September has been a month filled with the releases of new movies and TV shows from After We Fell to Sang-Chi. But the series that was most anticipated in South Africa is Blood and Water.
The teen mystery/drama made its global debut on May 20 and 3 days later, it was ranked number one in South Africa, France, the Bahamas, Libya, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Kenya. It is also the first South African show to be ranked number one in the United States. The show won Best TV Drama at the 2021 South African Film and Television Awards (better known as the SAFTAS).
What the show is about
Puleng (Ama Qamata) and her family have been grieving for her newborn sister for 17 years. She was abducted at birth. Puleng's mother (Gail Mabalane), who still holds birthday parties in her honor in the hopes of her safe return, bears the brunt of the loss.
Puleng is sick of living in the shadow of a sister she never met. So, during her sister's birthday party, Puleng and her BFF Zama (Cindy Mahlangu) go to a party hosted by students from a nearby well-to-do private school to blow off some steam. But there's something about the birthday girl, Fikile (Khosi Ngema), that seems familiar to Puleng.
After engaging with Fikile, Puleng believes she has discovered her long-lost sister and embarks on a complicated and borderline obsessive investigation to discover the truth. Puleng befriends Fikile and her crew, KB (Thabang Molaba), Chris (Arno Greeff), and Reece (Greteli Fincham), and sets out to solve the puzzle.
The show takes place in Cape Town, Western Cape which I think was an excellent setting choice because it broke the stereotype that many people have of Africa. Many people associate Africa with poverty, droughts, and underdeveloped houses/schools, but this is not always true. We have a lot to offer, including beautiful beaches, hotels, houses, and schools. Blood and Water depicts a breathtaking part of Africa that few people are aware of.
Nosipho Dumisa, who is the director, and her casting team could not have chosen a better cast. With a diverse African cast that includes award-winning veterans as well as young actors who are new to the industry, Blood and Water gave young people a chance to shine on the big screen. In the first season, the cast included: Ama Qamata, Khosi Ngema, Thabang Molaba, Arno Greeff, Greteli Fincham, Dillon Windvogel, Gail Malabane, Mekaila Mathys, Sello Maake Ka-Ncube, Odwa Gwanya, Natasha Thahane, and Getmore Sithole
Season two cast: Ama Qamata, Khosi Ngema, Thabang Molaba, Arno Greeff, Greteli Fincham, Dillon Windvogel, Gail Malabane, Cindy Mahlangu, Xolile Tshabalala, Mekaila Mathys, Sello Maake Ka-Ncube, Zodwa Sodlaka, Inge Beckmann, Odwa Gwanya, Natasha Thahane, Xolile Tshabalala and Getmore Sithole.
In the first season, we were introduced to the crazy and drama-filled life of Puleng Khumalo and never looked back since. Within just six episodes, the writers had many people hooked!
A quick summary of the first season:
Puleng and her family have been grieving for the past 17 years for her abducted sister. One day, she goes to a party with her best friend, and she meets this girl (Fikile) and convinces herself that she is her long-lost sister. She then launches this whole investigation and does some pretty shady stuff (like visiting a criminal in jail) to get to the truth.
Toward the end of the season, Puleng discovers enough evidence that Fikile is Phume, but she decides not to say anything because she doesn't want to jeopardize Fikile's life. As the final episode neared its conclusion, I became concerned that Puleng would refuse to tell Fikile that they were sisters. It wasn't until the episode when Fikile told Puleng to meet her at school that the two had a face-off, and Puleng's journal fell out of her backpack with pictures of Fikile in it that Puleng told Fikile the truth.
My favorite scene was when Puleng and Wade first met. Wade is the principal's son and the school photographer who assists Puleng in her investigation. They met at the start of the season at a party. To me, it was all about how quickly they connected!
We all have characters that we relate to quite well on TV shows and Blood and Water seems to have quite a few of those. Here are a few relatable Blood and Water characters:
1. Wendy Dlamini
Wendy is the head of the school magazine and the daughter of a Minister. She's very confident, intelligent, and an activist. Wendy seeks academic validation just as many of us in this day and age do. Wendy is portrayed as very arrogant because she most likely envies Fikile and believes she is superior. As a result, Wendy tries her hardest to bring Fikile down.
