TV review – Good riddance to bad drama

2014-10-12 15:00

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Mfolozi Street


“You can put a photo of a brick on SABC1 between eight and nine and you’ll still get millions of viewers,” someone said on social media the other day.

I think they might actually have a point.

The first season of MfoloziStreetcame to an end on Monday. It has been the second most watched TV show in South Africa for the 13 weeks it ran.

The 8.30pm series that used Daveyton township as a backdrop for its community-driven drama boasted an average of 5?million viewers.

How is this even possible? It’s a show without a spine: no compelling story arc running through it.

Playing out in the confounding realities of post-apartheid social inequality, the show tried to tackle issues of misbehaving adolescents, unemployment, intrusive and overbearing neighbours, abusive relationships, and confronting one’s failures?–?while also motivating communities to take pride in their young democracy.

Its social mandates weighed too heavily on its plot.

I misjudged MfoloziStreet when it started like a house on fire, only to realise weeks later that the promise of compelling drama was not going to materialise?–?not even in the season finale.

There was a promise of drama when Lindani (Austin Shandu) had to return to MfoloziStreet after the death of his parents.

They had died in a car accident while on their way to reconcile with their son, who, in their eyes, had strayed when his sexual preferences did not fit in with their Christian beliefs.

The drama ended there.

Taking a look at the cast, I expected the show to be a drama filled with compelling acting, but none of that happened.

Instead, I saw talented actors like Vatiswa Ndara and Jet Novuka being reduced to two-dimensional puppets. They were wooden and empty, and never managed to bring their characters to life.

I blame a script that was all over the place and some seriously dubious direction.

The show had no focus, the story wasn’t well plotted and the characters were a jumble.

In the end, MfoloziStreet did not move nor entertain me. Instead, it was excruciating viewing.

The finale was a hot mess ending in the death of Samson (Robert Mpisi).

Sonto (Hlubi Mboya) vanished in the penultimate episode, abandoning her children for an abusive boyfriend. She never returned in the finale and the story remains up in the air.

The series started with a road death and ended with a road death –?and nearly bored me to death in the process.

I don’t think I’ll be able to manage a second season?–?second most watched show or not.

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