Queen Sono

Pearl Thusi in 'Queen Sono.' (Dave Estment/Netflix)
Pearl Thusi in 'Queen Sono.' (Dave Estment/Netflix)


The action-packed series follows Queen Sono, the highly trained top spy in a South African agency whose purpose is to better the lives of African citizens. While taking on her most dangerous mission yet, she must also face changing relationships in her personal life.


Queen Sono is Netflix’s first original African series, and it certainly is an admirable attempt at a spy thriller. I think Queen Sono might work better as a procedural with a new mission every week ala Alias rather than one big overarching story. I found the personal mysteries like who really killed Safiya Sono and finding Fred’s sister far more compelling than the main spy storyline with the Russians.

Our South African actors don’t get enough credit on the world stage, and Pearl Thusi shines as the titular Queen Sono. She is badass, sassy and can handle herself. She has very few close friends and even then, keeps them at arm’s length. She’s a complex character that Thusi brings to life wonderfully and watching her on-screen is a joy.

The idea of female empowerment is strong in this show, and it’s something I truly appreciate. One of Queen’s superiors at the Special Operations Group (SOG) is childhood friend Miri who both is infuriated by Queen but also empathetic to her personal problems. Miri’s mother wants to run for president.

Queen’s grandmother is probably one of my favourite characters. Mazet refuses to give up driving despite her health and will never use that fancy tea set on the top shelf. Queen’s mother herself was the #1 badass, a revolutionary in the Apartheid struggle who was assassinated in front of a young Queen. Even the villain Ekaterina, is at the top of her game and because of her father’s misogynistic views of the world, she works to make sure she is better than her spoiled little brother who is to be handed the reins to the kingdom.

Yet despite the female-heavy cast, the notion of female empowerment doesn’t feel forced. In an African setting, it feels natural because we are after all a matriarchal society. From grandmothers heading households to single mothers raising daughters on their own, it’s natural for females to take up these spaces. The men in the show have no trouble with them either except for Ekaterina’s old man obviously. But even then, it feels like an out-dated opinion to hold.

It does feel like there is far more talking than action sequences in Queen Sono for a spy thriller and the first two episodes felt a lot longer than their 42 minutes run time. Pearl Thusi’s acting is on another level that sometimes the performances opposite hers come off as wooden and let down the scenes. But despite it, all Queen Sono is an interesting and fun watch and definitely a great African first for Netflix.



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