Explore the business of being black in Black Tax

Jo-Anne's got jokes: So does every other character on this buoyant Showmax and BET collaboration.
pictures:supplied
Jo-Anne's got jokes: So does every other character on this buoyant Showmax and BET collaboration. pictures:supplied

The memorable Jo-Anne Reyneke grabs this role by the horns and shows off a more comedic side. Her character sees her spar on screen with Jason Goliath and an overall ensemble that has Phumlani S Langa taken aback by Showmax and BET’s Black Tax.

Black Tax

BET (DStv channel 129) Tuesdays, 9.30pm

3/5

When the “wokening” gripped South Africa a few years ago, things picked up steam with the politically correct power rangers popping up on every corner with the buzz phrase “black tax”. You must have heard it by now.

The Urban Dictionary defines black tax as the extra money that black professionals are expected to give every month to support their less fortunate families and relatives.

It is quite an obstacle for young black people as Thuli Dlamini finds out in this show. In the burbs, we meet a young professional and single mother of one.

Thuli and her daughter are living the South African dream. Thuli works in the city as an estate agent and her daughter, Sihle is at a model C school and becoming quite a militant liberal.

Their daily routine is thrown off by the unexpected arrival of Thuli’s parents Martha and Sizwe. She opens her home to them and her nephew Zack (Bahle Mashini), whose parents are not equipped to raise him properly.

The antics begin when the city dwellers and rural people coexist – and it plays out in humorous harmony. But it also makes you ponder the plight of being black. Black Tax is similar to the American sitcom Black-ish where things tend to work out for the better after those not like-minded family members poke and prod at stereotypes.

Thuli’s mother is worried that her daughter and granddaughter are straying too far from their cultural roots.

The episode in which she organises a ceremony – complete with umqombothi and a goat for slaughter – to inform the ancestors of their move to Joburg, had some real laugh-out-loud moments.

It works better when the slapstick is kept at bay. Let the writers shine, which then adds to the entire cast coming across as wholly immersed.

Seeing comedian Jason Goliath take on the role of a gay personal assistant as well as being Thuli’s friend is a hoot. The execution is well researched.

As for Jo-Anne Reyneke, she could quite easily make a mundane channel devoted to around-the-clock coverage of global financial markets entertaining.

Veteran actors Clementine Mosimane and Mandla Jwara effortlessly play into what you might expect Thuli’s parents to be like, a proud Zulu man and an even prouder woman.

Zack and Sihle (Mamodibe Ramodile) are easily the show’s most prominent attributes, along with Thuli’s shifty sibling, Menzi (Sne Dladla), who is always hot on the heels of some get-rich-quick scheme.

The 13-part comedy series is only three episodes deep on and BET, but it could be a little edgier in trying to take this bountiful subject matter as far as the creators can stretch it.

Curating each episode as rules of black tax with ideas around ubuntu that involve ancestors is smart, but the script can hit harder and be a little more daring. However, it’s still early days, and we hope the show, created by Meren Reddy, Joshua Rous and Luke Rous, grows in leaps. You were probably waiting for a black name to follow, but it doesn’t, which is a little worrying.

So far, accounts of this social phenomenon are reasonably accurate.

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