With Christmas around the corner, many movies and series are essentially made to capture the joy of the festivity. Among these many jolly films is the South African comedy series, How To Ruin Christmas: The Funeral, the sequel to 2020’s The Wedding. The first season of the Netflix original series was about two distinctive families, the lower class Sellos and the upper class Twalas, who are about to become one, with the marriage between Beauty Sello (Thando Thabethe) and Sbu Twala (Vincent Mahlangu). The wedding almost turned into a disaster when the bride’s sister, Tumi (Busisiwe Lurayi), her presumed toxic traits and the unconventional lifestyle of the Sellos and the Twalas clashed days before the wedding. Everything later went as planned in the first season but it ended on a cliffhanger which is resolved with the opening shots of the second season. The newly released four-part series picks up a year after the wedding and Tumi once again finds herself in the middle of another nightmare. This time around, she is blamed for the death of a sick Gogo Twala (Nandi Nyembe). The funeral is due for Christmas day and for obvious reasons, things didn’t quite go as planned with the Twala’s financial problem, Beauty’s miscarriage, family values, and of course the bride’s elder sister, Tumi.
The second season follows a similar plotline as the first season: family drama, secrets and Tumi. The series boasts of the beauty of the South African culture (weddings and burials) just like the vivid portrayal of the South African street dance culture in Jiva! (an earlier 2021 Netflix release). The culture of the South Africans is more evident in the second season, how the Twalas are against the cremation of Gogo Twala as it goes against everything their tradition stands for. Weddings and funerals are one of those times families come together and a period of convergence in people’s lives. The series draws its energy from these two life-changing events to concoct an emotional and heartwarming drama. However, the story of Bokang (Lethabo Bereng), Tumi’s cousin, is easily left out in the second season. A backstory to how the South African culture views the gay community would have been a befitting storytelling angle. The language switch from English to Zulu or Tswana in the series is beguiling and somewhat shows the intensity of the situation at hand.
How To Ruin Christmas: The Funeral is more pensive and is a somber portrayal of how loss creepily eats away everything good and “not to give up pieces of yourself to anyone” even if it means letting go of the person one loves the most. The harsh reality is that people you love the most could leave when it matters the most, but that isn’t always the end but rather the end of their chapter in your story. The tension and drama surrounding the death of the Twala’s matriarch don’t strip the series of its comedic values and nuances that we fell in love with in the first season. And at the end of the chaotic events that permeate the show, Christmas turned out to be a joyous day for both families, just like the first season, because what is a good Christmas series without a happy ending.
Share your thoughts in the comments section or on our social media accounts.
- The Sellos’ full preparation for the wedding and funeral with their big pots and coolers reminds me of how serious the Yorubas are when it comes to food planning for Owambe.
- In most families or maybe mine, Tumi is a vivid representation of that aunty no one wants to see when there is a family event.
- Valencia Twala instructs her daughter in law to give her grandson only breast milk and forbade any sort of infant formula. It is a norm mothers try to instill in their daughters-in-law in an African society and the fact that an upper class woman like Valencia has that belief is amusing.
How to Ruin Christmas is available on Netflix.