision of the Front Man. Gi-hun allies with other players, including his childhood friend Cho Sang-woo, as a the most strategic way to survive the bloody challenges.

Amongst those that end up in this team is player 001, a frail old man who who became his “gganbu”. Sae-byeok, who was also in the team, was killed by Sang-woo, Gi-hun’s childhood friend, team member and flip-flopping ally. Several other team members had to be killed by their team mates, which revealed the wickedness of the games.

In the end, Gi-hun’s victory came without an apology. He had to defeat a close ally in the games, the old and frail player 001. They’d bonded throughout their time, but in the end he had to advance himself against those he’d built alliances. As the games progressed, the players found themselves having to face tough calls. Someone else has to die for you to make it another day.

After a series of brutal games, it comes down to childhood friends Gi-hun and Cho Sang-woo. They’d played different games, with Sang-woo having played hard and stopping at nothing to win. Gi-hun is mad at Sang-woo for a series of betrayals, including him stabbing Sae-byeok to her death. In the end, Gi-hun wins when Sang-woo apologised and kills himself.

Yet despite emerging a winner, Gi-hun finds that the cost of becoming an overnight billionaire has bankrupted his soul. For a year following the day his bank account was loaded with a nine zero figure, he didn’t touch the money. After all, he returned to find his mother dead on the floor. One of his motivations was getting the money to get her medical help over her advancing diabetes.

THE ENDING

Gi-hun is clearly troubled by the bodies upon which his new wealth rests. A year passes and he hasn’t touched the money – even oddly reverting to old patterns of asking for loans to get by. It might be late to be so concerned about the moral questions surrounding the games now – the long and short of it is he won and his life has changed.

Later, he is shocked to find out that the “gganbu” who had to be killed after losing to him in a game of marbles, was never really killed.

In a shocking plot twist that changes everything – he also finds out that the old man is in fact the creator of the games! Finding him in a medical bed after receiving a mysterious invite to the location, Gi-hun discovers that the man’s real name is Oh Il-nam, an obscenely rich fella who created the games in 1988 (the same year Korea hosted the Olympics for the first time) purely for their entertainment. We already know by now that ‘the VIPs’ are a bunch of morally bankrupt elites who find pleasure in watching the poor masses slaughtering each other for money in a broken system. Where have we heard that before?

Although his participation in the games as player 001 was a farce, what he told Gi-hun back then, that he had a brain tumour, had been true. And of course, he challenged him to another sick game. A man had been freezing to death on a street pavement, and Oh Il-nam challenged Gi-hun to guess to bet on the odds that someone who help him when the clock strikes 00:00 at midnight. As Gi-hun wins, Oh Il-nam dies.

We assume this marks the end of the games. However later in the episode, Gi-hun sees the man who recruited him doing it to someone else. He runs to stop what is happening, but arrives at the exact scene late, the train has already taken off. Later on the way to boarding a flight, he turns and calls a number. “I can’t forgive you for everything you’re doing,” he tells ta man we assume to be In-ho. He turns back, clearly about to begin his new mission.

What we know now, is that Oh Il-nam created the games to tickle the sick tastes of his sick rich network. But he is now dead. Who is now behind the games? This, and Gi-hun’s passionate manifesto, are strong indications that next season of the series is already shaping up to a different arc. It’s his final transformation, and he is ready to take down the operation and those behind it. He won’t allow people to be “horses” for the entertainment of wealthy elites.

We know that In-ho shot Jun-ho in a bid to stop him from alerting the police about the games. The signal was bad, delaying the delivering of the evidence Jun-ho had been trying to send in several texts, right up to the moment the moment he plunged from a cliff and hit the water. What we don’t know is whether the messages were really not delivered. There’s also no conclusive evidence that Jun-ho is dead.

Potentially, the biggest lesson from season one is that our relentless pursuit for material success in a punishing money system kills us.

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First Look at HBO’s Game of Thrones Spin-Off ‘House of The Dragon’

DRACARYS!

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Things look promising for HBO’s upcoming drama series, The House of Dragon. The highly buzzed Games of Thrones prequel’s first visual teaser has been met with much fanfare, raking in more than 8,6 million views on Youtube within two days of its arrival.

The House of Dragon

Photo Credit: HBO via Twitter

First reactions and buzz around the epic teaser have been strong indications that the series, slated to premiere in 2022, is off to a good start despite the infamous final season slump suffered by G.O.T. And it could mean that maybe, just maybe,  the world ready to let old baggage go.

The House of Dragon, created by an entire different team, will arrive about three years since the cold winter. The cast includes Matt Smith, Paddy Considine and Sonoya Mizuno who will be bringing to life a different era of Westeros.

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Midnight Mass is Creepy With A Dark Subtext and You Need To See it

‘God’s angel’ had sinister plans for the town.

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The reign of terror plunges a small and quiet town to ashes when the arrival of a charismatic yet mysterious priest coincides with the return of a disgraced young man who has just been released from prison.

While Riley (Zach Gilford) initially finds that Crockett Island and its 127 residents – along with his childhood sweetheart Erin (Kate Siegel) – still conduct a mundane existence, Pastor Paul (Hamish Linklater) soon changes that.

Midnight Mass

“The LORD’s angel”‘s life giving blood comes scams locals into horrible mistakes on Midnight Mass.

When the island’s much loved Roman Catholic senior priest takes a trip to the pilgrimage and never comes back, an energetic new priest takes his place at the Holy Land church. And while his arrival brings with it a new wave of spiritual revival amongst the island community, something sinister begins to haunt the town.

With each episode, the esoteric occult that powers Paul’s ability to perform astounding miracles and mesmerise the islanders, slowly gains dominion over the unsuspecting community. Instead, they begin taking up a renewed interest in the church as word of mouth spreads about the signs and wonders. Much like Jesus Christ was able to draw crowds wherever he went, the appearance of Paul’s supernatural power is able to attract even those who’d remained sceptics their lives.

It’s the blending of the sacred and the sinister. The taking of communion that has been contaminated with demonic blood, which functions as the miracle drug promising eternal life.

We soon find out the miracles come at an unthinkable cost.

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