Blood and Water:A New Take on the Teen Drama
Blood and Water was released on Netflix in May and is Netflix's second drama from Africa. The premise of the show revolves around around Puleng, played by Ana Qamata, whose sister was kidnapped at a young age as part of a human trafficking network. One day Puleng meets someone who she resembles and starts to believe that she is her sister. In order to investigate she transfers to the elite school her suspected sister attends. The show goes on to explore the drama that ensues over six episodes.
On the surface this show seems to be another typical teen drama. But there are a few outstanding aspects that set it apart. Throughout the show the human trafficking narrative adds a darker and more serious undertone to the show. Especially considering it's relatability to South Africans. Globally human trafficking affects the lives of at least 21 million people. But in South Africa human trafficking has been on the rise since 2018, it is estimated that 1.2 children are trafficked each year (stat from Unicef). In an interview with Okay Africa, director Nosipho Dumisa speaks on the topic, saying: “In some way or the other a lot of us have suffered trauma, and I think when we conceived Blood & Water, the statistic was something like ‘every five hours a child goes missing in South Africa.’ That is an insane statistic. And that tells you how many people have had to deal with something like this. So I think generally, the world and South Africans are ready to be able to experience a new African narrative.”
But South Africa isn't all tragedy, and the show makes sure to showcase that as well. From parties, to rich elite schools all the glitz and glamour the country has to offer is on show in addition to its languages. There are at least 35 indigenous languages native to the country with ten official languages in the country today. The inclusion of these aspects helps the show to identify itself as uniquely South African.
For many this show is an introduction to South African culture and lifestyle, taking the traditional teen drama and transporting it to a new setting with deep themes and engaging performances. Both Ana Qamata and Khosi Ngema deliver solid performances in their roles as Puleng and Fikile. And not only are they good at their job but they are also a way for fans of successful teen dramas like Riverdale, Elite, and Gossip Girl, to see dark-skinned women be successfully captivating main characters.
As Netflix has recently renewed the show for a second season, let's just say we'll be waiting for more.