Maverick Life


The South African S*** Show is back at it again and better than ever!

The South African S*** Show is back at it again and better than ever!
Illustrative image: Maverick Life. Original photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Enter the eternal sunshine of the Jacob Zuma supporter’s mind.

As season 30 of the South African S*** Show (Sass) draws to a close, I simply do not understand how none of the major streaming services have picked up on this ground-breaking and emotional-state-capturing show.

What even is a genre? 

While writers and directors on inferior shows continue to stick with the dated formula of genre filmmaking, I’ve heard from a very reliable source that every morning, the Sass head writer walks into the writers’ room, takes one last swig and tells his team of scribes, “hold my beer pot,” then lets out a burp, filling the writer’s room with the nourishing aroma of recently brewed umqombothi. The potent fumes inspire all in the room; minds are expanded; genre boundaries are incinerated, and Emmy Award-worthy creativity abounds.

Take, for example, the show’s recent excursion into the fantasy-sci-fi-horror-drama genre. The writer’s room draws on themes initially explored in the 2004 cult classic, The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, where Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet play a couple that gets their memories of each other erased in order to move on from the memory of their turbulent relationship, only for fate to conspire another meeting between the two, as strangers once again, seemingly keen on giving toxicity another go.

Sass takes this relationship dynamic to a new, bigger, better and wholly original level, as a toxic romance between the fictional populace and a former president is rekindled and doused with extra paraffin. The president, a previously disgraced character, an ex-con and as underappreciated inventor of anti-retroviral crystal showerheads, is none other than Jake Z, once thought relegated to the past and likely to spend his golden years relaxing firepoolside, if not meditating in the soothing solitude of prison. Not so as the brilliant writers’ room would have it, Jake returns with more wives and children than his biblical namesake.

I’ve been lucky enough to get a preview of upcoming season 31 episodes and spoiler alert: as viewers of the show will soon find out in the season’s big reveal, there’s a perfectly logical reason for Jake’s new wave of popularity. It seems a dangerous experimental virus escaped from a KZN lab, leading to a countrywide memory loss pandemic, with symptoms of Stockholm’s syndrome. It later turns out that the lab’s scientists leaked the virus, and they were working with Jake all along.

The show is obviously (and very cleverly) using the fictional character of Jake Z — played a very talented and well-cast actor I must say — to comment on events of the real world, such as the brain-melting mystery of the return of Trump in the West or the return to power of the once exiled dictatorial Marcos family in the Philippines.

And as with Trump in the real world, no amount of effort to remind the fictional populace of Jake’s past, the corruption, the stolen money, the institutions destroyed, the court cases, the poverty, none of this seems to work against this new virus.

The show’s archivists, investigators, prosecutors, and journalists, all in one way or another having held the responsibility of guarding, defending, and regularly disseminating a truth serum once believed to be highly effective against similar outbreaks of the whattheactualfuck family of viruses, find themselves at an impasse. No amount of truth serum seems to work against the memory loss and Stockholm’s syndrome induced by this new areyoufuckingkiddingme strain of the virus.

As Jake continues on his anti-hero’s journey, inching ever closer to the seat of power and further away from accountability, some had hoped that as an ex-con, the country’s constitution and laws might prove to be an obstacle on his path. Not so, as revealed in this week’s episode, the fictional electoral courts have cleared the way for the man to pursue the country’s top seat.

Read more in Daily Maverick: The unstoppable impunities of being Jacob Zuma — with a lot of help from the ANC

Has the virus spread to the courts as well? Personally, I would advise against this sort of speculation. I’m normally pretty good at predicting story twists and turns, where writers might be taking a story. Admittedly, I’ve only seen a few of the next season’s episodes, but even I am dumbfounded. I am simply blown away by this show. How do they do it? How do they straddle the fantasy sci-fi genres and realism so convincingly?

It’s almost prescient how well it is written. In the South African S*** Show, you’ll find themes and plots reflecting just about every major socio-political trend that currently exists in the real world, but blown up, clowned up and exaggerated for dramatic effect.

