If you haven’t watched Shadow yet, what are you waiting for? The charming Pallance Dladla, formerly known for his role as Jabu on Isibaya, shows us a whole new side of himself as Shadow, a former inner-city cop who is hell-bent on fighting crime in the city of Johannesburg.
But if you’re like me, you’ll appreciate that the efforts of this superhero are focused on a specific type of crime: femicide.
In 2017, the Minister of Arts & Culture Nathi Mthethwa stated that South Africa’s femicide rate was five times higher than the global rate.
When Motion Story, the producers of Shadow, explained that they would tell the stories of the current state of South Africa, they were serious.
In the majority of the episodes, Shadow is approached by women who require his help after their lives are threatened by men they knew from work, or men they met through online dating, or men from previous relationships, and so on.
The first episode tells the story of a young woman who is being blackmailed by a mobster/loan shark who has nude photographs of her. She once loaned money from him, but even though she’s paid him back, he wants more – and is threatening to share the photos publicly if she doesn’t comply.
So why didn’t she report the matter to the cops? Because the mobster also owns a club frequented by the police. This is where Shadow comes to the rescue.
What I appreciated about this episode is that it highlights two issues that South Africa is facing: the exploitation of women, and corrupt police officials.
In the second episode, a woman who is being stalked by a man she met on a dating site approaches Shadow for help. Little did she know that the stranger she met online is a serial killer who preys on women.
Unable to shake him off, the woman lives in constant fear of her life. Although Shadow is there to protect her, he may be a little too late this time.
What is also interesting about this series is that, although Shadow is the hero, he also has a weakness. Shadow suffers from arrhythmia, which is the medical term that describes a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat. But because he’s so focused on saving the world, he neglects his health.
Shadow finds solace in Ashleigh, a young woman played by Amanda Du-Pont, who also finds herself in harm’s way.
By the end of the series, you’ll find yourself thinking about how you can play your part in the fight against crime in our society, especially crimes that pose a threat to women.
I think it’s safe to say that the proudly South African-produced series is the best local content released on Netflix so far.