What makes Wendy so relatable is that she gets lost in her jealousy and focuses on school instead of branching out and living her life. So many teens miss out on life because they are cooped up in their rooms studying. School is important, but it shouldn't stop you from living life and making memories.
2. Wade Daniels
Wade is a fun, sweet guy in love with someone who does not reciprocate his feelings. We've all been there, haven't we? We've all had a crush on someone who was clearly out of our league, and yet we still liked them. Wade is a simp. He spends the seasons chasing after Puleng in the hopes that she will give him a chance.
Season Rating: 10/10
The story picks up right where the first season left off, with Fikile still reeling from the revelation that she is related to Puleng. Fikile's parents, on the other hand, suspect Puleng of being the meddling online influencer responsible for spreading malicious rumors about Fikile.
So, in episode one, Puleng is immediately served with a restraining order and faces possible expulsion. As the season goes on, Fikile's entire life is in shambles. She can't deal with all the things that are now coming to light. As she had begun to accept that she was adopted, her mom tried to commit suicide and ran from the police. Poor Fiks can't catch a break!
Wendy and Chris
Nobody could have predicted that these two would get together but they were the duo we never knew we needed. Wendy is a strong character who lives an orderly life, whereas Chris prefers to go with the flow. Chris identifies as pansexual in the Blood & Water storyline. When a person is pansexual, they are attracted to people regardless of their sex or gender identity. Chris has both a girlfriend and a boyfriend for the majority of the season, and they both try to make it work for him. Later in the season, they break up and Chris starts to fall for Wendy.
Wendy also can't help catching feelings when she discovers Chris isn't who she thought he was. This was your standard "enemies to lovers" plot.
Things No one Really Saw Coming
Fikile Being Phume
This was most probably expected because so much evidence pointed to Fikile being Phumelele Khumalo. Early in the season, a DNA test was done but it was tampered with by Fikile's mom. Later on, this comes to light and breaks the trust between Fiks and her mom.
Wade and Puleng
KB and Puleng were the best couple on Blood and Water. Although Puleng was basically just using KB, I still couldn't help falling in love with their relationship. I mean, don't they look cute together?
Unfortunately, they broke up midseason because of a huge misunderstanding. Puleng then starts dating Wade, who we all knew had a crush on her from episode one.
Reece Van Rensburg
In the first season, she misled many of us into thinking she was this hardcore chick who smoked and didn't care about anything, when in reality, Reece is a broken soul. We learn that Reece is the breadwinner in the family due to her mother's mental illness, which is a lot of pressure to put on a teen. She then starts selling drugs to put her mother in rehab. She keeps this to herself for the majority of the season but comes clean to the principal in the last few episodes
In the season finale, the mastermind of the whole scheme is uncovered and it is none other than KB's mom. This was discovered when KB shows up at Puleng's house. He sees the picture of his mom lying on her bed and asks her why she has that picture. I have to admit that I did not see this coming at all! Many fans expected the mastermind to be KB's dad, Matla Molapo, who is portrayed by Sello Maake Ka-Ncube.
When asked what is so enjoyable about Blood and Water, many said the vibe. The vibe of Netflix's Blood & Water is the most impressive — the way the characters communicate with each other is consistent and cool. By remaining on-beat and providing a cast that is invested in the story, you can feel the culture shining through — with its lively nature while depicting South African politics and social issues. "It feels like Netflix is providing an authentic African teen series" was a response given by numerous people.
According to one source, Blood & Water is "Gossip Girl meets Riverdale" but set in South Africa — I haven't seen either of the shows mentioned, but I can only assume that's a good thing.
Another source says Blood and Water is bland, flavorless, and dry. They even go so far as to compare the show to a piece of unsalted toast. Alas, they can't all be lovers of the show.
The latest season of the Netflix series left viewers with a cliffhanger, so hopefully, for its fans, they will have a third season.