Blood May Not Always Be Thicker Than Water in Netflix’s Drama-Filled ‘Blood and Water’
Stepping up to the plate as Netflix’s second African original series is the teen drama/mystery Blood and Water. If you dig Gossip Girl and get ignited from any of the 13 Reasons Why episodes then you’ll be jumping to get all over this series. Much like Queen Sono, Blood and Water is an African produced series, with actual African actors and storytellers.
Shout out to South Africa for rising as a figurehead by curating content that continues straying away from primitive narratives, and places Africans in positions of power and influence. Why is this six-part series so lit? You’ll discover native South African teenagers who attend private school, engage in analytical discourse, excel in swim meets, and are up on the latest trends and fashion. Oh yes. Mzansi (a.k.a. South Africa) is undoubtedly coming with the heat.
Warning: Like a carton of rotten eggs, this review is packed with a few spoilers.
Making its debut in May 2020, Blood and Water will leave your blood boiling due the unorthodox plot. In short, here’s how this series plays out: high school teenager Puleng (Ama Qamata) lives a seemingly normal life, alongside her younger brother (Odwa Gwanya) and separated parents (Gail Mabalane and Getmore Sithole). Daryne Joshua and Travis Taute do an excellent job in the way they’ve formulated the relationship between separated adults who pivot into co-parenting.
Typically multimedia platforms offer a flat representation of separated couples who only engage in careless, child-like quarrels. On the flip side, Puleng’s parents grant us a glimpse at a much more peaceful co-parenting style, one that is to be highly respected. This is a minor part of Blood and Water, but it was a super refreshing alternative.
With that being said this series is far from the typical teen drama. As mentioned Puleng lives an orderly life, has a great (and small) circle…but a relatively huge family dilemma. Her parent’s eldest daughter, Phumele, went missing when she was just an infant. Her parents have been searching for her ever since and even continue celebrating Phumele’s birthday. Puleng’s Father, Julius Khumalo (Sithole) is accused of being apart of an elitist cult that runs an subterrestrial human trafficking biz.
To add fuel to the fire Mr. Khumalo was accused, on a national platform, for taking part in his daughter’s abduction. For the entirety of this first season, Puleng’s father is awaiting trial. This is all we really get to see about Mr. Khumalo. It was pretty heartbreaking as I felt it was imperative to explore his story further, so like a model eating chocolate on a diet—I craved for more. There is something to his character that could truly add layers to this series.
Questions in my psyche begin to surface: “If he sold his first child, what was the motive?” “He has two other children, with the same woman, so what would provoke him to sell his first?” “Why is this man so calm about being accused of such a heavy allegation?” “Dang Mr. Khumalo…was money really that tight?” I hope the writers room will add in subtext that dives into Papa Khumalo. Nonetheless he continues to honor Phumele and when the birthday celebrations come to an abrupt end, per Puleng’s request, he and his ex-wife are encouraged by Puleng, to simply “move on.”
A major switch up transpires after Puleng attends a birthday party with her best friend, Zama (Cindy Mahlangu.) There the awkward sixteen year old is photographed by her future accomplice, Wade (Dillon Windvogel) who sparks Puleng’s eventual detective impulses after noticing an uncanny resemblance between her and the social media mogul-birthday girl, Fikile (Khosi Ngema.) Subsequently, Puleng rigorously throws herself into harm’s way in hopes of unearthing a part of her family that has been missing for nearly seventeen years.
What was once her parent’s burden to find Phumele, has now become Puleng’s top priority. That’s a lot of pressure for a high school junior. So, when ‘P’ stumbles across a liberated school pest (Natasha Thahane), a skateboarding cutie (Thabang Molaba), and a perverted swim coach (Ryle De Morny) her actions undeniably cause a lot of vexation. At times, Puleng is really just the campus snitch, but her biggest revelation arises when she confronts Fikile. All I can say is…I was shooook.
Honestly eighty percent of my time watching this series was spent in ‘shook’ mode because the savagery of certain characters was just too much. Puleng’s fiery deliverance will have you questioning even the lengths you’ll go to find a missing loved one. I’m definitely down for anyone who sustains loyalty and P. Khumalo is undoubtedly a #rideordiechick. This series is just getting started and I am beyond stoked to see more.
For now, I’ll just call it an itch I cannot wait to scratch. Let’s goooo!
Blood and Water, Season 1 is on Netflix!