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SATIRICALLY SPEAKING

The South Africa S*** Show’s Season 31 is off to a flaming start

The South Africa S*** Show’s Season 31 is off to a flaming start
Image composite: Malibongwe Tyilo. Original images: Adobe Firefly, Gallo images/Thulani Mbele/Darren Stewart

Accusations of treason, war-hungry rebel groups, and bad sangomas. 

The previous season of my all-time favourite show, Sass, aka the South African S*** Show, wrapped on 27 April, as it does every year. Even with the prospect of Jake Z’s return in the all-new season 31, I was a bit concerned that it was a rather uneventful close to the season, especially considering that this is a show that regularly goes where others fear to tread; a show that exposes its characters to horrors that would break Stephen King’s mind.

Yet, I remain hopeful. At least season 31 is off to a flaming start, literally. I am finding it very promising so far and as a result, I now have no doubt that this season will serve up the kind of flavourful and horrifically entertaining kak paella we’ve come to expect from this show season after season.

While I’m not a big fan of the stereotyping of the African continent in popular entertainment as a place where anything goes, I must admit I was rather tickled by the fiery new plot twist that kicked off the new season. A rebel group took to protesting what I assume were the country’s heating and electricity problems by replacing firewood with the country’s flag, apparently both as a matter of practicality and as a form of performance art. Fortunately for them, it turned out that the flag had been printed on a highly flammable polyester base, they didn’t even have to use paraffin.

Naturally, outrage ensued from environmental groups who would rather the rebels had burnt a flag printed on natural biodegradable fabric, perhaps Woolies’ sustainably sourced cotton. The country’s president too was gatvol, he immediately labelled this emission of potentially hazardous gases into the environment as nothing short of “treasonous”. As for its potential as trailblazing performance art, that seems to not be working out either. Sass’s otherwise usually dormant and light-heartedly unconcerned office of the Arts and Culture minister, released a statement condemning the rebel group’s work “in the strongest terms”. Oof!

Some might argue that as a piece of performance art, perhaps it succeeded in one regard, as an alarm clock to wake the fictional country’s Arts and Culture department from their legendary slumber; a deep sleep from which they only rise every few years strictly for matters related to the flag. Fans of Sass will recall that the last time we heard from them was two seasons ago, when they were shopping for a R22-million flagpole.

Read more in Daily Maverick: A monumental waste of money — government’s R22m flag project flies into a storm of criticism

Still, even with all the controversy, rebel group leader, the perpetually crimson-hued Tone Deaf Johnny, remained insistent that according to his sangoma, flags are the new impepho, and the smoke from the flag-burning would chase away pesky Julius Tokoloshes and their new Phala Phala Pals, perhaps even hold off a future extinction event known to supporters of the rebel group as the Doomsday Coalition, also mysteriously codenamed as the ANCMKEFF extinction-level event.

However, previews of upcoming episodes seem to hint that the flag-burning might have the opposite effect and actually increase the likelihood of the feared ANCMKEFF extinction-level event. Here this brilliant show reminds us once again of the importance of proper vetting when it comes to picking a sangoma. Burn the wrong thing and naughty little Julius Tokoloshes will nest under your bed and keep you up all night.

I, for one, am glued to my screen. I’m also super excited to see that they’ve brought back one of the show’s most controversial characters, a polarising queen that has not had many speaking lines in recent seasons: the African rebel group’s ever-spirited Godmother Helen.

Sensing that the skills that would be required in dealing with this controversy would be far beyond Tone Deaf Johnny’s natural abilities, she jumped into the ring and immediately told the fictional nation’s reporters that war was her rebel group’s real goal: “We want to go to war against those who are destroying the dream that once united our nation.” Love it! It’s giving Tina-Turner-Mad-Max-Beyond-The-African-Thunderdome levels of realness.

I’m not 100% sure where the writers are going to take this new plot, but I am properly intrigued.

Read more in Daily Maverick: 2024 elections hub

In a completely unrelated storyline, the fictional nation of Sass will soon go to the voting polls. This will be fairly early on in the season, within the next couple of weeks. In a bit of truly inspired writing that makes for brilliant commentary on the state of the real world, the people of Sass have each been asked to rethink the voting process as a form of durational performance art, where they get to vote in whoever they consider to be the lesser evil. They will then spend the next five years in daily suspense, waiting and watching, wondering if indeed, their choice was the lesser evil.

As with past seasons, they will of course suffer through unspeakable horrors, regardless of the choice they make; but if they make the right choice and choose the least evil from the ever-expanding buffet of evil before them, they will suffer a bit less with each voting year, and greatly improve the lives of future generations. If they refuse to choose and stay away from the polls, then they are guaranteed maximum multi-generational suffering for all but 1%. Think Squid Game meets the Saw movies. Exciting stuff!!! DM

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