Netflix has shown a huge interest in the continent. South Africa is the first African country that the streaming giant gifted with its first Netflix original—the 2019 series Shadow.
Recently, Netflix announced it would be renewing the series Queen Sono for a second season after the success of its first one, which premiered in January.
Alongside those Netflix Originals, some classic South African shows and movies are also available on the platform. From the recently added Intersexions and Tjovitjo to golden oldies such as Tsotsi and Hopeville, here are 10 South African movies and series old and new we recommend you stream on Netflix.
The action and crime thriller series Shadow is a South African superhero story that’s reminiscent of Luke Cage. Protagonist Shadrach “Shadow” Khumalo is impervious to pain, a trait that comes in handy when he decides to quit his job to fight crime in Joburg’s underworld and hunt down his daughter’s murderer.
Intersexions (2010 – 2013)
Intersexions is one of the finest drama series to ever come out of South Africa. The show follows the lives of different young South Africans as they navigate relationships and sex and illustrated the spread of HIV among young people. Intersexions doesn’t feel like an educational show at all, as it portrays the lived realities of South Africans without hiding or sugar-coating any aspect of it.
This South African classic movie has stood the test of time as its portrayal of Joburg and crime is still relevant to this day. Tsotsi was ahead of its time in that it afforded its black characters (especially the protagonist known as Tsotsi) as it traced how he became a criminal and showed both his humane and animal side.
Catching Feelings (2017)
The 2017 comedy stars Pearl Thusi and Kagiso Lediga and portrays the life of an author who has fallen from grace in a comical way. His insecurities come to the light when an older author who has transcended is introduced into his life. Catching Feelings gives a glimpse into the life of Joburg’s black middle class without taking itself as seriously as previous films that have explored the same theme.
Queen Sono (2020)
The action-packed series depicts 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 looks at South Africa’s violent past, but doesn’t dwell on it, instead opting to look at history’s effects on today’s society.
Hopeville, a series that aired on SABC 2 in the late 2000s, is an optimistic take on South African society. To support the swimming aspirations of his son, an estranged father attempts to restore a public pool but meets resistance from the community. Hopeville, starring veteran actor Themba Ndaba and then-emerging and young Junior Singo, the star-studded cast also included the likes of Desmond Dube, Jonathan Pienaar Terry Pheto and Mary Twala. The series explores the theme of father-son relations and can be both uncomfortable and heart-warming. Just like life itself.
Four Corners (2014)
Four Corners follows the life of a newly released ex-con in the Cape Flats as he triggers a gang war while seeking revenge. The conflict affects a young chess prodigy and those around him. Four Corners offers a glimpse into the crisis of gang culture in the Cape Flats and also shines the light on members of the community who do their best to protect young boys from gang activities and rehabilitate them where possible.
Tjovitjo (2017 – 2018)
Using isipantsula (pantsula dance) as an entry point, the series looks at the ills South Africans living in the township have to endure—poverty, gender-based violence and government incompetence among others. The series shines the light on a dance style and the lifestyle it comes with, and gives an insight into what it means to young people in the townships.
A businesswoman decides to continue her murdered sister’s investigation into a mining conspiracy that her own boss may be a part of in this 2019 drama. The film is focused thematically and offers easy viewing as it doesn’t have any complicated storylines. Uncovered touches on land reform, an omnipresent and burning topic in South Africa.
Baby Mamas (2018)
This 2018 comedy shows the roller coaster of emotions four women friends go through as they manoeuvre their way around motherhood, their social lives and romantic relationships. Each of the four friends comes from a different demographic of black South Africa and they face both unique and common challenges. Baby Mamas is another movie that portrays middle class black life in South Africa.