Showmax’s first telenovela, The Wife, has broken Uthando Lodumo’s record for the most first-day views of all-time on Showmax, as well as Devilsdorp’s record for the most hours watched within four days of launch, outperforming the launch of any film or series on Showmax ever, including the likes of Game of Thrones, The Real Housewives of Durban and The River.
Inspired by Dudu Busani-Dube’s bestseller Hlomu The Wife, the 40-episode first season tells the story of a journalist (Mbalenhle Mavimbela from Skeem Saam) who falls in love with a taxi driver, Mqhele (Bonko Khoza from Neckie Youth), not realising that when you marry a man, you marry his secrets.
Showmax has commissioned three seasons of 40 episodes each, inspired by Dudu’s books Hlomu the Wife, Zandile the Resolute, and Naledi His Love respectively. The books follow the lives of the eight Zulu brothers, a formidable crime family, through the eyes of the wives they marry.
The Johannesburg Review of Books calls Dudu “a publishing phenomenon.” She’s become the face of self-publishing in South Africa, having topped the Exclusive Books charts, and landed four books simultaneously in the Nielsen Bookscan SA bestseller list for July 2021. And that was before Showmax announced they were adapting the series, unleashing the most heated casting debate South Africa has ever seen.
As IOL’s Buhle Mbonambi put it, “No other South African series had garnered that much attention on who was cast in the roles before. In my years of reporting about the South African TV industry, I had never come across such heated debate. Even when Deon Meyer’s Trackers book was adapted for screen by M-Net, there wasn’t this much attention paid to the casting choices. But then there have been few characters as fascinating or as gripping as Hlomu and the Zulu brothers.”
The Wife topped the Twitter trends chart in South Africa by 6:30am on the morning of its 11 November 2021 launch, with fans waking up early to devour the first three episodes of the debut Showmax Original telenovela as they dropped. The telenovela went straight to #1 on Showmax’s Top 20, ahead of Emmy winner Succession and popular reality series Temptation Island South Africa.
Early reviews are glowing. Daily Vox’s Ling Shepherd gave The Wife 10/10, saying, “It is a wild taxi ride and we want more.” TVMzansi raved, “The Wife adds a new dimension to black love. It’s so inspiring to see such a compelling work of art presented in such a way that we all relate to. The talent, the production quality, the music and the story is just incredible!” And IOL’s Debashine Thangevelo wrote, “The telenovela has blown my mind so far… Everything from the high production value, casting, scripting, directing, cinematography to wardrobe, ticks the boxes…. The [lead] actors share incredible chemistry and their respective performances are unparalleled. This scripting for the series is first-rate. Each character is so wonderfully crafted… The layered storytelling and twists will leave streamers religiously tuning in every week. Fans love the show and so do I.” Similarly, BubbleGum Club calls it “a love story for the ages”; East Coast Radio says, “It doesn’t get any better than The Wife”; and YFM hails it as “gripping.”
Most importantly, Dudu herself is delighted. “It’s been a crazy morning,” said Dudu on launch day. “People are telling me they’ve already watched the episodes more than twice and I’m like … this is the most amazing thing I have ever seen. My people are happy; they love the adaptation.”
Produced by Stained Glass (eHostela, Uzalo, Ifalakhe), The Wife is the eighth South African Showmax Original released in 2021, following on from record breakers like the true-crime phenomenon Devilsdorp and Babes Wodumo and Mampintsha’s reality series Uthando Lodumo, as well as critically acclaimed scripted series like DAM, Skemerdans and Tali’s Baby Diary and ever-popular reality series like Temptation Island South Africa S1 and Life With Kelly Khumalo S2.
The Wife is available across sub-Saharan Africa and to Showmax’s international subscribers in the UK, France, Australia, New Zealand and more than 80 countries worldwide.
Binge the first three episodes of The Wife now, with new episodes added every Thursday. Add The Wife to your Showmax watchlist here.