The year that was
2018 had more TV highs and lows than a hike up Mount Everest. Here’s a recap of what’s hot and not, the movers, the shakers and everything in-between that kept us glued to our screens for 12 months.
Prison Break’s 2017 reboot was a flop but it set a trend for local shows this year. Season 3 of Mzansi Magic’s Lockdown (2017- current) returned with more behind-bars brawls than ever at the Thabazimbi Women’s Correctional Facility – they even flew in US actress Tichina Arnold (Rochelle in Everybody Hates Chris, 2005-2009) as newcomer Paulette. “This other world is escapism for the ordinary person,” says Tichina. “It’s part of modern society, so you can’t escape it and there are so many stories to tell. It makes for compelling storytelling because the characters are diverse and you will find yourself in one of those people in the show.” Just about every local soapie featured a prison storyline too, like Isidingo (1998- current) who’ve thrown The Deep’s crime queenpin Nina (Khabonina Qubeka) in the slammer to add insult to supernatural injury in her war with Lincoln (Lindani Nkosi).
Unsurprisingly, reality shows came out tops, whether it was returning Survivor SA (2006- current) after a fiveyear hiatus, throwing ingredients into a pan to wine and dine professional foodies on season 2 of My Kitchen Rules SA (2017- current) or pricking fingers with a sewing needle in the first season of Project Runway SA (2018- current). They did so well that it was a no-brainer for DStv to renew them all for new seasons while also bringing in new shows for 2019, like The Bachelor SA. “The contestants are you and me,” says M-Net head of publicity Lani Lombard. “Ordinary people who make magic. It’s engaging and the social media interaction makes feedback immediate. Reality rules.”
BEAM US UP, SCOTTY
Streaming services have blasted to the front of TV land locally. You want a show? Chances are excellent that you can stream it and to any device – smart TV, laptop, even your cellphone thanks to apps from streaming services like Showmax (see our bonus holiday feature on p8). Watch episodes on the go no matter what you’re doing. No ad breaks. No repeats. No missing the episode because you’re stuck in traffic. And Showmax is doing something different to everyone else locally – thanks to partnerships with channels like Mzansi Magic and kykNET, they’ve got original content and exclusives that are available to view right after they air on regular television, including The Housekeepers (Mzansi, 2018- current), Waterfront (2017- current) and the ridiculously addictive Tali’s Wedding Diary (2018- current).
TV bigwigs don’t care if fans are upset when they cancel shows – if a production isn’t performing, it gets axed like cop comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013current) and dark fantasy series Lucifer (2015- current). They were cut off in the middle of the year but surprisingly found salvation in their masses of fans. Lucifer was bought by Netflix for a season 4 in 2019, while fan favourite Brooklyn was picked up by NBC for an extended sixth season.
Tichina Arnold (third from left) came all the way from the US for her role in prison drama Lockdown.
You can stream local drama Housekeepers if you miss an episode.
My Kitchen Rules was a reality hit.
Lucifer was saved from cancellation.