’Life with Kelly Khumalo'. Picture: Showmax
’Life with Kelly Khumalo'. Picture: Showmax

10 of the most popular local TV shows of 2020

By Debashine Thangevelo Time of article published Dec 18, 2020

Share this article:

2020 was an unusual year, to say the least. Since the corona virus arrived on our shores, TV became an escape from the pervading gloomy and stressful atmosphere.

Thankfully, some of the offerings enjoyed a red carpet premiere before our reality shifted to the virtual realm.

As such, we take a look at some of the biggest home-grown noise makers on TV and streaming platforms.


Boity: Own Your Throne.

Viewers were elated to learn that Boitumelo “Boity” Thulo had bagged her own reality show. When it debuted on BET in January, it trended on social media. Fans were completely obsessed with their all-access pass to Thulo and tuned in religiously to see what was going on in the world of the actress, rapper and TV host.


There was a lot of hype around Netflix’s first African original series. With Pearl Thusi at the helm, the series also starred Vuyo Dabula, Sechaba Morojele, Chi Mhende, Loyiso Madinga, Rob Van Vuuren, Kate Liquorish, Khathu Ramabulana, Enhle Maphumulo, Abigail Kubeka, Connie Chiume, Otto Nobela and James Ngcobo. The crime drama explored the worlds of secret agents with the Special Operations Group (SOG) and the powerful Gromova crime family. Sadly, Netflix cancelled the second season due to the challenges brought on by Covid-19.


Still Breathing

This drama on M-Net left viewers fighting back the tears. From the creative husband-and-wife duo, Tiffany and Johnny Barbuzano, the series looked at life, death and the mess in between. In some ways, it reminded me of “A Million Little Things”, where a suicide becomes a sort of Pandora’s Box to exposing a scandal, which has a ripple effect on the lives of several close-knit friends. Brilliant series with a stellar cast.


Kelly Khumalo has grown a thick skin over the years. She’s had no choice but to do so as the award-winning singer and actress has had her name dragged through the mud on several occasions. Synonymous with controversy, especially where her love life is concerned, she is regularly trolled on social media.

The Showmax reality show gave viewers the opportunity to be a fly on the wall as she juggled motherhood, being a business woman and releasing a new album.

She added: “I don’t want people to think I’m setting the record straight. That’s not what this show is about. I owe nobody an explanation, whatsoever. The premise of this show is to tell my story through my own lens.”


Somizi Mhlongo-Motaung. Picture: Supplied

After numerous cooking videos on social media, the “Idols SA” judge bagged his own cooking show on 1Magic. And fans loved it. Each episode saw Somizi Mhlongo-Motaung open his home to a South African personality he is also good friends with. While cooking them a lovely meal, he enjoys a candid chat with his guest. And he is joined by hubby Mohale Motaung-Mhlongo.


Nthati Moshesh’s “Isono“ character, Mary Ndlovu, has seen many jaws drop. Picture: Supplied

BET’s first telenovela has been most addictive in its dark and twisted way. And Nthati Moshesh has been a revelation as the protagonist, Mary Ndlovu. Her Machiavellian manoeuvres in the telenovela cement her ranking as one of the country’s finest actresses. Her ruthlessness is akin to that of Mr Kaplan (played by Susan Blommaert), who was Raymond “Red” Reddington’s cleaner in “The Blacklist”, but multiplied by 10.

This is a wonderfully-cast series with plenty of jaw-dropping twists


This telenovela was a first for M-Net. And it got viewers talking, especially after bagging some of SA’s finest for the cast, many of whom were former faces on “Isidingo”. “Legacy” is set in the fast-lane world of investment billionaires. It looks at the power-struggles as a family tries to maintain control of the business after the untimely demise of its founder. There’s plenty of deception, betrayal and ruthless ambition at play.


This award-winning Mzansi Magic series bowled viewers over. With Katlego Danke, Zolisa Xaluva, Connie Chiume and Thembi Seete among the leads, “Gomora” drew parallels between the rich and the poor as the worlds of two families collide. The layered storytelling is relatable and gripping.


Ama Qamata and Cindy Mahlangu in “Blood & Water”. Picture: Neo Baepi / Netflix

This Netflix series was a hit when it premiered in May. It follows the events that followed after a party where a Cape Town teen set out to prove that a private-school swimming star is, in fact, her sister, who was abducted at birth. This teens series was given the green light for a second season.


This Netflix three-part series is certainly a great way to wrap-up 2020. From the Ramaphakela Siblings of Burnt Onion Productions, this series looks at the mayhem that unfolds when the Sello and Twala family get together for the wedding of Beauty (Thando Thabethe) and Sbu (Sandile Mahlangu). Beauty’s older sister, Tumi, has a lot to do with the resulting upsets and tension. This series boasts a dream cast. Having watched two episodes already, I can honestly say this series will have you in stitches. There is such wonderful chemistry between the stellar cast that you almost feel like a guest at this wedding. It’s the perfect stress-reliever for 2020!

Share this article: