MTV Shuga Down South also known as MTV Shuga, is a popular television drama series that first aired in November 2009 on MTV Base as part of MTV Staying Alive Foundation (SAF) initiative; MTV Staying Alive Ignite! The series is back with a 10-part brand spanking new third season, premiering on 27 June 2023. Showcasing phenomenal African talent from production company Burnt Onion’s all-black-female Head of Department trio with undeniably culturally accurate compelling storylines delivered by a sensational and diverse cast as well as a culturally relevant musical score with guest appearances from some of South Africa’s most talented musicians.
Here are 5 Things that will keep you glued to the screen this season:
1. Scintillating Storylines
The series that features ‘alumnus’ of previous seasons, Thuso Mbedu, returns with season 3. Known for its hard-hitting storylines, the new season returns with more brave storytelling, pushing boundaries to produce top-tier impactful edutainment. Tackling important social issues such as HIV prevention (oral PrEP, Dapivirine Vaginal Ring (DVR) and Long-Acting Injectable Cabotegravir or CAB-LA), HIV Self Testing, treatment adherence, sexually transmitted infections, Tuberculosis (TB), substance abuse, self-care, mental health, gender-based violence and various issues involving the LGBTQI+ community, amongst others. Each storyline is laced with an exciting musical score from Amapiano to Afrobeats and every genre in between. Amapiano power duo, Mellow & Sleazy and Matorokisi singer Makhadzi make guest appearances, and this season unveils a dramatic drum majorette crew, that incorporates traditional and modern dance styles whilst adding a burst of colour to the episodes.
2. Captivating Cast
We’ll see the return of some familiar faces from previous seasons, however, in true MTV Shuga style, viewers will be treated to fresh faces unearthed from an open call to the public late last year. The new cast brilliantly portrays each starry-eyed character on a mission to achieve their dreams no matter their circumstances with strong, but honest performances showcasing the character’s life struggles and their efforts to break the cycle of hardship. The diverse cast includes young actors from the African continent and across the queer spectrum, each bringing unique perspectives to the show’s storyline. Loved or hated, each character delivers captivating content in a relatable and engaging manner, taking viewers on a whirlwind experience of their lives, reflecting on riveting, yet realistic views of issues that modern-day African youth are faced with.
3. Stunning Scenes
MTV Shuga prides itself on creating captivating cinematography, and the new season is no exception. Viewers will see various breathtaking reflections of South African society, from the grimy hustle and bustle of downtown Johannesburg with dwellings for the homeless, dumping sites, rats, and pigeons. This setting is home to this season’s dilapidated inner-city high school that has seen better days Jubilee High, and the barren apartment occupied by controversial character Sol, played by Ayanda Makayi. Viewers are also taken to the townships and exposed to the fast-paced streets of Orlando East in Soweto and then in contrast, to the glitz and glam and manicured lawns of Sandton. Then to rural KwaZulu-Natal beachfront village where we see Dee Rasedile’s character Thuli’s emotional journey begin this season as she returns to the series.
4. Daring Filmmakers
South African film and television production company Burnt Onion Production’s combination of fresh creativity and a commitment to quality lends itself beautifully to this season. Award-winning Creative Producer Rethabile Ramaphakela, supported by Head Writer Makgano Mamabolo, Head Director Athi Petela and Director of Photography Gaopie Kabe make up the all-black-female team tasked with bringing this phenomenal season to life, and they don’t miss a beat. The tone of this vibrant series is set right from the opening scene, with tons of energy and charisma to match the youthfulness of the characters, despite their problems. The script explores difficult topics with great care as each character wrestles with their choices and actions, while the camera carefully lurks in a manner that brings integrity to the storyline.
5. Digital Drive
The world of MTV Shuga will come to life on various digital platforms, with empowering content and useful links aimed at assisting young people off-screen with some of the social issues explored in the show’s storyline. The show’s social media platforms will host themes from the show, behind-the-scenes content, exciting competitions and much more.
The show’s official hashtag #MTVShugaDS3 will carry the conversation through the season and will connect Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Tik Tok: @mtvshugadownsouth creating much-needed and life-changing social awareness. My Prep is a website for all things PrEP and other health and well-being news. The website chat-bot Sister Unathi is available 24/7 creating a safe space for any questions people might have. The show will also use real-life social media influencers living both inside and outside the series, to reflect on social truths central to the world of the youth.
“It’s important that MTV Shuga continues to do more than entertain by immersing the audience deep into the lives of characters, connecting with them at an emotional level and providing the necessary tools for them to take action to protect their health and well-being. This is achieved through a strategic approach to social behaviour change campaign (SBCC), facilitated through media and NGO partnerships”, said Tshireletso Yvonne Diogo, Country Director of the MTV Staying Alive Foundation.
In conclusion, the new season of MTV Shuga Down South promises to be just as powerful and thought-provoking as previous seasons, with authentic and immersive viewing experiences that are MTV Shuga’s trademark. Other than the on-screen drama, the show continues to be a cultural phenomenon, inspiring conversations and driving change in communities across the continent.
#MTVShugaDS3 will premiere on 27 June 2023 on BET (DStv channel 129) and will be available to stream on YouTube.