Technically sound, a captivating storyline, homegrown quality. This Netflix series should be the next show on your quarantine binge-watch list.
Netflix’s first South African commissioned series, Queen Sono, is a six-episode, espionage crime drama that showcases the quality story writing, production and acting that our country has to offer.
Viewers are thrown straight into the action in the first scene, as we see Queen Sono (Pearl Thusi), a field agent for the Special Operations Group (SOG), while she is on an intel collection mission.
Queen’s mission hits a speed bump and she has to resort to “manual labour”, stealing a laptop from her target and being chased by thugs. She deals with the bad guys with kicks and punches, quintessential of a classic eTV Friday-Action-Night film, setting the tone of action that will tickle the fancy of any action enthusiast.
Sono is not just your typical loose-cannon, femme-fatale who gets a thrill from knocking around her enemies. She also has to deal with calls from her paternal grandmother, Mazet (Abigail Kubeka), in the middle of a mission, reminding Queen that they were supposed to be going to church together.
We later learn that Sono is also the daughter of the late anti-apartheid revolutionary, Safiya Sono, and is not afraid to crack some skulls to find her mother’s killer.
In this way, show creator and stand-up comedian, Kagiso Lediga, cleverly creates tension between Sono’s professional and private life.
Upon first glance, the first half of the series does seem messy, with technical aspects of the show coming across as novice. The lighting in most of the one-on-one scenes leaves characters’ faces underexposed and difficult to see. Initially, some characters don’t seem significant enough for the amount of screen time they receive.
By the time you get halfway through the season, the lighting and the gaps in the storyline are drastically improved. It seems that these were technical decisions made to mirror the viewer’s uncertainty rather than actual technical errors.
The storyline is reminiscent of Sam Raimi’s iconic Spiderman 2. An urban hero, balancing the fine line between their private and professional lives, doing their best to keep them separate.
Lediga captures the essence of this in Queen Sono, with Mazet’s call to Queen reminding her to come to church. Mazet is one of the many characters of the show that give it that South African flavour. As a South African, you cannot be unfamiliar with the “gogo” archetype.
The characters, the predominant setting of the Johannesburg CBD, and the political subject matter of corrupt politicians, create a very familiar picture for South Africans, in the world of Netflix that often feels far from home.
Without a doubt, Queen Sono, is a must-have on your self-quarantine binge-list, with the full season now available to watch on Netflix. The cliffhangers will leave you itching for season 2.
Review Score: 7.5/10
FEATURED IMAGE: Pearl Thusi is the main character in Queen Sono, the South African Netflix series. Can she balance her professional and personal lives? PHOTO: Provided