Savage Beauty Season 1 Review – A soapy, melodramatic guilty pleasure

Season 1

Episode Guide

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5
Episode 6 | Review Score – 3.5/5

 

Savage Beauty is the latest South African series to hit Netflix, right off the back of Blood & Water’s success. This time though instead of a case of mistaken identity and twin drama, the focus shifts to a beauty company called Bhengu Beauty and the drama that goes on with a hierarchical family wrapped up in that.

What begins as a simple revenge thriller soon balloons into all manner of soapy drama, including sordid affairs, romance, gangsters and a criminal underbelly lurking in the shadows. It’s a crazy series and Savage Beauty packs a lot into its 6 episodes – even if it is absolutely ladled with clichés and eye-rolling tropes.

Savage Beauty isn’t trying to win any awards and to be honest, the show feels quite reminiscent of those guilty pleasure melodramas like Penthouse: War in Life, Dynasty and, to a lesser extent, Succession. The feuding drama for the company itself is interesting, but it plays second fiddle to the main revenge plot, which essentially glues everything together.

That aforementioned story comes solely through Zinhle, a woman with a difficult past that links all the way back to Don Bhengu. I won’t reveal what her problems are with him here but suffice to say, it gives good cause for her to set out and make his life hell.

Zinhle is the real driver of this series though and her scenes are great, portraying a good balance between emotionally scarred sister and revenge-fuelled executioner. The show, for the most part, gets the balance right and the ending does do justice to her character.

The supporting players all have a good amount of drama too, with Don’s daughter Linda, matriarch Grace, Ndu and Phila all given their own drama across the run-time. That’s before mentioning Bonga, Zinhle’s brother, who has his own sub-plot which ties in nicely with his sister.

Around the midway point there’s a neat little scandal involving a burning warehouse that does a great job ramping up the tension of the story.

This is one melodramatic, pulpy show so if you’re in the mood for something light and breezy, you’re probably not going to appreciate the constant twists and bouts of drama every 10 minutes.

From the first episode onward, the show immediately makes it clear this is a soapy, melodramatic affair and it absolutely does not pull any punches. The accompanying orchestral score during these big reveals certainly has the same hallmarks as aforementioned K-drama Penthouse, although this series is nowhere near as mental as that one.

You could go into this and immediately point out all the flaws, including certainly character contrivances, plot issues and the obligatory cliffhanger ending but honestly, if you’re in the mood for a soapy, pulpy drama, this one hits all the right notes. It’s far from perfect but Savage Beauty is a definite guilty pleasure.


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6.5/10

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