What is it about ?
A teenage girl gets her transfer to the same high school as a swimming champion whom she suspects to be her sister, abducted at birth 17 years ago.
Blood & Water, created by Nosipho Dumisa
With Ama Qamata, Khosi Ngema, Gail Mabalane, Thabang Molaba, …
Available since May 20 on Netflix. 6 episodes seen on 6.
What does it look like ?
Well worth a look ?
Three months after the release of the Queen Sono spy series, it’s time for Blood & Water, the platform’s second original South African series, to land on Netflix. A novelty that fits into a very popular genre – the teen drama – and is therefore clearly aimed at fans of Riverdale, Elite, 13 Reasons Why, or Pretty Little Liars, these planetary successes which are already the heyday of the streaming giant. The plot, imagined by director and screenwriter Nosipho Dumisa, focuses on Puleng Khumalo, a rather discreet 16-year-old high school student who can no longer bear to see her family locked in the past (her parents celebrate their birthday every year eldest daughter abducted 17 years ago at birth) and who sees her life completely turned upside down following a chance encounter. Going to a party with his best friend Zama, Puleng crosses paths with Fikile “Fiks” Bhele, a 17-year-old swimming champion who is successful, and persuades herself that she is his missing sister. Because, supposedly, they are very similar. In order to find answers to his questions, Puleng manages to convince his mother to enroll him in the prestigious Parkhurst College, the private institution that hosts Cape Town’s elite and where Fikile studies. The start of an investigation from which she will not emerge unscathed.
With her golden youth in uniforms and her heroine whose sister has been kidnapped, Blood & Water evokes Gossip Girl and Elite as much as more “unrecognized” teen series like Finding Carter or The Lying Game (broadcast respectively on MTV and ABC Family there a few years). The main goal of this drama tinged with soap is obviously to entertain its privileged target (15-35 years) throughout its 6 episodes with great blows of secrets, betrayals, and other revelations more or less What the Fuck, and it must admit that the objective is rather effectively achieved. We don’t get bored for a second before Puleng’s quest for truth, who never shrinks from any lie or ploy (including beating the good old DNA test kit ordered online) to achieve its ends and find out if Fikile is his sister. And too bad if the series does not spare us some shots, such as that of the high school student who sleeps with one of his teachers (in this case his swimming coach), and some sex scenes a little touting that have not really of interest. If not eyeing the side of Elite or Euphoria – aesthetics and depth less in the case of the latter.
Although Blood & Water has the merit of showing South Africa as it really is (far from the image that certainly still has too many Westerners) and of being interested in a real subject of society unfortunately still too much news on the African continent – human trafficking – this lack of depth is felt a little too much throughout this first season. Particularly during the family intrigues of Puleng, who are struggling to bring out the emotions of this family bruised for 17 years, who has to face a new scandal splashing the father of the heroine. It is really the stories that take place in high school, or within the band of teenagers led by Fikile, who make all the salt of the series and plunge us into a compulsive binge-watch. The most interesting relationships forged during these 6 episodes are undeniably that which links Puleng to Fikile, his “possible” sister, but also the friendship which unites Puleng with Wade, the son of the school principal, and her story of birth love with KB, with whom she shares a certain love of words (the two teenagers quoting Sylvia Plath as much as hip-hop or rap stars). Characters to which we attach and that we would like to find for a season 2, even if answers are provided in the finale.
Blood & Water may lack originality in its intrigue, it still imposes itself as a teen drama efficient that has all the ingredients to find its audience in France and around the world. And just for the novelty it represents in an offer little used to African series, it therefore deserves a detour. Because it is not every day that South African teenagers, who also had the right to be represented on the screen, are highlighted in a series with all the cards in hand to shine internationally thanks to the means of Netflix. At almost the same level as a Riverdale or an Elite (less mass promotion).