Netflix Africa released it’s first African teen series this year called “Blood and Water”. Everyone has been so excited about it and giving it rave reviews but honestly considering that this is Africa (and for reference I’m a black African in Africa at the moment so I know what I’m talking about and not just spouting prejudiced, ignorant opinions) and the entertainment industry in Africa is desperate to get approval from the rest of the world, specifically the western world. So even when we produce crap, we compliment the shit out of it because we think that it will be the thing that causes an African sort of hallyu wave to happen here and soon we’ll have BTS. So that’s how shows such as “Blood and Water” that try and fail to be an international series end up being a hot mess.
The show is one of a few that centres around teenagers. One compliment that I do have for the series though is that it did not try to overemphasize poverty in Africa and make the African story all about struggle. The story concept itself is very interesting. ” A teenage girl transfers to a private school to figure out if the richest girl there is her long-lost kidnapped sister”. But it was poorly executed.
First of all the choice of casting. None of the main characters were really able to hold up the show. Ama Qamata was honestly not able to pull off being a main character that could keep you compelled to continue watching the whole series. When I like a series I watch it over and over and over again. And honestly I couldn’t bear to watch it again. And unlike other series, there was no amazing performance from the other actors to balance things off. The only other actor that somewhat managed to pull her weight was……The biggest problem with all that is that it isn’t a correct representation of acting in Africa. Africa has alot of talent. The movie “Spud” that starred Troye Sivan (the first one, not the sequels) is evidence of that. And this sad state of acting is what the international world will see because “Blood and Water” was in the top ten in for some time in both the USA and the UK. Mostly because they were interested in seeing a series from Africa.
But actors are only as good as the directing. Even the worst actor can make an amazing performance if the directing is good enough. And the fact that the director green lighted all of those scenes means that he approved of them to go into post-production. Personally I prefer the director from “Blue is the Warmest Shade” who worked his actors so hard in order to get the best scene. It seemed lazy. Rather be sued than safe.
The character development of the main characters is problematic as well. The characters were badly developed and it seemed that the writer was more interested in trying to be inclusive that they forgot how to make a cohesive story where the characters develop. I’m all for inclusivity but it shouldn’t be forced. Zama is supposed to be the best friend but is inconsistent in her behavior. They try to make her the ghetto girl but she’s unrealistic at best. Chris is the token LGBT person who ends up being offensive because his character promotes the idea that LGBT people are confused and promiscuous. Fikile…well let’s just say that there was just too much going on over there. I’m all for complex characters but this was done badly. This seems harsh but watch any other Netflix show with a dark concept like “You”, “Stranger Things” or “Euphoria” and you won’t be able to sit through one episode of “Blood and Water”. And that is what troubles me the most is that this show is not on small local network of which then it would be decent but no it’s on the biggest streaming platform in the world. If some of the first internationally watched shows bomb like this this will reduce Netflix’s willingness to invest in Africa.
Honestly I could really go on and on about this series but then I would start to sound vindictive and evil as though I have a personal grudge against the show but I don’t. It was just badly done. A good story, badly done.