Blood & Water, Netflix’s second African original series is a teen melodrama set in modern-day Cape Town, South Africa.
The Nosipho Dumisa story is centered around the reopening of a cold child trafficking case that dates back 17 years involving the mysterious disappearance of the first child of the Khumalo family.
The season begins with a fed-up 16-year old Puleng Khumalo (Ama Qamata) leaving a birthday celebration for her long lost sister- Phumelele Khumalo. She ends up going to another birthday party in a new city in honor of Fikile Bhele (Khosi Ngema) after her best friend Zama (Cindy Mahlangu) convinces her to be her plus-one.
At the party, Puleng, who was initially not having a good time, meets Wade (Dillon Windvogel), a photographer for the school’s editorial team and the son of the Principal. There is however this unwavering obsession Puleng has for the birthday girl. For some reason, she believes she is linked to the child trafficking incident that continues to haunt her parents. This leads her to start her own private investigation. Puleng’s obsession with Fiks becomes the title of the first episode- Fiksation which I think was a clever play on words.
Following the arrest of her dad at her school, Puleng convinces her worried mother to change schools. With an agenda in mind, she convinces Wade to get her a meeting with his mother, the Principal of Parkhurst College, one of the most prestigious schools in the city, where Fikile and the other kids from the birthday party school.
The show does well to showcase the beautiful infrastructure and scenery in South Africa and makes use of lots of its local music. Rapper YoungstaCPT was given a notable mention when Puleng explained to KB’s cool dad that he is an embodiment of what the old-school hip hop artistes like Tupac Shakur used to represent with their music. The series, which is mainly in English, is rich with dialogue and sensory detail with dashes of the Zulu and Xhosa languages. With the opinionated Wendy Damini‘s (Natasha Thahane) constant pestering of her teachers, we get to learn new things about the history of South Africa.
In Puleng’s search for truth, she finds herself in a love triangle with her first real friend at Parkhurst- Wade and KB (Thabang Molaba), an aspiring rapper trying to live up to the high expectations of his father.
The show reminds me of MTV Shuga Down South which is based on teenagers in high school. Just like Blood & Water, it touches on issues like sexual orientation, music, and an inappropriate sexual relationship between a student and an instructor. The main difference is that Shuga’s focal message and reach address sexual reproductive health.
The story was written and directed by award-winning South African filmmaker Nosipho Dumisa, famous for her 2018 feature film debut, “Number 37,” a film with lots of good reviews. Gambit Films saw to its production led by Bradley Joshua and Benjamin Overmeyer with Daryne Joshua & Travis Taute as co-directors and writers.
“Blood & Water” joins other Netflix productions like ‘Riverdale‘ ‘On My Block‘ and Selena Gomez‘s ‘13 Reasons Why‘ as a teen drama that most teenagers can easily relate to and fall in love with. After its very successful virtual premiere in 190 countries across the world with over 100,000 viewers tuned in, it is safe to say the team behind its production did an amazing job.
Blood & Water is definitely worth the watch!