Our big, fat 2019 guide to holiday streaming in South Africa | 9Lives
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To me, the holidays scream… unlimited binging! After a hectic year of work, travel, moving into a new apartment, getting engaged, and more, I am very ready to wind down and enjoy all the amazing movies and series available to stream at the moment. The good news is that during December, the US releases most of their new entertainment titles and these days we can stream them almost instantly here in South Africa. I’ve put together a list of the series and movies I’ll be recommending to my friends and family this festive season, sorted by genre – an ultimate guide to holiday streaming in South Africa.

If you have not yet jumped on the streaming services train and you are not yet sure which channel to use, check out our handy streaming guide.

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Trackers
Yes, the rumours are true! This South African adaptation of Deon Meyer’s bestselling novel is a must-watch. The series showcases some amazing South African talent that perfectly matches the almost True Detective-like cinematography. And unlike several other South African productions, the story is very intriguing and captivates you from the very first episode, avoiding several of the clichés that local productions often revert to.
Currently streaming on Showmax.

Watchmen
Since concluding the third phase of Marvel superheroes with Endgame, the playing field has been levelled in the sense that both the Marvel and DC franchises have been forced to go back to the drawing board. The Watchmen film that was released in 2009 was loosely based on the series by Alan Moore and positively received by critics. The series, however, takes a bit of a fresh look at the adventures of Rorschach. About half the series has already been released by HBO and on Showmax, and is most definitely one of your best bets for some superhero action this summer.
Currently streaming on Showmax.

The Boys
Earlier this year, we did a write-up of this Amazon Original and I am now adding it to this list as it is one of my favourite series of all time. The brilliant characterisation, production values and sometimes downright disturbing happenings made for a show that I was unable to not watch in one sitting. It’s one of those series you wish you could unwatch, just so you have the chance to experience it for the first time once again. I firmly believe that the key to recommending The Boys is to not say too much about it, in fact, don’t even watch the trailer – just dive right in to meet your new favourite anti-heroes.
Currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Comedy

Bless this Mess
Ahhh man, I just love an off-beat comedy and I also just emerged from an epic New Girl binge, so I was super excited to try a new series by the brilliant Elizabeth Meriwether. The premise of this show is simple, a newlywed man and woman gets sick of the city, inherits a farm and moves out to Nebraska to farm with alfalfa without ever setting foot outside the city. Dax Shepard, who recently also did a spell on The Ranch, stars in this comedy with co-writer and lead actress, Lake Bell (from What Happens in Vegas fame).
Currently streaming on Showmax.

Mrs Fletcher
Okay, so I am particularly excited about this brand new series releasing on Showmax on 13 December 2019. I got to take a little sneak peek of the first few episodes and I most definitely will be recommending this comedy starring Katherine Hahn (from I Love Dick). The series takes a hilarious look at empty nest syndrome and how this single mother slowly starts rebuilding her life as her son heads out to college. Fair warning – this is not family viewing as things get quite steamy for Eva as she rediscovers her sexuality.
Currently streaming on Showmax.

End of the F***ing World
Season two of this very awkward, teenage, coming-of-age story recently released on Netflix. The misadventures of these two totally mismatched British teens will have you cringing, laughing and crying. One of the main reasons I was so excited for this second season is that the episodes are scored perfectly and if you love some indie music, you are bound to discover some awesome new bands in this series. This series is absolute, bizarre chaos and that is what makes it so good!
Currently streaming on Netflix.

Flea Bag
How to describe Flea Bag to someone… So, we all know that one girl that is an absolute hot mess, right? Okay, so imagine you are in her grief-stricken, dry-witted, sexual, angry head listening to her stream of conscious for about a half an hour at a time. That is exactly what it is like – you are going to laugh, cry, be confused, hate yourself a bit, along with all the other feels that come with journeying into someone’s innermost thoughts.
Currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Dickinson
Since Hailee Steinfeld blew us all away with her stunning performance on the film True Grit, I think most of us were wondering what she’d do next. Dickinson is one of the Apple Original series that was released with the launch of the platform on 1 November. It’s a steampunk, satirical look at the writer Emily Dickinson’s life a recluse. It focusses heavily on her obsession with death, but also her insistence on being a poet. It all sounds very serious, but trust me… it’s actually hilarious. This series will have you in actual stitches as it does comment on gender roles, homosexuality and politics of both the modern and Victorian era.
Currently streaming on Apple TV+.

Do you want to see a dead body?
ICYMI, there is a smallish library of YouTube Original content available to South Africans. My favourite of these is the Do you wanna see a dead body? series. In every episode comedian, Rob Huebel, invites his celebrity friends to go on an adventure with him to go see a dead body. Bizarre, right? My absolute favourite episode is when John Cho (from Harold & Kumar) gets stuck in quicksand as he Rob looks for a dead body. If you are in the mood for something completely mindless and stupidly funny, look no further!
Currently streaming on YouTube Originals.

Fantasy

His Dark Materials
If you read Phillip Pullman’s trilogy by the same name then you will need no introduction. For those who have not had the time to read it, do yourself a favour, it is a great read for serious and novice fantasy readers alike. Pullman created a rich world that touches on very complex social constructs which he explores through the eyes of 11-year-old Lyra Belacqua and her dæmon Pantalaimon. A dæmon is the physical manifestation of a person’s ‘inner-self/soul’ that takes the form of an animal. You are linked to your dæmon and what it settles as reveals a lot about the character of the person.

