As far as this film reviewer is concerned, Lord Paul of the Mashatileites deserves his own spin-off show. The actor and the writers have outdone themselves in their nuanced portrayal of this character.
‘What lifts a film beyond the boundaries of its genre and turns it into a work of art?” you might ask. I would posit that it is the filmmaker’s ability to imbue the story with the kind of emotional weight that draws out empathy from its viewers. That’s what drives us to empathise with fictional characters and brings us to tears when horrible things happen to even the most villainous of antagonists. It is why, even as he crossed over to the dark side, we could still identify with Anakin Skywalker and understand how he became Darth Vader.
With the December 2022 return of Lord Paul of the Mashatileites, the South Africa S*** Show (Sass) has outdone itself in this regard by creating one of the most relatable characters we’ve seen on our screen in years. It’s given us an everyman whose experiences and emotions are truly reflective of ordinary everyday South Africans.
Treachery at the office
“There’s a plot to oust me,” Lord Paul recently confided to one of the show’s reporters, adding that “they” wanted him out of his job by August. Imagine losing a job in winter in a country where jobs are hard to come by! “They” couldn’t even wait for spring. What next? Snow in Joburg?
Honourable man that he is, he refused to name the “they” who are plotting against him. However, rumours abound that it is his very line manager, the one Supreme Lord Cyril the Ramaphoric, behind the plot. Who among us has not suffered under the thumb of an insecure, backstabbing line manager threatened by our ambitions and our potential to replace them long before they are ready to vacate their seat? #JeSuisLordPaul.
But Sass is no one-dimensional show. Even Lord Paul’s treacherous line manager’s story arc tugs at our heartstrings and beckons the empath within us all, for his fears are justified. He too once faced off with his then line manager, former Supreme Lord Jacob the Zumangous, for his current position before he was ready to leave, and Supreme Lord Jacob himself had snatched the position from his boss. It’s all but a tradition now on this show; this is the Sassy way.
However, as #TeamLordPaul as I am, I can’t help but admire the work of the actor behind Supreme Lord Cyril for the emotional heft he brings to his character, who always looks as though he is on the verge of tears, and in desperate need of a mental health break. Never has my heart ached so painfully for a billionaire who sits in the highest of offices. If I could, I would send him a couch full of cash to ease his pain. #JeSuisSupremeLordCyril
Of loyalty & and the eternal bonds of friendship
“Loyalty is for dogs,” a cynical man once told me. I didn’t buy into his cynicism then, and I still don’t. Like Lord Paul, I value my friends and have done so ever since 1997, when I first happened upon these words from a poem by the legendary Spice Girls poet collective: “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends. Make it last forever, friendship never ends.”
I imagine that Lord Paul too, was touched by these very same words. Many in his inner circle have, for years, insisted that he distance himself from his bosom buddy, Edwin Sodi, a businessman who is reportedly “on trial for charges of corruption and fraud linked to a R255-million Free State asbestos eradication tender, together with former Free State premier and now ex-ANC bigwig, Ace Magashule”.
Yet, Lord Paul has remained steadfastly loyal, even using Sodi’s Clifton home as his base for years and helping out with rate tariffs, until the state snatched it from Sodi amid corruption investigations and sold it for a reported R78-million. “The narrative is that I should be ashamed of myself for associating with people like Edwin and Ndavhe because state capture will return through me,” Lord Paul told the aforementioned reporter. A friend in Clifton is a friend indeed I say.
Now the good Lord finds he is forced to stage manage yet another friendship break-up, as he is being asked to uninvite a dear friend of the country to the upcoming BRICS party later this year, or to arrest him if he visits. Shattered by the emotional stress brought on by this act of betrayal, Lord Paul told a reporter on the show: “It’s a big dilemma for us. Of course, we cannot arrest him. It’s almost like you invite your friend to your house, and then arrest them. That’s why, for us, his not coming is the best solution … The Russians are not happy, though. They want him to come.”
Bless Lord Paul for caring so deeply for the emotional wellbeing of his friends, be they corrupt thieves or murderous warmongers.
As if the man had not suffered enough, what with the troubles at work and recent forced removal from Clifton, exiling him to a sad R37-million home in Midrand (which is apparently on a 99-year lease to a company owned by his son and son-in-law who have experienced inspirational success by doing business with the state), now his security staff have taken to armed street fighting for Twitter engagement.
Thankfully, the sweet Lord Paul had some strong words with them: “I said: ‘This is not the way. You can’t beat up people’,” he told the aforementioned reporter. Bless.
As I’m sure we can all relate, it can get a bit tricky to keep one’s heavily armed staff in line, and I, for one, am touched by the way he gently reprimanded them.
I can’t wait to see where the writers take this character. If tradition is anything to go by, and unless the writers flip the script on us, the clock is ticking for Supreme Lord Cyril, and Lord Paul will soon take the top job and the South Africa S**t Show will be at its Sassiest! We ain’t seen nothing yet!
Godspeed to the soon-to-be-Supreme Lord Paul of Sass, the people of Clifton await your return.