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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Savage Beauty is an edgy South African drama that focuses on revenge, power, family dysfunction, and the controversial negotiation of African Blackness and beauty standards. It features mature storylines about child exploitation, illegal businesses dealings, marriage and child bearing, and infidelity, just to name a few. There's also cursing, strong violence, sexual content (including nudity), drinking, and drug use. The series is primarily in English; non-English conversations are subtitled.
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A must watch Show
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What's the Story?
The South African series SAVAGE BEAUTY centers around a young woman who is determined to expose a powerful family's darkest secrets in the name of justice. The Bhengu Beauty company was built by Don Bhengu (Dumisani Mbebe) with the help of his first wife Grace (Nthati Moshesh). Now one of the biggest cosmetics empires in the country, it's seeking to change its image by hiring Zinhle Manzini (Rosemary Zimu) as the new face of Bhengu Cosmetics. But unbeknownst to them, Zinhle and her brother Bonga (Mpho Sebeng) are the surviving two of three homeless siblings once used as testing subjects for Bhengu's toxic skin-whitening product. Now living on the Bhengu family compound, Zinhle's learning, and, with the help of her brother, secretly exposing, the family's darkest secrets to the destroy everything that Don and Grace have worked for. But her quest for revenge leads to innocent people getting hurt along the way, and may send her down an unintended path.
Is It Any Good?
The edgy South African soap opera offers a binge-worthy experience by featuring lots of family dysfunction, steamy sexual entanglements, and vengeful narratives. Context is important here: Savage Beauty is firmly rooted in the country where it's produced, as is reflected in its bilingualism, and the plotlines associated with the taking of multiple wives, its unique ban on controversial skin-lightening products, and the public's continual negotiation of Blackness and beauty standards. While these details make the show illuminating for viewers unfamiliar with the diverse Black South African sociocultural experience, Savage Beauty is still very much an over-the-top drama, and features lots of far-fetched schemes and scenes. Still, it tells a good story and offers a well-paced guilty pleasure.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the relationship between beauty and the shade of one's skin. Where does the concept that lighter skin meets a higher standard of beauty come from? How does media contribute to this way of thinking? Is this changing?
How does Savage Beauty characterize Zinhle Manzini's vengeful behavior? Is her behavior justified, given what happened to her and her siblings?
- Premiere date: May 12, 2022
- Cast: Rosemary Zimu, Dumisani Mbebe, Nthati Moshesh
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- TV rating: TV-MA
- Last updated: February 17, 2023
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