Your initiation into the cool, chaotic world of Wyfie

By Gen Terblanche24 April 2024

Your initiation into the cool, chaotic world of Wyfie

Like a party you hear about on campus, the world of Wyfie is the cooler-as-ekke place to be. If you’ve been dying to get in, but waiting for the party to really kick off, here’s your way into the drama; your crash course in all things Wyfie – a fun and often irreverent look at university life … off the books.

While we’ve gotten used to the Greek system of sororities and fraternities in American shows and TV, we rarely see what goes on in South Africa’s universities. But anywhere the youth are massed together, you’ll see some people stepping on everyone else to be the leader of the village idiots. And the less real power there is to scrap over, the harder they’re going to scrap for that cardboard crown. 

Wyfie, Showmax’s first Original long-running Afrikaans drama, kicks off by introducing us to Pantera, a womens’ residence at the fictional Eike University. Here are our crib notes on what you need to know, starting with the most important detail: Wyfie Season 1 is streaming on Showmax now, with two new episodes every Tuesday.

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

Our besties

They’re the biggest losers in Pantera – or maybe everyone else is. Meet the four ladies of “Die Grot” (The Cave) – the res’s windowless underground flat that’s designated as the worst place to live – but also has its own cool secret rooftop access.

Wyfie on Showmax

Our guide in this world is soft-hearted, socially conscious drama student Shay (Beata Bena Green) who’s living in the shadow of her political activist dad (or so she thinks). She’s sick of the weird system at the Pantera res, and she wants out.

Shay’s high school best friend is adventurous, but destructive nightmare roommate Amanda (Celeste Loots) a brilliant chemical engineering student with rage issues. Unlike Shay, Amanda wants to dismantle the power system from within, but her love for its traditions and determination to turn a blind eye to its faults constantly chips away at her friendship with Shay, and the two had a massive bust-up over it in episode 15.

Hard-working poor girl Kyla (Kristen Raath) is your religious swot in the actuarial sciences department but this nerd has been through a shakeup. Ever since Mia kissed her in Episode 5, and she had some dreadful first-time hetero dry-humping in Episode 8, Kyla has been exploring her lesbian “vroumance” energy out in the wild.

And there’s more to trust-fund-baby rebel Mia (Mienke Ehlers) than your run-of-the-mill gross male fantasy about college girl hookers with daddy issues, promise. As we saw in Episode 11, it’s not a fantasy, it’s a nightmare that’s corroding her self-worth. Political sciences and economics student Mia is the res drug dealer who’s rebelling against three generations of her family, who were all prims (that’s res-speak for head girl) in their day. Despite her wicked ways, she’s a sweetheart who’ll go out of her way to make up for her mistakes. 

Our worstie

Wilmien (Marguerite van Eeden) the prim (short for primaria). Even the name hints at her being a throwback to hoofmeisie (head girl) days. Wilmien revels in her power to sit at the top of the social heap – literally, since her prim position comes with the res’s swanky penthouse apartment. She’s deeply invested in maintaining the rules that keep her and those like her in power, and she lives to dictate everyone else’s social status. If Wyfie were The Handmaid’s Tale, Wilmien would walk over your corpse to be the Serena Joy. And her perfect life plan needs the perfect man. Her sacrifice on this altar is Daniel (Adrian Steyn), so she was irate to find out in Episode 15 that he’d hooked up with Amanda behind her back, and she stripped Amanda of all her Pantera privileges.

Wilmien has sacrificed everything including (as we found out in Episode 16) her academic record to rule this little kingdom. She faked a sexual assault charge to blackmail her faculty head into fudging her marks (based on her knowledge that he’d been accused of an inappropriate relationship with another student the previous year). And she overturned prim elections (spotlighted in full in the Survivor-style Episode 20), when they threatened to make Amanda the new prim. 

Failing all classes

While the Pantera ladies are out here just trying to live their lives, they are surrounded by bros trying to hold them down. Episode 8 even started with a special lecture on red flags! 

Wyfie S1 on Showmax

Leo Men’s Residence: Every student who was okay with the Leo pinboard full of stolen girls’ panties and didn’t set fire to it on sight? Trash. The guys who took Kyla and shoved her in the shower for trying to steal her panties back in Episode 9? Criminal assault.  

Marnus (Brent Vermeulen): Mia’s hookup refused to help her sneak a book out of the library in Episode 7 because she wasn’t going to have sex with him again. She had to bargain him down to a boob flash. 

Bert (James van Helsdingen): When Amanda’s stepfather got overfamiliar with a hand on her shoulder in Episode 7, she fantasised about viciously sinking her teeth into that hand! Use your eyes, Bert. If she doesn’t want your “innocent” touch, don’t touch her. 

