Great year of TV: 2022 television series to check out

BEL-AIR 

Peacock / Showmax

If you loved hip-hop or the coolness of the 1990s, it is near impossible to not have known of The Fresh Prince. Not only for his Grammy-winning raps with his childhood friend DJ Jazzy Jeff, but also for his beloved sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Three decades later, after seeing a fan film on YouTube by a young director of a dramatic re-imagining of the popular sitcom, comedian Will Smith met the filmmaker and decided to help produce this 10-episode series. Similar to the sitcom, the storyline sees Will played superbly by newcomer Jabari Banks getting himself into trouble with the bad crowd of West Philadelphia. His mom suggests that he move in with his uncle and aunt in the lavish suburb of Bel Air. To enjoy this series, you have to remove the sentimentality of your love for the original sitcom, because they take their liberties in giving the characters new identities.

SAVAGE BEAUTY

Netflix

IIntrigue: Rosemary Zimu plays Zinhle Manzini in the new Netflix drama series ‘Savage Beauty’.

The talented young actress Rosemary Zimu as Zinhle leads a stellar cast of some of South Africa’s best actors in Nthati Moshesh (Grace Bhengu), Dumisani Mbebe (Don Bhengu) and Nambitha Ben Mazwi (Linda Bhengu). Zinhle rigs a competition and wins to be the face of the beauty empire “Bhengu Beauty ”. This is all part of Zinhle’s plan along with her brother Bonga (Mpho Sebeng) to infiltrate the world of the Bhengus and break it down from the inside. Their motive being revenge for something terrible that was done to them and their late sister 15 years before. Despite a few inconsistencies in the storyline, this is a great South African production with stellar performances and quality production. There are enough twists and turns to keep you glued to your couches. I expect Moshesh to win a few trophies for this one.

SEVERANCE 

AppleTV

Imagine if you literally didn’t have to carry the burdens of your work life to your home and vise-versa. This is the premise of this incredible series. Lumon Industries, a very profitable biotech company, has discovered a very innovative and experimental system that allows their employees to compartmentalise their work memories away from their personal lives. It’s as if there are two beings who live in one body and are unaware of each other. Mark (Adam Scott) has also decided to have his memories severed and we experience the advantages and eventually the frustrations of this experiment along with his colleagues who’ve also made the same decision. The consequences of such an enormous transition make him question a lot of things that happen at Lumon. Starting with the fact that nobody knows what they are actually doing for the business. Known mostly for his comedies, the show is directed by Ben Stiller and he does an astounding job on this sci-fi/thriller/drama. 

ABBOTT ELEMENTARY 

Disney+ / Hulu

A brilliant mockumentary (ala The Office and Parks and Recreation) that follows the very ambitious new second grade school teacher Janine (creator of the show Quinta Brunson) at her new dysfunctional Willard R Abbot Elementary school in Philadelphia. It focuses on the tension between young teachers, who still believe that things can change for the better versus the older teachers who’ve been there long enough to know that help is not coming. The incompetent principal Ava Coleman (stand-up comedian Janelle James) is more concerned about pulling all kinds of pranks on her teachers than doing her job. What keeps Janine inspired is two-fold, one is her admiration for Barbara Howard (Sheryl Lee Ralph) who is a kindergarten teacher with loads of experience and second, it is her reluctant crush on Tyler James Williams (Gregory Eddie) who was robbed of an opportunity to be principal. This show is very well written and the humour is not forced.

GASLIT

Starz / Hulu / Amazon Prime Video

In 1972, a poorly planned break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Washington, D.C. Watergate Office Building panned out disastrously and five men who subsequently got arrested had money on them that connected them to the committee for the re-election of President Richard Nixon. With further investigations by the press and the US justice system, it was discovered through recordings made in the  Oval Office that Nixon had attempted to cover up his administration’s involvement in the break-in. The scandal put pressure on the president to resign. Gaslit is a satirical thriller that explores all the characters that were involved in plotting the break in. How some of these forgotten characters convinced themselves that they were doing something noble instead of ill- conceived criminality born of ignorance and ego, is a mystery. It shows you how this affected not only their lives but their family members who had absolutely nothing to do with it. Look for outstanding performances from Julia Roberts and Sean Penn.

