Netflix just released a show based on the 1986 movie “She’s Gotta Have It”, and we are loving it. This show is based on a black woman in her 20s named Nola Darling who is surviving a gentrified Brooklyn as an upcoming artist. She experiences many different things that we can all relate to. Here are some of the reasons why you NEED to watch this show (SPOILER ALERT):
1. Financial Struggle
As an artist, Nola constantly struggles to pay her rent. Her artwork may be beautiful, but it does not bring a steady income. She relies on her parents, on day jobs like teaching at a middle school, and even selling some of her artwork in the streets of Brooklyn. Every young man or woman coming from college into the real world can relate to how hard it is trying to maintain oneself economically on their own for the first time.
2. Sexual Assault
In the first episode, Nola is walking from her friend’s apartment to hers alone at night when this man comes up to her from behind yelling “Ay yo ma!”. When Nola tells him to leave, he strongly grabs her wrist, leaving a bruise. Nola fights the guy off and runs to her apartment, leaving him to scream “Mothaf***in Black B*tch”. This haunts Nola throughout the entire first season, leaving her scarred. She later creates a movement called “My name isn’t” with her art and plastering it throughout the walls of Brooklyn with “My name isn’t Hoe” “My name isn’t Babygurl” “My name isn’t Ay Yo Ma!” and “My name damn sure ain’t Mothaf***in Black B*tch!”. This shows how hard it is to walk alone in the streets as a woman without being assaulted by a horny man.
Shemekka is one of Nola’s best friends. As a single mother, she is forced to work at bars and strip clubs to maintain her daughter financially. After working as a waitress in a strip club called “Hot N Trots”, she saw how much money the dancers were getting compared to her. So, she asked the owner to put her to dance. The owner told her that in order to dance she had to have a booty, which she did not have. So, she asks him for money for her to go through with plastic surgery. He does, and Shemekka goes through with it, illegally. She gets implants in a Motel by a woman who clearly did not have a PhD as a plastic surgeon. Since it was not a real surgery, it pained Shemekka a lot, and when it was her moment to shine on the dance floor, Shemekka fell on her butt, causing her implants to explode. She was taken to a hospital where it was revealed that the implants cause a blood infection on her body which could’ve caused her death. Shemekka was so desperate to give into the male gaze of the perfect body in order to maintain herself and her daughter economically that she was willing to alter her body illegally ultimately leading to her almost dying.
4. Black Lives Matter
In the first episode, after her sexual assault, Nola says “Black Lives Matter”. She paints a portrait of Malcolm X and is constantly talking about the racial injustice happening in the world.
Living in Fort Greene was not an easy thing for Nola. She constantly experienced companies being shut down in order to build new “hipster” bars and coffee shops. This causes the prices to go up, making the minorities who live there who can barely afford rent to move out and for the white people to come in and pay triple for rent. Nola manages to maintain her apartment because her landlord is good friends with her parents, therefore she doesn’t up her rent, but her neighbor is a clear depiction of this. As a white woman who is always carrying a dog, Nola’s neighbor is constantly undermining the minorities who live in Brooklyn. She uses systematic racism to kick out a man named “Papo” who lives in the streets selling his art out of the neighborhood for thinking he is defacing property by spray painting a “G” for gentrification in all the white people’s apartments. Papo, named “Da Mayor of Fort Greene” is loved by every p.o.c. who lives in that neighborhood but hated by all the new white people coming in because of his loud Dominican music and smelly artwork he created from things he finds in the streets. Brooklyn is no longer the Brooklyn everybody loves. It is now becoming more and more expensive, ultimately becoming less and less diverse.
6. Jamie, Mars and Greer
Although everything mentioned before is very important to the shoe, the main plot is not any of that, rather Nola’s struggle with her sex life. Nola Darling is currently dating not one, not two, but THREE very distinct men. Although she constantly explains to them how they are not exclusive (since she is afraid of commitment) and how she is seeing other guys, it doesn’t take long for these three men to fall in love with her:
Jamie Overstreet: as married rich black man about to get a divorce, Mr. Overstreet gives Nola the love and attention she craves. He takes care of her, provides gifts for her, and loves her like any corny man should.
Mars Blackmon: as a Boricua light-skin goofball, Mars in the funny guy in Nola’s life. He brings her joy and spunk. He’s constantly making jokes but still treating her right.
Greer Childs: As a beautiful light-skin man with green eyes, Greer is the ultimate friend with benefits. He is the sex that Nola craves. Although very conceited, Greer shows Nola love in the best way he can. Known as a player, he constantly treats her as a more sexual act than as a girlfriend, although in the end he ends up showing his heart more than his private parts.
7. Sexual Fluidity
Throughout the entire show, the audience pick one of the three guys that they think that Nola will choose in the season finale. But in episode 4, things change a bit. Nola reveals she is actually a sex positive, polyamorous pansexual. In this episode, she rules out all men and decides to rekindle a lost love. She goes back to one of her previous lovers, a woman named Opal Gilstrad. Opal is different for Nola; after seeing her again, Nola actually tries to commit to her. She tells Opal that although it might be hard for her, she wants to try to have a relationship with her since she feels best with her. Although Opal denies her at first, knowing Nola will disappoint her with this relationship, Opal goes back to Nola in the end, leaving it open for the audience to wonder if Nola is letting go of her three men and choosing Opal or not.
Throughout the entire show, Nola constantly admits how she is unapologetically black and a feminist. In one episode, Nola’s therapist advises her to wear something provocative and sexy to bring her some confidence. After hearing this, Nola buys a $500 tight black dress. She wears this black dress with her three men in three different dates and, testing them to see if they can handle her, they all fail and sexualize her. Although she tries to explain to them how, no matter what she is wearing, she isn’t a sex toy for them, she ultimately gives up and decides to give men a break for a while.
In a very touching episode, Spike Lee, the director of the show, starts with an introduction after Trump won the presidency. He shows the reaction of the different people in the show: from Nola and her 3 best friends, the Dominican Papo and the Lesbian Opal, to the Puerto Rican Mars, the Mixed Greer and the Black Jamie with his white wife and mixed son. This episode was to show exactly how people felt after these elections.
The season finale… was all… based… on… the one… the only… PRINCE! After his death, Nola Darling, heartbroken, decides to have a Prince themed thanksgiving dinner. She invites her three men, introducing them to each other, and they all dance to Prince songs.
Seeing now how woke, diverse and artsy this show is, wouldn’t you want to watch it?