Andre (Conradie van Heerden): When Kyla smooched this pastor’s son, (in Episode 5), his first comment was that she should follow his lead instead. He’s not all that anyway: after she kissed him, she got a giant cold sore on her lip, and he really needs to clean his fingernails. In Episode 8 we found out that he sees sex as a way of scoring points for his res, Leo. So just a crusty boy all round.

Simeon (Ruan Wessels): Despite thinking it was a stupid tradition, he went along with the whole thing of hanging the panties on the Leo scoreboard.

Daniel: From when he told Amanda to know her place in Episode 5, we already knew he belonged in the trash. Dating Wilmien for clout says a lot about him, and hooking up with Amanda because he was her first kiss when they were kids didn’t make that better. The nail in his coffin? Daniel did nothing to help when he saw the Leo guys forcing Kyla into the showers in Episode 9, even when she begged for help. 

Oom Karel (Louw Venter): Mia’s dad’s golf buddy Karel already gave us “shouldn’t be allowed near a school district” vibes in Episode 2. When Mia met him again at his daughter’s wedding in Episode 10, the series implied that he started preying on Mia when she was just 14, destroying her friendship with his daughter. In an Episode 11 flashback we saw Mia’s mom tell her that if the way Karel touched her made her feel weird, it was nothing to worry about because men sometimes do stupid things when they’re around beautiful girls. Not women. Girls. And she hinted that it was Mia’s fault for being alone with him. By the time she was 16, Karel had molested and raped her repeatedly. Mia’s mom refused to intervene because Karel was the major investor in her father’s business. 

“John”: Mia’s client refused to pay for sex and tried to blackmail her instead of paying her in Episode 5. Luckily, Mia had all the evidence she needed to sink him right back in return. But since Episode 11 Mia has gotten deeper into trouble and had less choice about which men she has sex with thanks to hotel concierge Mara (Inge Beckmann) exploiting her.

PS: We’re giving the Leo guys stick in this, but Episode 22 is a must-see for a hilarious look at life inside the Leo men’s dorms. 

On academic probation

The guys aren’t the only problematic thing at Eike …

Celeste Loots as Amanda in Wyfie

Prim: On paper, innocuous. A prim is simply the student in charge of a student residence (the real boss at Pantera is the adult in charge, House Mother Tannie Adri, played by Ilne Fourie). Don’t let this fool you. Some people fight for the job the way that old dudes fight to be the dictator of your Homeowners’ Association. Amanda and Shay stole her symbol of power, a big old ugly necklace called The Eye, in Episode 2.

Dusty’s: Ah, crusty Dusty’s! We have to question the intentions of any grownup who’d voluntarily go near a student bar. Not the location for our best decisions or our best selves – but the perfect location for a massive night out that you may/may not remember in the morning.

Jags-aand: In Episode 5, Pantera Res sent the Wyfies on a Jags-aand (hunting night) during which they were supposed to kiss any strange man they found walking alone. This is not only sexual assault, but as Shay discovers, it has its roots in the 1980s, when Eike men’s res students physically hunted down coloured students and chased them off campus. When Shay tried to take the story to the university newspaper, Amanda leaked it to Wilmien the prim, who used a vague Instagram apology to hush it up again. 

The Leo “scoreboard”: The Leo men’s res has a billboard dedicated to displaying the panties of women who’ve hooked up with the Leo men, complete with a note that reads “A score for one is a score for all”. Problematic much?

Plight Night: In Episode 9 Leo res held their Plight Night, a 12-hour lockdown and torchlit cloak and dagger initiation ceremony, during which they fight for a throne. It all devolved in way that gave us Lord of the Flies vibes.

Hallway family photo: The Leo guys get illegal access to the rector’s office but in exchange they have to flash their butts for the camera. In addition, the guys have to shave their heads for the tradition.

The Legacy Room: As per Wilmien’s orders, the Pantera ladies collected mementoes of prims past, including giant portrait photos for the wall, naming them agents of change. Wilmien declared the room “holy ground” and forbade first-years from wearing their shoes inside it. But Shay and Mia staged a protest during the grand opening in Episode 14, despite the fact that Amanda was set to give the opening speech for the room. Between Shay and Mia, they exposed everything, from cover-ups of a student drowning during a “fun” tradition, to Pantera’s shady, racist admissions process.

Prim camp: Episode 16 is a fun journey into Wilmien’s imagination, complete with complex etiquette and fun ways to uphold social stratification. Privileged getaways are an automatic zero, especially when the powerful are exposed as drunkards, bores and academic flops.

And of course …

Wyfie: The nickname for female first-year students. Maybe it was originally meant as a subtle put-down, but just like the Angie oeh song “dis jou wyfie”, our Wyfies are reclaiming the term and showing their power. PS. Have you checked out the music in the show from Peach van Pletzen and the late, great Angie oeh?

Now that you’re all caught up, stream Wyfie Season 1 on Showmax now. Two new episodes each Tuesday.

Wyfie, now streaming
Catch Me A Killer, now streaming