For many South Africans, it’s easy to imagine a setting where two different worlds exist side by side, and it is almost normal for one family to live lavishly while the other is barely able to make ends meet.

What is a bit more challenging to imagine however, is when an unfortunate series of events causes both families to collide in the most thrilling way – revealing a complex story of romance, social inequalities and prejudices. This is the very premise of Mzansi Magic’s fascinating new telenovela, Gomora.

For those in the know, Gomora is also the nickname of the famous and beloved Johannesburg Kasi, Alexandra. The hustle and bustle of the township and its colourful flavour is the vibrant home of the series, which explores the disparity between lower and upper-class members of our country, with the contrast between the two worlds brought to life through one of the most innovative filming styles.

“Our customers are in for a real treat with Gomora,” says Nomsa Philiso, Channel Director at Mzansi Magic. “It is a refreshing new series that narrates a riveting homegrown story and features a rich tapestry of strong female characters.”

This juicy new riches-to-rags telenovela premieres on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) Monday, 30 March at 19:30. Watch it now on DStv Now.

Present meets past

Some of us are crawling along on the struggle bus, watching as the lucky few speed down life’s highway in their luxury cars. In a divided South Africa, the line between those two lives couldn’t be thinner than on the border between posh, swishy Sandton and the crowded, hard-working neighbouring township of Alexandra.

In this gilded life of snakes and ladders, a roll of the dice could see you plunging back into poverty, no matter whether you skipped up a ladder to riches and never looked back, or you’re painstakingly climbing your way from nothing, one block at a time. On the day of the fall, what matters is who you are, not what you have.

The star-studded cast of Gomora brings this brilliantly true-to-life texture to the series. Katlego Danke plays the role of Thathi, a spoiled princess who’s taken handouts her whole life…but that’s not all there is to her. Also leading in this well-made production are industry heavyweights like Connie Chiume, Themba Ndaba, Thembi Seete and Zolisa Xaluva among many others.

Home again

The series starts with trophy wife Thathi’s posh Sandton life being stripped away in an instant. And it leaves her with nowhere to turn but her past. This means returning to a life she was so desperate to escape that she’s never looked back. With no money and no job, Thathi is forced to pull her teenaged kids out of their private schools and enrol them in a public school in Alexandra.

And they’d better get ready for their new home with Thathi’s mom, Mam’Sonto (Connie Chiume) – a woman whose strict standards and grandmotherly care for her family mask her true nature as the local queen of crime.

Nice and poor?

Thandi’s catastrophe also catapults her right back into the life of a man she used, betrayed and shattered. Her ex-love Mondli Dlamini (Zolisa Xaluva) is now a school principal married to upright, street-smart social worker Gladys (Thembi Seete). But while the Dlaminis are poster-perfect examples of community conscious South Africa, they might not be the ideal parents they believe themselves to be. Their quest to take care of the whole world has left them heaping a lot more pressure than praise and affection on their teenaged son. As a result, he’s secretly letting off steam and living for kicks with his local gangster friends – lead by glamorous, dangerous MaZet (Siphesihle Ndaba), one of Mam’Sonto’s thugs. It all comes full circle.

Get into it!

All this drama barely scratches the surface of Gomora’s twisty Telenovella action, where everything is connected. It’s a world of paternity secrets, bitter sisters, gangs, tragic, lost love and consequences of choices that you can never take back.

But above all, we’ll be tuning in to watch those Sandton fish out of water as they get to grips with the costs, complexities and compromises involved in being poor. If you loved the contrast between lifestyles in drama series like Housekeepers (2019) Gomora will bring that home with even more intensity – and just as much secrecy and scandal.

Loco for local

Since 2018 DStv has invested over R2.5 billion in local movies and series. In 2020 the platform will be increasing its number of hours of local content by 12% – a strategy that continues to reap rewards as viewers take a “local is lekker” stance. And the proof is in the numbers. In January 2020, DStv’s top 10 shows by ratings were dominated by local sport, local reality and local soap. Give us a mirror of who we are right now in South Africa, and we can’t look away.

Watch Gomora on weekdays on Mzansi Magic (161) at 19:30 or Catch Up on DStv Now. Binge-watch Gomora on Showmax, with episodes straight after they air on DStv.

How to watch Gomora online

Sign up for DStv Now, a free service for all DStv subscribers. With DStv Now the same channels you watch on your decoder at home are available for you to stream online, or using the DStv Now app on your phone.