I’m so late to this party. So late that I not only missed a stand-out moment in contemporary TV-watching, but I missed out on doing a story about it. As the US correspondent for Eyewitness News back home in South Africa, it’s my job to stay on top of the entertainment news here, as well as big US stories (you could say Trump has kept me pretty busy). But I also specialize in sharing any strides South Africans, and Africans to a larger degree, here in NYC and the US are making. So if someone is nominated for an International Emmy, as Thuso Mbedu was earlier this week, then I’m on it.
Having just watched – finally, yes, we’ve established I’m late to this era-hopping party – the Black Mirror episode, San Junipero, the same one that just recently scored the Emmy for Outstanding Made for TV Movie and also Outstanding Writing for Charlie Brooker. As soon as I started it though – crushing on the ’80s soundtrack and luscious costumes that Gugu Mbatha-Raw wore – I felt a sense of familiarity. I’d seen the magical place of San Junipero before. There’s only so much you can do to dress down the 12 Apostles in Cape Town – once you’ve seen them, you’d recognize that mountain range anywhere.
The episode deserves all the adulation it received when it first aired in October last year. The pop tracks, the Clint Mansell electro compositions, the progressive yet tear-inducing story-line. I don’t proclaim to keep up with everything that happens in pop culture – just trying to stay on top of new movies and music is hard, yet fun, enough. But the fact Cape Town was the center of this fictional technology-assisted afterlife was a story I should have picked up on in the moments after the episode won its award. A win for San Junipero is a win for Cape Town! Plus Mbatha-Raw is half South African (I interviewed her a few years back, pre-Beyond the Lights era). And so is Mackenzie Davis, who acts alongside her in the episode. They both relished being in South Africa for the 14 day shoot.
Anyway, what’s passed on has passed on. Besides, I believe that things happen when they need to – a song, a movie, a piece of art comes into our lives when it’s meant to, becoming discovered to us at the time it needed to. Or at least I like to believe that, when I’m not being hard on myself (which is, you know, most of the time). I think it’s a sign I need to get to Cape Town, where I used to live, again soon. At the very least, it’s a sign that I now have a whole new playlist to keep me entertained.
I particularly like that Brooker came up with the idea to incorporate Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven is a Place on Earth while out running.