Love and sorrow in Arendsvlei

As far as dramatic television goes, Arendsvlei is one of the most exciting and fun shows to watch on the small screen right now. Picture: Supplied
As far as dramatic television goes, Arendsvlei is one of the most exciting and fun shows to watch on the small screen right now. Picture: Supplied

The turbulent lives of the pupils, parents and teachers at Arendsvlei High School on the Cape Flats make for captivating viewing each week on kykNET & Kie, writes Rhodé Marshall.

Arendsvlei

kykNET & Kie (DStv channel 145)

Monday to Wednesday, 8pm

4/5

Being home for the holidays means that you’re forced to fall into the family television viewing schedule. For us, that means soapies. Tons of soapies. Because my lifestyle doesn’t allow for appointment television anymore, one of the little ones will patiently bring me up to speed on the latest romance, breakups and rivalries that are keeping everyone glued to their small screens.

During the holidays, to my surprise, the family had moved on from our beloved 7de Laan and was now focused on Suidooster and Arendsvlei on the kykNET channels. While I have previously seen an episode or two of Suidooster, this was my introduction to Arendsvlei, which I’ve so often seen discussed on Twitter. I was immediately hooked on this telenovela that has had viewers enthralled since its first episode aired in October 2018.

Set on the Cape Flats, it plays out at a fictional semi-private high school called Arendsvlei, named after its community.

There, the stormy lives of its pupils, parents and teachers play out, making for exciting viewing. The social ills bulldoze the youngsters of this community and so does the latest family crisis that is way beyond their years.

The adults are regularly running from secrets that stem from making difficult decisions to survive. It’s a real and very familiar story.

Arendsvlei is a family drama. The story is told from the view of the Cupido family – the founders of the school who work hard to make a difference in the lives of the young people in their community.

It is produced by Penguin Films and filmed in Milnerton, Cape Town. After submitting this story to a magazine for publication as a short story, writer Theltom Masimila also offered it to kykNET & Kie who loved it and agreed on a 156-episode telenovela. The second season is what we are currently enjoying.

Masimila has previously said that the story of Arendsvlei is based on his own life growing up. “Family members, including my dad, are teachers. I used them as my inspiration. This is their story,” he said.

The diverse characters have their trying journeys where they’re either searching for love, safety, identity or power. And if you’ve been searching for the best villain in town, look no further than Rehane Abrahams who plays Wendy Newman, a loan shark and owner of the local restaurant, The Wendy House. Wendy harbours a deep secret about her past and will stop at nothing to get her revenge.

She has no limits and gets a kick out of the evilest acts or some petty drama.

But one of the significant factors of Arendsvlei, which gives it its authenticity, is the unmistakable Afrikaans dialect the characters speak – just like you’ll hear on the streets of Cape Town.

And I guess that was my biggest issue with Suidooster and 7de Laan.

Arendsvlei shines at tackling real-life issues facing communities living on the Cape Flats. Fearless, yet with a lot of compassion, the show addresses issues ranging from mental illness, abuse, homophobia, drug abuse, patriarchy and teenage pregnancy to domestic and gun violence.

This show is telling stories from people who normally don’t have the platform to do so. For now, and I suggest you join me, I am going to take some time out and catchup on this amazing and emotionally intriguing show’s first season on Showmax.

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