Review: Blood and Water is a Disappointing Teen Drama

I have vivid memories of being a teenager, and that’s how I know that most day-to-day snags of teens are quite universal, regardless of where they grow up or with whom they spend the better part of their lives. Because of this, the targeted audience of the coming-of-age genre is far more extensive than we think it is. Even as adults, quite a lot of us see these shows as an opportunity to look back, relive, and maybe even make amends with the past. Speaking of “reliving school life,” it’s this very aspect of a teen drama that either makes it worthy of multiple viewings or breaks it to an extent where it’ll be forgotten too soon. Netflix’s new teen drama, ‘Blood and Water’, seems to be closer to the latter category.

Like all the offerings of the genre, ‘Blood and Water’ harps on the existential angst of its teen characters who unknowingly start leaving their childhood behind them—A necessary yet troubling transition that results in them losing their sense of identity and innocence. As far as the show’s portrayal of some generic teen drama, cliques, and crushes are concerned, there is some emotional truth to it, and there is indeed some “relatability” as well. However, what leads to its downfall is its connotations of social themes and its untactful elements of mystery.

Blood and Water Plot Summary

‘Blood and Water’ centers around Puleng, a teenage girl whose family still grieves the disappearance of her younger sister. While her parents celebrate another one of her sister’s birthday even though she’s not with them, Puleng tries to convince them to leave their past behind. But that’s when Puleng’s life completely changes—She learns about a girl named Fiks, who looks a lot like her. Knowing that she once had a sister, Puleng gets curious about the girl and starts digging into her life.

As her quest for seeking answers continues, Puleng decides to leave her old school and joins the school where Fiks studies. This new school brings more challenges to her life than she had initially anticipated as it accommodates some of the most elite kids of her town. In the meantime, even Fiks goes down a very destructive path without understanding the real reason why she feels so hollow inside. While Puleng’s investigation continues, a bigger forgotten conspiracy begins to unravel itself.

Blood and Water Review

For the most part, ‘Blood and Water’ unfolds itself from the perspective of its protagonist Puleng. Although the performances of its leading cast is a little questionable, as a viewer, you’re able to experience the world of the characters as they see it and not with the rhetoric of an adult. This works in the show’s favor and makes it seem a lot more authentic. More so, it intrinsically drives the story in a good direction and lays some solid groundwork for the future actions of its characters.

On the contrary, one can easily identify some dissonance in the outlook of the characters in its second half. For instance, Puleng is initially established as a virtuous character who would never think of harming anyone. But later in the show, a layer of snarkiness and cruelty is added to her personality, which is very off-putting and makes no sense. From the looks of it, this aspect of Puleng’s character development intends to highlight all the drama surrounding the lives of teenagers in general. But it clearly compromises the previously established moralistic strands of her personality.

The offshoot of the show’s storyline develops from the mystery behind Puleng’s missing sister and Fiks’ real identity. This extrinsic development brings some intriguing ideas to the table; at least in the beginning, it does. But it becomes quite redundant and dumbed-down in the show’s second half. It’s during these moments that the show’s emotional resonance is thrown out of the window and it becomes unnecessarily preachy. The initial hook, which reminds you of the 2018 documentary ‘Three Identical Strangers,’ is undoubtedly strong and manages to grab your attention. But the structure that follows lacks enough heft to keep you engaged.

Overall, it seems like ‘Blood and Water’ attempts to embrace edgy, heavy subject matter, but it lacks enough focus to be didactic in any way. It simply walks you through its storyline instead of getting you involved and never provides the necessary payoff to make it worth the ride. The show could have worked really well as a thriller if it was more focused on the darker themes of its plot. Instead, it feels a lot more inclined towards its shallow teenage melodrama which makes it unimpactful and sturdy.

Rating: 2/5

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