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What South Africans Watched on Netflix in 2020

Top South African viewing trends on Netflix through 2020.

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Netflix has released South Ah’s viewing trends on the streaming platforms through 2020. This year, South Africans more than doubled the amount of their Netflix viewing compared to 2019.

At the start of the year (pre-Covid lockdowns from Jan – Feb 2020), locals spent most of their real Netflix and chill sessions watching titles across multiple genres  – however, from March to July, thrillers, action, musicals and reality had a surge in viewing hours, with kids content, drama and comedy+stand-up taking the top three spots of the most popular genres throughout the year.

Seriously Single Netflix

Local rom-com ‘Seriously Single’ was amongst enduring faves this year

That, the genres that saw the biggest boost in viewing compared to 2019 are fantasy, K-Dramas and anime.  In the absence of live sporting events, many sports fans turned to sports-related documentaries on Netflix to fill the void in April, May and August 2020.

SOUTH AFRICAN CONTENT WENT GLOBAL

This year showed that the world has an appetite for South African content with titles made in Mzansi making the Top 10 lists in many countries around the globe.

Alongside the two Netflix Originals that landed on the service this year, Queen Sono and Blood & Water, Mzansi’s ‘most travelled’ South African titles of 2020 include: Santana, Seriously Single, 8, Bedford Wives, Mrs Right Guy, Hole in the Wall, Baby Mamas, Kandasamys: The Wedding, Momentum, Riding With Sugar, The Groom’s Price and the award-winning documentary, My Octopus Teacher.

South Africans travelled the world from the safety of their homes:

With travel restrictions in effect, South Africans used entertainment to satisfy their wanderlust by watching more foreign language titles. Viewing went up by almost 200% (compared to 2019) – proving that you don’t need a passport to sate your curiosity about other cultures and countries. Members travelled the globe via Netflix and made the following titles their favourite destinations: Lost Bullet (France), Money Heist: Part 4 (Spain), Barbarians: Season 1 (Germany), Rogue City (France), Dark Desire: Season 1 (Mexico), The Paramedic (Spain), DJ Cinderella (Brazil), The Platform (Spain), and Mosul (Iraq).

Mzansi’s Enduring Favourites of 2020

Throughout this year there have been some titles that South Africans couldn’t get enough of. These series & films enjoyed the longest run on South Africa’s Top 10 lists after their launch on the service in 2020. The titles range across multiple genres and include: Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, Blood & Water, Money Heist, Modern Family, Love is Blind, Sex Education, The Queen’s Gambit, Lucifer, Emily in Paris, The Stranger, Ozark, Umbrella Academy, Spencer Confidential, Dynasty and Family Feud South Africa.

With so many great titles from South Africa and around the world across multiple genres, here’s a roundup of the Top films and series by genre that South Africans watched in 2020, in no particular order.

  • ACTION: South Africans love a good action title and in 2020, they watched twice as much action content compared to 2019. In a year when real life action and adventure were hard to come by, there titles showed muscle as the most popular action content in 2020: Warrior Nun: Season 1, The Old Guard, Extraction, Bloodshot, Project Power, The Losers, Bad Boys for Life, Spider Man: Far From Home, Charlie’s Angels and Lost Bullet.

  • COMEDY: Nothing beats the SA sense of humor in the face of adversity. In 2020, South Africans turned to comedy content as an escape: Space Force: Season 1, Hubie Halloween, Holidate, Work It, The Sleepover, Emily in Paris: Season 1, The Wrong Missy, Coffee & Kareem, Love Wedding Repeat and Desperados.

  • DOCUMENTARIES: 2020 taught us to open our eyes. We saw this in the way the world embraced My Octopus Teacher – a documentary feature highlighting the beauty of nature. This year, documentary content South Africans also embraced include: Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, The Social Dilemma, Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich, American Murder: The Family Next Door, Coronavirus Explained, Unsolved Mysteries: Volume 1, David Attenborough:  A Life on Our Planet, Down to Earth with Zac Efron: Season 1 and World’s Most Wanted: Season 1.

