7de Laan, the long-running soapie that broke new ground in Afrikaans LGBTQ+ representation on South African television, is coming to an end.
The SABC announced on Monday that after 23 years on air, the show will not be recommissioned for another season. The current season will conclude in December 2023.
The brainchild of Danie Odendaal, 7de Laan made its debut on SABC 2 on 4 April 2000, bringing to life much-loved characters such as Oubaas, Hilda, Charmaine, Aggie, Emma, and the Meintjies family, who all became household names.
7de Laan focuses on the lives of residents staying in and around the community of 7de Laan in the suburb of Hillside. Originally presented in Afrikaans, the show has gone through many transformations reflective of a changing South Africa through the introduction of diverse characters, storylines, and languages.
In addition to tackling many topical issues, the series made waves through its representation of LGBTQ+ characters and storylines, especially among the Afrikaans community, which makes up a large part of its audience.
In 2017, 7de Laan surprised viewers with its first same-sex kiss. The man-on-man smooch between the characters of Logan (Simon Tuit) and Divan (Arnu de Villiers) was both praised and lambasted by viewers.
That same year, the show introduced a transgender character, Geneviève, played by transgender actress, Deonay Balie, an art and drama primary school teacher. “There’s no well-known transgender actress in soapies. And LGBT people do have a need to tell their stories,” Balie said at the time.
In 2018, 7de Laan screened a steamy lesbian kiss between the characters of Amanda and Monique, leaving homophobic viewers outraged.
Yet another same-sex smooch was shown in 2021 when Shawn (Deànré Reiners) and Emile (Christopher van der Westhuizen) locked lips. Shawn had previously come out as gay to his wife Lana, which led to them splitting up.
The show has won several South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) over the years in the category of Best Soapie.
“It has been an honor and privilege to produce a show that has touched the lives of so many South Africans for over two decades,” said Thandi Ramathesele, Executive Producer of 7de Laan.
“It is bittersweet to say goodbye, but we are filled with pride for the impact that 7de Laan has had on our society, addressing important social issues and fostering inclusivity. The show has made its mark on South African television,” added Ramathesele.