Creator: Spike Lee
Cast: DeWanda Wise, Lyriq Bent, Anthony Ramos, Cleo Anthony, Chyna Layne, Margot Bingham
Written by Andrew Kulubi
She's Gotta Have It - This show is a mess!
Now, I love Spike Lee, ‘The 25th Hour’ and ‘Malcolm X’ are amazing films but his recent reboot of the 1986 film of the same name is a horrible representation of his talents.
The series has all it’s 10 episodes directed by Spike Lee himself but he shares the writing credit with a variety of other writers. The story revolves around Nola Darling (DeWanda Wise) a young black woman living in Brooklyn, New York, who struggles to balance her art and intense relationships with 3 different men; Jamie (Lyriq Bent), Mars (Anthony Ramos) and Greer (Cleo Anthony).
Right from the start, it’s clear that the show is a push for black feminism. I used the word black because those are the only lives that matter here, bad joke, but this element of the show only pops up during convenient moments.
I’ll start with the things I liked about the show. The acting is phenomenal with Cleo Anthony’s overacting being the standout for me. He walks a fine line between believable and over the top and the result is very entertaining in a good way.
The show is also very well shot. The sets are beautiful and the colors are very rich. It’s able to achieve this 80s look plunged into a modern setting. It’s definitely a very unique looking show. The use of music is also very interesting and is credited in a way I haven’t seen being done before but also incorporates it into the writing which really impressed me. I also loved the costume design; it complements the whole aesthetic of the show.
However, the show suffers in key areas. For starters, It has no idea of what it wants to be, and certain scenes are over-dramatized. It starts off as a character study of Nola darling and it’s very interesting to see a female character that acts like all the playboy main characters we’ve seen for years in films and TV shows like Alfie (2004), life on top (2009) and the Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988). It subverts what we’re used to seeing in the media and society.
The story doesn’t seem to be going anywhere though. The main character is poorly written and is very uncompelling. She acts with disregard to everyone around her but this aspect of her character faces no deconstruction at all. I guess that’s spike lee’s idea of what a strong woman should be. The world is simply there to serve her.
The show also has her being a cinephile (someone who loves and knows a lot about movies) but this doesn’t transcend her character in any way nor does it add anything to her story. A film like True Romance (1993) has its main character being a cinephile and it’s crucial to his story especially in the third act and it also adds to his charm and cool. In this, however, it’s just an excuse for Spike Lee to express his frustrations with the Oscars and channel his narrow views on industry discrimination.
Nola Darling’s obsession with expression through her art also tends to be self-indulgent and pretentious rather than admirable and her life struggles don’t really seem imminent just self-imposed in a childish way.There’s also this fourth wall breaking monologue that Spike Lee likes to have his main characters do & I have never been a fan of it. It only works in ‘The 25th Hour’ (2002) and this show is full of it. Here it’s very preachy and annoying. It really pulls you out of the story.
As I mentioned earlier, the show is a mess and this is primarily to do with the subject matter. It starts off as being about feminism and before you know it it’s about how America still promotes the remnants of slavery. Further on, it becomes very political to the point of being hateful and very one-sided. There’s this whole music sequence about trump being a clown that’s very out of place and detached from where the show originally started.
Spike Lee also loves paying homage to black history and there’s an episode that begins with the main character visiting the grave sites of all her favorite black musicians but it’s the first time we ever see her show interest in this figures in any way and this is in episode 9 out of ten episodes. It feels like a last minute thing. Spike Lee probably wanted to pay homage to these figures but he did it in sacrifice of the story, again.
She’s gotta have it is a well shot TV show that annoys more than it entertains. It reflects some qualities of its creator, someone who courts controversy in seemingly pure intent but ultimately comes off as hateful and self-indulgent. It’s unfocused, preachy and very contradictory. If it ever wins anything I’m sure it’ll be because of the controversy it’s capable of drawing if it’s denied those awards. I did not like this show and I feel like the hours spent through it are forever gone, just like that. I only stuck with it because I wanted to write a review for you guys and here it is. ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ is a waste of time.