What's Happening?

26.5.15

@etv's #Umlilo Season One: A Postmortem

Cebisile, Mnqobi, Khwezi, Dumile and Andile Simelane
Umlilo ended last night. Depending on who you ask, it either ended with a bang or a whimper. Either way, it had our attention from the first to the last episode. 

The thing with finales is that not everyone will be happy with them. For a high octane drama like Umlilo, most of us wished for a dramatic, "OMG did this just happen???" ending, rather than an ending that may set up the show for a new season. And it's not Umlilo alone that has people pissed about finales. It's a global 'issue'. 

A couple of shows ended these past two TV seasons. Mad Men, Parks and Recreation, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy and Justified, to name just a few. Many people were not happy with how the shows ended. The many think pieces arising from 'neat' endings of these shows, the Twitter meltdowns and the various debates, exhausted us all. And that's the thing.  We all get emotionally invested in these TV characters. They are 'real' to us. We have a relationship with them. So when the unexpected ending happens, especially for dramas that have created an expectation that they would end in a particular way, people feel cheated. They feel robbed of their 'intelligence' of rightly guessing how the show would end. 

Take the Mad Men ending. The title sequence shows a man falling down a high rise building in New York City. Everyone assumed that it was Don Draper was going to be the one who will fall down the building when the show ended. But it wasn't to be. It was a metaphor of the fall of Sterling Cooper and another metaphorical fall of the main character. So as to not spoil the finale for everyone, I'll leave it there- but if you watched the show, you would know what it is I'm saying. 

People were mad that Walter White ended up dying on Breaking Bad, even though we knew he was terminally ill and was going to die anyway. They wanted him to live forever. 

So Umlilo: Many of us expected an explosively dramatic ending, one that will set up the show for the second season. Even I expected the confrontation of all confrontations between Khwezi and Dumile. Instead it was subtle, menacing, psychotic and revealing. Khwezi, coldly, acknowledged Dumile's efforts to reveal that she, Khwezi, was a fraud. But ever the competent fraud, Khwezi had another trick up her sleeve, something that shut Dumile up: she had an ultrasound scan of Dumile's baby and how she aborted it without Mnqobi finding out. It was end game for Dumile- she knew Mnqobi would lose it. 

But what people are missing is: would there be a need for a second season if Mnqobi found out that Khwezi was a fraud- that she was Kumkani's daughter seeking revenge (see post here about Umlilo's similarities with Revenge) for the murder of her father and her family. The show would have been over. So as much as the show ended with a 'whimper' it actually does set it up for a second season- one where Dumile will also be hiding something from Mnqobi, while trying to out Khwezi as a fraud. The big reveal about Dumile hiding her pregnancy from Mnqobi, will obviously be a huge story line and done properly, it may just be as explosive as Khwezi's secret.  See the Victoria Grayson and Emily Thorne inspiration

I'm not mad that the show ended the way it did. It proved that sometimes it's okay for a show to not have a crazy ending. That crazy ending would make it difficult to resume the show in a way that would bring viewers back. While Umlilo stands the chance of losing the viewers it gained, there's an even greater chance that come the 10th August 2015 at 9pm, there will be people tuning in to see how the second season starts.

And I will be one of them. 

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