5 take-aways from The Wife Behind-the-Scenes Special

By Xabiso Ngqabe23 February 2023

5 take-aways from The Wife Behind-the-Scenes Special

Showmax groundbreaking telenovela The Wife became a hit amongst Mzansi shows and has had an impact on viewers since its debut. Over the course of three seasons, it tells a story of the eight Zulu brothers, a formidable crime family, through the eyes of the women they marry. Season 1 is inspired by the novel Hlomu the Wife, a bestseller by Dudu Busani-Dube while Season 2 was inspired by the follow-up novel, Zandile the Resolute. The Wife Season 3 is currently streaming on Showmax and inspired by the novel Naledi His Love.

Actress and presenter Lesego Khoza (Bonko Khoza’s wife) sat down with the cast, the directors, the writers and the crew as they shared insights about the impact the show has had in the country. Here are five take-aways from The Wife Behind-the-Scenes Special.

SA is ready for stories that explore themes of love

Besides the incredible cast, whose characters have taken us through an emotional rollercoaster for three seasons straight, the themes on this show are relatable. The show remains the voice for topical issues that are close to South African society and it explores black love in a way that has seldom been seen in South African television.

Actress Khanyi Mbau, who plays the character of Zandile says, “South Africa is ready for love stories. Our genres have constantly been about politics, about thugs, people in court, it’s always been crime stories, it’s always been tenderpreneurs and people in business. But I think now as South Africans we are ready to explore love and pure love without any toxicity.”

The Wife’s strongest aspect is its multi-layered portrayal of the black experience, particularly in terms of relationships and family dynamics. Many women have married for the sake of love, only to be shocked when they realise that when you marry a man, you also marry his secrets too. Even though taxi violence seems to take centre stage in the story arc, daily topical issues are also addressed throughout the show.

Director Mthunzi Dubazane says, “Not only the taxi violence, which is the overarching story arc, but even going deeper into the stories of abuse, mental health, stories of co-existing siblings, which is something people deal with on a day-to-day basis.”

Lunga Radebe, who is one of the writers for the show, says, “As a writer I’m always drawn to stories about family, love intertwined with violence and grit. This sort of encapsulates a very rich world where all those things were at bay and I was very attracted to that.”

The inspiration provided by Dudu Busani-Dube’s bestselling novels

One of the reasons for the success of The Wife is the fact that the story is inspired by Dudu Busani-Dube’s best-selling books, which so many love and appreciate.

SAFTA nominee Zikhona Sodlaka, who played Mandisa in The Wife, reveals that Mzansi viewers loved the fact that the story was written by a South African. “South Africans are seldom this proud of a show. But that’s because it’s a story that they know about, they grew up on and we read it many years ago when we were still little girls, I’m still a little girl.”

Extensive research went into bringing this story to life

In the special, we learn that, while the story is inspired by the books, a lot of research went into it.

Line Producer Kamogelo Aphane says, “Bringing a show of this magnitude to life means a lot of hard work, a lot of research, a lot of consulting and meetings. We needed to all align and understand that we are taking a huge risk by doing The Wife and if we’re going to do it, we have to do it right.”

The most talked-about sex scene in Mzansi

The show has come a long way and sparked a lot of conversations online, including the most talked-about sex scene between Zandile and Nkosana, played by Khanyi Mbau and Mondli Makhoba. Mbau recalls how safe it was filming the intimacy scenes. “My most epic moment in any scene has to be episode 11, where the whole country was talking about it.”

“To bring yourself into a space and it has to be a space of trust. This is the first time I’ve ever had so much trust in a co-star and the team. They proved to me that they are here for me and made it easy. They kept their word to make it happen. It changed South Africa completely and the odds. It’s taken intimacy to another level in terms of performing it on TV. Showmax just took it to another level,” adds Mbau.

“Each and every scene I’ve been able to do, it teaches you something different. Every moment is as important as the other,” says Mondli, adding to the importance of bringing chemistry to these types of scenes.

Actors gave their all to bring the storyline to life

Following the success of The Wife, actors Bonko Khoza and Abdul Khoza both won SAFTAs and that speaks volumes about the quality of work the actors gave to ensure that the telenovela became a success.

“The abuse scenes, like any of the action scenes, were kind of scary because you find yourself capable of certain things to get into that space. The action scenes too, because we hurt each other a lot. We get hurt while doing the scenes,” says Bonko, who played Mqhele in the first two seasons of the show.

Speaking of action scenes, Abdul Khoza says, “Everything that was fighting against us was the test. But I can gladly say that we did well accomplishing our goal and making sure we put our best foot forward. With all the tests we’ve gone through, I believe we were strong enough as a unit in order to defy all odds.”

“I decided to go all in. I’ve learnt how hard work, commitment and great passion within playing roles can really impact the people when you’re telling a story from the heart. You are literally trying to make sure that you walk in someone’s shoes and ignore yourself completely,” adds Khoza.

Watch The Wife Behind-the-Scenes Special now streaming on Showmax. All three seasons of The Wife are available to stream on Showmax. Plus, watch The Wife: Behind The Veil, an 8-part special that takes you behind the scenes on the hit telenovela. 

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