WECRASHED

AppleTV 

Based on the podcast WeCrashed: The Rise and Fall of WeWork, this drama series follows the brilliance of a unique and brave entrepreneur’s ability to build something extraordinary from very little and also be the main reason for its eventual demise. Israeli-American businessman Adam Neumann (Jared Leto) partners with Miguel McKelvey (Kyle Marvin) to build co-working space empire WeWork worth $47-billion. At the heart of all of it this series is really a love story. Adam falls in love with Rebekah (Anne Hathaway) , a free-spirited wanna-be-actress who studies yoga and Buddhism. It is actually Rebekah’s money, given to her by her father (connected to the Paltrow family), that Adam used as seed to start their business. As brilliant as Adam is, you see how eccentric and borderline insane his decision-making is. This series is both inspiring and heart breaking. 

BLOOD SISTERS

Netflix

This four-part mini-series is the first Netflix Nigerian Original Series that follows the intricacies of the wealthy Ademola family. The family business is being run by the smooth- talking Kola Ademola (Deyemi Okanlawon), who on the outside seems like a loving and peaceful man, but he physically and psychologically abuses his soon-to-be wife Sarah Duru (Ini Dima-Okojie). On their engagement day, Kola gets angry with Sarah over the choice of dress she wore for their engagement party. He starts strangling Sarah but her  best friend Kemi Sanya (Nancy Isime) rescues her. This begins a chase of cat and mouse between them and Ademola family’s dangerous Uncle B (Ramsey Noah). With Kola’s disappearance, other family secrets begin to come to light and the family has to do all they can to protect themselves and their wealth. 

WINNING TIME: THE RISE OF THE LAKERS DYNASTY

HBO Max / Showmax

You don’t have to be a basketball fanatic to enjoy this sports drama about the US basketball team the Lakers. The team was bought by the eccentric Dr Jerry Buss (John C. Reilley) in 1979. The story focuses on how Buss nearly went bankrupt taking a chance on a team that was not doing very well at the time. His plan was to get the young talent of the always smiling Earvin “Magic” Johnson (newcomer Quincy Isaiah) to partner with the team’s captain Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Solomon Hughes) to bring “Showtime” to the city of Los Angeles. A lot goes wrong before it gets right, but it is entertaining to witness the brave journey that turns it all around. It is hard to ignore how the real Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are not fans of the series.   

THE AFTER PARTY 

AppleTV

A murder mystery, a whodunnit, in the spirit of Sherlock Holmes — after a popstar, Xavier (Dave Franco) dies at his own home, with all his guests coming from a high school reunion. Everyone at the party arrives with a decade-long list of unresolved issues and resentments, which makes everyone a suspect. Every episode is told from a particular suspect’s point of view. What makes this series even more interesting is that when the detective Danner, hilariously played by Tiffany Haddish, asks each suspect to give their point of view, it is expressed in different genres — thriller, musical, animation. It is a refreshing way to tell a story. 

THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH

Showtime / AppleTV

A continuation of a 1976 film with the same name starring David Bowie, this sci-fi series is a story about an alien who decides to call himself Farady (Chiwetel Ejiofor). He arrives on Earth with a mission to save his planet and his species. If he fails to save his planet, Earth will be the next to be destroyed. His mission begins by finding the brilliant scientist Justin Falls (Naomie Harris), the only person to have worked out the formula that’s needed for Farady to fulfil his mission. What Farady did not expect was for him to discover the beauty of humanity and slowly start falling in love with it. Both Chiwetel and Naomie give Golden Globe-worthy performances. 

Special mentions: THE FIRST LADY, ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL, SUSPICION, SOMEBODY SOMEWHERE, SLOW HORSES, THE LINCOLN LAWYER, SHINING GIRLS, THE OFFER

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KABOMO
Kabomo is a writer, poet, emcee, magazine editor, singer, producer and director

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