“Unemployment? Hold my beer pot…. Poverty? You know nothing Jon Snow…. Crime and corruption? The writer’s room has you covered.”

All this in a show built around a country populated by some of the loveliest, friendliest, and most helpful and neighbourly characters. True ‘salt of the earth’ types.

I don’t know how the writers do it, but with their penchant for hyperbole, paradox, horror, and gratuitous violence, I hope they never decide to write a war-inspired story. Resilient they may be, but I can’t imagine the people of the South can take much more, even for fictional characters.

Thankfully, in the real world, real humans don’t have to be as resilient as people of the fictional nation Jake Z once led to the precipice of Armageddon. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Kevin Venter says:

    Satirical piece but I think it is closer to Life imitating art. I cannot believe that Jacob Zuma still has a) relevance and b) popularity. His support is a clear demonstration that the voting masses don’t care about corruption, ineptitude, zero service delivery and zero accountability, but are rather pinning their hopes on the chief throwing them a bone from the chest that he will no doubt raid if given even half a chance (again). I would think that in 2024, after 30 years of democracy and ANC rule, where so much has transpired, that the voters would now be mature enough to realize that the ANC and any offshoot party with any similar rhetoric is bad for the country.

    Those who vote for the ANC, EFF, MK should not complain about how bad their lives are, because, you get what you vote for. 30 years and billions flushed down the drain Money that should have gone to helping the poor, building an economy, infrastructure, services and a business environment, so that we can get people into jobs and out of poverty and reliance on the welfare of the tax payers. Cry the beloved country indeed.

  • mhoskins says:


    You are a master satirist! Thoroughly enjoyed season 30 of the South African S*** Show (Sass. Absolutely brilliant!

  • Campbell Tyler says:

    Just great satire Malibongwe, I look forward to the continuation of your analysis of the South African S*** Show. Very, very clever.

  • T'Plana Hath says:

    “I hope they never decide to write a war-inspired story.”
    That slaps hard. Real satire 𝘴𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 sting.

    We are grateful, Malibongwe.

  • Jean Butcher says:

    Is there a list of how many candidates there are registered who have pending court cases against them. I do know about 1 of them called Jacob Zuma. And how come they are eligible when our president says he is against corruption?

  • Beverley Roos-Muller says:

    In a day filled with stresses, it was such a relief to find a way to laugh. Humour as a deflection to keep us sane…how we need it now! Lekker.

  • Caroline de Braganza says:

    I’m ecstatic that Sass is back for a new season. I look forward to reading each satirically brilliant episode – you have so much mad material to work with. Thank you for making me laugh again.

  • Its time the celluloid roll jammed in the projector and burst into flames against the hot bulb. Outdated technology? O yes! let me demonstrate by counting to a few billion using all of my fingers and toes.
    Better still, let the lead actor sit down quietly and slowly works out the answer to his numerical riddle as he twiddles his fingers and toes.

  • Samantha Vandersteen says:

    What a fantastic piece. I’ve never quite been filled simultaneously with a sense of amusement & dread before.

    It’s the combination of blind loyalty & the refusal of consideration that is the problem – like the installation of mass blinkers on a population of people.

    We see it in the workplace all the time. One person will have a problem, kick up a fuss & people will walk out & the people following will not walk out through any issue of their own. Many of our people, unfortunately, don’t possess the ability to think or act on their own.

  • ST ST says:

    Brilliant! Laugh or cry or both? Either may lead to momentary relief & peace

  • Kanu Sukha says:

    “better late than never” probably explains why I am only now responding to Mali’s piece .. or is it masterpiece ? NO… I was not trying to dodge the ‘precision’ (sic!) guided missiles that BBs “most moral” IDF was launching across Palestine … for this late response . Your acronym SASS in your review/critique, is missing the A at the end, where I fortunately or unfortunately (depends on where you are in the queue – not to be conflated with que, sera sera) find myself ! Otherwise it is singularly enlightening as it is devastating .

  • William Dryden says:

    Couldn’t stop laughing while reading, Brilliant piece of writing.

  • Denise Smit says:

    Please keep us laughing and scared at the same time

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