A few years ago, I used to write articles called my 7 Wishes for 7De Laan. I used to have quite a few frustrations back in the day. Now, though I don’t have many, and certainly not 7 things I would change. Maybe because of YouTube and VIU, it feels more like a choice than a chore watching 7 De Laan. Having said that, I’ve been enjoying 7De Laan even before COVID-19. Actually, it took a few days to get used to the socially distant 7De Laan during the first week or so of COVID-19. But then the Shawn and Llewellyn story happened, and I was back into watching the residents of Hillside groove.
- My favourite thing about 7De Laan these days is the fact that it’s all character-driven. The characters are all consistent, so I don’t have to shout at the screen or throw the remote control or anything. Even characters like Gabby who can sometimes be annoying, it’s all in character. I hate it when soapies have normally rational characters act stupid, just for the sake of telling a story in a certain way or for shock-value.
- Families. I like that 7De Laan could transition past the Meinjies and Terreblance families and give us the Petersons, the Welmans, and the Bassons. My favourites are the Petersons. I like that Ivy is no Charmaine. Ivy is a hybrid of Charmaine and Vivian. I like that she’s not perfect like Charmaine and not downright villainous like Vivian though. The Peterson twins though are perfect. I don’t know how 7De Laan gets it right so often with casting children.
3. Esti’s love triangle with Rickus and Marko. I like that there’s no villain. No one tried to trick anyone into a relationship. It’s such an old soapie cliché where one of the characters gets rubbished to make the other one into a hero. This is just a case of mistiming and messy emotions.
4. History. I like that even with all the new characters and new way of telling stories, 7de Laan hasn’t forgotten its history. Paula attended her bestie, Aggie’s wedding. San-Marie visiting Marko recently, and then getting involved in a storyline with newer characters Esti and Rickus. Errol being the one to find Mariaan when she got into that mess with Andre. And Vanessa’s plans to move into Charmaine’s old house. (I was actually hoping the Petersons would move in there. Hopefully, there’s a house in that same road waiting for them 😉.)
5. The villains aren’t as isolated as they were in the days of Gita and Sandra. Back in the day, both Sandra and Gita were left to their own devices to plot and plan how to hurt/take revenge on the people who crossed them. Now, we have De Wet Basson who is a family man who does bad things sometimes and who is homophobic and controlling. But he’s no more so than many South Africans who lack ethics in business and for whom bigotry is normal. Lesedi tries to manipulate and control at times but at other times she’s Aggie’s cousin, Vanessa, Bonita, and Connie’s friend, etc. Andre is a woman abuser and has anger issues. But it didn’t just fall out of the sky. As with many people in similar positions, his entire life of anger and frustration got triggered by a relationship. I like that we still have to deal with Andre, even though he did something unforgivable. In real life, we don’t just get to wish abusers away.
6. I like that during COVID-19 lockdown, 7De Laan remained on-air. During those uncertain times, it was nice to have something familiar to tune in for. I’m glad they didn’t have Hillside in lockdown too. The social distancing was weird at first, but I got used to it.
7. Shawn and Llewellyn’s story. I was not a fan of Shawn before Llewellyn pitched up at the Basson house. The fact that he’s hiding his identity makes so much sense because he was far too good to be true. Even cheesy. In the old 7De Laan, it would be possible to have a one-note character like Shawn was before we learned about his secret, but not this newer version where people have flaws and acknowledge their flaws or their flaws get exposed whether they like it or not. Even Lana’s personality came to life when she had to react to the fact that her husband might be gay. I like that 7De Laan is taking the long approach to tell this story (I hope). The groundwork has been laid, hopefully, the sparks start flying when Shawn is once again forced to acknowledge the identity he was born with.