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REVIEW: Was The ‘Madame & Mercy’ Debut Worth The Wait?

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When Madam & Mercy premiered on Mzansi Magic, we honestly didn’t know what to expect. Excited? Absolutely! After all, this is the Evodia Mogase who rose to instant fame during her appearance on the Real Housewives of Johannesburg season one.

Madam and Mercy Review

There, she proved to be a force to be reckoned with. Minutes into the first episode, she’d already delivered a minefield of iconic ‘quotables’ and meme-worthy moments.  She really said, “What Madam wants, Madam gets” in her intro, a motto she would continue materialising throughout the season.

Madam and Mercy Review

But even after a whole season of drama on the 1Magic reality show, we didn’t quite know what the storylines, arcs and dynamics would be on the spin-offs she’d impressively bagged with her daughter, former RHOJ co-star, Mercy Mogase.

Would they continue living up to their reputation as “The Versaces”, flaunting their enviable designer wardrobe and upper echelon lifestyle here?

RELATED: MADAM AND MERCY DISCUSS VAGINAL REJUVENATION! 

Would there be the same delivery of drama we were served on the RHOJ?

Now with no Brinnette and Christall to shake the table, literally, and keep their feet on her neck, sitting down to watch the new reality show felt like a start over. Here, we’d been promised, Evodia and Mercy would be lifting the veil on who they really are.

Madam and Mercy Review

Like all celebrity reality shows, the whole joint had been sold as a document of their fascinating lives.

Beyond the lavish and sparkly things we’ve hitherto seen, now we got the opportunity to know them beyond the funny and shady moments that propelled them to wild popularity.

Well, the beautiful gowns are certainly still in the frame.

It’s who they are. They love, and live, the finest Mzansi has to offer. The private jets, the beautiful home, the life. But, unlike RHOJ, we get so much context into how all of that was built. We also go beyond the sparkling pink and arrive at the messier, more human parts of who the Mogase women are.

RELATED: EVODIA AND BRINNETTE’S TEA PARTY DRAMA 

In this sense, it’s satisfying to get to the real texture of their experience, a step away from the fluff we’d seen on their previous reality television stint.

The despair around Evodia Mogase’s departure from the Real Housewives of Johannesburg was quickly replace by glee when the reality show stars announced their own spin off in 2019.

While her absence from the Housewives franchise just after one season is quite unfortunate, fans were elated to find out they would continue enjoying the diva’s larger than life personality once more.

Madam and Mercy Review

It’s also quite impressive that Evodia scored her own spin-off with the quickness.

Reality show spin-off’s don’t come around often in South Africa. Dineo Ranaka was able to do it, but she’s also tauted as the godmother of celebrity shows in South Africa. She did it when it wasn’t popular, and got it right when the format was flopping everywhere. Dineo continued to become one of the first to pivot and stranslate the success of her 5 season run into a spin-off that covers her entire family.

We mention The Ranakas and their continued success because of how they were able to capitalise from the strengths of Dineo’s show into expanding their turf.

On Madam and Mercy, the Mogases attempt the very same.

The differences in these cases, however, is that Dineo had already built a name for herself before launching her own reality show. And not only that, it aired a widely successful five seasons before transitioning into the unscripted family portrait on Mzansi Magic.

By contrast, both Evodia and her daughter, Mercy Mogase, haven’t been known for that long.

Granted, they were the breakout stars on the premiere season of the Real Housewives of Johannesburg. They gave us the iconic moments, the memes, the quotables, the sometimes hideous and sometimes wow fashion, and plenty of moments to laugh about it.

Known to multitudes of adoring fans as ‘Madam’, Evodia stepped into the South African television business and brought a refreshing spark. She’s the lady who gave ‘what a joke my darling’, and social media will forever stan her ways.

Madam & Mercy Review

 

From the onset, the mother and daughter’s unique relationship translated quite beautifully onscreen. They gossiped freely about the other girls, and often took it ‘there’. They could buy each other sex toys, and argue of messing up each other vegan meals, and convince each other that it’s okay to show up late in other people’s events because everyone there doesn’t know to dress up anyways.

Despite all of this, we wondered if it was too soon for Madam to be launching her own spin-off.

Following in the blueprint of similar franchises internationally, one would have thought a good four to five season of constant delivery, growing with her followers and cementing her base in showbiz would have been a more strategic approach to doing spin-offs.

And then beauty lines, bag lines and boutiques, because that’s what Nene Leakes and them have done.

PREMIERE EPISODE OF MADAM & MERCY 

The show debuted with a crisp and colourful picture of the family’s life. We are introduced to Evodia’s fiancé, whom everyone calls ‘baby’ in the most adorable and weird way ever. We are also acquainted with her adorable toddler. We hadn’t seen her on the RHOJ so this is a heart warming welcome.

The first episode was a set up to what will unravel during. With the dynamics now set, things we pretty much move forward within the frame and narrative.

Madam has a beautiful relationship with her fiancé. We get shots of him with their daughter, as she takes us through how much he means to her. The two are also in the middle of finalising their lobolo negotiations, but the Mogase family is still debating on how much they should settle for.

They want ‘Baby’ to up his game and pay up. Because’s that’s Madam, sir.

We also enjoyed seeing her work and distill the history of her construction company. There’s so much this, and she really delved into some of her experiences as a black woman trying to secure business in a male dominated world.

Madam and Mercy Review

Meanwhile, Mercy laments her failed beauty spa business. We get to see the abandon studio, which is now falling apart due to the lack of maintenance and break ins. It’s a relatable human moment – we all try, and sometimes don’t succeed. The venture, will learn, had cost her a fortune to establish with her friend and business partner.

Next scenes involve Mercy visiting her father’s grave with her boyfriend. She reflects with sadness on their imperfect relationship, wishing things would be different.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The show has started off on a decent note. In the previews to the looming episodes, we didn’t see much that would be particularly worth a scream. The same can be said for the first episode. It was okay.

The transition from the Real Housewives of Johannesburg has certainly more more conservative than we thought. The show feels a lot calmer, warmer, realer.

Madame & Mercy airs on Mzansi Magic, DStv channel 161, Tuesdays at 20:00.

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Netflix

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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