I suppose we all have a little Nola Darling in us. For most I’d imagine it’s an occasional tingling in our spine, likened to an awakened caged bird tapping at freedom’s door, frolicking the world, and any man (or woman for that matter), without fear, remorse or care of what anybody and they momma could, would or should think. Or maybe it’s a natural, sun-kissed glow, one-part confidence, two-thirds magic, reserved only for the sweetest of melanin, that equips our beings with an ungrudgingly yearning to have sex as we please, create as we please and live as we please. The world needs more of that, and I need to unlock whatever cabinet mine is housed in. Well, at least that’s what I told myself after watching season two of the Spike Lee produced She’s Gotta Have It.
Premiering this Friday on Netflix, She’s Gotta Have It is the show dreams are made of. It stars a beautiful protagonist (courtesy of DeWanda Wise), is set against a gentrifying Brooklyn backdrop and perfectly encompasses today’s and yesterday’s black experience. BUT, before I go any further I’ll stop here, as I have major spoilers ahead. Consider yourself warned. If this is where I leave you, just know you’re in for a great ride and some great music along the way. *SPOILER ALERTS*
After spending part of my Memorial weekend watching the nine-episode season, I found myself reflecting on several of the show’s moments — some poignant, some black AF, and others just memorable. You see, the thing about She’s Gotta Have It is that it’s not a perfect show, it’s a good show. Good, with a few shortcomings. There’s Winnie Win, played by Fat Joe, whose regionally ambiguous accent is best described as the Godfather, meets DMX with a sore throat, meets Fat Joe. Then there’s Nola’s former model jump-off Greer, who’s just kind of around, for no particular reason. And that the season-ending, anti-climatic reveal of Nola’s latest art piece which, despite every other character’s repulsion, shock and disdain, is really just “oh” worthy at best. But I digress, as the good fully outweighs the bad here.
So, in honor of Nola Darlings everywhere and the genius that is Spike Lee, who’s creativity continues to stand the test of time, here’s a list of all the reasons you need to make She’s Gotta Have It your next Netflix night.
Nola Darling is Well, Nola Darling
From 1986 to 2019, Nola Darling ain’t changed a bit. She’s charming yet highly overrated at the same time, and it’s mesmerizing to watch onscreen. Although her hair may be different and her load a little lighter considering she’s traded in her three suitors for a committed relationship with her partner Opal, not much has changed with Nola’s effervescent and carefree to a fault mentality. While much of Season 1 was spent reaffirming who Nola Darling is, to herself and viewers, this time we see her struggling to find her space in the age of social media, political movements and the need to cultivate a brand. We also see her getting read to the white meat by Opal’s daughter and getting some of the best sex a girl could ask for.
The Sex Scenes are Gorgeous
Speaking of sex, the sex scenes are beautiful. From the lighting to the choreography, it’s impossible not to take a second and thank God for black bodies everywhere. Not quite full-on porn, but a little more than a dry hump, and just enough to get you thinking about calling your little friend later, folks are getting it in in the best of ways, most notably Nola and Opal. The first episode features what feels like an eternal love scene with the women and labeling it as hot is an understatement. First off, their bodies are gorgeous and whatever moisturizer DeWanda Wise is using needs its own IG handle. Oh, and then there’s Nola’s short-term bae she meets during a black artist retreat on Martha’s Vineyard. Forgot his name but not that body. There’s not much sex with the two but there is a great scene of homie sculpting with cow dung, naked in the middle of the night. Sounds weird, but visually you’ll appreciate it.
Black Culture is on Full Display
It’s Spike Lee so of course the final product will be unapologetically black, but here it’s also thoughtful. The thing is, throughout the nine episodes there’s so much of the Black Diaspora shown that it almost doesn’t do each component justice, simply because there’s not enough time to fully explore each piece. From the show’s opening scene of Nola reading an excerpt of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, to the Purple People Party, an annual celebration of Prince created by Lee, to the cultural significance of Martha’s Vineyard, and the showcase of black visual art, it’s a lot to take in, and leaves a lot more to be told. But if having too much culture for nine 30-minute episodes to contain is the worst we can say about the show, oh well.
The Music, THE Music, THE MUSIC!
If you follow Spike Lee on Instagram than you already know each episode has a very specific soundtrack however, social media doesn’t do it justice. Erykah Badu, Roy Ayers, Madonna, Marvin Gaye, jazz, hip-hop, Latin, alternative, and the list gloriously goes on. There’s also the actual performances, some real, some fictional (my favorite being a performance by Mars Blackmon, played by the amazing Anthony Ramos), but all memorable.
We Must All Go to Puerto Rico
Arguably the show’s most compelling episode, we see Nola, Shamekka, Winnie Win and Mars travel to Puerto Rico post Hurricane Maria to do their part to assist in relief efforts. First off, the visuals are breathtaking. Then there’s the culture, an immersive dive into Puerto Rican way of life showcasing everything from the music and people, to religious practices and what I imagine to be some of the best weed ever. There’s also a nostalgic cameo by Rosie Perez (who plays Mar’s mom), guaranteed to make you smile.
Again, not a perfect show but a good show nonetheless. If there’s one thing Spike Lee has perfected over his 30+ year career, it’s telling black stories. Maybe that’s why She’s Gotta Have It is such a refresher. It’s for us, by us, and within each episode highlights us. And after spending the past few weeks deep in the trenches of Westeros where the only black faces are the Mother of Dragon’s BFF and the unsullied army, who wouldn’t welcome a few more doses of blackness.