What’s most impressive about Netflix’s Blood & Water season 1 is its vibe — the way the characters interact with each other is consistent and cool. By staying on-beat and providing a cast that’s sold on the story, you feel its culture shine through.
Netflix South African series Blood & Water season 1 will be released on the platform on May 20, 2020 — this review of the teen drama contains no spoilers.
I don’t know if it’s because Netflix has high self-esteem, but the streaming giant has a way with YA series’. From the 13 Reasons Why to Outer Banks and even to the highly controversial Insatiable, the platform lands new obsessions with ease. Next in line amongst their dense catalog of teen dramas is Blood & Water; a Netflix series that will no doubt be markedly commentated on for its South African roots, especially with its evident casting. For all the groans that the streaming platform produces too much content in such a small space of time, shows like this signify that more is better — diversity casts a wide net so it’s only ironic that more content is necessary.
The story of Blood & Water bases itself mostly at a high school, with dramas afoot and clans formed. It’s like any other teen drama in that sense but the characters wedge into the environment with ease. The lead character, Puleng, played marvelously by Ama Qamata, is a cool and collected person. Puleng’s story brings forth a family dealing with complex grief; her sister was kidnapped as part of a human trafficking network when she was younger and for 17 years, the family has continued with the birthdays in the hope they will one day find her. The opening episode captures that grief with a certain atmosphere — you can tell Puleng’s family is disjointed.
African series Blood & Water mixes coming-of-age with investigatory work as Puleng navigates high school while unlocking her family’s secret past. Teen dramas have the tendency to apply social issues all at once, bringing the ‘big bang effect’ for dramatic purpose to try and suit the teen genre, but Blood & Water stays clear of fogging its audience’s minds with convoluted and baseless plot points just to tick boxes. The South African series stays on message; a teen story fuelled by family problems with a deep and dark past.
It’s flagrantly apparent that Blood & Water stays on its path with a surprising 6-episode series. I cannot express my frustration at the number of shows Netflix release that bestows us with 10-12 episode series’ with each chapter at 60-minute lengths; providing teen problems that we’ve already seen countless times. The series has the right number of episodes for the story it is and it manages to sell the audience a prospective second season.
What’s most impressive about Netflix’s Blood & Water season 1 is its vibe — the way the characters interact with each other is consistent and cool. By staying on-beat and providing a cast that’s sold on the story, you feel its culture shine through — with its vibrant nature while inflicting South African politics and social issues, it feels like Netflix are providing an authentic African teen series. And as a final note, as I scour the internet for other reactions, according to one source, Blood & Water is Gossip Girl meets Elite meets Riverdale but in South Africa — I haven’t seen either mentioned show but I can only gather that as to be a good thing.
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Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.