Netflix Is About To Drop Your Next TV Obsession

Welcome to “What’s Good,” a weekly column where we break down what’s soothing, distracting, or just plain good in the streaming world.
Photo: Courtesy of Lindsey Appolis/Netflix.
What’s Good: Blood & Water on Netflix Canada
Who It’s Good For: Me, specifically, since it feels like it was created for me in a lab based on my Netflix algorithm. This is a teen drama series set at a prep school (my fave kind of teen drama) starring a Black girl as the lead (!!!) and a predominantly Black cast (!!!). So, for those of us who inhale teen content, but rarely see ourselves represented, this show is for us. Plus, it’s basically Gossip Girl meets Elite meets Riverdale but in South Africa. Netflix is pandering directly to me, and I am not mad at it. 
How Good Is It? Blood & Water doesn’t officially drop on Netflix until Wednesday, but I managed to get my hands on the first few episodes, and let me tell you, it’s as deliciously chaotic as the trailer promises.
The series (Netflix’s second African original) follows 16-year-old Puleng Khumalo (the exquisite Ama Qamata) as she sets out to solve a 17-year-old mystery: the abduction of her sister. The first episode opens on her sister’s 17th birthday, which her grieving mother celebrates every year with a morbid over-the-top party. After a fight with her mom, Puleng ends up at another birthday soiree — this one’s crawling with rich kids — that leads to her budding obsession with Fikile Bhele (Khosi Ngema, doing her best “popular girl with a heart of gold”), a “genuine influencer” she swears is her long-lost sister. 
Fikile is a swimming star at an elite prep school in Cape Town, and Puleng transfers there to get closer to her maybe-sister. From there, we get all the things we’ve come to know and love from this genre: steamy make-outs, cute school uniforms, the obligatory slap across the face, and lots of shots of sexy students getting up to trouble. It's a good thing, according to Puleng’s best friend, that “rich people can’t be dodgy.” We’ll see about that. 
Aside from the juicy drama and solid performances this series delivers, it’s a refreshing addition to Netflix’s ever-growing roster of teen content. It’s no secret that the streaming service has had a colourism problem. In almost every YA show it produces (13 Reasons Why, On My Block, Trinkets, Outer Banks, I Am Not Okay With This, I could go on…), the only Black female characters are lighter-skinned actresses who eerily fit into a certain mould of Black girl that this industry has deemed worthy. As Zendaya put it in 2018 while acknowledging her privilege, “I am Hollywood’s acceptable version of a Black girl and that has to change.” I hope Blood & Water is Netflix’s first signal of change. 
Support Blood & Water because it’s a win for representation (quick shout-out to some other teen content starring beautiful dark-skinned young Black women: Selah and the Spades, Pariah, and Jinn), but also because it’s as wild as Riverdale, as risqué as Elite, and as full of acerbic wit as Gossip Girl. It deserves the same chance to garner reckless devotion from shameless adults who love teen TV. 
Things that are also good: 
Betty on Crave, the show about female skateboarders (based on the film, Skate Kitchen) that more people should be talking about
Having a dog — that’s it, that’s what’s good
• Crying tears of joy on your couch while watching the Michelle Obama documentary Becoming
• Playing Erykah Badu and Jill Scott tracks back-to-back to try to recreate their epic Verzuz battle on IG live
• Re-watching 10 Things I Hate About You on Amazon Prime for a Heath Ledger fix 
 Normal People, the horniest show on TV, is finally available for Canadians to, um, enjoy too

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