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JIVA! 2021 Series Review: It is Not Great

A new Netflix African Original series is here and it’s Called ‘Jiva’. This is a series review of that Netflix Original and obviously just like all my reviews I’ll tell you what I loved and hated from the series and will tell you whether I Think you should watch this 6 episode series.

Now before we start, what is Jiva? Well Jiva is a Netflix Africa original series about a talented young dancer with a dead end job, family duties and a rocky love life who then realizes that the local dance competition is her way out of the township (Description on IMBD). now let me clear 3 things

  • The dance competition is happening for the 5th time by the time we watch the series.
  • Her love life is not really looked into because well it basically does not exist until the last episode.
  • The family duties or pressures are not really shown to us because well everyone looks cozy and great surely there’s no financial pressure at all.
  • I am a guy who loves to see and read good stories so whenever I watch a movie or series I expect to get a great story if that movie or series is not a documentary or biography.

Now with that out the way, lets talk about what I loved and hated

1. What I loved and hated

what I loved watching this series

The music

JIVA! is available to stream on Netflix

Just like every other African original series this also has great music because it’s mzansi music, it has throwback music and Gqom and although after some time it gets annoying and really random it’s still a fun nostalgia run that gets you shaking at least some part of your body.

The cast

JIVA! is available to stream on Netflix

The cast is obviously great everyone in this does a great job at acting out their roles, I’m a big fan of movies or series that are all female cast because it’s just a group of people giving you their best performances and it’s extremely fun to watch.

It’s something new

The concept is extremely new, the last dance central thing movie/series thing we had was Hear Me Move and that was really good but after that we had nothing like it, we have to give Netflix the credit for taking on this rarely touched movie or series genre.

The choreography and wardrobe

JIVA! is available to stream on Netflix

The series is a dance series and it really makes sure you see that it is by showcasing some really great and extremely energetic dance moves that are well choreographed, I really did enjoy seeing the various dance styles even though at some point it felt like it was getting too much. The wardrobe is also something I liked because it looked extremely modern and super stylish especially for Given Stuurman’s Samu character.

what I hated

The story

The story is not great. I am person who loves watching the stories unfold in any movie or series and this did not get me hooked in anyway because in some cases the pacing felt a little off or just did not make any sense at all and the other storylines are given little to no attention with some them just feeling like they don’t really have to exist in the series story or aren’t even explored any further. The story did not feel like a true Mzansi story.

There is a lot going on

Jiva Review
JIVA! is available to stream on Netflix

Like I said, the stories in this series are not interesting, when I saw the trailer for this movie I expected the story to be simple but this series makes it extremely complicated trying to fit in a lot of things into these 5 episodes.

It could have been a series about a girl and her other friends chasing their dream of being dancers after letting it all go but it starts as seemingly that then goes crazy with everything, of cause I expected this to be a female empowerment series but it tries to be that and more which in some cases I found it failed.

Why does everyone just randomly dance in this world

I understand that this is a dance movie and like musicals there should be moments were there are people dancing or singing to match the story or push the story further but in this some of it just looks like it was added to make the episodes longer or show off dance moves (which are amazing) and in some cases it feels like some dance moments shouldn’t even exist in the scenes.

Like for example when Given Stuurman’s Samu character dances to get that girl’s number but then it just turns into a whole dance battle, I don’t watch a lot if not any dance movies but surely that was kind of over the top but the dance moves were good tho.

There are no consequences

The series does not build Ntombi’s story well enough to have the “risks” she takes to have some visible impact, it does not show that anything is stopping her from just saying fuck it and going for her dream, the family just looks like they are living a pretty okay life that even if Ntombi left her job it’d always be the same. The story does not make you believe Ntombi is actually the breadwinner in the family and not her having to take care of her family.

Should You Watch It?

No, you don’t have to watch it, unless you just wanna see people dance perfectly or see one of your favorite actors and show support then okay good luck but apart from that you don’t have to watch this. We could’ve been given another season of Blood & Water or Queen Sono but we got this which was awful the whole time (That soundtrack is okay tho).I was really hyped to see this and it was so disappointing.

After watching it I had an idea of what I wanted to see happen in it.

What I think should have happened

After introducing this competition as Ntombi’s way out of “poverty” they should have then had a moment of choice, a moment where Ntombi has to choose between going for the competition to support her mom and brother or keep working at her dead-end job to keep providing for her family, she then chooses to go for the competition then we have that recruiting moment which now makes sense because she needs a team instead of the “To be like that other guy’s team” reason we are given.

Click here to read my review of Season 2 of Blood And Water

Now that she is going on this competition we should have more pressure on her so we have her take a loan and she will use that money to take care of her family for now and they could have made the loan shark fierce and scary so we can also root for her to win because hey fam ungafa.

Also before I conclude, why is everyone ignoring that it’s the 5th annual dance competition? If Ntombi was truly passionate about dance she would have tried in the first, second or even 3rd year of the competition, It’s plot holes like that that just made me lose interest almost immediately.

Conclusion

The series is a concept that we have not seen in a while but it does a horrible job at making the story interesting enough to keep you hooked or have you excited for the ending.

My own personal rating is 3/10, yes the nostalgia run was awesome and seeing the dance moves was really cool but if all of that was cut off the series would have nothing as it’s highlight as it feels like the story was more of an afterthought with the dancing taking center stage

I’ve read 3 reviews of this series and almost all of them ignore the story and how bad it is which in turn makes you enjoy the series for the dancing and the music that makes you remember the good old days before intwana yekasi uCovi.

Did you watch the series? What did you think about my series review? Do you think it could have been better or did you just enjoy it as it is? Let’s talk in the comments or on Facebook, Instagram or twitter. Byeee.

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