  • DRAMA: We can’t ignore a good drama, and SA was glued to: A Fall From Grace, Blood & Water: Season 1, Ratched:Season1, The Queen’s Gambit: Limited Series, Enola Holmes, Rebecca, Lucifer:Season 5, Barbarians:Season 1 and The Last Thing He Wanted.

  • FANTASY: Many South Africans used Fantasy to escape to different worlds with a Top 10 that includes: Locke & Key: Season 1, Jumanji: The Next Level, Cursed: Season 1, The Letter for the King: Season 1, Always a Witch: Season 2, A Choo, The School Nurse Files: Season1, The Protector: Season 3, The King: Eternal Monarch: Season 1 and The Protector: Season 4.

  • ANIME: This year saw South Africans watching more anime content (over 200% compared to 2019). Anime titles that piques South African fans’ interest include: Castlevania: Season 3; Altered Carbon:Resleeved; Parasyte: The Maxim: Season 1; Blood of Zeus: Season 1; Pokémon: Mewtew Strikes Back – Evolution; Yu-Gi-Oh!: Season 1; Dragon’s Dogma: Season 1; The Seven Deadly Sins: Imperial Wrath of the Gods; Transformers: War for Cybertron: Siege and BAKI: The Great Raitai Tournament Saga.

  • KIDS CONTENT: SA’s kids had their own ideas of what they thought were the best which included: Feel The Beat; The Angry Birds Movie 2; The Willoughbys; The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run; Over the Moon;  Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous: Season 1; Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey; Malibu Rescue: The Next Wave; The Big Show Show: Part 1 and Latte and the Magic Waterstone.

  • ROMANCE: In a year of extraordinary hardship and sadness, South Africans loved to love and watched triple the amount of romance content compared to 2019. The titles that keep the romance flame alive include: : The Kissing Booth 2; Seriously Single; Love,Guaranteed; Operation Christmas Drop; To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You; The Princess Switch: Switched Again; Christmas Made To Order; Dash & Lily: Season 1; Christmas Under Wraps and Always A Bridesmaid.

  • HORROR: Those who preferred their entertainment a little spooky made it known with: Dracula: Season 1; Escape Room; The Haunting of Bly Manor; A Quiet Place; The Babysitter: Killer Queen; Don’t Listen; The Purge: Anarchy; Brighburn; Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare: Extended Director’s Cut and #Alive.

  • THRILLERS: The suspense was raised with good Thrillers watched by SA including: Fatal Affair; Spenser Confidential; Cypher: Season 1; Money Heist: Part 4; Dangerous Lies; The Last Days of American Crime; Rogue City; 8; Dark Desire: Season 1 and Night Hunter.

  • SCI-FI: It’s always fun to see what the future might hold, and SA watched plenty of Sci-Fi with: Snowpiercer: Season 1; Code 8; Into The Night: Season 1; Men In Black: International; Biohackers: Season 1; The 6th Day; Altered Carbon: Season 2; Star Trek: Discovery: Season 3; Godzilla and Colony: Season 3.

  • REALITY: In 2020, some South Africans chose to escape their reality and immerse themselves in others’ by watching twice as much reality content compared to 2019.  The most popular reality titles include: Love is Blind: Season 1; Family Feud South Africa: Season 1; Dream Home Makeover: Season 1; Too Hot To Handle: Season 1; Floor is Lava: Season 1; Crazy Delicious: Season 1; Get Organized with The Home Edit: Season 1; Million Dollar Beach House: Season 1; The Titan Games: Season 1 and The American Barbeque Showdown: Season 1.

  • K-DRAMA: This year, South Africans discovered their love of Korean dramas (K-Dramas) and boosted viewing to nearly 300%, with members enjoying: Kingdom: Season 2; The World of the Married: Season 1; My Secret Romance: Season 1; The King: Eternal Monarch: Season 1;  The Uncanny Counter: Season 1; It’s Okay to Not Be Okay: Season 1;  Guardian: The Lonely and Great God: Season 1 and The School Nurse Files: Season 1.

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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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