SCANDALS BEHIND BARS
Orange is the New Black – SA style – in e.tv’s Scandal. Ilse Van Hemert, the series producer, sheds light on the genesis of this whodunit story arc, why the soap took a risky gamble by putting several of their characters behind bars and why the actors are
TO DATE, prison storylines in soaps haven’t worked. Mostly because with only one villain behind bars, there are too many limitations.
But e.tv’s Scandal have broken the curse, so to speak.
Series producer Ilse Van Hemert, renowned for her inimitable imagination, shares, “It started off with the idea that viewers, not that they realise what they asking for, have been, with research conducted year-in and year-out, have been outraged by the fact that villains get away with murder. Although they love their villains, there is something in their sense of justice, that would not accept that the hero always ends up looking useless. Deep down, it stops people believing in justice. We didn’t want to sell despair. We wanted to sell hope. We realised, in this soap, we can bring the villains to book because we have so many of them. And they can form an entire world.”
And that’s exactly what they did, with the inside and outer worlds often colliding.
“It was quite a risky decision,” she agrees. “But we wanted take the plunge. No other soap or telenovela is doing this… We wanted something distinctive. And there are so many scandals that can happen inside prison.”
On the three Nyathi family members in prison: Lucas, his son Mangi and Shakira, she explains, “We explored the sins of the father philosophy. Mangi has always said that he can’t escape his family. We thought if we took him through the process of justice, he can redeem himself. We also felt that prison would not be interesting if it was only filled with bad guys.”
That said, it also made Lucas more vulnerable as he had to worry about not only his own life. And that vulnerability provided the writers with much latitude.
That’s not forgetting criminal linchpin Neo’s strained relationship with Lerumo Chabedi.
Van Hemert says that they killed Mofokeng …but it is an open-ended exit in case his schedule frees up in the future.
While they are keeping a tight lid on the real killer, all will be revealed on December 3 when the viewer competition closes.
#1 Lucas Nyathi: He has a number of assassination attempts on his life, which were orchestrated by Neo.
#2 Mangi Nyathi: He has even more reason. Neo got him hooked on drugs, was responsible for Ruby’s death and has been on an unending vendetta kill his father.
#3 Shakira Nyathi: She was forced to seduce the warden to get hold of a phone which was in his possession. Neo’s henchmen have also been holding Abigail’s death over her. #4 Oliver More: Undermined by Neo, he is also enraged that Lerumo is being groomed as the new heir to his drug empire.
#5 Dustbin Man: He feels betrayed by Neo and wasn’t happy when Neo took Lerumo under his wing in the prison.
#6 Mjomane: He found out that Neo knew that Lerumo was an undercover cop and instead of killing him, he told him to get out of the prison, which is not taken lightly in the prison world.
Scandal airs on e.tv on weekdays at 8pm.
JAILBIRDS: From left, Lucas Nyathi (Sello Maake ka Ncube), Mjomane (Kamogelo Bareki) and Mangi Nyathi (Kagiso Modupe) with Shakira Nyathi (Dawn Matthews, above) also among the suspects in the murder of Neo Mokheti (Jerry Mofoken) in e.tv’s Scandal.