Fan backlash over the casting aside, “The Wife”, which is inspired by author Dudu Busani-Dube’s, Hlomu series is bound to attract a curious audience.
The fact that Showmax’s first original telenovela series is produced by multi-award-winning production house Stained Glass, who have proved their Midas touch with shows like “eHostela”, “Ifalakhe”, “Durban Gen” and “Lingashoni”, is reason enough to have some confidence in the series.
The streaming platform has commissioned three seasons comprising 40 episodes each.
And the stories will be based on “Hlomu the Wife”, “Zandile the Resolute” and “Naledi His Love”, respectively.
For those who are unfamiliar with the novels, they are based on the lives of eight Zulu brothers from a feared crime family and are told from the perspective of the women that marry into the family.
In the show, which debuts on November 11, Hlomu (played by Mbalenhle Mavimbela), a journalist, falls in love with a taxi driver named Mqhele (Bonko Khoza).
But soon her rose-tinted views fade as she learns his secrets after tying the knot. Conflicts are par for the course in such situations.
And that is what fuels the curiosity around the series, the storytelling is very layered.
“Mbalenhle and Bonko are fairly fresh faces in the industry; there isn’t any one role or character that audiences can instinctively affix to them,” says showrunner Gugu Ncube-Zuma.
“As a result, they will truly embody and be known intrinsically as Hlomu and Mqhele. What solidified this decision was their undeniable chemistry: it was just electric.”
Mavimbela added: “When I found out ’Hlomu the Wife’ was being turned into a series, I jumped at the chance to audition. Funnily enough, a while back I did a TikTok pretending to be ’Hlomu the Wife’ and that I had ‘made it’, not knowing that I would end up playing the character. It was even trending.”
The other cast members include Kwenzo Ngcobo, Sipho Ndlovu, Abdul Khoza, Mondli Makhoba, Thulane Shange, Linda Majola, Bongani Gumede, Dumisani Dlamini, Siyabonga Shibe and Zikhona Sodlaka.
Perhaps fresh-faced anchors will work to the telenovela’s advantage as established actors, while certainly competent, carry the baggage of popular past characters that can sometimes be ruinous.