Blood and Water is Netflix’s first African YA original, and we are long overdue

Blood and Water

Across the world, the Young Adult genre of entertainment has become a juggernaut of a sub-genre, spawning global franchises with obsessive fans and launching the careers of dozens of actors and actresses like Blake Lively, Sienna Miller, Sarah Michelle-Gellar to name a few. Even in Africa, YA themed stories like MTV’s Shuga has recorded similar levels of fandoms, building cult followings around actors like Dorcas Shola Fapson, Jemima Osunde, Timini Egbuson and Sharon Ezeamaka. There is something about young people navigating very adult problems that harkens to the nostalgia of youth for older audiences and provides very real and present representation for contemporary teenagers and young adults. It has taken Netflix some time, but they are finally trying their hand at some high school focused Young Adult driven original series, starting with Blood and Water.

From the trailer, it is clear that Blood and Water honours many of the tropes of the high school drama story line of the YA genre. The show’s protagonist is a teenage outsider who gets transplanted into a school environment that is world’s away from her life. She finds parallels to a glamorous queen bee who she shares a secret history. The main character has to navigate the intricacies of the new social class into which she belongs while holding on to the identity that separates her from the class systems that dictate who is accepted or rejected in her new prep school. There is a buffet of bullying, commentary on social class and ostracization. But Blood and Water also breaks a number of existing YA tropes, its lead characters are all black and female, and dark skinned, with hairstyles that celebrate African heritage, and from the trailer, it seems Blood and Water will explore indigenous South African cultures and urban South African life.

This is a worthy inclusion to the genre and a groundbreaking moment for television in Africa, we cannot wait till May 20th.


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