The long awaited first episode of the Real Housewives of Durban aired on the 29th of January on Showmax and despite the slightly uncomfortable closing scene, it was relatively underwhelming. RHOD follows a cast of six affluent women in the Durban area and from the very beginning we can clearly see that the cast is certainly not made up of a single housewife; all of the ladies are businesswomen portraying real life success stories. Ayanda Ncwane, Nonkanyiso Conco, Sorisha Naidoo, Kgomotso Ndungane, Nonku Williams and Anne Ludick all bring different personalities to the show. This strong independent women storyline seems to be theme of this episode as this is what the cast/production chose to put at the forefront of the ladies’ individual introductions (we’re not complaining though).
Of course the urge to compare this franchise with its Johannesburg equivalent and USA counterpart is irresistible, due to most critics cringing at how much South African adaptations of overseas shows tend to mimic American behaviour resulting in an inauthentic representation of the SA setting and its people. Needless to say, following the success of the Real Housewives of Johannesburg, the ladies of Durban have big shoes to fill. To be fair, this was only the first episode meant to introduce us to the cast so it was expected to be on the tamer side of things. However, besides their husbands or occupations, we have learned little about the ladies. On a more positive note, the notion of South Africa as a rainbow nation was pleasant to see as former Miss India SA, Sorisha Naidoo, takes us to Diwali (somewhat). She shares her tradition and a bit of history surrounding the Hindu festival with us. Although there surely is more to learn there, it was quite beautiful to experience the Indian-South African community in tune with their traditions.
The show’s format was less than innovative in the sense of the use of several reality TV ‘archetypes’ such as the clearly orchestrated “drama at the dinner table” scene and the several meet ups at different establishments to have simple conversations. The ladies are all coincidentally connected somehow and end up at the dinner table together and one can’t help but feel that the only reason for this was to set the scene for a little bit of drama, which is a reality TV show staple for sure. We absolutely cannot sit through an entire dinner party without some confrontational theatrics! The highlight of the episode, as many will agree, came with the reveal that not only does Nonku Williams know Ayanda Ncwane, she claimed to be the mother of her late husband’s child! Who would have thought that anyone would have the audacity to pull this type of stunt? Wait… such antics are right on the nose for the Real Housewives franchise. Maybe there is hope for Durban to deliver the level of controversy, conflict and ‘realness’ sought out by viewers after all.
After that cliffhanger, we have no choice but to anxiously wait for the next episode in hopes for a satisfying reaction from the cast. Overall, this episode seems to have set the tone for the season, considering its calm tone, we can only assume that the literal fireworks displayed in this segment can only be followed by some explosive performances by the ladies in the rest of the season. The ladies all started out cordial and friendly, but will they continue down this path?
My guess is probably not. However, the only way to find out is to stay tuned.