Episode 1 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Blood and Water is the TV equivalent of scraping butter over toast and running out before it’s fully covered. Sure it’s edible enough and there’s parts that hit the right balance between butter and bread but there’s also going to be some dry and tasteless sections that you really could do without. On the surface, Blood and Water’s visuals soak in the beautiful South African shoreline and the familial mystery is enough to get you hooked on the story. Unfortunately some bland subplots, a glacial one-note narrative and stifled acting hold this back from being a better title.
Set in the heart of South Africa, Blood and Water revolves around teen Puleng who finds her whole childhood overshadowed by the heartbreaking disappearance of her sister Phume. When she heads out to a party with her friend Zama to let off some steam, the 17 year old Fikile happens to be celebrating her birthday there, leading her to question whether this girl could be her long-lost sister. What follows from here is a story that interweaves this central mystery with several formulaic subplots including a teacher/student affair, a “misunderstanding” trope in a love triangle and lots of melodrama.
The story is crying out for some twists and turns along the way but by episode 3 it becomes apparent that’s not going to happen. Throughout the 6 episodes there’s some good drama and one solitary unexpected plot development but the central mystery flat-lines its way to the disappointing and frustrating final scenes that leave things wide open for a second season without actually giving any conclusive answers.
Teen dramas are incredibly difficult to get right and it’s not helped by how saturated the market is, even on Netflix itself. Between Riverdale, Elite, Sabrina and Outer Banks, there’s a whole wealth of content on the platform that overshadow and outshine this one making it a very difficult series to recommend. It’s such a shame too because this is one of those shows with a lot of potential and promise. While it doesn’t wholly squander that potential, and the soapy teen drama is enough to whet the appetite for some, the show lacks a definite hook or twist to reel you into this tired and overdone formula.
Stylistically, Blood and Water does have some positives though. There’s a lot of authentic text conversations in this including memes and colloquialisms along with a dialect that’s predominantly English but does swing into Zulu from time to time. The soundtrack is decent, with a good collection of hip hop merged with other genres, while the visuals are really well-handled throughout.
Overall then Blood and Water does have some redeeming features but not enough to make this anything other than a mediocre and sometimes disappointing effort. It’s not outright bad but it’s not particularly good either. It’s a middling, run-of-the-mill teen drama that ticks all the boxes but never excels beyond that or does anything all that great. The 6 episodes are easy enough to get through but by the end you’ll undoubtedly be wanting more; more from this first season rather than more of the same if a second season is green-lit.