In 2007 the first book, which was sold under the name The Golden Compass in North America, and Northern Lights in the rest of the world, was made into a feature film. Unfortunately, the movie tanked in the US, and it was decided to not go ahead with the series and with it died all hope that the book-to-film future for Pullman’s trilogy.

And then, 12 years later, in swoops BBC One and HBO to save us from the dreadful, uncompleted world we used to inhibit with their brand new rendition of the trilogy. Fortunately, this version is a huge improvement from the 2007 film. After watching the first 5 episodes, there are 8 in total, I was very pleased to find that the team behind the series not only invested enough to ensure that the visual effects of the dæmons that fill the world are spectacularly done, but that the actors and the world they fill is refined and resonates extremely well with the world Pullman created.

Googling the series, the users reviews for IMDB sits at 8,3/10. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a solid 80% and according to Google, 94% of their users like the show.

If you enjoy fantasy, or just great storytelling, then this is a definite must-watch series. And this time you won’t be left out cold; season 2 has already been shot and is said to air in 2020.

Currently streaming on Showmax.

Documentary

Project Blue Book
Do aliens exist? Well, I am not so sure anymore. Project Blue Book is a fascinating series by the History Channel about a division that used to exist within the US government to investigate UFO appearances in the 1950s. Most of the sightings were dismissed by ‘scientific’ findings made by this division, but the more sightings they encounter, the more they are forced to believe that some things might just be inexplicable. The entire series is set within the Cold War and atomic era which makes it even more interesting, especially if you are a history buff like me.
Currently streaming on Showmax.

The Movies that Made us
A series about blockbusters in the 80s and 90s? Hell yeah, I’m in! The entire series is based on the nostalgic revisit of some of the most iconic films of the time. In episode one, they go behind the scenes of Dirty Dancing, while the mischief is spared for episode two about Home Alone. Thereafter they face the Ghostbusters in episode 3 and, of course, Die Hard in episode four. If your childhood was, like mine, shaped by these iconic films, you cannot miss this!
Currently streaming on Netflix.

Cooking

Sugar Rush Christmas
Everyone knows that Christmas cookies, allspice, cinnamon, gingerbread men and fruit cake go together. So what can then be better than our favourite Netflix cooking competition, Sugar Rush, releasing a Christmas series?! I was ecstatic to see this one on my feed and as soon as I started diving in, I was blown away by the Christmas spirit coming from all the cupcakes, confectionery and cakes. And somehow, this Christmas edition is even more quirky than the original.
Currently streaming on Netflix.

Science Fiction

V Wars
This just in – Ian Somerhalder is back in a vampire adventure! Sadly, this time he’s not the broody Damon Salvatore, but rather Dr Luther Swann fighting the ancient virus that was released and turning people into vampires. Opening to mixed reviews, it does somehow feels like Somerhalder has matured since his last stint in vampire lore. The series is based on the 11-issue graphic novel series by Jonathan Maberry and Alan Robinson.
Currently streaming on Netflix.

Drama

Marriage Story
This film has everything going for it. It stars Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, directed by Noah Baumbach. He, of course, is a regular collaborator on Wes Anderson’s projects and is also known for his own films – acclaimed pieces like Frances Ha and The Squid and the Whale. The film starts at the end of a marriage and I found it to be very much like Blue Valentine in that sense. This means that you need to prepare you for the good moments and the bad, as you embark on this journey of emotional and physical uncoupling.
Currently streaming on Netflix.

The Morning Show
If you’ve been keeping an eye on news from the Golden Globes nominations, you would have seen that this Apple Original received quite a few mentions, while Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Anniston are getting loads of praise for tackling this project that weighs in on the #MeToo discussions. From the very first episode, it is clear that Apple spared no expense on making this series as glossy as possible. While it does have a bit of a slow start, I would really recommend that you stick with it as it really does tackle the topic from multiple angles.
Currently streaming on Apple TV+.

Modern Love
Oh my word, I literally ugly cried from the very first episode of this series. All the stories in Modern Love are inspired by real-life personal essays from the New York Times column by the same name. Each episode is a complete story, guaranteed to tug on heartstrings. You’ll also see some familiar faces in the cast, such as Dev Patel, Tina Fey, Anne Hathaway and John Slatterly. It’s an exploration of love in all its complicated and beautiful forms and explores the complicated bonds that people form with the Big Apple as a backdrop and, in true Woody Allen fashion, a main character.
Currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Truth be told
Apple merges two very interesting worlds with this series, one which deals with a fictional true-crime podcast created by a journalist whose reporting resulted in a teenage boy being convicted of murder. Fast forward a few years and the journalist-podcaster starts doubting her own initial conviction. Octavia Spencer and Aaron Paul take lead on this pseudo-true-crime series about a journalist turn podcaster, and so far they’ve done a great job of it. Apple TV+ releases an initial three episodes and then proceeds to release only one episode weekly thereafter, so I’m excited to see where this series is heading. Oh, and Lizzy Kaplan plays twin sisters, Lainey and Josie.
Currently streaming on Apple TV+.

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Author

Free State-girl, living in Stellenbosch. Love to explore small towns, read in Afrikaans and everything pop-culture. My favourite yoga move is 'The Pigeon' and one day I'd like to own my own vintage cinema.

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