This series holds enough for applaudable performances, well-thought-out writing, and a real thirst for patient revenge.
This review of the South African Netflix series Savage Beauty season 1 does not contain spoilers.
Queen Sono and Blood & Water certainly ignited a flurry of African content on Netflix. The streaming service is not finding fillers either; these series are worthwhile and compelling — Savage Beauty is added to that list. A list of series that should be watched, rather than just filling the Netflix library.
Savage Beauty follows Zinhle (played by Rosemary Zimu), who is determined to bring down the Bhengu family, who runs a powerful, global beauty empire. The powerful family maintains significant wealth but also holds dark secrets. Don and Grace Bhengu (the patriarch and matriarch of the family) once used to test their toxic beauty products on street children. Zinhle is one of the survivors, and what follows is an intriguing revenge drama — one that is hard to put down. A story involving corporate manslaughter makes sure to grip audiences from the start.
And the cast embraces the plot from the offset by putting real energy into the script. The Bhengu family is presented as this dysfunctional, intoxicating, and disconnected family that is encouraged to control the news rather than show the reality of their pitfalls. Savage Beauty encapsulates the arrogance and privilege of a family dynasty steeped in abundant wealth, where being grounded is tricky. The opening episode shows Zinhle becoming the face of Bhengu Beauty after a public vote, with the CEO Don Bhengu (played by Dumisani Mbebe) attending the reveal party with his two wives.
While Savage Beauty is on-the-nose dramatic, it does well to keep the story balanced, bringing in other subplots of romance and desire, entwining well with revenge. In the six chapters, the South African series does well not to veer stupid roundabout plot points and keeps the twists believable and reasonable.
The creator, Lebogang Mogashoa, should be proud of creating such an enticing drama that highlights the byproduct of mammoth companies. We often enjoy the mass creation of products by popular brands, but we become morally stuck when considering who has suffered to get the products onto the market. Zinhle represents the forgotten ones to fill the pockets of a few — Lebogang Mogashoa gets that message across loud and clear.
And once again, it’s such a shame that Netflix is not pushing the marketing of a series like this into our faces. Savage Beauty has all the potential to be as popular and well-received as Blood & Water. This series holds enough for applaudable performances, well-thought-out writing, and a real thirst for patient revenge.
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