Soapies: why do we love ‘em?

04 October 2019
Author   Andile Sicetsha
If there is one thing South Africans have in common, it’s their love for soapies. Day of our Lives and The Bold and the Beautiful were powerhouses in South African television.
That’s before we got tired of Brooke and Ridge’s rollercoaster of a relationship, and how Stefano Dimera’s immortality was never cleared up in the beginning – he just kept coming back!
Topics that are much closer to home, like the dynamism in the relationships formed with people from different classes and race, are very relatable and that is what producers like Mfundi Mvundla use in creating soapies.
Soapies are the crown jewel of local and international TV. Advertisers like them better because that is when they can use their dark magic to sell us things we don’t need.
The open-ended storyline that is designed to drag on for seasons is the catalyst in keeping audiences hooked on the soapie. The provocative plots that are made up of conflicts, intrigue and shock-factor are the cherry on top of the proverbial cake.
Audiences fall in love with the characters that are strategically designed to die out in a season or two.
The villains often survive the longest, and their betrayal, matched with their empathetic brokeness, takes the audience on a love-hate journey that blurs the lines between reality and fantasy.
A perfect example of this is how Connie Ferguson, who played Karabo Moroka on Generations, got smacked up at a grocery store by a fan for cheating on Tau Moroka (played by Rapulana Seiphemo).
This was way before she and her husband, Shona Ferguson dethroned Generations as South Africa’s hit soapie with their show, The Queen.
There has never been this much competition in South African soap operas than there is now. Uzalo and Skeem Saam have captured the young audience and Isibaya, with 7 de Laan, still persists at the top.
Top Soapies of 2018 (and the amount of viewers) include:
Generations – The Legacy, Views: 68,116,334
Say what you want about Mfundi Vundla but the man still maintains his position at the top of South African entertainment television. After much controversy surrounding actors not being paid their royalties by Mfundi, the soapie saw a mass overhaul of actors
People swore that this spelt the end of Mfundi’s reign at the top of South African soap operas. However, numbers don’t lie and according to BRCSA, Generations, The Legacy is the most-watched soapie on local TV.
Uzalo - Views: 65,038,669
This telenovela is one of the youngest in this list. It was produced by Stained Glasses Productions, a film company co-owned by Kobedi ‘Pepsi’ Pokane and HHP, South Africa’s legendary Hip-Hop artist.
The storyline of this soapie is set in Kwa-Mashu, a densely populated township in Kwa-Zulu Natal. The plot is centred on two families: the Mdletshes, who manage the Kwa-Mashu Kingdom Church, and the Xulus, the family that runs a car theft syndicate.
The inventiveness in how the plot takes on a new shape every week is what audiences appreciate about this soapie. August will probably be the most intense it has ever been, you can view this month’s teasers here.
Scandal - Views: 30,239,867
Scandal has quietly gained ahead of popular telenovelas such as The Queen, Isibaya and Rhythm City. E-TV does not boast itself for its soapies but Scandal has played a vital role in producing the numbers for the channel.
The storyline is set on the daily interactions of the investigative reporters of The Voice. The lives of the photographers, reporters and editors cross paths and a lot of disturbing truths are uncovered, proving that one never really knows enough about a colleague.

 tortise consultancy


The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

Contact Us

Windhoek Observer House
c/o John Meinert & Rossini Street
Windhoek West
Tel: +264 61 411 800
Fax: +264 61 226 098