Will Groundbreaking New Series “Queen Sono” Shed Light on South African Politics?
Along with its subject matter, “Queen Sono” also sets new precedence for being created entirely by Africans, with a primarily African cast and produced on a Netflix budget.
“Queen Sono” is groundbreaking for several reasons: it’s Netflix’s first African Originals series, taking place and filmed in South Africa and featuring a commanding black female lead. Will it go further than that in broadening viewers’ perspectives on that corner of the world?
With a James Bond spy-thriller premise, the new series may not appear overly political, but that may help—after all, this is a series and not a documentary. It must entertain first.
South African actress Pearl Thusi (“Quantico”) stars as the title character, a James Bond-like operative who takes on dangerous missions while struggling with her personal life. With the entire African continent as her stage, Thusi is a field agent in South Africa’s secretive Special Operations Group (SOP). Her mission is to protect the country and the entire continent from any kind of threat, which leads to inevitable political themes: terrorism, corruption, and European neo-colonialism. The backstory on Thusi is also that she’s the daughter of a legendary South African revolutionary figure whose assassination was a pivotal moment in the transitional period after apartheid.
Amidst the usual hallmarks of a spy-thriller: fight sequences, shootouts, car chases, and sex—the first season depicts black nationalists, a suspicious Russian security company, and international financial institutions like the World Bank.
Debuting on February 28, the first season features six 47-minute episodes. Early reviews have been positive and a second season already seems likely.
Along with its subject matter, “Queen Sono” also sets new precedence for being created entirely by Africans, with a primarily African cast and produced on a Netflix budget. It’s created by Kagiso Lediga, who also executive produces alongside Tamsin Andersson. The ambition of the series is notable—being filmed in 37 different locations across Africa, including cities in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, and Zanzibar.
Netflix isn’t resting just yet on their global ambition with this new series either: last week, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos and a team of executives traveled through the African continent—meeting with local creatives as part of an aggressive content expansion into areas that are still relatively untapped sources of talent.
Kudos to Netflix for looking for new content in different places like this. With so many viewers gobbling up content on their queues these days, the demand for more is obvious. It seems only natural to expand and include diverse subject matters that are still couched within familiar premises.
“Queen Sono” is streaming on Netflix now.