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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

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.

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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